Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Uma Shannon Fundraising Performance on December 30, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

Please join us on Wednesday, December 30th at 7:00pm
at East Street Ballet Theater at 47 East Street, Hadley, MA. Uma will be hosting a fundraiser to help with her upcoming spring semester AKLB expenses.

Uma will perform her latest choreographic work, her improvs, and show video of Wester, the well received piece she danced in, in the AKLB New Works Fall Showcase. Uma will also speak about her experiences at AKLB and what she has learned. There will be a reception following the performance.

Please come and/or share this event invitation with your friends and families. All donations are welcome and gratefully accepted.

PS: If you cannot make Uma's performance or if you are not local, and you still wish to help Uma, please donate to and/or share Uma's Generosity by Indiegogo campaign. By clicking on this link you can learn more about Uma by reading her story and her most recent updates.

Also, do you or a friend of yours know anyone who would be willing to host an aspiring, hardworking and talented young artist? Uma is urgently in need of housing, a place where she can cook for herself and sleep. She is almost never home as she dances from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm five days a week, and this excludes rehearsal times and commuting. Uma can cover her own expenses, but she cannot pay rent.

Thank you for supporting Uma so that she can continue her dance education at AKLB this spring, and thus her quest to become a professional dancer. Your assistance and care makes a dramatic difference in helping Uma continue on her artistic path, as we her immediate family are not in a position to help her much in this time.
In gratitude on behalf of Uma and our family,Miranda Shannon

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Recent Additions to our Practice Sessions

There are a number of practice retreats or weekly practices newly scheduled at Tsegyalgar East. To follow up on the details visit our main website at http://www.tsegyalgar.org
  • Annual Mandarava Practice Retreat at Tsegyalgar East December 28-January, 2015
  • Following our week;y Guardian practice there will be an ongoing Chod group at 8:35 PM on Tuesday evenings. 
  • Collective Practices every Sunday 9:30 AM-10:30 AM when there are no week-ends special events in the gonpa
Be sure to visit out weekly schedule and events pages belfor full details on Yantra Yoga, Vajra, Kaita Dance, and other new programs forthcoming soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Important Message from ASIA: Build a School with a Gesture

Dear Friends,

I have just got back a few days ago from a mission in Nepal and I want to tell you about the situation I found and nobody is talking about any more.

Since the end of September, the people of Nepal have been undergoing the adverse effects of the border blockage which India has enacted against Nepal. It is actually a sort of “informal embargo” which has had severe effects on the population. For almost three months there has been a shortage of fuel, cooking gas and goods of prime necessity, with a consequent rise in prices and a flourishing black market.

And unfortunately, the victims are, as always, the weakest persons. After being hit by the earthquake on April 25th, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, these people were starting to get back on their own feet, and have now been subjected to new difficulties.

We have now come into the post-emergency phase when it is necessary to provide support to the population in order to help them rebuild their lives.

ASIA has decided to start from the schools: the next target is to rebuild the schools destroyed by the earthquake starting from the VDCs of Yarsa and Saramthali. We have already conducted the first feasibility missions. The project calls for constructing the school buildings in harmony with Nepalese architecture, using anti-seismic and environmentally sustainable techniques. It is not just limited to rebuilding, but aims to turn the schools into centres for the families.

To implement this project we need as much help as possible, including yours. Don't leave the men, women and children of Nepal on their own.

Andrea dell’Angel  (ASIA Director)

DONATE NOW: Build a School with a Gesture

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Coming of the Light: Greetings from Tsegyalgar East

The Coming of Light*
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light. 
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves, 
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows, 
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine 
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.
..Open your inner eye and observe yourself. Stop searching for a lamp outside of you to illuminate yourself inside. Kindle your inner light. Then the teaching will live in you, and you - in the teaching....  -Choegyal Namkhai Norbu 
-Reprinted from "Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State" (Part 1.1)
SEASON’S GREETINGS and Love to all From Tsegyalgar East
On December 25, 2015 there will be a webcast of Rinpoche
Ganapuja at Tsegyalgar East followed by a “Practicing Together” webcast of Mandarava followed by potluck X’mas Meal


