Wednesday, August 31, 2016

An Appeal from A Member of the Dzogchen Community

Renée and Nita in Bodhgaya last year

Renée Thibodeaux, a member of the Dzogchen Community and her daughter Nita Perez. are among the 280,000 people displaced by the unprecedented flood of August 2016 in Louisiana when many lost their homes, contents and vehicles by this flood.

Renée writes, “I have lost all my practice books that I bought in 2013 including my Tun Book and Mandarava practice book., I have been a paying member of the Gar since 2014 but have been listening to Rinpoche’s webcasts since 2012.

I am a craftswoman and musician. l lost all my instruments and tools for jewelry making. But we learned an important lesson in impermanence of everything and my little one had to learn quickly as she saw her brand new Ibanez Guitar and all our photos of our 8-month India Retreat washed away into floodwaters.

I home school my daughter Nita and have lost all of our education texts as well. Ritual and meditation are part of our curriculum. 

Any help that can be offered by our Dzogchen Community will be deeply appreciated. I have just spent 12 days in a public storm shelter with 3 dogs, snake eggs and my child but we are keeping The View still thanks to the teaching of our precious Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche...

Warmest Regards,
Renée Thibodeaux and Nita Perez.


Renee has a PayPal account set up that we have been accepting love donations is her email for PayPal account.

Ingmar Pema Dechen, a member of the Dzogchen community and extraordinary Visionary artist has offered original paintings for those who donate over $80. O0 

Renée writes—“I'm not sure of what our next step is yet ... We own the land with which we had our mobile home. Today I will take Nita to ballet and singing practice just to keep normalcy in her life. FEMA is paying for one month only in a hotel and I rented a car for one month. My first objective is to find a home that is livable and a car to drive to work.


I have a small weekend flea market booth for the last 17 years. It is a small metaphysical shop called Lotus Love Shop ...

I have some things from Nepal and India for sale from our 8-month retreat last year. Much of my inventory was in my home. The metal jewelry was rusted by the time we got into house after almost a week and my textiles were heavy with moldy floodwater sewerage smell.

However my little shop in another city was spared so I still have the inventory that was in my little store.

I have many bags that I bought from families all around India and Nepal. Some are passport bags that are quite nice and good quality. I am selling those for 20.00 a piece. So if anyone wants to do some online shopping I can ship too. It also helps the families in India and Nepal that I purchase from.”

Thank you for listening to our plight here in Cajun country
Warmest Regards
Renee and Nita

Monday, August 29, 2016

Happenings Around the Yellow Schoolhouse at Tsegyalgar East and Upper Khandroling

Lots of interesting activities around the schoolhouse these days following our Summer Celebrations -- from Bodhi's String Mandala Club (meeting in the Library/ photos below) to Khandroling Paper Cooperative's Japanese Bookmaking class in the Gonpa.

[Bodhi's String Mandala Club]

Kathleen assembling her materials for the Japanese Bookmaking class                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Callie  hand tearing her paper for text

A few of our assorted books made

[Woody and Barbara Paparazzo]

Upcoming workshops at Khandroling Paper Cooperative include Korean-American artist Kichung Lizze's Calligraphy classes--ONE STROKE on Sunday, September 11 and BIG BRUSH on Saturday, October 23

[Photo by Fred Clarer}

Bdhi's Refresher Vajra Dance Course on Upper Khandroling


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Uma Shannon Will Perform On Tuesday, August 30th, at 7:00 PM - Fundraising Event called: Uma's Final Year at LBTP

Request from Uma Shannon, the daughter of local community members Miranda and John Shannon, and the grand-daughter of Nancy Simmons and the late Barrie Simmons.

"On Tuesday, August 30th, at 7:00pm I will be hosting a fundraising event called: Uma's Final Year at LBTP Fundraiser, at East Street Studio Theater, 47 East Street, Hadley, MA.Please join me! I will be giving a short talk on the impact LBTP has had on me this past year, and my hopes for this next year. There will be a brief screening of my personal highlights from LBTP's 2016 Spring Showcase. Following the presentation, there will be a small diverse performance, including dance and poetry, as I perform alongside a few artists from different disciplines.

Thanks to LBTP awarding me close to 42% in merit scholarship, and having found affordable housing close to LBTP, I can now plan to return to LBTP to finish my dance education. However, LBTP is a professional training program and not a federally funded school. Therefore, I cannot take out educational loans to cover my tuition and associated costs.

