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March 2010 Open Dharma Newsletter Can you feel the momentum? The days are getting longer and brighter. And the world is waking up and thinking about spring. I’ve been grateful for the returning light this past month as never before, but I’ve also noticed a string of traditional holidays that fall one after another like a string of beads put in place long ago to remind us that spring is right around the corner—mid-February’s pagan goddess festival and Lupercalia, Mardi Gras and Lent, then Carnival, and, of course, Holi, which is today, March first. This newsletter is full of information and inspiration that we hope will further fuel that springing feeling. Jaya has posted the first monthly practice theme on the Open Dharma Friends’ Log. We’ve included links to two short films from Saranath. Claudia writes about creating hope, trusting openness, and the bounty of ideas she received at TED, a conference of renegade thinkers and visionaries in Southern California. From Nico we hear about spicy Rasam, which is not just a peppery Indian soup, but one rooted in an enjoyment of flavor and of joining together. I’ve included some thoughts on gardening and a new dharma-loving garden book. We’ll also share news of a new Delhi-based FOOD group, and of Open Dharma’s upcoming events, which now includes a retreat with Jaya and Gemma at Stone House in North Carolina this summer and opportunities for self-retreat at Dharmaloca. To finish things off, we’ve included a few links, both useful and lovely. And, finally, an invitation: This is your newsletter, too! If you have something to contribute, please feel very welcome to send us an email at newsletter (at) opencentre.es With love, Jessica & the OD Newsletter team March Theme on the ODfriendslog “I would love to offer the first Dharma theme for investigation and experimentation and sharing in this cross-cultural laboratory called life and the odfriendslog: Generosity and Emotion. Is generosity an emotion? Where does it come from? I often say that generosity can be called the root, the tree, and fruit of spiritual life,” Jaya’s online post begins. If you would like to join into a conversation about your experiences on the OD Friendslog (and if you have done at least one Open Dharma retreat) please send the following info to Ernest at ernestconill (at) gmail.com 1) your name (which will be your user name); 2) a preferred password (which you can change once you log in); 3) a picture of yourself so that others can recognize you. Ernest will let you know when you have been added as a member. Sarnath Shorts Please find below links for two simple, short “films” about Open Dharma that were made in Sarnath this February, and are now on youtube: in Castellano http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lsIOgDDo2o in English http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pV49WeEjuU My Time at TED Last month, I attended the TED conference in Southern California. TED literally stands for “technology, entertainment and design” but it’s become a platform for “ideas worth spreading.” TED conferences bring together a range of experts, all passionate about their subject, from the fields of science, technology, design, music, social policy, social science and much more. The speakers at TED are each given 18 minutes to speak on what they care most about: preventing AIDS among sex-workers, spider silks, ending cancer or childhood obesity (you rock, Jamie Oliver http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html ), putting 19th century children’s poetry to music (thank you, Natalie Merchant), portable playgrounds, ecological farming, game design that can solve real world problems. Are you getting the picture? Yes, the sky’s the limit! And best of all, you can see all the TED talks for free on http://www.TED.com . The irony of TED for me is that the fast-paced environment left little space for reflection. It’s an atmosphere nothing short of a whirlwind. I was fascinated by the alternating rhythm of taking in intensive content from the talks (I felt like I’d been to graduate school by the end) and then the constant buzz of interacting with other attendees. While others partied into the wee hours, I was in my room by 9 pm and asleep by 10. But still I managed to connect with folks I would not otherwise meet so easily in my primary worlds: Adam, a 25-year old running his own social media company in the Midwest; Renee who coaches the TED fellows; Nell from an advertising firm who’s created an incredible platform for communities to tell their own stories (http://www.cureviolence.com ); Francis who is writing a book about the intuitive compass (http://thehumancompany.com ); Sophal who escaped the Khmer Rouge and now teaches in the US Navy. And many, many more. I continue to explore the “pops” in my brain when I think back to a particular talk, recall a profound piece of wisdom, get an email from someone I met over morning coffee. There are so many threads of knowledge and I know that some will matter more to me in the weeks ahead than others, some of the ideas worth spreading will change my life while others will just nest in the background. Something about my meditation practice has creating a container for all this bounty; where once I might have felt anxiety about how to make sense of it all or put it all to good use, now my system merely witnesses and appreciates. This is how Chris Anderson, the curator of TED, described their philosophy: Look for where passion is and listen. Trust radical openness. Be curious and the rest will follow. Yes, the range of topics and speakers is broad but the folks sharing their voice at TED have another thing in common besides passion. They each envision a world that many of the rest of us cannot quite see yet. Dr. William Li sees