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May 2013 Open Dharma newsletter


~ May Newsletter

(Para  ir a la versión castellano desplázate al Rincón Latino situado al final de la página.)

(Photo: Varanasi, by Nico.)

In this newsletter

~ News
~ The Monthly Theme--Beyond the Mirror, by Jaya
~ Photo Album from India, by Jaya
~ Interesting Links
~ Memories, photos from Dana and Tom
~ Upcoming Events
~ Rincón Latino


~ News

New Interview Offerings

Jaya will offer more and longer interviews in May and June -- thanks to Alison's generous willingness to schedule the meetings as a gift to all of us.

Jaya will continue to offer 10-15 minute interviews on a purely donation basis. And for the first time she will begin offering 25-30 minute interviews for a sliding scale cost of 25-50 Euros per meeting. Both donations and payments go through the website or by personal check in the US. (A small percentage of the dana and payments will go to Open Dharma.)

The timings in May: 9 am - 11 am and 4 - 6 pm (Spanish time) on 20, 22, 24, and 26 MayIf your schedule does not fit with these times, then please write Alison anyway to let her know you are interested: interviews(at)opendharma.org
In May, Gemma will also offer interviews on May 21, from 9 - 11am and from 4 - 6pm (Spanish time). To schedule a time, please contact Alison at: interviews(at)opendharma.org.

Radio Dharma
Jaya will give a radio dharma talk over the free internet radio site blogtalkradio.com on 25 May at 4:30pm Spanish time. Please go to blogtalkradio.com and search for "Jaya Ashmore" to join. And if you don't want to miss these events, then click on "follow," just under the Open Dharma logo. 

Also in May, long-time Open Dharma friend Anton Eastick from Australia will give a half-hour talk called "How we hide and protect our essential being."  Anton has decades of experience with yoga, meditation, and organizing and teaching retreats.  More recently, he is also studying body-centered psychotherapy in depth. The date for the talk is 8 May at 9.30am AEST (which is the night of the 7th in the US.) Please go to blogtalkradio.com and search for "Open Dharma" to join.

June at Dharamloca
There are still some places available for next month's 12 days of meditation and transformation through simplicity and beauty at Dharmaloca, 5 - 17 June. To read more about beautiful Dharmaloca, link here. And for more information about the retreat, write to Gemma: gemmaji(at)gmail.com

~ The Monthly Theme

Jaya offers the monthly practice theme for May ~ Beyond the Mirror

Recently a scientific study accidentally found empathy in a monkey.

The monkey's brain was all wired up for an experiment to show how much activity was happening where and when. A human, not part of the experiment, walked in and found the bag of snacks intended for the monkey experiment.  The human happily opened and ate.

The monkey's brain cells mirrored the human's surprise and enjoyment.

A conclusion was that primates (and we) are "wired" with mirroring neurons that prepare us to directly experience the emotions others go through.

Empathy is in the press these days.  This is good.  

Empathy saves lives every day.  

To feel we are not alone; to know that whatever we feel is a pattern of the mind* that others also go through; to realize that shame is extra, and unhelpful--these experiences via empathy save us from ourselves. Less alienated from our experience and from the world, we can simply feel what we feel, and the aliveness of the experience finds a way through.

Sometimes all we want and need is a mirror. Being with it together, without resistance or judgment. And that is all. Not mine, not yours, but our human situation.

And sometimes this permission--to feel what we feel--allows the next level of honesty and freedom to emerge.  A contraction unfolds a bit.  The mirror helps reveal more than what we saw at first.

But I'd like to suggest ways we can take greater care with our ability to mirror each other.