[Photo credit: Dharamsala candle by  Rosemary Rawcliff]
*Poem by Mark Strand Reprinted from the Academy of American Poets website www.poets.org

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sunday Morning Collective Practices for Special Days

Each Sunday morning when there are no special events scheduled, Tsegyalgar East offers Collective Practices at 9:30 AMin the gonpa. Recently by request, Mandarava has been the main practice. However, the idea is to do practices from the Collective Practice bk based on what the participants want to do each week. Although there are many scheduled activities that take precedence over this practice session, it's basically a regular weekly practice time on weekends when there isn't a dance retreat, SMS retreat, a visiting teacher etc. based on desire or needs of the participants. Therefore, it is advised to check the main schedule here before coming. 

In the past, we've done Xitro, Six Lokas, Longsal Ngondro, Guru Yoga of the White AH and other practices found in the Collective Practices for Special Days book.

Transmission Required

Milwaukee Outliers: An Interview with Diana Sullivan

At Nina Robinson’s Mandarava Retreat here at Tsegyagar East, I met up with Diana Sullivan--long time member of the community, who with her husband Michael, often attends Rinpoche’s retreats. This time she decided to come and stay in the dorm on her own and learn more about the community........I was interested in hearing her story although we've been acquainted for over 20 years - Jacqueline Gens

How did you meet Rinpoche?
My husband Michael and I were students of Trungpa Rinpoche from the late '70s until his passing. H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche attended the US cremation ceremonies and then gave teachings at several stops in North America. We were returning home from his teachings in Boulder, CO in 1987. On our way to the airport, we stopped off at Ziji bookstore and discovered a copy of Crystal and the Way of Light. Within a few days, we knew that we wanted to meet Rinpoche and learn about Dzogchen. We contacted Tsegyalgar to find out if we could bring him to Milwaukee for teachings. We were told, "probably not". But, by some auspicious circumstances - Leila Gaidash, an older "new age" woman living here had a friend who had met Rinpoche in Italy and he enthusiastically told her about him. She decided that he must come to Milwaukee; so she went door-to-door in a very snowy winter to gather 3,000 signatures to petition him to visit here in 1989. Leila booked the teaching space at a music venue called the "Wild Thang". This is an older building which was originally known as the Eagles Club. Coincidentally, this was the place where my parents met each other!!!

Nancy and Barry Simmons accompanied Rinpoche here, as Nancy is from Milwaukee. Rinpoche gave teachings on Saturday at the Wild Thang and a local Church, and was invited to the local Shambhala Center to give a presentation. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend all those teachings. Another vajra brother (and former Milwaukeean) Andrei Lazlo also attended Rinpoche's teachings here. Barry and Nancy stayed in Milwaukee for a number of weeks after Rinpoche's visit and they were very kind and generous of their time to help us learn about Rinpoche and Dzogchen.

Our Group Practice in Milwaukee

Since that visit we have been hosting community practices with people in our home, following the community schedule. Typically, we do a ganapuja on Padmasambhava / Dakini days and then do the other recommended practice on new / full moons, to get more familiar with the range of practices.

When our daughter Alison entered in-home hospice and for the 49 days after she died in 2009, we opened our home for practice each evening. Rinpoche was very kind to us and recommended a specific practice. Up to 15 people (people from other sanghas and family and friends) came to our home many evenings to join us in practice for Ali. We also received much support from our world-wide sangha. This was very helpful to us. Thank you for your love and support!

Over the years people have come and gone. When sangha members visit the Milwaukee area, we try to get together to practice as much as possible. We also have done some remote group practices using Google Meetings / Skype. We have participated in the webcasts since their inception, as well as the World-wide transmissions. This is really a most excellent gift from our precious teacher.

Practice at Khandroling

We have not done personal retreats at Khandroling yet; but we hope to have more opportunities to do so now that I am retired; and Michael will be retiring in the next year or so. We each have done dark retreat many years ago.

