Monday, September 30, 2013

Khandroling Farm Coop Reports that the Blueberry Bushes have Arrived

Joe Zurylo of the Khandroling Farm Coop wrote to say that they have received the shipment of Blueberry bushes ready for planting. 

The coop team requests that people who are available to plant the bushes this weekend show up at the farm on Sat/Sun located on 160 East Buckland Road.

Farm manager Nary Mitchell and others will be there all weekend.

The Coop team of Yuchen, Nary, Joe and with some help from Sean have been preparing the Blueberry site for many weeks. See the following story on The Khandroling Farm Coop website. 


Photo of Live Participants at Tsegyalgar East Kumbhaka and 7th Lojong Weekend with Naomi Zeitz

Many Thanks to Ruben for the expert webinar that made this weekend available to the Santi Maha Sangha online Study group---a successful pilot program bringing to those qualified individuals who are members an opportunity for participation even while living far from Tsegyalgar East. Twenty people participated online from Mexico, Georgia, Texas, Washington D.C., Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, New Mexico, Canada, and Brazil.

Thanks too to Naomi and the Blue Gakyil!

[photo by Yeshe Tsomo]

Photo of SMS Base Course on Semdzin and Rushan  with Steve Landsberg

[photo by Bret Bourman]

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shang Shung US and Khandroling Paper Cooperative Partner UP for the Annual Conway Festival of the HIlls


Join us in the Craft Tent on October 6, 2013 for the annual Conway Festival of the Hills where Shang Shung Institute US will share a booth with Khandroling Paper Cooperative.

Come make some paper, get a mini-massage, and enjoy lots of good eats like momos from Northampton's Lhasa Cafe and an array of great international foods.

It's the traditional hill town harvest festival : Join in the bounty if you live nearby!

[photo by Paula Barry]

Free Gift from Shang Shung Editions to Celebrate their 30th Anniversary

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Shang Shung Publications we're pleased to offer our steadfast readers the texts of five of the one hundred and eight songs that Chögyal Namkhai Norbu recently selected to demonstrate the vitality and importance of the Tibetan culture and people.

This booklet can be downloaded for free from the webshop of Shang Shung Publications:

Shang Shung Publications, founded by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1983 and current publisher of the International Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Studies, has dedicated itself these years to the diffusion of the Dzogchen teaching transmitted by the Master, as well as of works of history, literature, medicine, and astrology concerning the traditional sciences of Tibetan culture, written by the Master himself and by other qualified authors.

Multimedia works produced in these thirty years amounted to four hundred titles related to the practice of the Dzogchen teaching reserved for interested students, seventy books for the general public, fifty video and forty audio products, some also in the form of ebooks and digital items downloadable from internet.

All these works, originally published in English and Italian, have been translated into twenty major languages, totaling nearly eight hundred translations supervised and authorized by the auditors of the International Publications Committee linked to the publishing house. This large publishing enterprise, based on the work and tireless leadership of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, was made possible thanks to the commitment of a staff of specialists including translators from Tibetan and other languages, editors, graphic artists, administrators, and so on, as well as the collaboration of hundreds of volunteers who have offered their work gratuitously at all stages of production, from the transcription of the teachings to the printing of the completed works. Finally, the contribution of thousands of donors who generously provided financial support, either spontaneously or in response to requests of Shang Shung, was vital. In particular, we note the important support of the Project Complete Works of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and the Kater Project, managed by the Shang Shung Institute of Austria, which continue to raise funds for the payment of the translators from Tibetan and for the training of qualified translators.

To the Master, and to all the collaborators who have helped to disseminate his words, we express our heartfelt thanks.

Shang Shung USA Bookstore Now Offers Drajyor Pronunciation Couse online

Learn Chögyal Namkhai Norbu's Drajyor System via a NEW online, on demand course!  Offered by the Shang Shung Institute USA Bookstore

The webcast of Fabian Sander’s Drajyor course at Tsegyalgar East is now being offered ON DEMAND, so you can watch it from anywhere in the world, whenever you want!!!

