Sunday, December 29, 2013

Come Celebrate New Year's Day at Tsegyalgar East with Mandarava Ganapuja followed by a Shitro for Kathy McGrane. In the Mood for Karma Yoga hours--Join Us afterwards for a Deep Cleaning of the Gonpa

We will be having a Mandarava Ganapuja, followed by a Shitro practice for Kathy McGrane this coming New Year's Day (Wednesday) beginning at 10am. Due to the ending of the Mandarava Retreat at Tsegyalgar East and the auspicious circumstances of New Years/ New Moon Ganapuja day we decided to combine these practices together. The Shitro will follow as a normal Shitro to support Kathy McGrane's continued passing. 

Additionally, for those who wish to stay there will be a Karma Yoga event to sweep-in the New Year with a deep clean of the Gonpa. Tasks will include taking down the Christmas tree, cleaning beneath the carpets, window washing, dusting, and cleaning underneath the altars.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tsegyalgar East 30th Anniversary Celebration, Come Join the Dance Webpages Launched

We invite the international Dzogchen Community for a sneak peak into our Tsegyalgar East 30th Anniversary Celebration, Come Join the Dance (click on Webpages.) Many Thanks to Nancy Paris, our webmaster, who worked over the holiday to give you a taste of what's to come. 

On the Celebration home page you will find links to lodging and directions for planning your trip. Next up, the planning committee are coordinating three days of events (July 11-13, 2014)  prior to Rinpoche's Teaching retreat. The roster includes guest performers, dancers, and musicians from local and international destinations. 

Please help us make this magical event happen by renewing your 2014 memberships early and/or making an unristricted general donation according to your circumstances. 

Best Wishes and Good Health for the Holiday and New Year
Tsegyalgar East Gakyil

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Memorial Page for Kathy McGrane who died December 25, 2013

We just received this notice from Dr. Gerry Steinberg who was with Kathy McGrane along with several other practitioners when she died. 
Kathy stopped breathing at about 8:26 PM and her heart stopped at 8:31 PM on December 25, 2013. Jim, Paula, Efrem, Marit, Joey, and myself were there.We sang the Song of the Vajra multiple times as well as the Six Spaces and Vajrasattva. As breathing stopped we sounded A many times and sang the Song.  Love, Gerry (Steinberg)
Kathy McGrane as many of you know, was a long time practitioner in the lineage  of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu since 1982. For decades she was an active participant in the lives of Tsegyalgar East and the Berkeley and New York Lings where she lived at various times. In recent years she moved to be near the Gar following her bout with Leukemia where she served on the red gakyil through Rinpoche's last two retreats here as well as becoming active in local book and theater groups. 

An intrepid traveller, Kathy spent time in Thailand doing retreat and traveled to Tibet. She was a dedicated practitioner and 3rd Level Santi Maha Sangha student. For those of you who knew her, she had a wicked sense of humor permeated by an elegant sensibility. Kathy contributed to many graphic arts publications and community newsletters over the years and was very proud of her artistic newsletters which are bound together in the Tsegyalgar East library. In the Fall of 2013 Kathy attended the Shang Shung Publications Editorial Training in Merigar with support from the Teachers Training Fund at Tsegyalgar East. 

In my own experience, Kathy had an innate Irish gift for language which often manifested in memorable stories and vivid language.  Two stories stand out in my mind with their hair raising details regarding her trips to Mt. Kailash and another one returning from Merigar to Rome -- ribald tales of braving extreme adversity and obstacles with great belly laughs of humor and wisdom. 

Kathy was an excellent practitioner and well loved by many. She often led Shitros for others including Nina Paparazzo which I remember well for her presence. At that time decades ago,  I remember telling her I hope she would be there for me. In a way she was as her final transition brought us all together. 

May her liberation be swift, her final journey one of great joy.  Many thanks to the local practitioners here at Tsegyalgar East who provided support for Kathy's final transition. We are so blessed to have each other. 

