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A Very Special Retreat

Summer 2020 at the RIPA International Center in Switzerland

Rinpoche on the big screen

This year we discovered ourelves in the strange situation of finding ourselves participating in small groups yet simultaneously connected with the whole planet. It is an experience that is at once intimate, convivial, virtual and beyond all limits. Then, a lovely surprise awaits us: Jigme Rinpoche joins us for the practice of Yeshe Tsogyal. On leaving, he gives us a superb: “see you very soon.” The expectation sets in our hearts.

Connected from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, the Americas, the Russian Federation, Europe, and with sometimes impressive time differences (some have to get up in the middle of the night!), this retreat is a first in all its aspects. The strength of the presence of our teachers – yet far from our continents – connects us all together and erases the distances. To our “usual” retreat is added an encounter with the multitude of friendly faces on the screens. This time, our experience is no longer just to open our hearts to the students present, but to everyone beyond all limits.

Dream Yoga

We are two hundred and sixty-five participants in total. There are those who have magical dreams, those whose dreams that are directly related to the retreat, those who cannot remember their dreams and simply collapse or crash out in sleep. Finally, the last ones are in such a state that they can not fall asleep at all! However, Jigme Rinpoche confirms that: “To dream, you must first sleep! ” But no summary can replace this wonderful teaching.

Rinpoche on the big screen protected from the sun by a “house” system… the zooming friends also appear on the big screen with sometimes hilarious fantasies… All of the screens with multiple faces… Back to our seats after the break… Monique, student for a very long time, always so faithful and smiling…Family meal… End of dream yoga: Rinpoche introduces us to his cousin Jigme Dewa, the pillar of technology in Orissa.

The Drupchö of Yeshe Tsogyal

Just over a hundred of us – present or connected – then meet for this Drupchö that we have now practiced uninterruptedly every year since 2012, when the center was inaugurated. We are about twenty present, divided between the RIPA center in Moscow, that of Switzerland or in Valencia in Spain. In Switzerland, it is in our dear little temple / refuge that we meet. We are at home there, we feel protected and pushed by a force that prompts us and leads us to practice. In these conditions, the Drupchö is a real gift. Finally, for those who participate from home, the opinions will also be very positive: “It is a magnificent experience which pushes us to detach ourselves from our habits and to reach a higher level of practice” … “Sublime, it is sublime to enter the depth of the energy of this practice”… “To enter the deep experience of Yeshe Tsogyel’s Drupchö from home, alone in front of a screen, it is an experience impossible to imagine before having lived it .”

Lhuntrul Rinpoche and the monks in the superb little temple of Gesar on the top floor of the monastery in Orissa… When you are part of the technical team, you have a very busy screen to attend to, in addition to following the practice text ! … Moscow: Lopen Ugyen Tenzin of Orissa prepares the tormas with Valdimir… The participants… Valencia: there are five of them but their energy counts for at least ten! … Niederwangen in our beloved Gompa / refuge… End of the retreat, part of the group surrounds the photo of H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam  Rinpoche.

Calling the Lama from afar … and it works!

At the end of the dream yoga retreat we, the participants from Switzerland, hoped that Jigme Rinpoche would come to us with all of our sangha very soon. We expressed it through a common message via zoom. So illegible due to the technical complications of transmissions that some even thought it was written in Tibetan! … It doesn’t matter. Rinpoche heard. He announces his coming, he will be among us for the practice of Yeshe Tsogyel. Suddenly, those who had to leave quickly decided to stay, while the nearby residents of Germany, France and Switzerland are preparing to join us. As a result, the day of the practice, the center is as full as possible given the health requirements and with us, is a small crowd of people connected remotely. A certain restlessness seized us during the preceding days because everything had to be prepared. At the end of his short stay, Rinpoche invites the last present to drink a chai. We are a small group of about fifteen, happy to spend a moment with him.