You will have access to 10 hours of teachings that originally took place from March 1-3, 2013

Information on the course is as follows:
Drajyor Course Instructor Fabian Sanders, Professor, University of Venice

The Drajyor phonetic transcription system was devised by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu  in order for students who do not know Tibetan to be able to pronounce easily the Tibetan practice texts of the Dzogchen Community. This course is open to all who are interested in the Teachings and practices of the Dzogchen Community. Here is a rare opportunity to learn the correct pronunciation of our Ganapuja. 

The following texts are studied:

Click here to learn more or to purchase the course

Fantastic Video of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Teaching on the Mejung Tantra on You Tube


Last Call for 7th Lojong Weekend with Naomi Zeitz, September 28th and 29th, 2013

 Kumbhaka and the 7th Lojong with Naomi Zeitz

The 7th of the Seven Mind Trainings presented in the Precious Vase are the three trainings in Meditative Stability in the State Beyond Thought. The text presents three types of practice, training in the state through pleasure and emptiness, through clarity and emptiness and training in the ultimate nature of reality (bar rlung). In order to apply these three practices one must have some mastery of kumbhaka. So to this end, this course will focus on the theoretical aspect of kumbhaka, and more importantly the application of the methods of Yantra Yoga that help us to understand and apply kumbhaka. In each morning session we will focus on training through basic complete breathing techniques to establish a base, on to some simple application of movements of Yantra Yoga that focus on breathing and holding, and then to the application of a variety of pranayamas that help us understand and apply the holdings that constitute kumbhaka. These pranayamas we will focus on are the pranayama of tsadul, the pranayama of the Four Conditions of the 1st series and the pranayama of the Four Profound Applications (Rhythmic Breathing) of the 2nd series. Each afternoon we will then take this understanding and experience and together attempt to apply this knowledge to the trainings in Meditative Stability in the State Beyond Thought. Some experience in Yantra Yoga is helpful.

Requirements: Transmission and membership are required.

Instructor:  Naomi Zeitz has been a student of Yantra Yoga since 1987 and was first authorized as an instructor by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 2008. She specializes in teaching simple yet profound methods of breathing and working with people of all ages and physical conditions. Local participation is open to all members who have had transmission.

Saturday and Sunday morning: 9:30 – noon 
Saturday and Sunday afternoon: 3-6:00 pm

Venue: Tsegyalgar East Gonpa, 18 Schoolhouse Rd, Conway MA Cost: 

Cost: Full Retreat: $100 Per Day: $50 Per Session: $30 Registration Form Meritorious Members: No Charge Meritorious Registration Form Online Whole Retreat: $50*

SPECIAL SMS Online Study Group Registration *Rinpoche has requested that the online access be made available only to those who have participated in the online SMS Study Group. This is according to Rinpoche's instructions. We are keeping this first webcasted retreat very economical because this is part of developing more webcasted courses. We want to ensure that connectivity is good, the ability to see and hear Naomi is good, that this kind of retreat approach is useful and feasible to students. Any questions about this, please write: Elisa Gonzalez at For more information about other matters, please contact:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The White Butterfly Jacqueline Gens

ON the last day before his departure, our visiting guest artist for Khandroling Paper Cooperative from Nepal, Milan Rai, created one of his magical installations on the barn at Lower Khandroling. Auspiciously, Milan’s coming and going seemed to coincide with the synchronous events of transformation currently happening on upper and lower Khandroling. A young sprite of a man, he came and went with a light foot print, leaving his butterflies and the spirit of transformation everywhere. All sorts of people were captivated by his simple handing out white butterflies with no particular agenda. The following represent some of the remarkable changes manifesting on Khandroling. [A full review of Milan's visit to a local high school and participation in an art opening are forthcoming on the Khandroling Paper Cooperative website.]

Forest Rehabitation and Tree Cutting

One of the most dramatic events on Upper Khandroling at present is the long awaited scheduled removal of white pine, dead debris, and unwanted first growth scrub such as Hemlock that inhibit the presence of wildlife and a flourishing forest. This project was developed a few years ago as part of a grant to the state of Massachusetts to create new habitat for small animals, especially birds. Years ago Rinpoche selected trees that should be eliminated such as all the white pine. As the tree cutting takes place, still many beautiful forest hardwoods are being retained in the landscape that will eventually become verdant open fields leading up to the spectacular Mandala Hall at the site of the Universal Mandala. Wild flowers and bulbs were planted this past year in preparation for the altered landscape. The same company undertaking this project was enlisted to clear the two possible sites for the Community House/Gonpa that Rinpoche asked us to build when he was in residence this past summer. Both sites that Rinpoche visited and performed offerings have been cleared for building. See our previous story here.

Before bringing on the awesome machinery necessary for this project, there was Guardian and Serkyem practice.

[one of the sites proposed by Rinpoche for a gonpa/community house]

The following pictures of the road leading up to the stupa from the pond on Upper Khandroling are by Paula Barry:

The monster "tree eater"

Mandala Hall Floor of the Universal Mandala

Amid the din of heavy machinery, Jim Smith and Nary Mitchell, with a few volunteers, have been quietly troubleshooting the arduous process of preparing the surface to apply color to the incised Universal Mandala. The process is intricate and multifaceted. An interview is forthcoming but for now let me just share my first impression of the applied white color of the Universal Mandala, the first of the coloration which required thirteen coats!

I was simply awed by the translucency of the color, which appears transparent like a delicate skin where one can see organic patterns of veins and cells - something alive. The effect like much of the Mandala Hall itself, defies the actual density on the material level of the concrete materiality manifesting in a fusion of lightness, with a kind of floating quality. You will have to see for yourself. 

Pictures at this point do not do justice to this quality. The next application of color will be yellow so perhaps the pictures will show something of this quality better than the white.

[The surface needed to be swept before each application of paint or sealer]

It is useful to know that the Universal Mandala on Khandroling will be the first thoroughly accurate mandala to scale. Here is a segment of the master rendered to scale that is being followed where golden lines will transect the boundaries of the Earth and Solar Mandalas.

Many thanks to all those workers, donors and supporters of this project from around the world. We look forward to seeing some of you during our inauguration proceedings in the summer of 2014.

Lower Khandroling Farm Cooperative 

This year, the land surrounding Rinpoche's modest house on the land that was once a working farm began to come alive with the constant care and attention of the newly formed Khandroling Coop team spearheaded by Yuchen Namkhai, whose vibrant vision of a sustainable community for the future of the Gar is the guiding light behind this project.

[view of Rinpoche's house from the south field photo by Yuchen Namkhai]

Connecting the farm and the upper Khandroling property is a state of the art road that is partially paved leading from the far end of the meadow up to the property known as the Colonial’s property, the nearest neighbor to our retreat land and the Mary Lyon parking lot, thus easily connecting the two properties. Wild flowers were flourishing along side the road in a burst of riotous color. Bees, mushrooms, and hundreds of blueberry bushes are being planted this month.

Summer 2014

Many activities are currently in the works to celebrate the special events planned for the summer of 2014, including the inauguration of the Mandala Hall for the Universal Mandala. 

Jacqueline Gens
September 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Interview with Erik Jampa Andersson

I met Erik Jampa Andersson during our Shang Shung Institute welcome dinner for Astrology students in residence for the online Tibetan Medicine program for the first time in August, 2013. His story seemed so unusual but 'common,'  so I followed up with a more in-depth interview. 

Jampa, when we spoke earlier you mentioned that you've been a student of Lama Tsultrim's since you were thirteen. How did you connect to the teachings at such a tender age? What kinds of trainings have you undergone?  
I was lucky to have a sort of predisposition towards spirituality. My grandmother is a practicing Wiccan, so while I was never tremendously close with her, I was spared the religious biases that come with a classic Christian upbringing. While my functionally agnostic parents would drag me along to their twice-a-year church visits, both had dabbled in New Age spiritualism in the 70s and 80s, so terms like “transcendental meditation” were a part of my vernacular from a very young age. My innate hunger for knowledge was both a blessing and a curse growing up. While my friends were playing sports or video games, I spent my free time reading about ancient cultures, alternative religions, and the occult (though I left plenty of room for the works of JRR Tolkien, which heavily influenced my childhood). I knew that I wanted to be religious, but even at 11 years old, continuing life as a Christian required far too much cognitive dissonance for my rational mind. I actually got suspended from my Christian middle school for openly challenging the pastor who taught religion class.
Eventually, when I was around 11 or 12, I stumbled upon a book on Zen and absolutely fell in love with Buddhism. I joined a local Vipassana center and received meditation instructions, but after a year of sitting with them and attending retreats, I still didn’t feel like my craving for religiousness was being satiated. Intrigued by the fantastical esotericism of Tibetan Buddhism, I read a copy of “The Lotus Born,” a namthar of Guru Rinpoche, and I was completely overwhelmed with devotion. I decided that I wanted to be a Nyingmapa, and set out in search of a teacher. I had heard about Tara Mandala and Lama Tsultrim (then just known as Tsultrim), and begged my parents to drive me the 1.5 hours to go make a pilgrimage to the land. They agreed (albeit with no small amount of trepidation), and took me out to the land on a cold October day. We hadn’t called ahead or inquired about appropriate visitor hours, so we aimlessly wandered over to the most inviting of the dozen yurts on the seemingly empty land. Surprisingly, Lama Tsultrim happened to be there. She invited me in, and I proudly told her, “I’m Nyingma!” I was blown away by her, caught up in what I can only imagine is a fairly standard experience when one meets their root guru for the first time. She offered me a copy of “Women of Wisdom,” and told me to come back to receive teachings. If my parents had let me, I would have never left. I read WoW cover-to-cover, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for days. I was enchanted by the stories of Machig Labdrön and Chöd, and felt like I had finally found my spiritual home. Looking back 10 years later, I surely had. 
As far as training, I’ve been fortunate to receive many teachings on a wide range of subjects from Lama Tsultrim and other great teachers.The teachings that have been closest to my heart have been on Chöd, and I have been very lucky to be present for the transmission of the Dzinpa Rangdröl (Self-Liberation of Clinging) Terma cycle of Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje. We just completed our fourth Drupchen (Great Accomplishment Ceremony) in the cycle this August, where I served as a chöppon.

How old are you now and what are your priorities these days?
I am 22 right now. Dharma practice is always my first priority. It’s been a bit of a challenge finding a healthy balance between practice and the “real world,” which left me bouncing around colleges for a couple of years after high school. I’m a trained Musical Theatre performer, but after spending a year at The Boston Conservatory, my acting endeavors felt increasingly devoid of meaning. I went to Naropa University for a year, studying Tibetan language and religious studies, but didn’t feel that academia was the route I wanted to be going down, either. After spending some time re-evaluating my intentions, I stumbled upon SSI’s Tibetan Medicine program, and it has very much lit a fire under me. Now, my sights are entirely focused on becoming a Tibetan Doctor.

