This year, Australians celebrated 21 years since Sogyal Rinpoche first began to teach us at Myall Lakes, in New South Wales, Australia.
While he may have made a dent in taming our minds, the animals here remain wild. Retreatants were treated to a whole array of wildlife sightings including dolphins in the surf and a very large and confused goanna dashing through the tent during one of Rinpoche's teachings.
A recording of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was accompanied by the local kookaburras who, apparently realising the illusory nature of everything, burst out laughing. Even Rinpoche was lucky enough to spot a wallaby early one morning breakfasting on the lawn at Blueys.
Of course it is Rinpoche himself we come to see, and this year we once again turned out in record numbers to make the retreat bigger than ever before. Rinpoche gave Dzogchen teachings, and it seemed that everyone, from those who have been attending the Myall Lakes retreat from the beginning, to those who were here for the first time, was blown away by Rinpoche sharing such precious and profound teachings so openly.
No one missed out on the special atmosphere, with Rigpe Yeshe (Rigpa's programme for children and families) having its biggest year so far. As the retreat falls during the Australian summer school holidays it has always had a family atmosphere, and certainly by the pool the children outnumber the adults. While many of the children do attend some of Rinpoche's sessions, they were also lucky enough to have him sit with them and teach them directly. Some excellent questions were asked, including one young boy who wanted Rinpoche's advice on "how to be sensible". (For those who are interested, Rinpoche defined "sensible" as looking both ways before crossing the road).
As the tents are packed away for another year and fond farewells are made, the Australian sangha reflect on just how blessed we are to be able to share this time with Rinpoche every year and pray that he returns for 21 years more at the very least.
(Story by Elena Marie)
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