I will continue to post more information as it becomes available.

[Photo by Jacqueline Gens, 2010]

A Shitro Ganapuja is scheduled for 7:30 PM at the Yellow Schoolhouse in Conway, MA on Friday, December 27, 2013. 

Please send your recollections, messages, or photos to and I will post here or you can add to the comments section below. 

The following was sent from Joan Casey of Bellingham, WA:
I first met Kathy McGrane in 1985  at Vajrapani, a retreat center in California, at a teachilng given by Sogyal Rinpoche. We were both new to the dharma and Kathy was such an avid student. That summer we attended a retreat with Choegyal Namkhai Norbu in the foothills of the Sierra and learned the Song of the Vajra. Later in Santa Cruz we reconnected and sang this for some very senior students and hosts to many new practioners. I was so moved that I can recall those moments now so many years later. Then over the years we practiced many times  together when the Bay Area community would meet in each others homes. Kathy lived in Berkeley and often opened her home for all of us. She attended my wedding in 1990 where we again sang the Song of the Vajra.  I moved to Bellingham and she to New York and eventually  to Conway. When my mother died in January 1993,  some of us   gathered together at Tsultrims at the Tara Foundation to study the beginnings of Santi Maha Sangha. Kathy led us in the Shitro practice for my mother. She had learned it so well for her own mother. Many of you were there that day. It was magnificent. How could my mother not soar into total enlightenment. I was so grateful. These last years, I have seen Kathy less, only at the occasional retreat at Tsegyalgar.  We were vajra sisters, together on the path. I will miss her. I am privileged to do Shitro for her now and so grateful for her friendship and that she was surrounded by her beloved sangha during this time. Thank you all for all you do for all of us.
A message from Stephane Scott (Florida):  
Many years ago, when I was new to the Dzogchen Community, there was a problem at Tsegyalgar in that Rinpoche was angry with something that had gone on and was not going to come as planned.  There was an emergency meeting in which people spoke about the problem and how to fix it. 
Kathy, who was on her way shortly to teach somewhere in Asia, spoke and I will never forget the content.  She said that her goal was to eventually be able to live in and around Tsegyalgar  and to die in and around tsegyalgar with her Vajra brothers and sisters.  Her concern was we needed to fix the problem quickly and keep our samaya with the Master or there may be no more Tsegyalgar.  I thought then what a wonderful and smart goal to have - to be able to live close to a gar with Vajra brothers and sisters 
Well, many years later she was able to live (and die) with her Vajra brothers and sisters.  And in spite of my sadness I am so thrilled that with her determination and perseverance she achieved that goal.
So much thanks to my Vajra brothers and sisters that were able to physically be there for her when she died and to help her with her journey.
Much love,Stephanie

[photo from the internet]

From Kathy Smith (Tsegyalgar East) :

I remember Kathy's great self confidence. The kind that looks you in the eye and says exactly what she's thinking. Yet, both articulate and graceful. Many thanks to all at the hospital, giving Kathy support for her transitional journey.
      May her ride through the Bardo be easy, her next life be a fortunate one and Enlightenment be close at hand-- Kathy Smith

From Pamela Crawford: 
You know how some people you don't have to spend a lot of time with but their effect on you is profound?  Kathy flitted across the screen of my mind for several days around Christmas, thenI learned on Dec. 26th she had passed.
There was a party in Berkeley after a wild retreat in the Sierras, around 1985. Everyone was milling about, having a good time, noisily drinking, but Kathy was sitting quietly in a chair across from  Norbu Rinpoche, almost in the dark, tears streaming down her face…. the power transference was palpable. When she got up she said she'd found her teacher. Never the same thereafter.
I remember verbatim things she said to me in my kitchen, while walking or driving around Berkeley, and in the presence of my mother who was declining. She observed carefully. Was a wise woman. Kathy was critical but her advice was solid. She had a mind like a steel trap, the Irish sense of humor and gift of the blarney, abraded and filed down by close relationships.
She took great care to be equitable in speech, even when irascible. She'd tell stories worthy of the New Yorker, of a book or three, and I repeatedly asked her to write, and even go to writing school, but when she was turned down by her main choice, she gave up abruptly and turned to art.
It's hard being a big, smart woman with insight. There was such vulnerable softness inside that sharp mind. Her powerful presence took up a lot of space and maybe it ricochet'ed back, forcing an almost over developed sense of probity.
 Last time I saw her on the West Coast she described her long trip to hell and back with Leukemia, and credited her health (which was good then) unequivocally to practice with fellow Sangha members, her relationship to the practice and her teacher.
What a marvel. I miss her. Bon Voyage, Kathy, on your greatest adventure and journey yet! Godspeed.