First, we need to take care that we don’t just "feel better by feeling together," occupied with feeling only. That we don't get so into feeling the negative that we forget to act, or to feel the positive, or to go deeper. Journalist Stephen Marche writes of media reports on a mass shooting in a school for small children: "Calling the massacre a tragedy makes everybody feel better. It purges the emotions…But it solves nothing." (Marche is pointing to the need for a policy change regarding gun control in the US.)** 

The easiest way to get attention or make a "deep" connection or "helpful teaching" is to talk about pain. Julia Watts Belser writes: "Tragic tales of suffering often intensify the vulnerability of people who are already on the margins, showcasing their pain in a way that generates pity, stripping their agency and playing into negative stereotypes of difference." Pity, disempowerment, and separation multiplied by "empathic" communication.

Let's not use the biological capacity to mirror for limited ends. Let's find ways to walk together through pain and joy, hand in hand, in a way that is transformative and freeing. Let's learn together what is empowering, what is not separating, what is true compassion without pity, what is really going through life together in a way that does not repeat past sufferings, mine or yours.

And especially as people interested in freedom, we also at times need what can feel like the opposite of empathy. 

We exactly don't need confirmation. We precisely need someone else not to enter the same emotion that we feel stuck in. We need that much respect, that much subtlety, that much depth.  

We need a friend who, yes, has no problem with what we are feeling, but who goes so far as not to take our problem as a problem. To be in touch with what we are notfeeling, with how the past does not define us, with a brightness we may even be unconscious of in ourselves in that moment. We need another human being to meet us shamelessly beyond emotion, beyond story, beyond reason, beyond emotional blackmail, beyond "helper" and "helped."

This simplest of meetings can, in a moment, heal the separation and alienation that look for reflections and mirrors and confirmation. Sometimes our best support for each other is our genuine, buoyant, brave trust in each other’s capacity to do what needs to be done--and to keep doing it till it is done.

Shameless and self-luminous, we meet each other beyond the mirror.


* "Pattern of mind" is a phrase of Chogyam Trungpa.

**Stephen Marche in Kathryn Dodgson's article, "Defining Our Humanity," page 1 ofHarvard Divinity Bulletin,Winter/Spring, 2013.

*** "The Ethics of Representing Disaster," by Julia Watts Belser, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Winter/Spring, 2013, page 26.


by Jaya

(Photo: Rishikesh, by Jaya.)

~ Photo Album from India

Jaya sent in these photos to share, from the retreat in Rishikesh, on the banks of the Ganga, and from Holi. Enjoy!

(Photos by Jaya)


~ Interesting Links

~Nadhia sent in a link to a TED talk given by a brain scientist who has experienced both her left brain and right brain functions during a stroke. Nadhia writes, "Right brain experience is astoundingly like what we're all striving for." Here is the link.

~Another cool link that came our way this month showcases the musical sound made by radio waves emanating from space--specifically from the Van Allen belts that circle the planet. They were sampled to make sound and turned into music that sounds like whale song mixed with crickets. Pretty cool. Click here to check it out.

~To ponder the historical significance of seeking silence, you might like to read on article about a recent book on the topic in the Literary Review. Click to see the article.

(Photo: Jaipur kites, by Jessica.)



It's fun to look at these photos Dana and Tom sent--taken 10 years ago, in Phoolchatti, Lucknow, Rishikesh and on the French yatra, with Jaya, Gemma, Christopher and many, many friends....

(Photos: from Tom and Dana.)

~ Upcoming Retreat Dates & Details

11 - 12 May, 2013, Non-Residential Weekend Retreat in Barcelona, Spain
Deep rest, silence and genuine inquiry.
Teachings will be in Spanish or Català, and English if needed.
Facilitator: Gemma
For information and registration, write to:

31 May - 2 June, 2013, Awakening with Horses workshop at Dharmaloca, Spain
Teachings will be in Spanish and English.
Facilitator: Gemma
For information and registration, write to:
dharmalocaretreat (at) opendharma.org

June through December, Ongoing 1 - 2 month apprenticeships at Dharmaloca, Spain
Facilitator: Jaya
For information and registration, write to:
jaya (at) opendharma.org

5 - 17 June, 2013, Silent, down to earth retreat at Dharmaloca, Spain
Transformation through simplicity and beauty.
Facilitators: Gemma
For more information write to:
dharmalocaretreat (at) opendharma.org

