You say you can’t create something original? Don’t worry about it. Make a cup of clay so your brother can drink.”
Hello there, dear open dharma friends.
Time for another newsletter to keep you updated and inspired with, from, and towards the open centre.
The work towards the realization of the open centre is still on its way and the way itself is inspiring and heart warming.
We start with a writing from Sam Meyler, where Sam tells us about the process of writing a proposal to the Kresge foundation.
he second article is from Margaret Miles (Emeritus Professor of Historical Theology at the Graduate Union in Berkeley, California.) advocating the practice of love in “Living Lovingly Amid Fear”.
For a direct warming of the heart, go to youtube.com-thomasariddle-Jai Ganesh.
Writing a proposal
Well in the past few weeks with Jaya’s help and direction I’ve been preparing an Open Centre proposal to the Kresge foundation, a well established private enterprise whose overall aim is “for the promotion of human progress”.
A visit to the proposed Open Centre for last minute note taking and a cup of tea later, we were brainstorming on the values that this foundation desires to encourage (e.g community impact, innovation, environmental stewardship etc). For all who have been involved with Open Dharma in the past, we know it inherently has these values, and undoubtedly fits in with the “promotion of human progress” put forward by the foundation.
But the literary challenge was to somehow ground Open Dharma into nicely shaped words that expressed exactly what it is, that ticked and addressed the relevant boxes, all the while providing hard evidence of socio-economic benefits, racial and ethnic inclusion and capital campaign plans. Not an easy task! Most of the time on retreats I have no idea what Open Dharma “do” exactly. That the process has helped me grow and live more fully? For sure. But how exactly? The exploration and opening often seems intangible, inherently subtle, inexpressibly moving.
So back to the proposal. How many participants achieved enlightenment this year on Open Dharma retreats? ?
Easiest would be for the selection board to just come and do a ten day silent retreat. We could donate the airfare to come to Spain (or India or wherever) and then they could donate the money needed for the Open Centre. A win-win situation for everyone. And Open Dharma could remain completely open, unboxed into words that try to capture something that wishes to stay just out of reach.
But my failings in descriptive literature aside, the truth is that writing about this collective dream we call the Open Centre has shared with me a number of insights into why its creation is just so vitally important. And how lying about for ten days in silence might be the most practical thing we ever did!
The profound impact of a living and breathing ecological model.
How as a collective society we have somehow forgotten what our real potential is as humans.
That through growing, through living joy, we instinctively desire to contribute to our community, something larger than ourselves.
How the Open Centre can nurture such a growing. And the urgent need for this space of exploration, this spiritual continuity, in people’s lives.
The open centre as a place of spiritual training and social responsibility. Responsibility: the ability to respond.
And during this proposal writing, what has really been nice to hear and read and continuously come across is this “grassroots mobilisation of the heart” that really seems to underlie the project. From so many people, from so many places, in so many different ways. The fundraising events in themselves have brought people together, united in this wish of self-transformation. It feels like the actual process of raising these huge sums of money is interwoven with what we wish to achieve with the Open Centre itself. That somehow this collective dream of the Open Centre already exists inside each of us.
And who said that fundraising can’t be fun? ?
And maybe, just maybe, capital campaign plans are just a part of this creative process, which tries to create funds for something that already is.
Living Lovingly Amid Fear
Margaret Miles (Emeritus Professor of Historical Theology at the Graduate Union in Berkeley, California, and formerly the Bussey Professor of Historical Theology at Harvard Divinity School), “Living Lovingly Amid Fear,” in Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Autumn, 2006, Cambridge, MA, pp. 14-17.
“Several western authors have suggested that human beings and societies are defined by their love or their fear. … In order to live lovingly, we must somehow refuse to live in fear in a culture that constantly confronts us with well-publicized dangers….
“In the last several years American daily newspapers, newscasts, and newsmagazines have featured many causes for fear. Isolated incidents are characterized as trends, and anecdotes are substituted for facts….
[pg. 15:] “Moreover, there is frequently little correlation between press attention to a danger and its statistical significance. Americans fear the wrong things. That is the point of a culture of fear…. For example, in 2001, over 42,000 Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents, while 3,547 people were killed worldwide in terrorist attacks, 3,000 of them on September 11….My point is not that there is no reason to fear, but that the culture of fear in which we live often takes our attentions and energies away from creatively addressing the problems of American society and the world, encouraging attitudes of helplessness—or worse, aggression.
… “Fear is hard on our bodies. Anxiety is the number one health problem in the country, leading to epidemic depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and prescription drug addiction….
“Moreover, American society is violent because it is fearful. Americans incarcerate at 14 times the rate of Japan, 8 times the rate of France, and 6 times the rate of Canada. … On the global level, evidence suggesting that counterterrorism activities provoke more terrorism has not been taken seriously… [pg. 16:] It is startling that the wealthiest society in the world does not feed its needy young, care for the old and the sick, and assist the poor to earn a living wage. …
“Marc and Marque-Luisa Miringoff’s book, The Social Health of the Nation: How America is Really Doing argues that while Americans receive constant reports on the nation’s economic health, reports on the nation’s social health are few and episodic. Social health is measured by assessing such factors as ‘the well-being of America’s children and youth, the accessibility of health care, the quality of education, the adequacy of housing, the security and satisfaction of work, and the nation’s sense of community, citizenship, and diversity.’ …
“…But passivity, a ‘helpless victim’ mentality, and aggression resulting from fear, can be challenged by a committed practice of political and social engagement.
“…Love is not a state one falls into passively, as usually represented in American media. It is something we, as individuals and as a society, can actively make…
“…Our society’s preoccupation with romantic love takes our attention away from noticing that loving treatment of needy human beings, in the form of social services, health care, and support for education, is disappearing from our society.
“…The daily practice of love requires that we acknowledge that we live with our uncertainties rather than cater to them. As human beings with limited knowledge and perspectives, we are always uncertain, even about the must crucial matters. … However, fear that we do not possess certain knowledge of the humanly good must not be allowed to prevent our passionate commitment to it.
“…The feminist philosopher Dorothy Dinnerstein wrote, ‘We never feel as grown-up as we expected to feel when we were children.’ …Yet we are the grow-ups. No spirituality should help us transcend the needy world in which we live, a world that requires our attention, our love….”
With love from Iris and the newsletter team.
Nature - Interaction - Silence
If you are organizing a fund-raising event/activity, please email the fund-raising info coordinator (Benoit) at: fundraising (AT) opencentre.es with details of your event, so that we can happily share it with others.
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