 [Photo by jacqueline Gens of Kathy McGrane at my house for lunch in Conway on one of her trips to Tsegyalgar looking for an apartment around 2010]

[Photo by jgens of Tsegyalgar East shrine during Kathy's Shitro]

From Lauri Marder, Shelburne Falls, MA

I especially remember the time we wanted to do a smoke purification ritual at the ling in NY, and some people were concerned that it was not a good idea because of the smoke detectors. She and I and some others got together on a Saturday and did the practice together anyway, and totally filled the entire building with smoke- and luckily there were no smoke detectors after all anywhere in the building! People we met going down in the elevator from the top floors were asking about the strong scent of juniper and cedar smoke. It was really a great experience; I had no doubt after that that of the strength in her practice 

Kathy was loved and appreciated by many people all over the world for her qualities, which those who have written so far on the blog have described so well. Someone told me that they always thought of her as "the one with the beautiful hair"- and there was that too. I guess what I will miss is her steadiness in presence and participation- she knew where her heart was and she had no doubts. When she moved up to Tsegyalgar, which I also was considering making my home again, I found it really encouraging that she wanted to be here. She came after her successful cancer treatment, frail but determined, and no matter how difficult things were, she seemed to like being here. She offered a lot to the community- in fact, she offered everything she had. There was a clarity in her perspective that was a precious quality. I enjoyed practicing with her.I very much like how Joan and Pamela have described her wit and her strong sense of right action. In fact, in making others aware of her sense of justice or the correct outcome, she sometimes got herself into difficulty.  She cared deeply and participated wholeheartedly, and that is what I will remember.

So, as we did our first Xitro for her in Tsegyalgar last night, I am sure others could see her as well in their mind's eye, ramrod straight on her chair. The image of her among us will not fade out of my mind for a long time.

From Barbara Paparazzo (Mexico)

As others have said, Kathy was a storyteller.  She had a wicked wit and a wonderful, original way with language.  Instead of saying something like, “I had to rush back to the store,” she would say, “I rocketed back to the store.”  She could hold forth on books, art, dharma, travels, acting etc. – almost any subject -  always with a little peppery gossip thrown in.  I enjoyed her very much.  The last time I saw her was in March when she drove me from Conway to South Amherst for an appointment – she was generous in that way.   I know her last years were difficult health-wise because of her earlier fight with leukemia but somehow she always carried on no matter what befell her.  She had strength & self-reliance.   Most of all she cared about the practice and the teachings - they were her life. Kathy - may you rocket to liberation!

From John La France (New Jersey)

Happy New Year!
I just want to express my deep gratitude to you for the memorial to Kathy on the blog. All the written contributions, taken together, capture the essence of who she is. I personally have felt very deep sadness with a lot of tears at her passing. She generously explained the practices to me as a new student and I was always impressed with her insight about practice and what it meant to be a practitioner. We've lost a part of us.
Love and hugs,  John

From Mark Alston Follansbee (Boston)

Kathy and I met in 1982; I was the first person she met in the Dharma. I was doing registration for Lama Gonpo Tseten in Berkeley for a weekend teaching when Kathy came in and we hit it off immediately.  Kathy was fierce: a fierce person, fierce woman, fierce practitioner, a fierce friend.  She had no room for bullshit and would gladly point mine out to me.  Her life changed radically after she got sick with leukemia.  (She said she would not have gone through the stem-cell transplant if she had know how horrible the process would be.)  I'm remembering watching her at the last two retreats and how much energy it took from her, but she was determined that everything be as perfect as possible for Rinpoche.  As complicated as her health made aspects of her life, she was fierce about living and enjoying as much as she could,  Her trip this fall to Merigar to become a transcriber was a wonderful adventure that gave her great joy -- she could do karma yoga -- as it also made her very sick. 