Whether the text is in order… or out of order… Rinpoche receives our call… During the practice of Yeshe Tsogyal… The room is as full as possible… Distribution of the tsok… And happy after-tsok… The flowers of the practice are offered to the participants who take the blessings home with them… Chai in the dining room…

Behind the scenes

Technically organizing such connections and communications across continents is not that simple. It takes time to test the sound, its quality and intensity, as well as the images, their accuracy and clarity. There are technical positions for those translating the teaching and others for the question and answer translators. Needless to say, all of this takes time and energy and the end result depends on various parameters that cannot always be controlled in advance. This is one of the reasons for the bizarre sound of the instruments during Yeshe Tsogyal’s Drupchö. These all-out technical preparations are supplemented on site by preparations that are not at all virtual: cleaning up, setting up the room in accordance with sanitary instructions, Rinpoche’s cooking, the flowers … Everyone pitches in.

Preparations for zoom… One of the technical posts:  Antje’s office, first adjustments with the Orissa team… Other adjustments in the teaching room… From the monastery, Jigme Dewa fine-tunes his adjustments… The apartments of Begonia and Helen are transformed into question / answer translation booths… A big clean-up inside, outside… Cynthia and Christophe in the kitchen… And always these flowers that Nadya transforms into magnificent bouquets.

Two big novelties

A space reserved for practice texts

As of your next visit, you will find a new space at your disposal. Reserved for practice texts, you can sit there to read them quietly, this is also where you can now buy the practices that you are missing or renew them. Well located just above the big Gompa in the old Gymnasium, its access is easy and very close to the teachings. A long work carried out by Carlo and Ursula during the lockdown and which Rinpoche visited with satisfaction.

The reading tables ready to welcome students… Rinpoche looks carefully at the photos… Photo of H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche with the group of translators… Then in Asia with Lama Tenzin and Tashi Tobjay… Photos of the pilgrimage to Pemaköe in Arunachal Pradech, Jigme Rinpoche looks and remembers… And finally with Carlo and Ursula.

Permaculture or the “Living Garden” adventure

Since last March, two Swiss friends have launched a permaculture  project on one of the fields in the center and we can already see the first good results. Eventually – but we will have to wait a few years – the living garden will extend over one hectare of one of our fields. So far, the experiment takes up about 15%. It must be said that there are two and the work is immense. Full of ideas and projects, Marcel (who has a long experience in permaculture, including teaching it), and Michael (passionate connoisseur), embarked on the adventure with the means at hand, that is to say : nothing. The old handball goal nets have been transformed into vegetable greenhouses, the handles of their tools are simple pieces of tree branches, every element of the new installation has been recovered: zero loss, zero waste, everything is recycled … one has only to meet our two “permaculturalists” and to follow their work to see that they are engaged in a labor of love. Result: the first vegetables are already found in the menus of the center. Rinpoche visited, looked, tasted, exchanged experiences and asked lots of questions. He concludes: “When we take care of others, whether they are humans, animals or nature, we are in spirituality.” Then he ends with a remark which concerns him personally: “if I had not carried out the activity that I have, I would have become a farmer.”

One of the first salads from the garden … Visit of Rinpoche and discussions on the “Living Garden” … Cabbages, tomatoes, vegetables are all more than successful … They are pampered like babies … Greenhouses “handmade »With the means at hand… Rinpoache takes a radish… Asks a question about it… Tastes and enjoys it… Continuation of the vegetable tour… Marcel and Michael before going to the garden… Souvenir photo of the meeting with Rinpoche!

Pending mind-to-mind communication …

May 2020 last special Covid blog

Practicing together online, RAM meditation, surprise teaching of Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche from India, this confinement will have socialized communication by technology in our lineage, to our greatest satisfaction … And if, through our practices, might we finally communicate at a distance without technology?

