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Open Centre newsletter

Dear Sangha friends.

Again a new newsletter, for you, to keep you updated about the several projects our sangha friends are putting time and effort in for the fundraising of the Open Centre.
People are still busy achieving our goal to open the Open Centre.
In this newsletter you will find the personal contribution of Beka (Yatra, T-shirts, Poetry book) with a present in the form of some of her wonderful poems.
But we will start with a short sweet note from Jaya.


Gyanpranay was born on 2 December, 2007 near the holy mountain of Montserrat in Catalonia,
Spain.  Gyan means wisdom and pranay means love.  (Gyan rhymes with
 "John" but has a hard G as in good.) 
He grows and changes every day, as do our hearts by being with him, and by being
part of his growing. 
To join him in his potential, his vulnerability, his delicate power is an inspiration. 
We hope he and many others like him will enjoy the graceful, dynamic, sweet
support of the Open Centre throughout their lives.



After a lot of initial interest in the one day yatra there turned out to be just 7 of us walking.  A yatra isn’t, by its nature, an event would normally be associated with money or the raising of it.  As such, I decided that a sponsored yatra would be a way to make it become just this; each participant gaining sponsorship from people they knew.
The weather this summer in England was quite unusually wet – even by our standards, and, just so, on that day, Sunday 29th July the rain and wind prevailed with only a glimpse of warm sunshine somewhere in the middle. 
I had advised in the pre-yatra e-mail that waterproofs were brought on the walk but, unfortunately, not everybody’s gear was as effective as others.  Nevertheless, the wet walkers silently trod their path across the South Downs, near Brighton in East Sussex.. 
These chalky hills spread themselves across a small part of the south east of England.  The distance walked that day was roughly 16 miles.  There is a softness, a fluidity to their presence, which seems paradoxed by the lack of vegetation – our lush, green oak trees, for example, don’t much care for the chalky down land.  What you do see, however, are many varieties of wild flowers and thus, an array of butterflies to see them through.  At that time of year you can always see at least one field of bright red poppies, self-seeded through the cereal crops year after year, sky larks (which the South Downs are abundant with) homing-in on their ground nests, chattering their sweet music as they go.  Seagulls drew in ever-closer inland as the wind and rains grew stronger.  And the question on my mind, and the one I put out to the others before and during the walk was:  ‘Can the centre still open?’  This, then, had become something of a mantra for me in the organizing and then in the walking itself.  Is the centre open?  Can the centre open?
When there was a challenging situation before me or, lets say, something that has potential to make me feel angry or frustrated, ie, people forgetting to get sponsorship, people dropping out, etc, I would use this mantra as a focused way of checking where I was/how I was and as a movement towards my ‘centre’.  This brought me to something more allowing, more spacious, something that was not loaded with my patterns.  I wanted to walk ‘carrying nothing extra’.  It is due to this focus, if you like, that I found the experience of walking so much more enriching.  I remember feelings of great love and gratitude for being able to do this and is some way spreading the awareness of what the Open Centre was really about.
The very reason why we were walking was to explore a life that was not limited by patterns but was led by an open centre and everything that means.

We managed to raise a sum total of 478 pounds that day and those of us that walked really enjoyed and seemed, in some way, to benefit from it.

Like This

I want to walk into the next life with my hands free,
Carrying nothing extra,
Like this.

I want to walk through those realms
Without the great weight of ancestral grief on my back,
The knots of fear of being abandoned in my belly
Or the ache of sadness from feeling alone in my heart.

I want this soul to go on
Unburdened, unmasked, disarmed, healed.

I want to be brave enough to write the next line of this poem:
I want to be able to look at the transparent souls of my grandchildren
And smile,
Because I know I did my very best,
Like this.



It seemed such an obvious thing for me to do – produce t-shirts as a way of raising money.  Obvious because I have done this before for myself and for another cause and I have always used words and the playing with them to do this.
I know t-shirts work in this way.  Why?
1)  people get something practical and attractive instantly in return for their money
2)  the play on words will always carry more than one meaning which people often find they connect with, interesting, or, at the very least,  funny
3)  it is a great way of raising awareness of a cause such as Open Dharma/ Open Centre.