 I was very anxious after Kathy was moved to Springfield Mondaybut have felt a deep peace since her passing that she is not suffering anymore. I am grateful to Paula and Jerry and all of you who could hold her hand during this transition; how fortunate we are to have our Master and each other. Kathy lives on in the love we shared and will not be forgotten. Om Ah Hum. 

Local rainbow picture sent by Al Daggett

From Artur Skura

On behalf of Shang Shung Publications I'd like to pass on to the family and friends of Kathy our heartfelt thanks for her collaboration with SSP through her good skills and generosity. We stand by her in this moment.

Best Wishes,
Shang Shung Publications Team

From Jim Valby

A picture of Kathy circa October 1994 after her SMS Base Exam with Rinpoche

From Nora McKay

Kathy was a person who instantly and deeply communicated the essence of being connected through a teaching whose realization is that mind becomes heart. Her gift with words and open heart made interactions very memorable. That verbal facility, equanimity,and continual display of presence created a cloak of caring that was an expression of sangha, as I have idealized it. 

Our meetings and partings began in the early 80's on the way to the Kunje Gyalpo retreat in Nevada City at Nancy Clemmen' She was my carpool contact and we drove up and back in her burgundy Datsun wagon. What a fortunate connection! Since I was out of the area for the next 10 or 20 years, she kept me informed and connected to the Berkeley sangha. . Later, when I attended the Kalachakra in New York, Kathy found me a place to stay with a childhood friend that was around the corner from the Guggenheim. At the Tahoe Retreat, she had just returned from Thailand. We often met during the afternoon break and sang the Song of the Vajra together. She expressed my own sentiments by saying that she appreciated that I did not talk immediately afterward. Yes, thank you too, Kathy.

The last time that we were together under the same roof was my first Christmas after my last parent died. I had planned a trip to Mt Shasta alone and arrived in Sacramento with an expired drivers license so that I could not rent a car to get there and the train schedule would not work either. Luckily , a friend in Sacramento was able to pick me up at the car rental and drove me to Berkeley to Jey Clark's apartment, which was always available as a place to crash. I stayed there until my return flight departed. Much to my surprise Kathy was living there and became a fashion advisor, lending me clothes for a party, etc.and it was a great time for us to catch up and be together. She was beginning another stint in the Bay Area, with her amazing ability to land those graphic art positions.

Kathy you were such a breath of fresh air, caring, and link for what was happening in the community. You have left an immense light in your wake. May we all live with the respect that you had for others and with such great enthusiasm for Rinpoche's vision. You had the courage and stayed the course. You had an idea of sangha and you created it. EM A HO.

Great thanks to Gerry, Paula, Jacqueline Gens and all sangha who supported Kathy in the final days and hours and to her loving family who cared for her during her acute illness phase. These are heroic actions and part of her extremely fortunate birth and death.

From Linda Merritt-- February 4, 2014

Kathy was a good friend, consistently keeping in touch, always wanting to share what was going on with me. Her  stories amused and brought me into her larger world. She loved her friends and often described them with delight. I know many of her friends through her tales of them, she was a loving viewer of humanity, not a gossip, an appreciator of many of our sangha's characters.
       I admired her adventurous spirit, showing up as an extra in a low budget movie in the midst of her leukemia treatments, with her head in a bandana to cover her bare scalp, shaky, tired, but eyes on fire for life. Nothing could stop her, she was on the Red gagyil even though it would have been easier to just focus on taking care of her numerous health issues. She enjoyed discovering and sharing new authors, never gave up on expanding her skills, even driving this year an hour to Springfield in her old car, with imperfect vision, to learn website design and creation.
       Her courage and desire to participate in the world around her will continue to nudge me to extend myself as she did.