Get out of confinement with the Buddhas who open the way to the light

Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche speaks to us from India (*)

Thursday, May 7th, Rinpoche addresses us. And even if the transmission is sometimes difficult to hear, we are there, glued to our screens from all time zones. While he is speaking to us, happy and warm little messages parade from all over the world: Europe with Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Spain, France (including Alsace !). The Russian Federation is manifested from everywhere, even from Siberia, Buryatia. America too, and finally Asia with Nepal, India and Bhutan, and even Australia. This unexpected meeting with Rinpoche is a real pleasure, the current passes (the barking of the dogs too!); we are all reboosted. The intensity of the meeting, brings a shock to the heart, this is really what emerges from all our telephone conversations from the end of the session. What does Rinpoche tell us? He reminds us of the inevitability of interdependence and impermanence: “The source, the root, the origin of this pandemic which is shaking us all at the moment, is the law of causation … Understanding this law, understanding the interdependence helps us to find a better, healthier, more balanced lifestyle, with a healthier body and a happy mind… Although this pandemic is a misfortune, it also gives us the great opportunity to understand in depth how much we are all interconnected and interdependent. ” Rinpoche also recalls the importance of developing kindness and compassion in ourselves: “We cannot prevent impermanence from bringing change, while if we develop a sense of understanding of kindness and compassion, we can go with the flow “…” Nothing more than kindness and compassion can heal us. We need it, at home, in the community, in society. And we also all need to have it in ourselves, deep down. ” What about the meaning of life? : “Ultimately, I think this impermanence is a wonderful teaching because it is a teaching that cannot be avoided. We have no choice, not facing impermanence is impossible. So how do you make sense of life in this impermanence? Not out of anger, not out of frustration, not by being overly stressed, but by understanding loving kindness, benevolent kindness, and compassion.

(*) read all of Rinpoche’s teaching by clicking on the following link (3 pp): http://ripa-international.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/GJR-May-2020.doc

Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche’s teaching on YouTube (~ 1 hr) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ69_yQnSH8

 

RAM meditation special weekly meetings

Quickly set up after the start of confinement and guided by Geneviève, the meditation meetings of our lineage (Ripa Awerness Meditation) met with great success. They are followed by all countries, by Ripa students as well as by people from outside. And the echoes we hear from one another reflect well the atmosphere of these meetings: “it’s great to feel this very warm atmosphere” … “We are in a space where we feel so good” … “We truly feel how much we can confide in one another, that we can really naturally ask our questions without any reluctance ”…“ It’s as if we were together as a family, we feel really close to each other. ” There is a general feeling that the atmosphere is very cheerful, lively, while offering a commitment to a real work of in depth meditation with good concentration. And everyone confirms their happiness to find themselves, to take advantage of this confinement to maintain this need for contact and connection with one another.

 

In the Center: streaming, practice texts, gardening and maintenance

As you all know, the coronavirus crisis and the confinement it has imposed have been accompanied from the start by streaming practices that everyone can join in. We can therefore meet daily in the morning and in the evening, we can also practice together Sangye Menla – Medicine Buddha – every Saturday at 5 p.m. and Guru Rinpoche every Sunday at 5 p.m. The goal is first to practice together without any physical encounter between us, and to invite the possible arrival of our teachers on the spot. It is also about keeping alive the bond of the RIPA community between all those who wish it. The team of the Center is also considering the possibility of maintaining a regular practice by streaming the tsok days of Sangye Menla, Yeshe Tsogyal, Guru Rinpoche and Gesar of Ling. If this project comes to fruition, you will be informed when the time comes. Our permanent employees work in the garden, permaculture is being put in place seriously and a gardening weekend has recently been organized. They continue to keep the Center in very good condition: cleaning, protecting unoccupied beds against dust, and a thorough Spring cleaning and maintenance … Everything imaginable. When we are back, we will find a clean Center like a new penny. Very important, finally: the texts usually loaned during group practices have been sorted, reordered, improved … In all languages!

 

Your flowers from everywhere, and a surprise gift

The traditional exchange of lily of the valley flowers on May 1st, even if it dates back some time, has been the occasion for many exchanges of bouquets, here are some of them. And also these superb photos of our center in bloom, plus a surprise photo that arrives just from Malaga.

 

See you soon “at home.”

Dharma and practice in this time of confinement

April 2020

Physically isolated for several weeks now, our disrupted daily life invites us to practice intensively. The bond that unites us with our teachers is so powerful that it gives us an incredible strength to go through these troubled times well anchored to the path of Dharma.

