The International Sangha
The Community or Sangha counts among its members all those who are interested in the Dzogchen teaching and is seen as a place for practicing one’s awareness, a place where one has the opportunity
to collaborate in the perspective of a common spiritual enrichment and meet people who share the same path towards knowledge.
The International Dzogchen Community, on the other hand, is the body of practitioners in different parts of the world.
It has a non-bureaucratic organization and is based on the development of systems of communication which respect individual autonomous local conditions.
According to Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s vision, the various Gars (literally ‘dwellings’) make up one great mandala or network that links different geographical areas of the world and to which Dzogchen practitioners can refer as places for study and meditation practice.
There are currently six Gars in various places around the world: “Merigar West” in Italy, “Merigar East” in Romania, “Tsegyalgar East” in Massachusetts , U.S.A., “Tsegyalgar West” in Baja California, Mexico, “Tashigar South” in Argentina, “Tashigar North” in Venezuela and “Namgyalgar” in Australia.
The co-ordination of the various activities of the association is organized by the Gakyil, the basic unit of organization. The Gakyil can be the reference point for a country or for a smaller group like, for example, a large city. Each Gakyil is autonomous and there is no Gakyil or Gar that rules over another.
The Gakyil, literally the ‘mandala of joy’, is an organism made up of three sectors which correspond, according to an ancient Buddhist model, to the three aspects (kaya) of the individual: body, voice, mind. The Gakyil thus symbolizes both the microcosm or the individual and the macrocosm or society as a whole. The nine members of the Gakyil are chosen from the members of the Community and change each year.
Besides centres of Dzogchen teaching and meditation practice, in 1988 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu founded A.S.I.A., a non-governmental organization with the main objective of promoting economic, social and health development of the ethnic minorities whose cultural identity is threatened. In 1989 while he was Professor of Tibetan and Mongolian Language and Literature at the Istituto Universitario Orientale in Naples, he established the International Shang Shung Institute to promote initiatives and spread knowledge of Tibetan culture in order to safeguard it. The Insitute was officially inaugurated by H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1990 and organizes courses, study conferences, exhibitions and publications as well as being a documentation centre. The Shang Shung Editions publishing house, founded in 1983 publishes the teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and other Tibetan masters in written and multimedia form. The Mirror is the bimonthly newspaper of the International Community and publishes information on all the activities of the Dzogchen Community. Each issue contains programmes of teachings and conferences by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in different parts of the world as well as news about the Gars and Gakyils, the activities of ASIA, the Shang Shung Institute and Editions. The paper also carries Teachings given by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and the calendar of practices for special days.