My first experience of Buddhism was my travels back and forth to Thailand over the past 5 years. What was it that made so many millions of people peaceful happy kind hearted? Money, material accumulations, power; No! Some perhaps, but not the masses. I had a wonderful time and met some amazing people doing amazing things, all with the underlying foundation of their spiritual practice.
Upon my return to the Sunshine Coast, and my desire to keep this concept of being aware. Of my thoughts words and actions, my choice of diet and overall view and my lifestyle.
I spent most of the summer back in Thailand at the New Life Foundation doing volunteer work. Upon its completion the Meditation Hall also hosted its first spiritual retreat with Lama Rinchen Phuntsok. It was completely different than my experience with Theravada and the Thai Monks. The Tibetan Lama was light and jovial and so humble. I was blown away.
The teachings were mostly in Tibetan and with hours of meditation in the lotus position I was exhausted and awakened at the same time. I was getting it, slowly without hesitation. Things were coming together.
By next December I was feeling the need to grow and be amongst like minded people. I looked at different health retreats healing centers and Buddhist retreat centers, with the intention of practicing as well as volunteering on site.
I stumbled across Tyegyalgar West in the Baja of Mexico and filled out the on line form. I was contacted immediately, followed up with a great Skype conversation with one of the acting directors.
The name Dzogchen was unfamiliar as was Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. I was able to attend two retreats. One was conducted by Jim Valby, an accomplished educator and light hearted individual who made it fun. I arrived at our meeting place in San Jose del Cabo on Thursday morning and we all piled in a very trustworthy Baja vehicle (of age unknown) and travelled up to the Sierra de la Laguna Mountain range. The highest peak is 2406M. I think we were close because it got really chilly at night. The “Gar” is situated amongst 3,000 amazing acres of peace and stillness. An oasis, high in the mountains with fresh spring water.
A large variety of Cacti are scattered every where. Some interesting varieties of trees as well. The most beautiful ancient fig trees that create an umbrella, with massive roots wrapped around boulders. Very inviting to sit and meditate. Over heads vultures and eagles soar, coyotes howling in the distance. The ranchers let there live stock graze, and the soothing sound of their bells ring continuously.
Apparently, it does not rain often!! Well it must be my Vancouver luck because it did rain and the place was so green and lush, when the sun did reappear the tiny humming birds made their way to the aloe flowers and yellow butterflies were every where.
Not too far a walk from the property is the “Arroyo”. My Spanish is limited and I don’t know the exact definition but my translation would be river ravine. The magnitude of these granite boulders can only really be appreciated by experiencing. A group of us went to check it out one afternoon. We were able to explore and play. Climbing, jumping, balancing, and just “being”. Really really cool.
It was cold at night, I was really suprized always going to Thailand I packed very light but was so happy when I was handed several Mexican blankets. Despite the cold I pulled my mattress on to the terrace and slept under the stars and big bright moon. (Camping Lindsay style). After a few dewy mornings I decided to relocate to the Mandala which is a Palapa opened aired structure with Palm leaf roof. It was large enough that I could still see the horizon in all directions and was dry.
The Mandala is where we do the Vajra dance. A very beautiful dance that is both graceful and sacred. It will take me more than two weeks to master. We also were doing Yantra Yoga. This is a fundamental method to integrate the profound essence of the Dzogchen Teaching. Integrating ones’s body, voice and mind of the practitioner with the state of rigpa.
The kitchen an open aired Palapa was the hub as most kitchens usually are. A combination of gas ranges and an oven one fridge and storage cupboards with a double sink. What we created or what I observed being created was a gourmet smorgasbord. Artisan bread made every other day, soups, salads some of the greens from the up and coming veggie garden. I opted for breakfast duty, and as the final few days came near I managed to make the perfect pot of coffee. However the oatmeal fruit and toast were mastered by myself and partners in crime Katherine and Lyobaa.
It was a beautiful balance between spiritual discipline and genuine fun, laughter, food celebrating the non end of the world, Christmas with 17 in total. New Years Eve, with a huge glowing bon fire being serenaded by one and all. The songs were a wonderful array Umi (12) with his version of Oh Solo Mio, many classical Mexican Folk songs, one or two Beatles tunes.
On New Years Day we did a very special practice called,” Sang”. It was conducted by all of us at the fire pit, the Smoke was an important tool. The purpose was to offer the Guardians of the Gar peace and ask forgiveness, we also did, “Serkyem” which included the Four Directions purpose is to clear any energy that needed attending to.
The second retreat was guided by Giorgio and Monica who had asked Jim Valby what we should focus on and what the main vision should be. We were able to follow Chogyal Namkai Norbu Rinpoche webcast Guru Dragphur Teaching that he was conducting in Tenerife. This helped me to focus and solidified everything I had heard or read up until that point.
It was a year that I was seeking knowledge in the Buddhist practice.
I now feel I have come to where it is I need to be. I have a practice that is easy to apply in my day to day life. The resources and information available is global, via internet or in the literature. As I research more I see that retreats are offered throughout the world with many Gar’s to visit and explore. This also offers different cultures, languages, lifestyles. And experience.
All having the essence of Buddhism