National Sangha Gathering in Dzogchen Beara

We recently had a wonderful National Sangha Gathering in Dzogchen Beara 12-14 April. Fifty three people attended. We enjoyed a deeply moving and meaningful weekend which was prepared, coordinated and held with such care and compassion by Susan Browne. 

On Friday evening there was a tangible sense of joy and comradeship as everyone gathered together in the shrine room. Susan and Donal welcomed everyone and gave us an overview of the weekend which included the continuing theme of building on harmony and friendship within the sangha and the imminent opening of the temple. 

We had some beautiful sessions of Kum Nye with Matt interspersed throughout the weekend. These sessions truly enhanced the overall experience of the weekend for everyone. 

On Saturday morning, Malcolm and Anne gave a very inspiring and engaging update on the temple. The sangha were very excited to hear about this. Veronica then held a session on “Getting to know each other better”. We had an opportunity to reflect on our aspirations for our dharmic path, for Rigpa and for Dzogchen Beara. This was a very meaningful session. 

“This gathering gave me such a sense of hope and happiness in a world plagued by war and cruelty. It is so good to be somewhere filled with such special energy and to be surrounded by empathetic, warm and caring people who are seeking to make themselves and the world a better place “

After the tea break, a support session for Ngondro students was held by Jeff  in which the participants looked at why we practice the Path of Dharma and our experience of our practice in our lives. With students of varying levels of practice and experience present, the review and sharing was supportive and encouraging. 

Before lunch Susan led a wonderful session on “Remembering Peter Cornish”. We watched a section of the “Retiring Hermit” which beautifully encapsulated Peter’s legacy through storytelling and sharing memories. We then watched a slide show of sangha members who have passed away and Chris held a very poignant Guided Essential Phowa practice. 

After lunch we had a temple tour with Leon. It was a beautiful day so Leon showed us around the exterior of the temple with its panoramic views. We also got to see the beautiful sang burner so evocative of the beehive huts in Sceilg Mhichil. We then entered the temple and Leon filled us in on all the recent developments in the temple including the acoustic ceiling, the light fittings and the beautiful sacred decorative aspects of the temple. 

After lunch Geraldine gave a terrific presentation on Rigpa Ireland and we got an overview from each of the centre managers as to what’s happening in their respective centres. 

John then held a wonderful session on “What nourishes and what depletes us”. We got an opportunity to reflect on this and we shared our insights in pairs as we walked outside. 

We concluded Saturday evening with a bountiful Tendrel Nyesel Tsok practice which was followed by a buffet and party. Great fun was had by all. 

“To me, the opening of the Temple has both energised and magnetised everyone and it is wonderful to be part of it. It and the sangha will be a beacon for all in this world.”

We began again on Sunday morning with Riwo Sangcho and we did some Wang Du accumulations. Matt started our morning again with a wonderful Kum Nye session.  

Everyone came together at 10.15 and Rob held a very nourishing session on “What it means to be sangha and harmony in the sangha”. We got an opportunity to reflect on Patrick Gaffney’s advice for the sangha, which in Patrick’s words -“We have to take care to show one another respect, love, care, patience and devotion”. 

Brigid then guided us in a deeply moving loving kindness practice where she highlighted many of these points. 

After the tea break Sebastian and Stefaine gave a very inspiring and energising talk on the practices that will be happening in the temple and they strongly encouraged the sangha to participate in whatever way they could. 

Susan concluded with a special evocative teaching and sitting and Donal thanked everyone. 

It was a terrific gathering and a special thanks to all in Dzogchen Beara for making this such a memorable and auspicious occasion for the sangha. We look forward to gathering together again next year in the Temple. 

Norma Corcoran

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