Open Dharma Newsletter
Welcome friends. The newsletter team sincerely hope that you are all well and finding nourishment in your lives, wherever you may be on this earth.
This newsletter begins with some good news for Open Dharma, followed by a poem from Mumbai – an acknowledgement of the extreme shock and devestation that took place there recently, a video link, a truly inspiring piece by Jaya-ji, some feedback from someone who went to both of Nadhia-ji’s sessions in Brighton, UK and a photo of a patchwork piece made by Anandi-ji.
The Good News
Gemma, Jaya and Ajay were recently touched by a donation sent by someone to O.D. It is more than enough to cover the costs of restoring the little stone shed-cottage at Dharmaloca as a self sufficient, year-round hermitage for 1 – 2 people. This kind-heart-in-action is a moving leading edge of life and it inspires them very much to continue sharing the Dharma and centering the openness.
A Poem from Mumbai
"Everyone is so afraid of death,
but the real sufis just laugh: nothing tyrannizes their hearts.
What strikes the oyster shell doesn`t damage the pearl"
- Mevlana C Rumi
Here’s a link to a video about the deeply inspiring life and teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj:
“Meet your own self. Be with yourself, listen to it, obey it, cherish it, keep it in mind ceaslessly. You need no other guide. As long as your urge for truth affects your daily life, all is well with you. Live your life without hurting anybody. Harmlessness is a most powerful form of Yoga and it will take you speedily to your goal. This is what I call nisarga yoga, the Natural yoga. It is the art of living in peace and harmony. In friendliness and love. The fruit of it is happiness, uncaused and endless”.
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
From another deeply inspiring life that some of us are lucky enough to know - Jaya-ji:
Elizabeth and I were seated next to each other among the 5-in-a-row seats on a Thai Airways flight from London to Delhi in 1987. By the time the flight attendants got to us in the back of that plane, they were out of orchids. Then they were out of vegetarian meals. But we gleefully watched the Caucasus mountains from the rear window, and loved the muggy smell of asphalt as we walked from the plane into the airport.
From our spontaneous decision that monsoon midnight to room together at the Y, we have helped each other hear life’s surprising grace notes at a higher octave.
I wore a sari to her wedding, and her daughters call their Lucknow embroidered kurtahs their “dancing dresses.” On a cross-country road trip in 1993, she plugged me into Jin Shin Jyutsu with a single treatment. My biggest care package for pregnancy and birth came from her hip address in Manhattan.
When Elizabeth and her family visited Barcelona last August, she gave me her latest improbable proverb.
When I heard that her girls no longer take any naps, I was shocked.
“What? No more naps? But I like my rest,” I whined. I had imagined that when Gyan got a little older, we would settle into a rhythm where I could “get back to normal” and rest regularly again.
Elizabeth shot back with the utmost love: “Haven’t you noticed? It is not about you.”
Many friends from Open Dharma retreats ask me how my spiritual practice and motherhood get along.
Sometimes I just laugh, bewildered beyond words by the seeming contradiction: I can count on my fingers the number of times in the last year that I have been able to do my former daily practice of resting deeply into meditation.
I am grateful to life for all the years that I could dedicate my time to rest and meditation. Yet I feel no wish to return to the days when I had more control over my own schedule.
I am happy to see others giving their time to formal practice. Yet I feel no envy.
Now that Gyan has turned one year old, I notice it is time to accept that there is not going to be a “return to normal.” I can recognize and disarm that old perfectionist temptation: “once I get back to normal, once I get things in order, once I get things under control, then I can really get on with my spiritual path.”
Luckily, it is not about me. It is not about making my day—or night—fit into my idea of what should happen.
Being Gyan’s mother – in other words, love -- reminds me hourly of the importance of fully living what I know to be true, to singing the insights at every octave.
We could also say that it is not about anyone else either. For example, for me, it is not so much “about Gyan” as about my being there for Gyan. And whatever is in the way of my being there is urgently interesting. Urgently asking to dissolve. With less focus on trying to get things in order, there is more room to see what’s blocking clear vision—and what is blocking clarity is not Gyan. It is the “me” that Elizabeth so kindly pointed out.
In a class recently, Ajayji translated a line in an Upanishad about the triangle of perception: the seer, the seeing, and the seen; the perceiver, the perceived and the connection between the two. As we stop demanding that what is outside us (the seen and the perceived) fulfill our expectations, our attention and care naturally go towards the seer, the perceiver, the cramps of “me” that want to be released.
As we let life massage out these “cramps,” we lose interest in pretending and perfectionism.
As things get messier, more truth can fall through us, into our laps.
As love takes over, the thought of separating spiritual practice from life does not occur.
Let’s remember that in our best moments we welcome this ruthless love, this messy life, this other kind of dynamic “order” on another octave.
Now some feedback from the two sessions that were held by Nadhia-ji in Brighton , UK on 23 & 30 November
I experienced Nadhia as being settled in how to be with herself and so receive a great sense of safeness being around her that I rarely experience. Through her sharing I could access the part of me judging and separating myself from the underlying flow being. I witnessed her dedication to breaking the confines of the busy mind through being aware of the choices available to her in any given moment, and enjoyed how human she was when she shared her feelings. Nadhia is an inspiring guide to all of us who start believing that we are more than pure awareness within a body.
- From Laura-ji and with the greatest thanks to Nadhia and Jill for hosting from all of us who went
Look out for more sessions with Nadhia when she passes back through in March………
Please enjoy the photo of the beautiful patchwork wallhanging of a tree. It was inspired by the Buddhist traditon and created by Anandi-ji during the 35 day retreat. Here’s the link:
Retreat in Tiruvanamalai, Southern India
5 – 15 January
Sarnath gathering, North India
9 – 19 February
The first Friends of Open Dharma gathering in Brighton: Sunday 18 January 6 – 8pm at The Bodhi Garden, Ship Street, Brighton, UK.
Please contact Beka: 07960 520128
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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