From Susan & Joanie Ericson, Connecticut  

We'd really like to have our small tribute posted there for Kathy.  It's shown below.  Will you add it?  Please let us know.  And thank you so much for everything.

Susan Ericson

Susan Ericson, 61 Lower Church Hill Road, Washington Depot CT 06794
Tel: 860-868-7555

Joanie Ericson, El Paso TX

     Thanks, Kath, for the laugh and yakka-yakka fests, the many cartoons drawn, meals cooked and clean-ups done, for all the help and support over nearly forty years. Thanks for being so gracious when our resident goat ate your sculpture.  Thanks for being the courageous person who traveled the world and brought us stories of other lands and cultures we’d never see first hand.  Thanks for the bravery you showed in the wee hours when a loud gruff voice shouting from downstairs in the farmhouse woke some of us up.  We crept into your room to warn you of the intrusion and to think of a plan.  Without being asked, you shot out of bed and rocketed downstairs to save us all.  Fortunately it was the intoxicated elderly father of a friend who just came to visit and who, upon leaving (committing DUI) mowed down our entire flower garden – thankfully the only damage done that night.  We latched the screen doors after that.  Thank you for allowing, on that warm Spring day, a Decorator Bird to pluck some of the red-gold hairs from your head so that it could build the fanciest nest in the neighborhood.
       We drove with Kathy cross country to Berkeley in 1981.  There she began her Dzogchen journey.   Over the years we admired her devotion to the path and dedication to her practice.  And we’re awed by what she told us of the Community, particularly the support and caring showed during the difficult times.
        Blessings on you as you travel and learn, Kathleen McGrane.  And blessings to all.
        We love you, Kath.

Shitro Ganapuja Scheduled for Kathy McGrane on Friday, December 27 at 7:30 PM at Tsegyalgar East

[photo by Neil Murray, 1994]

Dear Vajra Family,

There will be a Shitro Ganapuja for Kathy McGrane on Friday, December 27th at 7:30pm at the Tsegyalgar East Schoolhouse.  Kathy is in the ICU at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts for complications related to the recurrence of her leukemia and respiratory duress. The prognosis is extremely poor and it is unlikely she will recover.

If you are unable to attend the Shitro Ganapuja, then please include Kathy in your practice.

Thank you,

The Tsegyalgar East Blue Gakyil

Season's Greetings from Tsegyalgar East and Khandroling: Be Merry, Be Bright

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Message from Prima Mai about Khandroling Paper Cooperative's Festschrift* Project

Dear Creatives of the Dzogchen Community, 

In Tsegyalgar East, Jacqueline Gens representing Khandroling Paper Cooperative is organizing with the participation of all of us a very nice Gift for Rinpoche related to artworks, poems, calligraphy, dreams etc. in connection to the Vajra Dance during the inauguration of the Mandala Hall during the Tsegyalgar East's 30th Anniversary Celebration -  Come Join the Dance, July 11-13, 2014 in Khandroling. 

Everyone has one or two pages available. 

Visit the Tsegyalgar Community Blog with more info about this project and send your contributions by the end of February 2014.

Please circulate in your local Community and among Vajra Dancers, via also your local Gakyil for help.

Prima Mai

* A Festschrift is a  book by many people honoring the work of a great scholar. Festschrift literally means "Celebration Writing." 

Annual Winter Retreat at Tsegyalgar East December 27, 2013-January 1, 2014

Please join us for our Annual Winter Retreat at Tsegyalgar East in the Yellow Schoolhouse in Conway, MA - beginning Dakini Day, the evening of December 27, 2013 and ending on January 1, 2014.