What Was Your Experience Visiting Tsegyalgar East this Year?

It's awesome that there are offerings of Yantra Yoga, Vajra Dance and Khaita dancing at Tsegyalgar regularly, as well as the community having great, local teachers along with hosting of many excellent teachers from other places, like Nina Robinson and Fabio, and others. I have some experience working with paper-making; so it's exciting to know there is interest in working with this medium as a practice discipline too. Visual arts and music are big parts of our lives.

Further Thoughts
I traveled to Tsegyalgar recently to learn/practice Mandarava Long Life with Nina Robinson. I stayed at the Schoolhouse as I wanted to get to know more about how the community functions; and to get to know more members. It was a very enjoyable stay and I liked taking part in karma yoga - helping to clean the lower level. I really had a sense of being a part of the community - practicing, working, and playing together. It also gave me a better sense of what it takes to make this community run. This is a big deal! Many dedicated people with many different kinds of skills collaborating with each other have kept Tsegyalgar going; and unless people come there in person, they may not recognize all of what it takes.

On a more personal level I felt like I was able to connect more readily with other sangha members at this smaller retreat. I know it's not always easy for people to come into a group or organization that is already established; so this retreat provided me with these opportunities. I recommend it to others living outside of the area!

Please tell us your story too. Put a face to our community!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Beginnings: Cultivating the Heart of Compassion at Tsegyalgar East

As part of Tsegyalgar East’s ongoing Demystifying Santi Maha Sangha program based on The Precious Vase by Choegyal Namkhai Norbu, a group of us gathered at the yellow schoolhouse on Sunday, Dec. 13, for a day-long of "Bodhisattva Practices" meditations which are part of the Mahayana path (& also the Santi Maha Sangha Base).  Together Lynn Newdome led us in practices of Tonglen - "Sending and Taking, "  reflections on "The Four Immeasurables" (Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy, & Equanimity),  and  began contemplations on the "Two Absences of an Independent Entity" (two-fold emptiness). 

The day’s schedule allowed for sharing both morning and afternoon teas, a round (in this case square) table lunch together, along with two meaningful discussions between practice sessions. In particular, the discussions offered a deep and thoughtful sharing of participant reflections in the context of the training. Present were people from various occupations who spoke about how they integrated these profound practices into their daily and work life. 

To me what seemed somewhat remarkable was the opportunity for practitioners ranging from old long-timers to newer and younger practitioners to share their experiences in a respectful and deep way. Lynn was especially sklllful in emphasizing the four immeasurables as having to do with the intention of Bodhicitta and the actualization stage culminating in tonglen and  the paramitas. 

To foster a sense of Bodhiocitta in action, so to speak, we all engaged in a brief period of collaboration with our geko Jeremy to take on small tasks. To further emphasize this process, Jeremy read several beautful quotes from a poster he made with a photo of a lotus he took at Khandroling pond. 

Following the all day practice session, we met again for our last Session 2 class on Monday evening which culminated with a mock open book exam (with wine and cake) where we were each assigned a topic to talk about from our own experience. 

Session Three (see below) is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 11, 2016. Each session has six weekly evening classes and an all day practice of the SMS requirements we studied earlier. 

Session Three Content from The Precious Vase will include: 

"The Views of Sutra & Tantra" (based on chapter 5)
  • The 3 sutra vehicles
  • The Outer Tantras
  • The Inner Tantras

Best Wishes and Happy Holidays to all.... 

Update on Uma Shannon

Help Uma stay at Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program (AKLB) for Spring Semester 2016.

For those of you who don't know Uma, she is the daughter of long time community members Miranda and John Shannon, and granddaughter of Nancy Simmons and the late Barrie Simmons - among Rinpoche's very earliest students. This past fall, Uma was one of 22 first year students accepted to the prestigious Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program in San Francisco, CA. There are a total of 36 students in the two year program.