Guru Rinpoche in crystal

Our more regular and sustained practices

Carried by the messages of our teachers and the lung initiations that His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche transmitted to us in March from Nepal, we have definitely understood that this pandemic is a painful reminder to engage in practices for the benefit of all living beings, without exception. During the March transmission, H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche also reminds us “That there is none greater than Guru Rinpoche,” and he adds: “If one of his most famous manifestations is Guru Dorje Drollö, known for his powers against obstacles, in this practice he takes another form, that of Guru Drakpö, which is more appropriate [under the current circumstances] … If one is able to practice these saddhanas with faith and conviction, I trust that it will be very beneficial to you.”

Consequently, the online streaming of practices organized by our center in Switzerland are there to “ensure the follow-up” of Rinpoche’s message, to accompany us on the way, to support us, to encourage us and to bring us together. Many of you express your satisfaction and warmly thank the center for this initiative. One of us put it this way: “Even locked up, isolated each in his corner, we are not alone anymore, we are all together, and it is a great support.”

One of your beautiful personal home altars… We follow the streaming practices… In her garden, Martine offers Lingdrö dances… Rita immerses herself in the realization of a superb Tangka… Hélène, in great shape, sends us her smile and shares with us her good morale…

Isolation, a precious experience

The forced isolation from the national lockdowns were not necessarily well experienced at the start. Its suddenness and brutality surprised more than one and some experienced moments of sadness and even anxiety. Very quickly, however, the positive aspects emerged. Here is how some among you express it: “The confinement pushes us to practice … Through the streaming [of practices] we get back on the road together … We are carried by a force greater than ourselves … Practices with the center are very positive for me … This situation pushes us to refocus on the essentials … Finally, it is very positive, it is a beautiful offering that comes to us and carries us higher … Time no longer feels the same, it seems to be dilated, suspended, and despite that we don’t have time to get bored… Oddly we don’t feel any frustration, we don’t feel deprived of anything… We feel so close to each other…. ” Some dedicate their practices more specifically to the caregivers who have been transformed into real warriors to save lives, others work at opening the heart, doing long meditation sessions. But our shared experience is the awareness of impermanence, it is palpable, everyone experiences it in the depths of their being.

The surrounds of your practice sessions: Dharma cat, nice cat … Expulsion of the breaths of baby birds born right next to the altar of one of our friends … Exchange of gastronomic ideas … In France, even wines can become “Conscience!”… In Belgium, Rita has only the street to cross to buy her vegetables at the farm next to her little house … Pandemic exorcist standing in a garden near Sylvie’s house in the Paris region …

The center is still in action

On site, the onsite “dream team” continues its activities and the photos that follow are far from representing everything that is going on and being prepared. All the seminars having been canceled due to the lockdown in Switzerland, some of the external speakers have agreed to participate in reduced online programme via Landguet Ried Zoom platform, on a donation basis. It does not replace the originally planned in-person programme, but it helps maintain the contact with our audience. Realising the importance of the existence of such a center, external speakers and participants support it as best they can. Carlo takes care of the installation of a new statue of Buddha; on his new stone base, our little historic Buddha has been elevated; the benches are repainted; the shop is almost ready, Gabriella puts the finishing touches on the presentation and the storage of the objects she brought back from Nepal for us. We are expected. Definitely.

The new Buddha… Our little historic Buddha, present since 2012… Ursula and Carlo add a layer… Preview of the restocked shop…

Your postcards

A thousand thanks to you for all the photos you have sent and a thousand apologies for those you will not find in this blog. It was technically impossible to insert them in their entirety. The following is a reflection of the diversity of all that you have sent, you are full of ideas. You have given us an overview of the animals that accompany your practices, suggested your gastronomic ideas … Here you are offering us flowers from your gardens. And these last photos which open on the sky, towards the infinite, which seem to indicate to us the path on which our practices take us… What happiness! All of your postcards show how lively, imaginative, humorous and connected our RIPA community is. A real gift from the Dharma!