This year will be my second and last year of training at Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program (LBTP) in San Francisco, CA. This small world class program accepts up to 36 students per year, and last year I was one of 22 who were accepted.
Last year was huge for me. Over the course of ten months, I was able to train up to ten hours a day, and was given the opportunity to work with different choreographers/artists like David Harvey, a former Alonzo King LINES company member, and after a difficult audition process, I was one of a few chosen to work with guest choreographers, New York city based Sidra Bell and Shannon Gillen. They came and created work on use over the academic year. I learned an enormous amount from these artists, and all the faculty at LBTP.

I was one of eight students to choreograph for the LBTP Fall 2015 Student Choreographic Showcase, and performed in pieces created by my peers. I was featured in four pieces for the LBTP Spring 2016 Showcase, one of two first year students to be given this opportunity and responsibility. This summer, I was picked to be one of ten chaperones for the Alonzo King LINES Summer Intensive - a challenging four week program - where I assisted choreographers, and guided ten charges aged 16 and 17. This rewarding experience, included room and board, dance classes and a stipend that I put aside to help meet my expenses for this coming academic year.

I am one of five children, and my parents continue to have serious financial difficulties since my father was laid off three years ago. I am very grateful for all the assistance they can give me, as well as from my older sisters who have supported me throughout. I continue to work and save as much as I can. I am asking for your continued support, to keep the love of dance and art alive in this generation, so I can continue training and sharing my art, dance, and soul with the world.

If you are unable to attend, but wish to support me, you can do so by donating to my online fundraiser at Generosity by Indiegogo, or offline with a check addressed toUma Shannon, 21 Taylor Street, Amherst, MA 01002.

Whether, you want to donate once, or make a pledge to be distributed throughout the year, any, and all amounts of support are greatly appreciated.

Follow my journey on Facebook Uma's Dance Project and on Instagram @thehumanuma.

I thank you for your support,


Uma improv clip:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Khaita at Khandroling and Beyond by Naomi Zeitz

[Photo by F Dallorto]

From July 28th to August 16th, 2016, the Shang Shung Institute of America and the Tsegyalgar East Dzogchen Community were fortunate to host the visit of two wonderful Khaita dancers and recently authorized and excellent instructors, Salima Celeri and her daughter Yanchen. Both came to us from Merigar West, Italy, for a first time visit to the US, which included a few days in NYC and a grand finale visit on the way to the airport to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. Yanchen is a skilled basketball player as well and aficionada of the sport, so we were very pleased to be able to offer her a final (this time) American burger and a visit to the place where basketball was invented on the way to JFK airport! 

What we offered Salima and Yanchen was quite limited compared to what they gave to us. Each day during the week long Dzogchen Community festival on the land of Khandroling at the Vajra Hall, Salima and Yanchen spent two and sometimes a little more hours singing and dancing with us and with great precision, patience, and compassion, explaining all the dances, their meanings, the mudras and steps. Following the festival on the land, those who felt the pull and magic of Khaita, spent four hours a day at the Vajra Hall continuing the training and deepening their experience.

The Khaita experience culminated with a performance of three dances in a small city nearby on one of the hottest days of the year. This was the testament of the capacity of the instructors who formed a very joyful, cohesive and even somewhat graceful group of dancers out of an interesting mix of capacities and willingness. In English we have an expression of someone who can “make a silk purse from a sow’s ear”. They succeeded!

[Photo by Kathleen Fekete]

Salima and Yangcen have a charming mix of joy, humor, discipline and great skill, as well as a lot of patience and kindness. They are also so lovely to watch when they dance, and that alone becomes a powerful inspiration to learn and perfect the dances. Also their love for Khaita, for Rinpoche and his beautiful creation, for the meaning, mudras and movements of each dance, shine through and also create a very fertile ground from which their students can grow and blossom.

For them both, I am sure this praise will be too great and embarrassing, but for us the gratitude for their time with us and the gift of Khaita, as well as their devoted and special presence in a place that can become a little frozen like its long winters, is somewhat inexpressible. Khaita became the living, breathing, joyful expression of the value and meaning of the land of Tibet and the wish of our Master to carry on this culture and the teachings through movement and song. We only hope that this small and dedicated bunch of Khaita dancers in this out of the way corner of the globe can continue on the legacy of our precious Master.

[Photo by F Dallorto]

To learn more about Khaita Dancing at Tsegyalgar East visit the following post:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Recap of our Summer Celebration on Khandroling

For me, an illuminating aspect of the Summer Celebration was that people came from so many places. Living near Conway, I'd come to think of Tsegyalgar East as the folk I see regularly. Learning that participants were from all over the States - Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Oregon, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada - was eye-opening. I came to recognize our Community as a broader group than I'd known. From all over, we're connecting in our practice of the Dzogchen teachings.

