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Open Centre newsletter

“Every glance you give outside your window puts the seed of life into creation. That is why Merlin took his job of watching oaks and deer and stars very seriously. He didn’t want them to die; he was a lover of life.”……..”See innocently and you will give life.
Deepak Chopra. The Way of the Wizard.

Dear friends

In front of you a new and fresh and spring full newsletter.
We start with Jaya and her being back in Spain, followed by Tony Parsons and his changed look on enlightenment.
And do take a look at the retreat programme at the end of the newsletter.
Jaya and Gemma will be in different countries besides Spain this summer.
From 23-28 June 2009 they will lead a silent retreat at Le Moulin de Chaves, France.
And from 14-22 August 2009 a deep rest retreat in The Netherlands.

There are three links in this newsletter.
The first link is an article about creativity and healing and the mind.


The second link is an article on the brain in musical improvisation


The third link follows up on this last article in the form of a wonderful clip with creativity and music in action.


We hope you will enjoy the newsletter again this time.
Thank you.
Iris, on behalf of the newsletter team.



Back at Dharmaloca after about 6 months in India, Gemmaji and I were delighted to find irises blooming in the terrace walls and the herb and vegetable gardens sprawling with nine herbs and seven kinds of vegetables, from oregano to oak leaf lettuce.  On my 42nd birthday, we discovered the third wellspring of our valley, with two mouths, gushing into the wild canyon just a few minutes’ walk from Dharmaloca.
The first Dharmaloca work retreat ended today. 
Great food, great weather, great insights sifting through the meditations and labouring and living together.  One person said she has rarely been so happy.  Another said it was the first retreat where she did not count the days till the end.  The newly-cleared meditation area embraces us while also opening to the spacious valley.  Many times when I went to give teachings there in the afternoons, I felt mere words could disturb the exquisite teachings of the moment’s birdsong and windsong, rocksong and sunsong.
Dharmaloca can now better fulfil its purpose—to welcome people who have done several group retreats with Open Dharma to do long-term individual retreats in intimacy with nature.
As many of you know, someone gave a very generous donation last year to create a year-round hermitage out of the tiny stone cottage at Dharmaloca.  As part of the work retreat, Denisji began this big project with some help from retreatants and several tractor-loads of cement, sand, and gravel.  The main obstacle, to remove the enormous boulder that had fallen inside the cottage, ended up needing only a morning’s work.  Denis “had a conversation with the rock” to feel where to strike and break it into pieces small enough to carry out the door.  Many of those smaller pieces now line the raised beds in the fabulous 7-circle vegetable garden several terraces uphill.
In addition to working, we went on a couple of spectacular walks, one of them led by a Park guide and Montse, a life-loving 77-year-old female hermit whom Gemma had met 15 years before.  After an unusually wet winter and spring, the wildflowers shout and float through rock and soil.  Montse showed us wild herbs, wild orchids, wild medicine.  She planned to walk up the mountain again after we left.
People in our village say that there is no clear explanation for the abundant water in our valley—it does not diminish with drought, and even if neighbouring villages go dry, our village has plenty.  Some people hypothesize that the waters come all the way from the Pyrenees through underground channels.  It feels as if Dharmaloca is also nourished by the coming together of so many good people and so much good energy.
May Dharmaloca nourish and be nourished by many--may the truth of things as they are reveal its steady place (loka in Sanskrit) in each of us, so that we can be crazy (loca in Castellano) enough to live this truth fully.



The Open Secret by Tony Parsons.

I used to believe that people actually became enlightened, and that the event was similar to someone winning the jackpot in a national lottery. Once the price had been won, the beneficiary would thereafter be guaranteed permanent bliss, infallibility and incorruptible goodness.
In my ignorance, I thought these people had obtained and owned something that made them special and totally different from me. This illusory idea reinforced in me the belief that enlightenment was virtually unobtainable except for an extraordinary and chosen few. These misconceptions sprang from some image I held of how a state of perfection should look. I was not yet able to see that enlightenment has nothing to do with the idea of perfection. These beliefs were greatly strengthened when I compared my imagined inadequacies with the picture I held of whichever ‘spiritual hero’ I happened to be attracted to at the time.
I feel that most people see enlightenment in a similar way.
Certainly there have been, and still are, many who seek to encourage such beliefs and who have actually claimed to have become enlightened. I now see that this is as pointless a declaration as someone proclaiming to the world that they can breathe.
Essentially the realization of enlightenment brings with it the sudden comprehension that there is no one and nothing to be enlightened. Enlightenment simply is. It cannot be owned, just as it cannot be achieved or won like some trophy. All and everything is oneness, and all that we do gets in its way by trying to find it.
Those who make claims of enlightenment or take certain stances have simply not realized its paradoxical nature and presume ownership of a state they imagine they have achieved. They are likely to have had a deep personal experience of some kind, but this bears absolutely no relationship to liberation. Consequently, they still remain locked in their own individual concepts based on their own particular belief systems.
These people often need to take on the role of ‘spiritual teachers’ or ‘enlightened masters’ and inevitably attract those who need to be students or disciples. Their teaching, still rooted in dualism, inevitably promotes a schism between the ‘teacher’ and those who choose to follow the teaching. As the following increases, so does the exclusive role for the master need to be enhanced.
One of the usual symptoms, when such a role has been adopted, is a clampdown of any admission or sign of ‘human weakness’. This condition usually creates distance between the ‘master’ and his or her followers. As the specialness of the ‘master’ becomes more effective, and the demands of the followers become greater, so invariably do the teachings become more obscure and convoluted. As the obscurity of the teaching increases, so does the schism get wider, and many of the followers often become more confused and submissive. The usual effect on those involved can be unquestioning adulation, disillusionment, or an awakening and moving on.
However, these kinds of influences have established and maintained an illusory sense of doubt and inadequacy in the collective unconscious about people’s ability to open to and realize something that is as natural, simple and available as breathing.
Those who have fully comprehended and embraced liberation have absolutely nothing to sell. When they share their understanding, they have no need to embellish themselves or what they share. Neither do they have any interest in being mothers, fathers or teachers. Exclusivity breeds exclusion, but freedom is shared through friendship. 
Tony Parsons.

Book tip
The wisdom of insecurity by Alan w. watts


23-28 June 2009
Silent retreat at Le Moulin de Chaves, France.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:

15-22 July 2009
Deep rest retreat in Catalonia, Spain.
The retreat will be lead in English.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:

23 July 2009
Open Dharma reflections
As part of our 10-year anniversary, we are offering one day between the 2 Deep Rest retreats for group reflection and inquiry into how Open Dharma can best serve us all.

24-31 July 2009
Deep rest retreat in Catalonia, Spain.
The retreat will be lead in Spanish.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:


14-22 August 2009
Deep rest retreat in Holland.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:
There will be no Friends of Open Dharma gathering in June in Brighton.  Please send an e-mail to Beka if you wish to be added to the mailing list regarding the next gathering: beka@beingnature.co.uk





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