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Open Centre newsletter


A newsletter of momentum, movement, growth. From the Northern hemisphere where dark meets light on this Spring Equinox.  What is the meeting place of dark and light? I mean, what is it really like? To know one is to know the other, intimately. To know our dark is to know our light – eventually. Our dark is our light. It is easy at this time of year to notice the waking up around us; creatures, plants, the days themselves becoming fuller, rounder, more lyrical, more colour.  A freshness born out of itself, a potential that is life. My question is this: Can I find this in myself? Can I find myself in this?

- With continuing gratitude, Beka x

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light
is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark.
Go without sight, and find
that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and wings.

- Wendell Berry

A few things to feast on this month. For starters we have a couple of questions for you and some website news then for the main course a beautiful piece by Claudia in North Carolina, US, then links for a couple of interesting articles, the upcoming events listings and an Equinox poem for dessert. Don’t forget to digest it all afterwards with a good rest ;-)

A couple of questions – feedback greatly appreciated

Open Dharma would like to ask all of us: What do you think? We had already been considering going onto Facebook when someone suggested a few months ago.
Is it worth anyone's time to put in the work to make that happen?  And/or would it be better to focus on making the live teachings through the internet happen sooner rather than later, as a way to respond to requests for more connection?


Plus, the new website is already in its last tidying up phase before being launched.  We will let you know...for now we are proofreading and doublechecking links and how it comes up on different browsers.

Friends of Open Dharma, North Carolina
The Power of Yes

Last summer, Jaya and Gemma came to Mebane, NC to hold a retreat at The Stone House, a center for spiritual life and strategic action that I helped start with other colleagues.  The story of how Open Dharma came to this place is one filled with grace and the power of yes.

When I was planning my first pilgrimage to India in 2005, I sat down to ask for some ideas and advice from my friend, Steve Bradley-Bull.  Steve had spent time with Jaya in Lucknow years ago and encouraged me to do an Open Dharma retreat.  There was a retreat in Rishikesh, where I was headed, at the exact time I was going to be there.  So yes, of course I would be attending the retreat.  It was a highlight in a trip with a thousand high-lights, a time of incredible spaciousness and of a deep intimacy with my own breath and being.

Two years later, when stone circles (the organization I work with) decided to buy the land and property in Mebane to create The Stone House, we met Lizzie Jacobs who was working on the land.   During our first connection, Lizzie mentioned to me that she would love it if her teacher from India could come and lead a retreat here.  I'm not sure why, but I just turned to her and asked, "Is her name Jaya?"  Yes, of course it was.  This was only the first of many, many gifts that would come from my friendship with Lizzie.  A few months later, Lizzie heard from Jaya that she and Gemma were headed to the States and would it be possible to organize a retreat in North Carolina?  Lizzie, Kellie Burns and I all said yes, of course it was. They began organizing the Open Dharma retreat for July.

The retreat here this past summer was an incredible experience.  We had 30 people, including myself, Lizzie, Kellie and Steve, others who had sat with Jaya and Gemma in India and many who were new to Open Dharma.  We had been renovating our practice hall - an old cabin that needed new windows, paint, floor and lighting.  Lizzie's partner Kevin and I worked hard along with many others to make sure the space was ready.  When Jaya, Gemma and Gyan arrived, it felt kind of like a dream for all of us here.  The morning of the retreat, Kevin hung the last lights and I put a final coat of red paint on the door.  Were we ready in time?  Yes, of course we were.  And then for five days I watched a small miracle unfold in my life: The beautiful teachers who had transformed my life and my practice in India were now leading a retreat right next door to the place where I lived.  My heart practically burst open, many times over.  How many life times have I waited for this, I wondered?  Some time in late fall, a box arrived for me with no note but Jaya's name was on the enclosed receipt.  It was a planter with paper white bulbs.  It was one of the best gifts I've ever gotten.

On January 11, Lizzie and I held a “Friends of Open Dharma” gathering.  It was very sweet.  We sat in silence and did a brief opening circle where we asked people to speak a bit about what was still alive with them for the retreat.  Then we played about 12 minutes of Jaya leading a guided meditation followed b a nice long period for lying down meditation.  Afterwards we shared a yummy meal of Indian food that Lizzie had prepared.  And when I returned to my cabin, yes, the first bloom of the paper whites had just appeared. 

We are planning to gather two more times before Open Dharma hopefully returns for another retreat in October.
Claudia Horwitz
stone circles and The Stone House
6602 Nicks Road
Mebane, NC  27302


The Stone House is a home for spiritual life and strategic action on 70 acres of land in Mebane, NC.  It offers transformational experiences in an atmosphere of deep spiritual life, radical hospitality, strategic action for social justice and sustainable relationship with the land.  We are a sanctuary for people of all traditions and no tradition, a place of stillness that understands and values action.

Don't push the river; it flows by itself.

Here are two links for articles written about Arts & Healing and Brain in Musical Improvisation, which some of you may find interesting:


Upcoming Events:

Sundays April 19th and May 17th, 6 – 8pm
Friends of Open Dharma gathering, Ship Street, Brighton, UK. Sharing, meditation, singing. For details please contact Beka: beka(AT)beingnature.co.uk or 07960 520128

20-27 March 2009
Meditation retreat in Sat Tal, north India.
Teachings will be in English.
Teachers: Ajay, Jaya and Gemma.
For information and registration, write to:

27 March - 6 April 2009
Meditation retreat in Sat Tal, north India.
Teachings will be in English.
Teachers: Ajay, Jaya and Gemma.
For information and registration, write to:

6-20 May 2009
2-week work retreat at Dharmaloca, Spain.
Teachers: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:

22-28 May 2009
7-day movement, stillness, and meditation retreat in Catalonia, Spain.
The retreat will be lead in Spanish and English.

Teachers: Jaya and Gemma. Dancer Vicky Mateu will lead the movement experimentation.
For information and registration, write to:

15 t/m 22 augustus 2009
Deep rest retreat in The Netherlands in Ter Apel (Groningen)
The retreat will be lead in English and if necessary, direct translated in Dutch.

Teachers: Jaya Ashmore en Gemma Polo Pujol
For information and registration, write to:

What does Light talk about?

When you recognize her beauty,
The eye applauds, the heart stands in ovation,

and the tongue when she is near
is on its best behaviour,

it speaks more like light.

What does light talk about?
I asked a plant that once.

It said, “I am not sure,
but it makes me

- St. Thomas Aquinas

Happy Spring Equinox x x x x x x x x x x x x

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