SMS teacher Lynn Newdome

The Stupa at Upper Khandroling

Naomi, Yantra Yoga teacher , leading a session in the Mandala Hall

Shang Shung presentation with Naomi Zeitz, Will Shea and Anasuya Weil

Salima and her daughter, Yangcen, teachers of Khaita Dance

Tim, our secretary; Red gakyil member, Amanda; and 
Yantra Yoga Teacher Naomi with monlam candles

Tuvi and participant

Jeremy our Geko 

Mark, Luke and Francine checking out the Auction items

Marit, Michael, and Efrem

Lunch time Origami Karma Yoga for 2017 paper parade float for Khaita dancers 

with Diane, Nancy and Brenda, Khandroling Paper Cooperative instructor

  Tim Fisher, Tsegyalgar East secretary , photo by Diane Kramer

The Game of Liberation

Longsel symbol in the distance

More to come......

[Photos by Kathleen Fekete. 2016 except where noted]

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Karma Yoga from a Distance --This Week's Lotus Production

Over the week-end I made a few Lotus Blossoms to further our Lotus Blossom production required  for our Summer 2017 participation in the 250th Anniversary of Conway, MA. I am not the most handy person but found the process relaxing. And my lotus blossoms improved in quality the more I did one. To read about this Community project visit here

If anyone would like to learn how to make these and needs a supply of pre-cut paper and twist ties, please contact the Khandroling Paper Cooperative to request materials and to record your hours towards Karma Yoga. By the summer of 2017 we will need thousands for our paper float and to distribute to by-standers attending the parade. 

The Lotus is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. Over the year we will explore the many aspects of the Lotus throughout the history of Buddhism. 

Photo credit: Marit Cranmer

The Garland of Jewels that Connects US

Visit the online Mirror, International Newspaper of the Dzogchen Community at   for an interview with Chogyal Namkhai Norbu on the amazing jewelry he creates to benefit the building of the Dzamling Gar Gonpa.

Grace Engelman Says Good-bye to Shang Shung Institute

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was my last day interning at SSI. I was sad to leave, and I feel as though I've grown attached to this place and invested in its future.

I wanted to thank all of you for welcoming me into this community with kindness and teaching me so much. I had wonderful conversations and experiences with all of you. The knowledge you have passed on to me related to non-profit work and Tibetan culture has been invaluable. I have learned how to write press releases, how to edit WebPages, and how to research and write policies. I have learned about Dzogchen and about Rinpoche's teachings. I got to see Khandroling and walk through the beautiful woods there. I got to attend an Open House and experience Yantra Yoga for the first time.

My main project over the course of this internship was putting together accreditation documents with Caroline, Bret, Will, and Heidi. I am excited to hear how the process continues, and I truly believe that it is possible. We now have a solid base to build on.

I'm grateful for this internship and the skills and knowledge it has given me. And I am thankful that it led me to meet all of you. I believe that SSI was exactly where I needed to be at this point in my life. I had valuable time to reflect on my interests and passions away from college, and I was deeply influenced by what I learned here.

I was told to provide you with some feedback about the internship, but I honestly cannot think of much that I would change. I can, however, tell you what I enjoyed! One of the aspects that I appreciated most was that I received guidance and support from Caroline and others while I was also given the chance to do a lot of independent work. It was a great balance between collaboration and independence. I also appreciated that Caroline made sure that I was exposed to many different types of work; I gained a comprehensive set of non-profit skills. And working on the accreditation process gave me a clear and grounding focus through it all.

Thank you for the time and openness and knowledge you have shared with me this summer, and thank you for trusting me to work with you. Whether you are on the SSI board, or I met you in the office, or I spoke with you on the phone, or you are part of the Dzogchen community, I am grateful to have shared time with all of you. This truly is a special place and community, and I want to stay connected.

I'm using my personal email to send this instead of my intern email so that you can contact me when I'm at college. Please feel free to reach out about anything.

Many thanks again!
With much appreciation,


Monday, August 8, 2016

Khaita Dance Course August 9-13, 2016

Learn Khaita Dances: Practice of Presence and Joy in Movement

Date: August 9th-13th, 2016.

with Khaita instructor Salima Celeri

Shang Shung Institute Public Event
Location: Vajra Hall, Khandroling, East Buckland Road, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

Please note some modifications:
Tuesday through Friday
10am - noon
5:30 - 7:30pm ( for working folks)

Saturday August 13
10am - noon
Noon. Ganapuja
Late afternoon performance in Noho (details to be announced )

We have already been dancing some with Salima and Yangchen and it has been wonderful. We hope you can join us!

All are welcome!

Payment by donation.

Hope to see you there!

Co-sponsored by SSI USA and DCA

For more information & to Register: