Annual report 2016
This year of 2016 has been a busy year for Open Heart, also a year of great shifts in several ways. Here some impressions.
This year has been big reg. bhumi openings. Altogether, roughly 120-130 bhumi openings of the sangha members has happened during this year. That is a big number for such a small group (about 60) of people. Also about 30 people have gotten awakened this year through Guidance to Awakening, guided by myself and other teachers.
When we began this year, there was not one 6th bhumi (with one exception) in the sangha. Now we have a dozen of them. By December there has also been six people who have their 11th bhumis (and more) open. Throughout the year there has been a steady stream of new bhumi openings in the sangha. This is unusual in the worldwide scale as far as I am aware. It's wonderful and we're all feeling it as love and openness. Yes!
Open Heart becoming international
A little story. Two years ago in late 2014 I felt very frustrated. I had been teaching full time for six years but felt that the work and community was not growing in number, especially abroad. It felt like something wasn't happening, something wasn't flowing. At the time there was only 1-2 practitioners from countries other than Finland. I felt this huge frustration, along with sustaining difficulties with my family's financial situation and had health problems due to having to work so much. So I made up my mind. I vowed not to continue my work unless in two years, until late 2016, there were some clearly noticeable changes happening. I was dead serious about it.
Then months passed, and gradually I started getting emails from people in other countries. During 2016 I've received quite a bit of emails from all over the world. I was also asked to go to Norway (twice) and New Zealand to teach Tibetan Heart Yoga. Unfortunately my health didn't allow the trip to NZ but hopefully it will happen at some time later.
In January 2017 we will have a weeklong retreat at Tammisaari that will be joined by people from NZ, Canada, Norway and US, along with Finns. We have also opened the first ever Open Heart Meditation Center at Tammisaari which is something that I've dreamed of for years. Our center is open for anyone to visit, to stay for practice and most importantly monthly retreats.
Along these developments the former frustration has been washed away. It flows now, like a river that has found it's way. The invitation of Open Heart is clearly out there and is heard by people around the world.
Not only that people from other countries are getting awakened through the guidance and starting to practice THY and dzogchen, in 2017, we will also have four new THY-teachers in Norway (Karl), United Kingdom (Rod), Australia (Nathaniel) and New Zealand (Sam). I feel such a relief, happy and content with these developments. Yay!
Not making compromises
Having said that, at the same time, us teachers have been discussing how the further growth of the sangha will be facilitated by the teachers. Some time ago, at Teacher's Lounge, I raised the topic of putting a limit to retreat participants, as well as limiting the maximum number of course participants. Just saying this not to give the impression that Open Heart needs to grow to become ”big”. I certainly don't want OH to become a big worldwide movement of thousands of followers because that would compromise the essentials such as one-on-one time with teacher/s which affects how the teachings are understood, practiced and whether fruits are attained. These are something that I will not, and should never be compromised. And I feel that it is this lucid and sincere attitude why our masters keep guiding the OH Sangha, like giving this group of people an extra push, a bit of special attention. You can see that directly in bhumi openings and the depth of our teachings.
I don't mean that OH would be something completely extraordinary. But I feel that 1. the method being a complete one and 2. our attitude being pragmatical without taboos or secrets, without inequality between anyone including the masters, does make Open Heart special. These two factors rarely unite in a time like this (dwapara yuga) that is marked with self-delusion in all possible ways on individual and communal levels. What in OH might seem special, I feel, should be the basic standard in any teaching.
Tapping the potential
Perhaps I'll continue with some sharing of my personal experiences.
As the first teacher and spokesperson of Open Heart, I've met not only positive response from people but also anger, doubt, jealousy and hatred. I've been publicly called crazy, schizophrenic and whatnot, sometimes by teachers of other traditions. Name calling doesn't hurt but the fact that there is a big mushroom*-factor in the dharma scene is shocking to me. In many dharma circles, if you openly share your thoughts, talk about your experiences or question the attainments of saints or lamas, people go nuts and start throwing rocks at you because there are taboos and questions that you cannot openly ask. Something that was born out of practical demands has been transformed into something largely based on religious belief. We all know the ill history of religion. Both dharma and religion begin in the mind so that's where the confusion begins. I think understanding this point well explains why old traditions of what was intended as dharma eventually brake down, becomes shattered to pieces.
* mushroom dharma: people, like mushroom, are kept in the dark and fed with excrement
Unfortunately many in the world dharma scene are not tapping the potential of our innate awareness. They are not realising, embodying, manifesting, connecting and living it. So many people despite of hard work seem not to get to the fruits. I have received emails from many people who worked hard in traditional setting but in the end felt that whatever they were being told to do was not making sense or had much effect.
The core of this problem is the lack of recognition of our natural state, awareness itself. There are many factors supporting this lack of recognition but people being people, with our limited capabilities, always seem to find ways to externally seem like they are committed to dharma, that is, the truth of our being, while actually doing a lot to avoid it. That is how people roll. The result of this is more of tumbling and turning in the wheel of samsara, in the wheel of births and deaths of indefinite forms.
For these reasons, I feel, it is important to carry on what Open Heart has started to offer some solid and rational dharma-help to beings to need it.
Open Heart Meditation Center and Retreats
Our first center at Tammisaari, Finland, has just been opened. Yes! It is located at the bottom floor of the building where our family lives with 130 sq. meters of space, two separate rooms for staying with own bathrooms, sauna and showers and a spacious kitchen. Anyone is welcome to come for a short visit or for a longer residential training with us teachers. Also Karl from Norway is living in the same building and is helping with many things, also cooking for retreats.
Since next January we will have a proper retreat schedule here with 5-7 day retreats every month and other intensive training, like the upcoming 12-hour Guru Rinpoche Kirtan on New Year. This type of training is something that I felt working towards for several years. I cannot tell you how happy I am about this place. One of my dreams come true. I hope our sangha understands the value of this opportunity. Please use it now, not later.
Tammisaari is close to Helsinki so it is easy to come here either by public transport or by car. I will still keep teaching courses at Helsinki and other cities in Finland and elsewhere but some of the activities will be transferred to Tammisaari. The center has been consecrated by Padmasambhava. You can feel a spiritual charge when you come in. Training in this place will benefit you immensely. Welcome!
Lama Tsering's visit
Lama Tsering is now visiting us from the US. For several months we have been ”comparing notes” with him, so to speak, trying to make sense of all of this dharma drama. And I think we are on to something.
He will teach courses here in January and February. He is a mahasiddha and thoroughly trained in Tibetan buddhism, dzogchen and several other traditions. He has known many of the greatest Tibetan lamas personally and considers lamas such as Dudjom Rinpoche and Sakya Trizin to be his close friends. Having the connection and him here is a unique opportunity. Come see him and join his events!
I wish you all the best in your efforts and life in general. Whether you are part of the Open Heart Sangha or not, please keep up with your efforts. Essentially we are presence itself in all the beautiful things. Let's make it clear, a living reality.
May the New Year bring us all health, comfortable circumstances and leisure time, so that we may know ourselves as awareness... of love, connection and kindness.