Your flowers … Your skies: From the Mediterranean to France … From Brussels … From Paris … From Vigo in Spain on the Atlantic coast … From Germany in the center where Katharina lives…

Thank you all for your participation and see you soon –

Exceptional Call for Donations COVID-19

As our centre is closed until further notice, you can support it during this time to prepare the return of our Teachers as well as yours! Your donations, even small ones, are welcome.

Donation

A big thank you in advance to all of you and see you soon!

At the RIC, work and life continue in a beautiful atmosphere

March 2020

Confined just as all other RIPA students, and half of the 7.8 billion inhabitants who inhabit our planet, our friends, permanent and voluntary, take care of our Center in Switzerland. Loyal to their job, they are actively preparing for our return.

Adapting and preparing for the future

No more outside groups, no more usual activities, no more weekend bookings by Tibetan or other groups …. The Center is confined and also forced to change its habits. Suddenly, our ship adapts. The work continues, efficient and sustained because the burden of the administrative part remains heavy: it is necessary to postpone the dates of the registered groups, cancel reservations, and create new options for the future… Begonia, Antje, and Helen spend most of their days in front of their computer and on the phone. As there is no longer any cash flow and reimbursements have to be made, the costs have been reduced to the strict minimum. All the more so as for our sangha, the cancellations of the coming of Lhuntrul Rinpoche then Jigme Rinpoche for which there were very many registrations also make a hole in the budget. Lluis, the cook, is on site but unemployed, he is nevertheless a great help. Carlo and Ursula, transformed into volunteers for some time, do a wonderful job accompanied by Theresa. Gabriela, Nadya and a few others gather  periodically to work in the garden. Obviously no more hugs, no more physical contact and we keep a respectful distance from one another …. But morale is good. During these troubled times the Sangha spirit has never been so present, so powerful, so supportive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the office – software, documents, listings, Begonia, Antje and Helen juggle with all the sources of information, without forgetting the little scribbled notes, the post-its and other “reminders” …. In the fields – In Switzerland the shops are also closed, including florists. Fortunately, Gabriela planted daffodils in the Fall. They find their most beautiful place on the altar in the offering bowl. And for the tsok, the first primroses picked up at the foot of the Gompa adorn the plates of the teachers…. In the center – there is now a bit more time to undertake some “chores”: ironing the mountains of Katas accumulated over the retreats… Preparation and classification of the texts loaned during the practices. They will be linked in all languages.… The center has finally been graced with beautiful orientation panels made entirely “by hand” with art and care thanks to Carlo and Ursula… Gabriela – unemployed – unpacks deliveries of purchases that she made just four weeks ago in Nepal for the center store.

The streaming of sadhana practices via face-book and the internet have been a great success –

The first experiment took place on March 21 and 22, and it continues (*). It is especially in troubled times like the one we are going through today that the teachings take on their full meaning and significance. And the terms in which Begonia tells us about life and practice at the center are confirmed by all your testimonies: “We are totally immersed in the experience of impermanence, solidarity, altruism, the openness of heart, of all that our Masters teach us and of the practices in which they engage us ”…“ Even if it will prove difficult from a financial point of view for the center, we don’t even think about it in the first degree , we are first concerned with finding the best solution for each individually, for our sangha as well as for all outside groups. It is as if personal interests are falling because we definitely understand that we’re all on the same boat. ” About the boat, Jigme Rinpoche, during his very first teaching in Europe in 1996/1997 told us about the role of the Teacher in Tibetan Buddhism. “The Teacher,” he explained to us, “is like the captain of a boat. On the starting shore, he gathers up all those who wish to leave for the great crossing. Throughout the journey, he will guide them through storms, hurricanes, reefs, shoals and dangers of all kinds. Once arrived on the sacred banks, everyone disembarks and the Teacher sets out again, alone on his boat, to welcome new travelers. ” Upset, many of us burst into tears. More than twenty years later, we are in the middle of a crossing, and not on a cruise ship! Our luck is that our teachers are very great captains. Coronavirus or not, they are there to help us round all the capes and among them, the Cape of Good Hope.