a world without cancer. Chef Dan Barber sees a world food system rooted in ecological farming. Sylvia Earles – oceanographer and leader of the first team of women “aquanauts” in 1970, because they weren’t allowed on the men’s research expedition – is creating “hope” spots in every corner of the ocean because she can see it healthy. Bill Gates sees a way we can innovate to zero carbon emissions by 2050. Eve Ensler sees a world where we understand that girls are our greatest resource, “a renewable, untapped energy field like the wind.” Ultimately, this is what I loved most about TED. The power of seeing beyond where we are. —by Claudia In Favor of Flavor—and Rasam Soup In these waning days of winter, when the earth is finally beginning to release her fragrant warmth again (as much from the soil as from the air), we have been returning to one of my favorite Indian dishes, rasam. It is a deep flavorful soup, pungent with pepper and tamarind, studded with stewed tomatoes, grains of dal and flecks of red pepper. Even though I associate rasam with South India, where it often used as a restorative broth, I find it is the perfect thing to ward off a deep chill after working outside preparing the garden (or after having walked across four crosstown blocks.) In yoga philosophy and ayurveda, rasam is cherished for its warming powers, as its flavors release agni, or fire, throughout the system. The history of rasam, however, goes back to the time of the Rig Veda. In Sanskrit the word 'rasam' can be traced to the root rasa, which means many things, but almost always comes back to flavor. The Sanskrit grammarian Pannini described rasa as meaning “to flow, to make wet all over, to taste and to relish.” Sir Monier Williams translates rasa into English as a verb meaning “to yell, to roar, to reverberate,” but also as a noun meaning the juice of plants or the best or finest part of something. In the 10th century, the Kashmiri philosopher Abhinavagupta, after Bharata, used rasa to describe a philosophy of drama in which the actor and the audience join to form a mood, one that results in “an extraordinary state of enjoyment.” Though the philosophies of Abhinavagupta are a far cry from the soup I first tasted years ago as yoga student in the East Village, there still remains in its murky interior some sense of that extraordinary enjoyment and its peppery taste is indeed at times a reason to call out, to reverberate, to experience joy. May you experience great reverberations! —by Nico Nico’s Rasam Recipe ½ cup Turvar Dal (the smallest yellow lentils you can find) ½ tsp Turmeric Powder 4 medium tomatoes, cut into cubes (canned is fine, especially in winter) 1 ½ Tbs rasam powder (your mix of corriander seeds, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cumin seeds, fenugreek) ½ tsp tamarind concentrate (or juice of half of a lemon) For seasoning and garnish 1 tsp ghee or oil (or butter) 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 dried red pepper ¼ tsp asafetida powder (optional) 12 to 15 curry leaves (if you can get them) 2 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves Wash and clean the dal, rinsing it several times in cool water. In a saucepan bring the dal and turmeric to a gentle boil with 2 cups of water, then reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes or until the dal is tender. It should be more watery than when making a normal dal. When tender, mash the dal with a fork and set aside. (Do not drain) In another saucepan, cook the cubed tomatoes in 2 cups of water with salt and a little turmeric (if you can get fresh turmeric, grate a little knob into the broth) for five minutes. Add the rasam powder and tamarind (or lemon juice), cook a little longer before ading this mixture to the mashed dal. In a small skillet, heat oil (or ghee) until just before smoking, then add mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds start to sputter, add red chili, asafetida and curry leaves and immediately take off the heat. Add the spicy oil to the broth. Bring everything to just below a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit. Serve either plain in a bowl or over a small amount of white rice. Garnish either way with fresh cilantro. Seeing Green I knew I would have to find my way into gardening somehow—there was a distinct pull. But I was also wary. It seemed like there were so many rules, so many ways to get everything wrong, and most of the gardening books that I looked at were technical, complicated and cold. They certainly didn’t make me want to run outside with a shovel. I didn’t even know it, but I was looking for was a way into gardening with love. Thankfully, my mom sent me a copy of Wendy Johnson’s new book, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. For more than 30 years Johnson has meditated and gardened at the Green Gulch Zen Center in Northern California. In her book she has boiled down all those years of practice and of practical knowledge, flowing smoothly between the meditation hall and the center’s celebrated vegetable patch and back again. She is my gardening hero! Johnson is funny, passionate and profound on everything from creating the perfect compost pile to walking with Thich Nhat Hanh. She speaks in a way that confirmed my excitement about the living soil, while offering sound, ecologically-sensitive advice about gardening with all beings—including those most people consider pests. She lets the wildness into her gardens and learns from it, welcoming diversity and the unknown. —by Jessica May all beings be green! Here are some words from Johnson’s introduction to the book: “When I was a brand-new gardener, I planted my first bed of sweet corn at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, San Francisco Zen Center’s training monastery deep in the Ventana wilderness east of Big Sur