December 27, 2013 is Dakini`s day when he Retreat starts with Mandarava Ganapuja on Friday night and ends with New Moon ganapuja on Wed. January 2, 2014.

Full Schedule:

December 27th (Friday)  Dakini Day Retreat Begins: 
6:00pm Explanation of Mandarava Practice with Mudras, and Ganapuja
7:30pm Mandarava Ganapuja with Vajra Dance

December 28th (Saturday) 
5:00am Rinpoche will be giving Kalachakra Teachings webcast from Tenerife.  The Gekos will make this available to listen in the gompa.
10:00am Short Tun of Mandarava preceded by explanation of the TsgogTig breathing
12-1:30pm Lunch Break, bring your own lunch
1:30-3:30-Making of Dadars followed by long practice of Mandarava (materials provided)
4-6:00 Yantra Yoga with concentration on Pranayama practices from the first and second groups

December 29th (Sunday)
5:00am Webcast of Kalachakra Retreat in the Gompa for those who wish
10:00am Short Mandarava Practice preceded by explanation of TsogTig breathing 
12-1:30pm Lunch Break
1:30-3:30pm Long Mandarava practice preceded by explanation of another of the Tsalungs of Mandarava
4-6:00pm Vajra Dance explanation and practice

December 30th (Monday)
5:00am Webcast of Kalachakra retreat
10am-noon Mandarava Practice preceded by explanation of another of the Tsalungs of Mandarava
12-1:30pm Yantra Yoga with concentration on pranayamas

December 31st (Tuesday)
5:00am Webcast of Kalachakra Retreat
10am-noon Mandarava Practice with Tsalung Explanation
12-1:30pm Vajra Dance session

January 1st (Wednesday) Dark Moon Retreat Ends:

5:00 am Webcast of Kalachakra Retreat
10am Mandarava Ganapuja with Vajra Dance

*The schedule is subject to change according to peoples needs and desires.  Also, depending on the schedule that  Rinpoche establishes in Tenerife for the Kalachakra retreat.

CONTACT THE GEKO: Chris Latkowski at about staying in the dom.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Shang Shung Institute Reaches Indiegogo Goal!

Thanks so much to those who have already contributed to our indiegogo campaign!  We really appreciate everything you do to support the Shang Shung Institute and we're moved by your generosity. So far we've raised $7,195 from 58 generous funders!  Wow! 

But we still need your help!  The campaign ends in 5 days, and we'd like to meet our funding goal, and with your help, maybe even surpass it to ensure the future of the Shang Shung Institute of America and the School of Tibetan Medicine.
Would you be willing to post our campaign on your facebook page or other social media? Thanks in advance for your help in getting the word out.
Below are some pictures of the amazing gifts that you can receive for donating to this project: most are still available!  Even a $10 donation can make a huge difference, so please give according to your capacity.  Our campaign will only be available for 5 more days, so don't delay!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Congratulations to Lama Tsultrim Allione and Family on the birth of her Grandchild - Another Auspicious birth date on December 8

C. Bodhi Archer Allione: Born December 8, Bangkok Thailand on the day the police laid down their helmets and shields, so protesters could pass peacefully, Birthday of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, and feast day of Santa Maria Immaculata to joyful parents Costanzo and Cady Allione. Welcome Bodhi!

-Reprinted from Lama Tsultrim Allione’s Facebook page

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Peer Fortunato to Read his Poems December 18


It’s been a big and busy and productive year for me as a poet and artist. Thank you for your continuing support.  I’ll be reading some very new poems as well as work from Late Morning at the Tompkins County Public Library,Wednesday, December 18 at 6:00 pm in the BorgWarner Community Room.  At the event, Buffalo Street Books will have copies of Late Morningfor sale, and it will be a pleasure to sign them for you.  I hope to see you there!

Video of Michela Martello Community Artist

Michela Martello, a Dzogchen Community member, living in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn with her husband Mauro, is an artist. Vist her website at:

To view a video of Michela at work visit link below