25 - 29 June, 2013, Silent Deep Rest Retreat at Le Moulin, Cubjac, France
Teachings will be in English.
Facilitators: Jaya or Gemma
For more information write to:
mail (at) moulindechaves.org

13 - 20 July, 2013, Deep Rest retreat near Ter Apel, Holland
Teachings will be in English.
Facilitators: Jaya
For more information write to:

24 - 28 July, 2013, Retreat in Montseny, Catalonia
Teachings will be in English & Català.
Facilitator: Gemma
For information and registration, write to:

31 July - 4 August, 2013, Diving into Meditation Retreat, in Eastbourne, UK
Deep rest, silence and genuine inquiry.
Teachings will be in English.
Facilitators: Gemma
For more information write to:

8 - 11 August and 11 - 18 August, 2013, Deep rest retreats at the Stone House in NC, USA
Teachings will be in English.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For more information write to:
opendharma.nc (at) gmail.com

23 - 26 August, 2013, Silent deep rest retreat in Bay Area, California, USA
Teachings will be in English.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For more information write to:

26 - 29 August, 2013, Retreat for people of all ages, Bay Area, California, USA. Parents and children welcome!
We will weave together silence, meditation and rest with movement, story-time, singing and play
Teachings will be in English.

Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For more information write to:

9 - 10 November, 2013, Non-Residential Weekend Retreat in Barcelona, Spain
Deep rest, silence and genuine inquiry.
Teachings will be in Spanish or Català, and English if needed.
Facilitator: Gemma
For information and registration, write to:


For more information about retreats organized by our sister organizations visit www.SanghaCalendar.org

~ Welcome to Everyone

We would love to share your inspiration in an upcoming newsletter. Photos! Poems! Drawings! Musings! Reflections on a recent--or not so recent--retreat! (You can even tell us that you'd like to contribute anonymously.) Please feel free to send any contributions  to: newsletter (at) opencentre.es

Rincón Latino

En esta newsletter
~ Noticias
~ Reflexión mensual por Gemma
~ Cuentos que inspiran, por Hedy
~ Próximos eventos


Entrevistas Personales
Este mes Gemma ofrece entrevistas personales de 15 - 30 minutos via skype el día 23 de 9 a 11 de la mañana. Para concretar hora escribe a: gemmaji(@)gmail.com.

Meditación con caballos, un fin de semana inolvidable dejándonos interpelar por estos animales míticos en plena naturaleza. Aún hay plazas y posibilidad de beca! 31 mayo - 2 junio, 2013

Cuidador de Dharmaloca
Durante todo el año ofrecemos una posición de cuidador de Dharmaloca con un compromiso mínimo de entre 3 y 6  meses y con el objetivo de cuidar el lugar y en ocasiones alimentar a los caballos, así como profundizar en el propio proceso personal  y dar la bienvenida a la gente que viene para hacer retiros personales. Si estás interesad@ contacta: gemmaji(@)gmail.com.

~Reflexión Mensual por Gemma

Pasos en la nube

Durante el pasado mes de abril hemos estado bañándonos en el silencio de uno de los lugares más bonitos de la tierra y sin duda un lugar muy especial para la meditación y el despertar. Se trata del ashram situado a los pies del Himalaya y llamado Sat Tal por sus siete lagos.

Me cayó de nuevo en las manos el libro del anónimo inglés titulado la nube del no saber del que tanto me enamoré en su momento. Ahora el libo traía de sorpresa otro escrito dentro llamado el libro de la orientación particular y durante el mes de meditación hemos ahondado en él.

Algunas de las propuestas allí mencionadas son:

1. Dejar de dar alimento al intelecto con reflexiones, elucubraciones y conclusiones por elevadas que estas parezcan. 

2. No fijarnos en ningún atributo o defecto en particular y permanecer en la consciencia desnuda del propio ser tal y como es.

3. Olvidarnos de nosotros mismos de tal manera que la consciencia desnuda del propio ser tal y como es nos lleve a la conciencia del Ser.

