Hundreds at Buddhist retreat

by STAN GORTON, Narooma News, Feb 25, 2009

Tilba, Australia -- HUNDREDS of visitors from around Australia and the world are seeking spiritual enlightenment at the Namgyalgar Buddhist community on the slopes of Gulaga Mountain.

Spiritual leader and Dzogchen master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu has returned to Australia for the first time in six years and has spent the past few weeks at Namgyalgar.

Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, as he is known, has been holding retreats with people coming from far and wide to listen to his teachings and learn more about the Dzogchen way of life.

His visit will last three months and he will also travel to Caloundra, Queensland and Melbourne to give additional teachings before returning to Tilba for another retreat over Easter.

Tilba resident and community organiser Jean Mackintosh said Rinpoche has retired from his position as a professor of Languages and Tibetan culture and now he travels much of the year to his retreat centres in Italy, Margarita Island off Venezuela, Europe, USA and Romania.

Norbu Rinpoche was born and educated in Tibet but went to China as a young boy where he furthered his studies before going to Italy where he became a research associate and later a Professor of Oriental Language and Literature at the University of Naples.

The Namgyalgar community is set on the slopes of Gulaga Mountain just south of Tilba Tilba.

The international Dzogchen community purchased the property from the Dibden family back in 1994 and has spent the years making it a fully functional retreat open to visitors year round.

The main campground, dining area and Gonpa meditation hall are located among the trees while further up the slopes is the main house where Chogyal Namkhai Norbu stays while he is in Namgyalgar, as well as being the home of resident monk Thupten Rabgyi Lama.

Walking down the road from the main house is a young Frenchman from Paris who goes by the name of Arnaud.

He had just taken a plate of food up to one of the practitioners undergoing a solitary retreat up in one of the top houses.

“I am here to study and to help because there is a lot of work with all the people here,” Arnaud said.

“It’s nice to be here and living together with all the other people.”

And Ms Mackintosh confirmed the Dzogchen message was all about living in the present in everyday life and using Buddhist teachings to make the world a better place.

The Namgyalgar property is looking as good as ever with a new gateway to greet the 200 to 300 people who have already visited, while many camp on the land, others spread out to the wider area staying in local motels and bed and breakfasts.

New prayer flags have also gone up in the valley leading up to the main house thanks to Rabgyi and his helper Urgyen Sonam, who erected the central pole to hang the flags off.

The pair also spread out messages of welcome in flour on the road up the main house that Norbu Rinpoche was driven over.

Locals are welcome to visit Namgyalgar and learn more about Dzogchen, just contact the secretary Vicki Forscutt for registration for teaching retreats on 44737668.