Dzogchen Community

A few years later in 1976 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu started to give Dzogchen teachings to a small group of Italian students with whom he founded the Dzogchen Community. At that time Dzogchen was hardly known in the West and he was the first to transmit this teaching in a way that made it accessible to Western students amid the conditions of modern society. In 1981 he founded “Merigar” (me ri sgar), the first Italian Centre of the Dzogchen Community, at Arcidosso, Tuscany and in 2011 the Dzogchen Community gathered from all over the world for the 30th Anniversary Celebrations “The Joy Of Being Here”.

As interest in his teachings grew, Rinpoche dedicated himself to spreading Dzogchen and establishing “gars”, seats of the Dzogchen Community, which rapidly developed throughout the world. The Dzogchen Community is made up of those who are interested in following and practising the Dzogchen teachings and over the years thousands of people from all over the world have become members, giving it a completely international dimension.

Community organisation

The Community organisation springs straight from Chogyal Namkhai Norbu’s vision: Gar {sgar, “gathering places” – the larger centres) and Ling (gling, “islands/places” – the smaller centres) form a great Mandala {dkyil ‘khor, circle) which unites the different geographical areas of the world. Symbolically the Mandala represents the Universe as perceived by the individual and, in this particular case, the places where the teaching is practised. Within the vision of the Mandala there are no hierarchical relationships among or within the various Gars or Lings, but only a relationship of collaboration and cooperation. Gar in Tibetan means “Settlement”, and it is the term they use to designate Nomads camps. A Gar has a very precise meaning, according to Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche: it is a place where some practitioners live and apply practice in daily life, collaborating and working together, a place where the “spirit” of the Dzogchen Teachings should always be present, because that is the center from where all its energy develops and spreads, like the heart in the human body.

The Gars are: Merigar for Europe (Merigar West in Italy and Merigar East in Romania); Tsegyalgar (tse rgyal sgar) for North America (Tsegyalgar East in Massachusetts, USA and Tsegyalgar West in Baja, Mexico); Tashigar {bkra shis sgar) for South America (Tashigar North in Venezuela and Tashigar South in Argentina); and Namgyalgar (rnam rgyal sgar) for Oceania (New South Wales, Australia); and Kunsangar (kun bzang sgar) unifying practitioners from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Latvia and other countries of Eastern Europe and Asia.

The Gars are linked to the Lings, which form the core of the Community. Many of the Lings are located in large cities (such as Rome, Barcelona, New York and Moscow).

 

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