What attracted you to the Shang Shung Tibetan Medicine program?
I’ve always had a penchant for helping people, and my mother has always been a bit of an encyclopedia for nutrition and holistic medicine. While I had my years of rebellion, I think she sowed many of the naturopathic seeds that are now starting to mature in my life. I had first read about Tibetan Medicine about 8 years ago, but didn’t get the opportunity to experience it firsthand until I was living in Boulder in 2010. I was suffering from a rather debilitating chronic gastrointestinal disorder and kept coming up short with allopathic doctors, so I finally made an appointment with Dr. Nashalla Gwyn-Nyinda (a graduate of SSI’s program). I was immediately impressed by her expertise, and after about a week of treatment, I literally felt better than I had in years. I already had faith-based trust in the healing system, but experiencing the real efficacy of the medicine was a bit surprising. She remains my primary physician, and I have sent about a dozen friends and family to see her, as well. Seeing how much corruption exists in our medical and pharmaceutical industries, and seeing how much people are craving an alternative solution to their health woes, I think that now is the perfect time for Tibetan Medicine to really spread in the west. And with my existing connection to the teachings of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, finding a home at Shang Shung seems very natural. I am so immensely grateful to Rinpoche, Gen Phuntsog Wangmo, and all those who have helped make this program a reality.
Can you talk about how knowledge of the Teachings influences your life?
I went through a fair deal of difficulty through my adolescent years. I came out of the closet when I was 14, and was met with anything but ease and acceptance. I was bullied, beaten up, ridiculed, had death threats against me, was followed home on a regular basis, etc. I even had to get the cops involved a few times. While being bullied was something I had always been accustomed to, being gay made it a culturally sanctioned activity. Even the parents of my bullies would talk about how unusual, non-athletic or effeminate I was. I went through three different middle schools, leaving one of them after having a beehive placed in my desk, all because I was perceived as being a "faggot" (despite the fact that I was still completely ignorant to my own sexual orientation). I felt like I was unclean. An abomination. It was around this time that Buddhism came into my life. The Four Noble Truths were quite easy for me to relate to, but the concept of innate Buddha-nature was a total paradigm shift. It’s that shift from original sin to primordial purity that really helped me get through my own self-loathing. Buddhist meditation gave me the skills to control my own mind, and to confront the anger and fear that had arisen out of a lifetime of harassment. I had the opportunity to really internalize that age-old cliché that “hurt people hurt people,” and to realize that my own bullies were only acting from a place of suffering. Lama Tsultrim’s “Feeding Your Demons” process (then called “Cutting Through Fear”) was probably the most life-changing practice that I encountered in my early Buddhist years. Working with the darkness and pain directly instead of suppressing it allowed me to grow and benefit from my experiences, instead of becoming a prisoner to my own self-pity. It sounds painfully dramatic, but I’m not sure if I would still be alive if I hadn’t met the teachings when I did. 
What are some of your future "plans" if any?
A lot is up in the air at the moment. I am planning on relocating from Los Angeles (where I currently live with my partner and my dog) within the somewhat-near future, but the next location is still TBD. My only “definite” future plans are finishing the Tibetan Medicine program (and continuing on to any post-graduate programs that SSI develops), and eventually opening up a clinic. Many Thanks--Jacqueline.

A talented performer--Here is Erik's "dharmatized" birthday greeting to his teacher, Lama Tsultrim


LOOK WHAT WE FOUND: A Vintage photo of Jim Valby and Kathy McGrane hard at work in the new schoolhouse circa early 1990's. Just one of many gems we are looking at among hundreds of archival photos collected by Sara Handley, John Foster, Paula Barry and Naomi Zeitz over the years at Tsegyalgar.

Unfortunately, in reviewing the most recent batch of photos, there is an almost total lack of photos of Rinpoche from 1982 to the early nineties during his first decade of teaching in the US. In honor of the celebrations next summer, we would like to create a virtual timeline of Rinpoche's 30 plus years in America.  In order to complete this project, we are asking the international Dzogchen Community to help us locate photos from 1979-1990 that we can professionally scan. Please write for further information.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Openness in the Community: International Reorganization and Implications for Lings and Gars

Merigar - Gonpa September 14th -15th 2013
For a full schedule of live webcasts
visit, here

Your guess is as good as mine how to link to these webcast events! Check back here to see if there is further information

Practicing Together for the Full Moon Mandarava Ganapuja September 19, 2013

As part of the monthly Practicing Together program, Tsegyalgar East will host an international webcast on September 19, 2013, of the Full Moon Mandarava Ganapuja including Vajra Dance dedicated to the health of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and all those in need of healing  beginning at 7:30 PM EDT in the Tsegyalgar East gonpa. There will be a Vajra Dance Tun as usual prior to the Ganapuja at 6:30 PM.

Please visit the web page of Practicing Together where you can access the video and audio live broadcast at :

For further information contact

To establish the precise time in your zone use this or many of the world-clock time converters online. For full details on the Tsegyalgar East Events, calendar, visit here. 

Article by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu "The Mirrror: Advice on Presence and Awareness (dran pa dang shes bzhin gyi gdams pa me long ma)

The article by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, "The Mirror: Advice on Presence and Awareness (dran pa dang shes bzhin gyi gdams pa me long ma)" has been published just now in RELIGIONS.