For the most part is was a fun venture – getting others involved in the design side of things was great (all thanks to Joel-ji and Jessica-ji).  The words that were eventually decided on were: the Centre is Opening/Opening is the Centre with the Open Dharma lotus in the middle.

Inevitably since I got the ball rolling in India it did mean that things weren’t as flowing or easy as us westerners are used to.  I embarked on this project ‘cold’, in other words, having no idea whatsoever about where to source t-shirts in Varanasi that would be of the right proportions, colours, quality, etc or even how to find the printing wallah who could be reasonably reliable……
Off  I set from Sarnath into the thick of the city – Gadaulia - where a lot of the trading takes place.  Finding the right t-shirts was definitely the most difficult task. Although, in the end, when we did the final batch of 500 I decided to use the familiar Varanasi t-shirt which comes in 2 sizes (‘big and small Madam’) and also has a vast selection of colors the likes of which people , I knew, cannot resist.
Bit by bit it all came together; the guy who put the design onto the computer knew a printing guy, etc.  The printing wallah turned out to be pretty professional  and did a good job. PHEW!  And the first batch was done for the remaining last days of the Sarnath programme last year , 2007.
The selling of them then became a chore in itself but, realizing I needed support in this, I asked and good sangha friends stepped in (yet another great way for me to see my patterns and to learn from them).
This brings me to the next part of this ‘story’;  I was not going to be around for the completion of the 500 t-shirts so I asked Jessica-ji if she could pick them up and send them off to Spain where they would be sold during the summer events there.  Sounded simple enough……at this point I only wish I still had Jessica’s e-mail that described the event that took place between her, Sam and Laura, the printing wallah, the rickshaw wallah (poor guy!) and the drunk post office wallah……….I think Jessica would agree – it was so India you just had to laugh (eventually).
Again, many thanks to Jessica-ji, Sam-ji and Laura-ji for their patience, humor and dana which were all necessary in order to get the t-shirts half way round the world to Gemma’s mums house in Barcelona.
Back in UK I’ve sold a number of them and raised somewhere around 300 pounds.  I held a stall for them and to raise awareness for Open Dharma in Brighton at a local Buddhist Centre fund-raising event.  Despite not raising very much money I spoke to a few interested people about Open Dharma and enjoyed being there.
I’m still enjoying wearing the t-shirts and would highly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t already got one!
Check the site for more info………..http://www.opencentre.es


Over the last few years during my spiritual journey I have found myself writing words that could be described as poems.  Much of this has occurred whilst on retreat with Open Dharma.  It seems entirely appropriate therefore for me to offer my newly-formed book of these words (Wildness & Womb) on a donation-basis so as to raise funds for the Open Centre and to honor the place from which they came.
50% of what I receive will go to the Centre.  Please bare in mind (and heart) the time, energy and money that has gone into the production of the book. 
I am presently spending time in India and have copies with me so if you are here you can buy one from me in person at one of the retreats.  If you are not in India then I shall e returning to Uk in March.  Postal delivery will be possible from there  - please be aware of this when making a donation. 
I would also like to mention that a recording in CD format of a poetry and music evening of myself reading from the book will be available in the near future. 
With gratitude unfolding,

A taster:

What can I say?

What can I say?
My heart is a throne.
I invite God to sit there.
Each and every beat is majestys own music,
Played for us, by us.
We are all instruments of God.
This rhythm belongs to nature.
And we dance.
This dance is our birthright brothers and sisters –
We have never been anything else.
Brothers and sisters,
The flame that has set you on fire
Is the light from which I burn.
What can I say?
I’m in love with our birthright.


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With love and trust in the Sagnha,
Iris, on behalf of the open centre newsletter team.

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Message 08 - Still need prizes for the Lottery Raffel

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