This is an article explaining how much we need your help as members of the Dzogchen Community UK to ensure the continuity of our Master’s vision. It is a very personal take on the state of the Gakyil and does not reflect in any way a collective view. It has been prompted by the total lack of response from the Community to a call for people to step forward to become new members of the Gakyil.
The Gakyil is a concept which Chogyal Namkhai Norbu invented to help His students organise in all the different countries where people follow His Teachings. In the UK, three people are designated to be Blue Gakyil, which takes care of practice and communications, three people form Yellow, which handles finance and three, Red, which cares for the buildings which our Community owns and organises Karma Yoga programmes. I have been on the UK Gakyil as a Blue member for nearly a year now.
Before I was on the Gakyil I thought of it as a remote and rather grand committee which steered the boat of our Community through the seas of Charity Law, Constitutional Rules and Relations with the International Dzogchen Community. I am now older and wiser and realise that it is really about trying to keep the show on the road from one month to the next, keeping track of the finances, and providing a programme that our members will find attractive, far enough in advance that they have not booked their holiday to Benidorm at just the time that the hottest teacher of Dzogchen after Rinpoche is booked to hit the UK scene. Once the nine members of the Gakyil have just covered the bases involved in managing two properties, constructing a programme of events and administering and publicising them, there is not much time or energy left for innovations of genius or imaginative creative projects.
It is not easy to recruit people on to the Gakyil. The measure of desperation at the time I was recruited is reflected by the fact that one dear Gakyil member seriously suggested that I become a Yellow Gakyil candidate. As I am the first to point out, my abilities in the field of figures and finances are of the order of a keen four year old let loose on an abacus; willing, but more interested in playing with the shiny coloured beads than doing sums of any kind. Eventually, after saying no at least three times due to the imminent arrival of grandsprogs and a long planned absence abroad for personal retreat, I was prevailed upon to sign up. I thought I must have been as desirable as Greta Garbo for them to have been so persistent but now I realise that it was just that absolutely no one else would volunteer…
We are having a similar problem at present. We have upcoming vacant positions on Blue, and Red. Without people to fulfil these functions the UK Community cannot continue.
Rinpoche has indicated on many occasions that he wishes us to collaborate as members of a group while practising the Teachings. It is a test of our practice, to see if we can integrate what we have learnt in contemplation with interaction with other people. A group of practitioners can only collaborate if its members can set aside their own egotistical tendencies sufficiently to take the common goal forward. Sometimes, when I am sitting in a Gakyil meeting in its third hour, I feel I am inhabiting a universe that is really unreal. Sometimes the Eighty Four Thousand Minds seem to be all there at once, albeit encapsulated in just a few human bodies. Then there are the disembodied Skype and FaceTime entities who inhabit an invisible dimension beyond the laptop screens. And then there is Any Other Business but we always get to the end of the Agenda in the end and the show goes on.
For the last thirty years the show has gone on but it can only go on if people offer their time and energy to keep the show on the road. Karma Yoga is an important part of the Community and for those members who want to pursue the Santi Maha Sangha training it is actually compulsory, not voluntary. Unless a certain number of hours of Karma Yoga are offered to the Community the candidate cannot go forward to take the Base Exam. We have around two hundred and fifty members of the Community in the UK and from my observation, it is a tiny core who put in most of the work of organising activities and maintaining the fabric.
The main point I am trying to make is that please can the membership consider helping out a bit more? If you have time, please give it. If you have money, please give it. Actually, time is more important even than money at the moment, as we are a voluntary organisation and have to do all the work ourselves. We should do the work ourselves, not pay others to do it, because Rinpoche likes us to actually work together.
It is not as though you have to be the retired CEO of a major company to have the skills to be on the Gakyil. We all do what we can and we ask each other for help if there is an area outside our comfort zone. I am all at sea in the world of Social Media but I am learning. It is hard to get really good communication going between ourselves, let alone with the wider membership, but we try and we do our best. Being prepared to ask questions and look stupid is part of the trip. Looking stupid is so good for me, in particular, as it is a good antidote to my pride. Children are also good for this, although generally more expensive. It is all grist to the practice mill, so long as you don’t give up.
Please volunteer for the Gakyil. If you can’t do that, please volunteer to join a work group to look after Lekdanling or Kunselling. If you can’t do that, please volunteer for a project or a Karma Yoga weekend at Kunselling or organise one course in Lekdanling a year. Please volunteer just to stuff some envelopes when we have to mail something out. If you can’t do any of that please write an article for this Blog about why you can’t do anything and I will publish it. It will be interesting for Rinpoche to read well-written articles about why members of the Community feel unable to do anything to help realise his vision.
Please do try to do your best and volunteer for something. I am sad to see so few doing so much and burning out. As one long serving and very hard working person recently commented “Some of us have learned to burn out in silence.” Perhaps we are not communicating so well. As Blue Gakyil it’s my job to communicate and so I am sending out this sincere plea for help.
Applications for the post of Gakyil member on a postcard please… or if you must, on Social Media.