RELIGIONS (ISSN 2077-1444) is an international and interdisciplinary academic peer-review open access journal on religions and theology published quarterly online by MDPI

The article is downloadable cost-free, being open-access.

You are invited to share, publish the reference and its link in all International Dzogchen Community websites in order to download it and implement the access ratio in the journal

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. The Mirror: Advice on Presence and Awareness (dran pa dang shes bzhin gyi gdams pa me long ma). Religions 2013;4(3):412-422.

The other articles published in the Issue are retrieved here:

Roberti di Sarsina P, Colitto A, Risolo FM. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. The Master Who Revealed Dzogchen to the Western World. Religions 2013;4(2):230-239.

Albini CM. On Dealing with Destructive Emotions through the “Path of Self-Liberation”. Religions 2013;4(2):306-312.

Roberti di Sarsina P. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche: Dzogchen and Tibetan Tradition. From Shang Shung to the West. Religions 2012;3(2):163-182.

Many Thanks to Paolo Roberti di Sarsina for communicating this to the International Dzogchen Community. 

Complexities of Tibetan Culture Past and Present: Five Book Reviews by Jesse Abbott in Mandala Magazine

Dzogchen Community member, Jesse Abbot, has several outstanding book reviews about Tibetan culture featured in the newest online edition of Mandala Magazine published by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (, an international Buddhist organization with centers in 37 countries. The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition is an international, non-profit organization, founded in 1975 by Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-84), a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Click here for the reviews. 

Among the books reviewed by Jesse are :

A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet: Volume One: The Early Period By Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
The Tibetan History Reader Edited by Gray Tuttle and Kurtis R. Schaeffer

The Epic of Gesar of Ling: Volumes One to Three: Gesar’s Magical Birth, Early Years, And Coronation as King Translated by Robin Kornman, Ph.D., Sangye Khandro, and Lama Chönam.

Sources of Tibetan Tradition Edited by Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Matthew T. Kapstein, and Gray Tuttle  
A Hundred Thousand White Stone By Kunsang Dolma
Stay tuned for Jesse's upcoming review of the Three Volume set of Chogyam Trungpa's The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma in the Mirror and here.

J.I. Abbot is a poet, full-time professor of philosophy and writing, and private consultant who helps businesses and individuals around the world engage powerful principles of poetics and contemplative silence. Based in Connecticut, he can be reached at (00 +1) 860-523-0123 or His website is

Monday, September 9, 2013

Schedule for Rushan and Semdzin Weekend September 13-15, 2013 with Steve Landsberg

Schedule for Tsegyalgar East Friday evening, September 13, 2013: Introduction to the course and discussion of essential points of instruction on sms, sutra, tantra, and dzogchen. Finish with a practice of Guru yoga. 5:00pm - 7:00 pm

Saturday morning, September 14, 2013: Explanation of principle of Rushan and Semzin and begin practice session with secret rushan of body and semdzin of white A. 10:00am - 12:00 noon 

Saturday afternoon, September 14, 2013: Discussion of Padma Sambhava’s Four Conditions of Understanding and continue practice of rushan of speech and semdzin with the letter Ram. 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Sunday morning, September 15, 2013: Discussion of the three characteristics from the Garland of Views and practice of rushan of mind and semdzin with the letter Hum. 10:00am - 12:00 noon

Sunday afternoon, September 15, 2013: Discussion of Four aspects of approach and accomplishment and continue practice with rushan of mind and supporting positions, and semdzin. 3:00pm - 5:00pm Note: Throughout the program reference will be made to principle points of Santi Maha Sangha Base.

This is only tentative program and adjustments will be made to accommodate various circumstances.

