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Open Centre newsletter

Opendharma newsletter cherry on the cake.

A letter from jaya.

It is lovely to feel this circle of warm friends around this blue planet.

With light joy, I want to let you all have a glimpse of life in this valley called Cavaloca on Montsant in Catalonia .  A page or two of images from this past summer is below a few items of other news.

We are happy that our little home can help fulfill a small part of the Open Centre vision: long-term individual retreats, contact with nature both wild and cultivated, a chance to develop leadership/initiative and to integrate creativity with silence.  We are delighted to be able to offer the chance for a handful of people to do work retreat in simplicity and in intimacy with nature, in intimacy with our true nature, with less structure than on a regular retreat, and more friendship together in honor of something wider. 

We have found a lovely name for our place: Dharmaloca.  Loca means “crazy” in Castellano and Loka means something like “place or realm” in Sanskrit, so we could say it is a place dedicated to Crazy Dharma, or Crazy Dharma Realm.  We love the playfulness with words, the mix of cultures that we are.

We have room (application only) for a few people this autumn. Minimum stay is 2 weeks.  We intend to do a group work retreat from 6-20 May, 2009.  Also application only.

Please email Jonathan at jofaf(AT)enolla.org with Dharmaloca in the subject line if you are interested. 

Our Catalan friend the Zen fireman/ceramic artist Toni Medalla created a series of Open Dharma carved ceramic lamps—they are amazing and look like Taj Mahal inlay designs lighting up the ceiling and walls of a room.  We sold out at the Deep Rest Retreats (at 50 euros each) and hope to offer another series through the website soon.

3 brief internet-related notes before my ramblings about Dharmaloca:

1) Ernest is working steadily on updating our website.  Included in the changes will be downloadable talks and guided meditations and a new concept, by popular demand, called:

2) “Friends of Open Dharma”—anyone who has participated in an Open Dharma retreat or event is invited to be a “Friend” and to build and connect to our network of friends around the world.  We have coordinators for different areas, and hope to have those email addresses posted on the web in the next few months.  Friends may want to create weekly “lying down meditations” with Open Dharma guided meditations or talks, chanting, walks, or tea.  Fundraising groups are welcome, too, and Friends are encouraged to make a donation to Open Dharma each year.

If you want to be a “Friend” so that others can get in touch with you and you can get in touch with others, please send your email address to opendharmainfo(AT)yahoo.com

3) Finally, just to let everyone know that I simply cannot keep up with emails these days.  I do eventually read the emails that come and feel your presences, but cannot reply--except kind of randomly.

Images from the summer at Dharmaloca:

…Carme and Ernest visiting the first days here, with heavy rains recuperating the area from two years of drought, and spitting black water from the stovepipe all over the kitchen….Ernest advising me about compost and lending his and Delphine’s caravan for the summer, and Carme helping me discover the valley, the giant fig by the spring, the yellow clay, the fox, the wildflowers.

…How delighted Gyan was each time we returned home from traveling, and how overjoyed to be met at home by Andy, by Jess, by the almonds and sunflowers….

…Jess and Sam pounding in the poles for the heart-shaped vegetable garden, attaching shiny chicken wire, piling rounded rocks around the outside border…Jess lying on a quilt with Gyan sleeping on her chest….Sam grinning over the tarp he hung for the outdoor shower….

…Chanting each evening with Andy and others, the high rocks glowing in late sun, the flies fascinated with us, and Gyan fascinated with Andy’s camping pad and the drum.

Andy’s ever-widening heart and smile, breathing nature, being nature…by late August he had spent more time here than Gemma and I.  His sweet shade shack for the gardenia; his trimming the wild grass while leaving pockets of wild-weed-flowers for the butterflies; his triumphant compost pile….

…The teamwork in June with my older brother Robert, Ixent, and other friends as our solar panels went up; as our rustic greywater system went in; as we fixed part of the roof; as we hauled sacks of organic horse manure up a neighbor’s Himalayan-steep hill to help start the vegetable garden…Gemma and I could barely carry one sack between the two of us, heaving it a few steps at a time, while our fireman friend Toni took two sacks at a time without any sign of discomfort!

Robert said--almost scolding me as we drove towards Dharmaloca: "You could have looked at a map of the planet and put your finger on the best places to live, and this would be one of them."

Finding the sculpted boulders and dipping pools with Sam and Robert under the graceful medieval bridge on the nearby Montsant river…the same day that we followed the Ebre, Catalonia’s largest river, to where it fans out into the Mediterranean….rice and salt, flamingoes and flat, endless beaches.

Carme helping organize the house and painting all the woodwork with linseed oil while we were away….Andy watering the garden, staking the tomato forest, creating the triumphant compost heap…all of us eating the first, too-young corn together…

Andy helping install the timed irrigation system…Ellaya filling spice and grain jars… Chad making blackberry jam, Karen moving the old wood pile.

Jonathan will now stay here for a few months—he felt like family from the beginning, with his easygoing, hardworking, gently smiling energy.  His patience with all our projects, from transplanting lettuce to building the new, improved dry compost toilet…his skilful clearing of all the terraces and help with the cork topographical model of the property. …He came walking most of the way from our nearest train connection, and loved the landscape along the way. 

… Chad and Karen’s wedding here on 8 September—with its memorable trials and unique beauty… the same day our upstream neighbor irrigated his olive trees, and left us the whole afternoon without running water in the house!  And even so, the elegant, powerful ceremony in the evening light and wind; the feeling of great presence, presence of a “Yes!” and of many friends and family; of wildflowers and garden flowers, blackberries, figs, pomegranates, rosehips, lavender…all blessing the space.  Chad and Karen glowing afterwards over chick peas and garden vegetables cooked by Jonathan.

Denis and Lydia coming for their second visit, this time to spend a week repairing the roof and plumbing.   It will be good to leave this little house for Jonathan with the basics in good order, before we go to India for about 6 months on October 20th.

Happy coming, bringing his good humor, cooking, fix-it hands, and two homemade solar oven prototypes—one made of cardboard and the other of fiberglass.  Carme came for the third time after the Jin Shin and meditation retreat to help us organize some of the Open Dharma papers…and treat the composting toilet base with latex.  Nanda plans to come in November for three weeks of writing retreat, and we hope to see other friends here, too.

Jonathan continues to amaze us with his patience and work, and we all enjoy the quieter evening times of canning tomatoes from the garden and peeling off velvety green shells on the almonds from this land.

I asked Jonathan what was his one of his favorite things about being here and he said: "You."  And I realized that I felt the same--no matter what a lovely place this is, it is you friends who make it worth living in.

much love to all,


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