Todo esto será posible en la medida en que a través de la experiencia podamos percibir la naturaleza de la Fuente y darnos cuenta de que cualquier idea que tengamos, por elevada y perfecta que esta sea, será estrecha al lado de las posibilidades que la vida puede ofrecer.

Desde la percepción de esta bondad infinita, podemos abandonarnos y abrazar el Ser.


por Gemma

(Photo: por Gemma)

Cuentos que inspiran

Este mes Hedy nos habla sobre la magia de los cuentos

Los cuentos nos ofrecen su sabiduría de manera sutil, actuando como por arte de magia en nuestro corazón, abriendo nuevos espacios internos con la suavidad de las metáforas. Hace tiempo leí un cuento que me caló hondo y me ha acompañado desde entonces. Lo comparto con las preguntas que me sugiere y con el deseo de que os inspire.

“El joven, el gurú y el pájaro

Hace mucho tiempo, en la India, un joven se aproximó a un grupo de gente que estaba escuchando las enseñanzas de un gurú muy famoso. El joven llevaba un pájaro vivo entre sus manos y dijo al gurú:

– Hombre sabio, tú que lo sabes todo, dime: el pájaro que tengo en las manos, ¿está vivo o muerto?

El joven pensaba hacia sus adentros: «Si dice que está muerto, abriré las manos y mostraré delante de todo el mundo que el gurú se ha equivocado. Y si dice que está vivo, lo aplastaré y abriré las manos para mostrar también que se ha equivocado».

El gurú hizo un silencio y respondió:

– Busca en tu interior. El pájaro está como tú desees que esté.”

¿Qué parte de ti es el pájaro?

Y ¿qué quieres hacer con tu pájaro?

por Hedy

Próximos Eventos

(Aquí listamos solo los que se harán en castellano y/o catalán)
11 - 12 Mayo, 2013, Retiro no residencial en Barcelona.
Invitar a la meditación a través del profundo descanso y la conexión auténtica con el anhelo.
Las enseñanzas de darán en castellano o català y en inglés si es necesario.
Facilitadora: Gemma
Para más información y para inscribirte, escribe a:
31 Mayo - 2 Junio, 2013, Taller de meditación con caballos en Dharmaloca, Cataluña.
Las enseñanzas de darán en inglés y castellano
Facilitadora: Gemma
Para más información y para inscribirte, escribe a:
5 - 17 Junio, 2013, Retiro de meditación en Dharmaloca, Cataluña, España.
Transformación a través de la simplicidad y la belleza
Las enseñanzas de darán en castellano e inglés.
Facilitadora: Gemma.
Para más información y para inscribirte, escribe a:
dharmalocaretreat (@) opendharma.org 
24 - 28 Julio, 2013, Retiro de meditación en Montseny, Catalunya.
Las enseñanzas de darán en castellano e inglés si es necesario.
Facilitadora: Gemma
Para más información y para inscribirte, escribe a:
retirosopendharma (@) gmail.com
9 - 10 Noviembre, 2013, Retiro no residencial en Barcelona.
Invitar a la meditación a través del profundo descanso y la conexión auténtica con el anhelo.
Las enseñanzas de darán en castellano o catalán y en inglés si es necesario.
Facilitadora: Gemma
Para más información y para inscribirte, escribe a:
hedykramer (@) yahoo.es
Bienvenidos a todos!
Nos encantaría compartir tu inspiración en las próximas newsletters. Puedes mandar fotos, poesías, dibujos, reflexiones,  comprensiones que vinieron durante o después de un retiro… (lo puedes hacer incluso de una forma anónima y en castellano o catalán). Por favor, manda tus inspiraciones a od.newsletter.latino (@) gmail.com.
Recuerda  que si quieres recibir nuestros próximos eventos y posibles actividades de última hora vía email, puedes unirte al grupo informativo enviándonos un correo electrónico en blanco a la dirección: opendharmalatino-subscribe @ yahoogroups.com.

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