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Dharma Mind Sangha joins

Open Heart Sangha, 2/2018

This announcement has been written by Mike Hogan, the sangha leader of Dharma Mind Sangha, founded by Aloka David Smith, based in UK and Ireland and Kim Katami, founder of Open Heart Sangha, based in Finland. It covers information about the joining of these two sanghas into a larger Open Heart Sangha.

By Mike Hogan

In January 2017, a long time member of the DharmaMind sangha, Jonathan O’Donovan, started working with Kim Katami, teacher of the Open Heart sangha in Finland. Jonathan had a sense at that time that as a sangha DharmaMind was deflating slowly without a teacher as our own teacher Aloka David Smith had passed away two years earlier, in 2015.

In a short time, Jonathan experienced awakening using The Two-Part Formula (2PF). The formula is a concentrated, focused dzogchen-practice whose purpose is to bring about awakening - technically the opening of the first bhumi. Details of the process can be found here. As you can imagine, Jonathan was a bit shocked, and continued to work with Kim using Tibetan Heart Yoga practices, and continued to open a further number of bhumis. This made him highly motivated.

Jonathan wanted to share this information with the rest of the DharmaMind sangha, but was concerned that nobody would believe how efficient the practices were after 18 years of regular practice in Triratna Community (ex-FWBO) and DharmaMind. This was probably a valid concern. He spoke to Mike Hogan, the then leader of the group, and explained what had happened. Mike tried 2PF, did guidance with Kim, and also awakened. Then Jon and Mike shared the information with a few more people, and most of them had similar awakenings. In September, we shared the news with the entire sangha. There was some disbelief, but also a lot of take up of what Kim was offering. That vast majority of people adopted Kim’s practices and teachings and feel their practice is moving forward. Within five months 26 people associated with DharmaMind woke up and made notable progress in terms of further bhumi openings. This has greatly motivated our members about Open Heart-teachings.

In the years after Aloka’s death, we did our best to continue the sangha in his absence, in the manner that he taught us. We did quite well. We learned a lot and we got confidence in running retreats and keeping a sangha together. But there was something missing. A teacher supports you, encourages you, inspires you, challenges you and guides you. We were missing that, and possibly nobody wanted to really admit that. We thought we were doing OK. It was only when Jonathan introduced us to Kim and Open Heart, that the thirst we had had for a teacher became apparent to us. Very many people expressed something along the lines of “Oh finally, a teacher has arrived”. We embraced Kim quickly and warmly. The sense that Jonathan had that propelled him to seek a teacher proved to be right, and shared by many. For that we are all, as a sangha, very thankful to him. It took courage to propose a new teacher to a sangha that was so committed to Aloka’s way. While we are on the subject of gratitude, we need to acknowledge the legacy Aloka has left us. We are a well organised, harmonious, committed sangha, and that is down to the steady, patient time and effort he put into all of us. So than you Aloka too.

In November 2017 we had our first course on awakening with Kim in Dublin, Ireland. It was hugely attended and very much a success. So we decided to ask Kim to teach on our one week Winter retreat in December 2017-January 2018. Again, it was well attended and was very well received. To such a degree that we have planned the entire 2018 calendar with Kim as our new teacher.

What this means practically, is that Kim Katami is now teacher of the DharmaMind group and Mike Hogan has stepped aside as leader. The practices we have adopted are those of Vajrayana Buddhism as taught in Open Heart, also called Pemako Buddhism, as Kim teaches them. Therefore DharmaMind Sangha has become part of the larger Open Heart Sangha”.

- Mike Hogan, the sangha leader of DharmaMind Sangha,

By Kim Katami

The past year since the beginning of 2017 has been both a joyful journey as well as hard work for me when working with DharmaMind members over at United Kingdom and Ireland. By the end of 2017 I had discussed with nearly all members of the sangha and have gotten to know them a bit. From the beginning it was clear to me that this group of people are very dedicated dharma practitioners many with more than 10 or 20 years of regular practice and monthly retreats under their belt. For a teacher working with such people is a delight.

However, despite of their long term training, only a couple in the sangha had woken up. Therefore, the first thing we had to cover was to get them awake and after that introduce them to tantric buddhist practices for further maturation. Many of the former DM members have made tremendous progress in just a few months. This is because of their prior training and the newly learned tantric and dzogchen practices. In some ways they are reaping the crops of their prior hard work.

When Jonathan started talking to me that he would like to introduce The Two-Part Formula and rest of the practices to his dharma friends I was quite doubtful whether he would be able to pull it off without people leaving the group. But to my surprise, he did! He really deserves the gratitude of his sangha members and myself for his work in this shift.

Now after year's work, a couple of events together with the sangha, combined with a huge amount of positive and synergistic energy it feels natural that the two sanghas are joined together. It is my pleasure to work with this group of people and I feel honored to have been asked to become the new teacher of this sangha. It is a responsibility that I don't take lightly.

Now we have altogether 12 events, from 2 to 7 days scheduled this year and some further plans of purchasing our own residential training center from UK or Ireland.

I have requested Mike Hogan (UK) and Jonathan O'Donovan (Ireland) to continue working together as sangha leaders of their respective countries. I have also asked Helena Ahlback to become a sangha leader in Finland. They all gladly accepted these positions and will continue to work for the dharma, overseeing and guiding the efforts of the sangha members for the common good.

I wish to thank all for your sincerity and efforts both on and off the cushion so far. Please also understand that we have much spiritual as well as physical work to do, so that Open Heart-teachings of Guru Rinpoche and other great masters can take root in the world. I'd like to ask all to reflect on this and understand that for this to be accomplished we need to be active and work for ourselves and others, as much as we can. A clear mind embodies the right motivation. Right motivation becomes alive through right compassionate actions. Teachings of the great vehicle (mahayana bodhicitta) are about the mind but also about the muscle!

Thank you all and see you soon.”