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One man can do nothing. Before anything else he needs help. ...One man can easily deceive himself about his awakening and take for awakening simply a new dream. If several people decide to struggle together against sleep, they will wake each other. It may often happen that twenty of them will sleep but the twenty-first will be awake and he will wake up the rest. — G.I. Gurdjieff
Yeshe Tsogyel, 8th century Buddhist Siddha and master of Tantra and Dzogchen.

Yeshe Tsogyel, 8th century Buddhist Siddha and master of Tantra and Dzogchen.

Tsogyelgar is a collection of spiritual aspirants who study the alchemical practices that make up the path of Vajrayana Tantra and Dzogchen. The name Tsogyelgar is comprised of two words. The first is Tsogyel, the female Buddha who helped establish the Tantric and Dzogchen teachings in the Himalayan region during the 8th century. The second word is Gar which is a Tibetan term for an encampment, a loose affiliation of people with common purpose, which arises around a center of sublime wisdom teachings.

The community of Tsogyelgar comprise a number always kept at around 108. Friends of the work, and practitioners of the way, live in several countries but are centered in southeastern Michigan, near Ann Arbor. Over the 30 years of teachings the community has manifested all levels of spiritual practice from students who have full attainment to those who are just beginning.

A spiritual school is a microcosm of the world. It is not a rarefied environment, but a place where the teachings and methods might not only be shared but also be tested and lived under all conditions and with every sort of person. - Tsochen Khandro

The goal is not to produce hot-house flowers or carbon copies, but powerful, intelligent people whose deep heart-felt wisdom and compassion are capable of manifesting truth, beauty, and goodness in this realm. - t.k.
t.k. teaching during a winter retreat at Tsogyelgar

t.k. teaching during a winter retreat at Tsogyelgar

What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured. - Kurt Vonnegut

At the heart of Tsogyelgar’s mission and activity are the teachings of liberation and enlightenment. The esoteric quest for gnosis and the realization of human life’s deep meaning. We exist as a place where the culture of contemplative practice can flourish - the transmission of empowerment, the offering of teachings, creation of an environment that supports spiritual practice as well as yogis doing serious long term retreat.

Over time, a collection of unique, energetic, creative people who share a passion for spiritual realization, and enactment, produce a lot of beauty and goodness. And this is exactly what has happened. The alchemical transmutation of confused perception into wisdom bliss, the Gnosis that lies at the heart of spiritual contemplation, gives rise to a powerful energy of expression.

In America we have established both an urban center for contemplative study and also a 200 acre retreat land for “mountain retreat”. In northern India, on the border of Tibet, the Tsogyelgar community has founded a school for children preserving the ancient yogic practices and education. They have funded an orphanage, school, and breakfast program for children of all faiths in the slums of Varanasi, India. In Michigan they have started a farm, bakery, and creamery which support the community through Right Livelihood. They have also brought world famous poets to southeastern Michigan for free poetry readings, built a professional recording studio and recorded 11 CDs, created amazingly beautiful gardens . . . all as byproducts of the energy of compassion and wisdom created through spiritual work.

I have been to all the sacred places, temples, but never have I found a pilgrimage site as mysterious ad sacred as this body.” - The 8th century Buddha Saraha.
Non-dual Wisdom Mind, gnosis, transcends all designations and concepts.

Non-dual Wisdom Mind, gnosis, transcends all designations and concepts.

Into Tantra’s Hidden Land of Pemakö

t.k. with Sangchen, a yogini who has spent more than 13 years in solitary mountain retreat and has accomplished all stages of the Tantric and Dzogchen path.

t.k. with Sangchen, a yogini who has spent more than 13 years in solitary mountain retreat and has accomplished all stages of the Tantric and Dzogchen path.

A small group of community members traveled deep into the jungles of of far northern India and into the ancient Tantric hidden land of Pemakö. A 12 hour trek from the nearest road. In a small village that lies at the heart of the geomantic magic that is the Goddess’ body laid out across the geography, they established a school for preservation of Tantric yogic practices, alchemy, crafts, dances and solitary retreat practice.

Sacred Lands and Hidden Groves

There is a mytho-poetic landscape in Tantra which spreads out across the globe and is mirrored in the human body. At the heart of this are 24 sacred locations. Over the years, the community at Tsogyelgar has been recreating this magical realm, where even the geography enhances esoteric spiritual work, on the 75 acres which we own.

Traktung Khepa crossing into the Tantric hidden land of Pemakö

Traktung Khepa crossing into the Tantric hidden land of Pemakö

Tantra, through ritual, weaves space and awareness into a texture promoting alchemical transmutation.

Tantra, through ritual, weaves space and awareness into a texture promoting alchemical transmutation.

 

Life as Spiritual Practice

Tsogyelgar Creamery
Tsogyelgar Bakery

The formal aspects of spiritual practice are vitally important. Without formal meditation sessions spiritual life tends to be a fantasy. At the same time life and work are the testing ground of spiritual practice. Arts, work, relationship, group projects, family life, parties all serve as the territory and testing ground. The community at Tsogyelgar embraces all of these as part of the culture of wisdom. The bakery, creamery, farm, gardens, community events all serve as opportunities for honing the efficacy of the Great Work.

The Alchemy of Sensual Transformation

Human beings live sensually. We live through our senses which are in and of themselves organs of knowledge. Vajrayana is a path which makes use of aesthetics as a force in transformation. It uses the human body as alchemical flask and perceptions and feelings as alchemical ingredients. It is in music, painting, poetics, and more, that the human expresses their bliss and wisdom.

t.k. Khandro and their kids.

t.k. Khandro and their kids.

Dakini Tsochen Khandro

In the beginning, the middle, and at the end, the core focus of Tsogyelgar is always and foremost the transmission, practice, and realization of the Great Work that is innately personal and individual. To examine ones life in earnest, one must discipline the mind, heart, and body. These three all become organs of knowledge where the subtle practices of alchemical transformation take place. It is in the formal teachings and practices of the path that realization emerges and then flows outward in life’s activities. Activity is important but private, consistent, sincere individual spiritual practice is primary.

Contemplation is a free and clear vision of the mind fixed upon the manifestation of wisdom in suspended wonder . . . - Richard of St. Victor
The mind of meditation is perpetually fresh, open to possibility. - Tsochen Khandro
The passive attitude attributed to the Oriental mystics is often greatly misunderstood. Theirs is not an attitude of indifference, but one of disassociation through understanding. The greatest discipline is necessary to remove those mental and emotional reactions which are identification. It is through understanding that identification is surrendered. The discipline is so difficult that the man who achieves it has full realization of his fellow man’s problems. - Rudi