Requirement: Members who have had the Guru Transmission
Questions should be directed to the
Cost: Whole Retreat: $75 Per Session: $20 Meritorious Membership: No Charge
Click Here to Pay and Register Online
Meritorious Members: Click Here to Register
Registration Questions Contact:

How I Met Rinpoche By Greg Johnson

How I met Rinpoche

By Gregg Johnson

reprinted from The Mirror, Issue 123

The following article offers an historic overview of the early retreats with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in California  

The supreme good fortune of meeting Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is an occasion that I sincerely wish may manifest for as many beings as possible, and it is certainly the most precious of opportunities in this life. For me, the circumstances leading up to my first retreat in 1986 evolved through many other favorable circumstances, and I am in awe to consider the auspicious occasions that ensued. How these times of life are brought about, one never knows, despite all efforts to reconstruct some tattered threads. To recount the bumps and slides of my life along the way is to risk a fatuous exercise in pointless vanities. I dedicate it to your entertainment, perhaps a laugh or two, and testament to the supreme compassion of our precious master.

When very young I had dreams, nightmares perhaps, in which vast proportionality and microscopic tiny-ness were somehow interchangeable. Much later, reading of Milarepa staying dry in a yak horn during a hailstorm, I understood. Like others in the sixties, I was greatly amused by an English plumber claiming to be a Tibetan Lama, T. Lobsang Rampa. Soon after I encountered writings of Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup through Evans-Wentz – it was 1970 in Colorado Springs.

My freshman year at Colorado State University passed being enrolled as a philosophy major studying Eastern thought with Professor Suk Koo Lee, and expert in the work of Zhuangzi. Take away? My most carefully considered conclusions were entirely misguided, and the life of an academic would do nothing except reinforce them. I was accepted at California Institute of the Arts and declared my major in the classical music of North India, Tabla. CalArts. Ahh, the E-ticket ride down the razors edge. What’s it going to be, hedonism or asceticism? (Luckily I’ve not been forced to select.) My professor Bill Douglas introduced me to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Bill brought me to many events, such as with His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in the Black Crown Ceremony at the Masonic Temple in downtown L.A. 

By this time I’d been performing in concerts of the classical music of India and meeting a great many of the musicians in this milieu. Steve Landsberg and performed in concerts in California, New Mexico and Hawaii. Thus it was that I became aware of Dzogchen and discovered that a retreat was to be held in Redwood City in 1986.  When I arrived at this gorgeous piece of wooded land that summer afternoon, a kind of auction was going on such as I had never experienced.  Outside in a field, in the most relaxed way one can imagine, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was conducting a slow motion bidding exchange: “Who will fifty” he would say in an extremely pleasant and good natured tone. Then, after several minutes, again, “Who will fifty?”  I took my seat in the grass, totally amazed by the proceedings. I could not ascertain that anyone was paying attention or communicating their bid. Clumps of friends nonchalantly chatted and laughed, and somehow the bid would be acknowledged, completely unseen by me no matter how I tried. Then, “Who will hundred?” and thus time passed by. Eventually the thanka or statue would sell, and a round of scattered applause would erupt. On to the next item. It was absolutely the most slow motion transaction imaginable, and I was mesmerized. The pure joy of it, utterly without tension whatsoever. And, somehow a transmission of the most relaxed presence throughout it all.
Now, after 27 years, the Dzogchen Community in Los Angeles is alive and well, and we are growing. The journey of our sangha continues along, having survived 25 years of cultivation, energized by the amazing devotion of our precious Master. Fascinating place, Los Angeles. Much maligned, and deservedly so. I remember Alan Watts using us as a verb:  the 'Los Angeles-zation' of society, when referring to the ugly wanton suburban sprawl of consumeristic hot rodders blazing mindlessly across an asphalt prairieland. But alongside the monstrosity of Hollywood celebriosity and the endless miles of concrete, glass and steel there is also another side.  

The first series of annual retreats by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in Los Angeles took place at the International Buddhist Meditation Center - a three-story house located in a very urban neighborhood at 928 S. New Hampshire. Retreats were held in the living room, which could hold maybe 40 people sitting packed on the floor. Yet, there we were, surrounded by light.