in central California. I was working by myself in the upper garden, rapt with concentration. I stretched a string line the full length of the sixty-five-foot row where I was planting the corn, and just under this line I scratched out a three-inch-deep furrow. The string showed me where to plant and kept me straight. I filled my fist with dry, shriveled kernels of ‘Bantam’ sweet corn, and every two inches or so I dropped a kernel of corn into the furrow. I wasn’t sure that I would have enough seed so I left the furrow uncovered until the entire line was planted. I was working on my hands and knees. Head down and deep under the spell of the ancient ritual of planting seed, I imagined green blades of corn rising up out of the black skirt of the ground. Finally the line was sown and I looked up from my supplicant’s crouch. A rotund Steller’s jay was at the bottom of my corn furrow, hopping fearlessly down the line, gobbling up each of my carefully sown kernels of sweet corn. The bold, zaftig bird paused for a moment, fixed me with her bright eye, and continued to feast. And my life as a gardener cracked open and took root. What I realized that summer day was fundamental. Gardening is about awareness and relationship—consequential relationship. It’s also about taking a stand, and standing by your principles. At the same time, it’s about giving up control and learning from your mistakes. This hasn’t been an easy lesson for me. When I recovered from my stunned shock in the Tassajara corn furrow I leapt to my feet, bellowing war cries at the retreating backside of the fat, corn-fed jay. Muttering under my breath, I redistributed the remaining corn seed in the row and stamped closed the furrow. Today, thirty-odd years later, I’m still pursuing blue jays and they are still pursuing me… …Meditation takes gumption but it is not fussy. The gate is open to all beings and the practice does not depend on bells, drums, or intricate philosophy. Meditation is larger than all of this, grounded in simple curiosity and in the determination to know your heart and mind inside out and in the present moment. To do this you go directly into the tangle of your life, sit down in the middle of it, and allow the steady stream of your breath to carry you home. Working in the garden is also meditation, though not in the conventional sense of calming down, moving slowly and deliberately, and dwelling in stillness. On the contrary, I am often most alert and settled in the garden when I am working hard, hip-deep in a succulent snarl of spring weeds. My body and mind drop away then, far below wild radish and bull thistle, and I live in the rhythmic pulse of the long green throat of my work….” From Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate Friends of Open Dharma Group in Delhi People can drop in to join a new FOOD group in Delhi on Sunday mornings from 11-1—even if one is just in Delhi for a few days, it can be a lovely way to begin or end a visit to India. Even if someone can't join them on Sunday, please be in touch anyway. jayajulie (at) gmail.com One Sunday they met at 11 at Veronica’s house, did a guided meditation from the website from 11 to 12 and then went for a silent walk in the park from 12 to 1. Welcome to Dharmaloca ~Dharmaloca is ready to welcome you from mid-May through mid-October. Please let us know if you are interested in a self-retreat of 2 weeks or more—mention when and for how long you would like to come. And if you are already sure that you want to come, please fill out the online registration form on the Dharmaloca page of the website. This is the first year that we are able to offer the whole “season” at Dharmaloca. ~We have several cool eco-projects that can happen this summer if anyone feels inspired to give donations towards these or other projects: a) a water-storage pond of about 3 x 5 meters--already dug, just needs some clearing and then the lining. Good for creating microclimates, for eco-diversity, for fire prevention, and for cooling fun during the hot months. b) shade and fly-free space for meditation and meals. Four Links This site, by an Open Dharma friend, is full of wonderful music and beautiful sounds: http://www.eosimon.com This link directs you to a Vogue magazine article that Jessica published this month on the luxury of living with less, translating some of the OD’s favorite themes for a different audience: http://jessicakerwinjenkins.com/lives.html And here are two free practice timers, in case you need them. Many found online have quite harsh-sounding chimes, but these both use the pleasant resounding bells. One is downloadable, and free, for Mac users http://meditationresources.com/ And this one, also free, is accessed online…. http://www.mindfulnessdc.org/bell/index.html Upcoming Events 15 - 25 March, 2010 Silent retreat at Sattal Ashram in North India. Teachings will be in English. 25 March - 25 April, 2010 1-month retreat at Sattal Ashram in North India. Teachings will be in English. Facilitators: Ajay and Jaya 13 - 20 June, 2010 Deep rest retreat at Le Moulin de Chaves, France. Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma 7 - 14 July, 2010 Retreat at The Stone House in Mebane, North Carolina, USA Teachings will be in English Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma 24 - 30 July, 2010 Deep rest retreat in Holland Teachings will be in English Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma 20-22 & 22-29 August, 2010 Catalonia, Spain: 7th annual deep rest retreat. Please notice that this year we will offer 2 retreats, 20-22 (weekend) and 22-29 (week long) Teachings will be in English and Spanish Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma 1-8 October, 2010 Deep rest retreat in Austria Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma

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