Thanks, in great part, to the kindness, generosity and care of our extended Dzogchen family, Uma was able to go and stay in San Francisco and attend AKLB. Uma's fall semester at AKLB has been stellar - her teachers are phenomenal, her peers motivating, her improvs are constantly evolving, and during her fall semester evaluation Uma was told to just keep doing what she is doing. She has also been told, on various occasions, by both Alonzo King LINES company dancers, ballet masters, and training program instructors that she is a beautiful and strong dancer. 

During the AKLB Fall Showcase 2015, Uma was markedly featured in Wester, the piece she was in - she danced two improvs and a solo. The piece was so well liked that there was a repeat performance in early December at the Youth Arts Summit in San Francisco. Furthermore, she is one of nine students picked (out of 36 students) to choreograph a piece for the AKLB Training Program Fall Choreographic Showcase that will be performed on December 17th & 18th. Uma also made it into Vogue Italy online with two pictures taken by West Coast Atmosphere Dance Photography.

Uma needs your continued support and help in order to return to AKLB this spring. She continues to make and sell her beautiful handmade woolens and jewelry, and when she can, her pottery. Her family helps as they can, but their finances are very difficult as there has been no regular work for over two and a half years. 

Uma is running a long term Indiegogo life campaign: Help Uma Go To Alonzo King LINES Training Program , and organizing a fundraiser, upon her return to Amherst, MA for the holidays. Details are TBA, however the selected date is December 30th and she hopes that you will come watch her dance.

Uma is in great need of a kind San Francisco/Bay area host who would be willing to host her in return for her deep gratitude, paid expenses, and delightful company - that is, when she is home! Uma dances five very long days a week and sometimes on the weekend as well. She is incredibly neat, easy going, respectful, considerate and friendly - and her current darling San Francisco family will gladly vouch for her :)

Please consider helping this young and very talented artist in need of support so that she can continue learning her craft.

Thank you so much.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Greetings from Tsegyalgar East, December 8, 2015 on the Birthday of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu


 December 8, 2015 Birthday Puja and Mandarava Long Life practice for 
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu  in the Schoolhouse Gonpa                                                                                       

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bodhisattva Practices, Sunday, December 13, 2015

On Sunday, Dec. 13, Tsegyalgar East will host "Bodhisattva Practices," a day of meditations which are part of the Mahayana path (& also the Santi Maha Sangha Base).

Together we'll practice Tonglen - "Sending and Taking."  We'll reflect on "The Four Immeasurables" (Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy, & Equanimity). And we'll deconstruct our mental and physical worlds through contemplations on the "Two Absences of an Independent Entity" (two-fold emptiness). All community members and those with transmission are invited to this full-day event in the Yellow Schoolhouse lead by Santi Maha Sangha instructor Lynn Newdome.

This practice session culminates the second session of Lynn’s SMS Base 
course. To participate via podcast from a distance or for more info visit the excellent and thorough resource page for the course here

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Rinpoche from Around the World

If you missed this charming video on a previous birthday, here it is again. For today’s schedule visit the Tsegyalgar Events page here. Today is also an International Dance of the Vajra special Day


Long Live the Master

[Photo by Paula Barry]

Sunday, December 6, 2015

An Appeal from ASIA for the Manasarovar School Nepal

In Nepal, the children of the Manasarovar school are going through a very difficult moment, Since the end of September the country has been subjected to what amounts to a transportation embargo by India. Now food is getting scarce in the supermarket, many shops have closed and many schools have been forced to close too, because they have no way of heating the classrooms or preparing food for the children.

The Manasarovar school is still managing to stay open, also thanks to help from many donors who have decided to contribute to sponsorship with ASIA. The school heads have created a field kitchen using firewood (very expensive in this period). This is obviously a slower system compared to gas for cooking food for all the children, and this takes over three hours every day, with shifts providing meals at 11, 12,1 pm and 2 pm.

We don't know how long this school can resist, but we do know that the more children we manage to help by sponsorship, the more we can ensure them the regular daily life that they have regained since the earthquake of April 25th.