There were three years of retreats in 1987-89 as I remember, and several in Northern California as well.  On one occasion, Michael Katz of Dream Yoga fame asked me to accompany them to dinner in small group that included our precious master. To say that I was surprised and overwhelmed was an understatement. I felt suddenly embarrassed even to admit that I needed food, much less to be in the presence of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in a small Thai place. But, somehow, I mustered the courage and agreed. As we waited to cross the street, Michael said, "Rinpoche, I saw something really interesting in Santa Monica yesterday."  And Rinpoche replied, "No, I don't believe it. Something interesting in Santa Monica?" Instantly, a wonderfully humorous way of total presence and, in the laugh, a profound statement about the entire scene. Here we were, surrounded by the noisy smoggy rumble on one of those stinky humid L.A. nights, and, suddenly freed from any tension, the darkness sparkled. Yet though this wretched LaLa city, so devoid of any redeeming points of interest, was naked for anyone to see, out of nowhere this glimmer of “reason to be here” just … arrived, and it continues to arrive today.

Once during those days at the IBMC in which the retreat deliciously stretched long through the mornings and afternoons, having just arrived back from a lunch break, I entered the room to see our precious Master napping on the floor in the center of the room. Around the edges were various of us practitioners, not daring to peep. The magical absurdity of the moment was palpable.  How could this be? Asleep in our midst, dressed in relaxed L.A. casuals, this master of the Great Perfection totally relaxed, and then, he rose up, instantly fully awake, and began conversing with the stone statue of Buddha Shakyamuni on the alter across the room.  No hesitation, nothing to it. And we all sat transfixed, waiting for the statue to reply. Although it was not audible to us, apparently the discourse was rich and woven with meaning. All of this, to me, was miraculous. How could it be?  Beyond explanation, beyond definition. I just relaxed in the state. What else to do?

After those years there were four retreats. In 1995 a retreat took place at a camp in Malibu, and we slept over in bunk beds.  During the Ganapuja on the last day, as I sat in the middle of a sizable assembly of over 200 practitioners, the plates were distributed, and I found myself overcome with mirth. As we sang and sang A La Ho, Maha Suka Ho for what seemed like 30 minutes while everyone received their plate, I was laughing out loud. Rinpoche was laughing as well, and the room seemed filled with light. Just another incredible moment in and endless stream of revelations over the years. Fast forward to 2005 at a retreat in Topanga. I was ensconced in a small corner surrounded by mixing boards controlling the audio.  On Sunday morning the audio signal was not reaching the webcast equipment, and there was a delay for some minutes. During this time I felt a surge of pressure as I traced the connections and struggled to solve the dysfunction. On stage, Rinpoche’s presence was radiant, and then, all at once, freed from tension, the signal resumed and the teaching session commenced.  Just another concrete transmission -- allowing this instant presence to arise naturally, and the struggle ceases.

Last year our Gakyil formed for the retreat in Pasadena. It proved that an urban setting could work and propel our momentum tremendously. This year a venue in Glendale was identified for the retreat. Our Gakyil has expanded; we meet regularly and stream our practice so anyone in L.A. can participate. The schedule for this year promises Vajra Dance, Yantra Yoga, Santi Maha Sangha retreats and much more. Supreme good fortune. And may it be the occasion for benefit for all beings, in Los Angeles, on this planet, and far beyond.

4 July, 2013


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer 2014 Housing Information

Tsegyalgar East has numerous and varied housing options for people planning to attend our Mandala Inauguration celebration July 11-13, 2014 and retreat with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu July 16-22, 2014.

It is not too early to make a housing reservation – July is the height of our summer tourist season, and all the hotels and guest houses will fill up.

Our RETREAT ACCOMMODATIONS  page  here links you to 8 different categories of housing, with something to suit everyone's budget and circumstances.

A few highlights:

Under INNS AND MOTELS, there are chain hotels with special “Buddhist Festival” group rates beginning at $80./night for a double (2 double beds).

* Groups traveling together can stay economically by participating in “Vacation Rental by Owner” (VRBO) or “Home Exchange” – cook your own food and share the cost of a rental car.

 Check back frequently as we update the site

Many events will be held at Khandroling in Buckland, MA and maybe also Mohawk School in Shelburne Falls. The Schoolhouse in Conway cannot possibly accommodate the numbers of participants we anticipate.

Therefore, please give some consideration for the location of your housing for the 2014 events and main retreat, which will not be held in Conway, MA.