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Open Dharma Newsletter


~ June Newsletter

As you can see, some big changes have been made to the look of the newsletter, thanks to a deep collaboration over these past few weeks—between the newsletter team, joined by Ernest and Katurah—one we hope will continue and grow. We love the idea of sharing your photos from a recent retreat  and your writing about your retreat experiences with the Open Dharma friends through this new format. Please consider contributing and fill the revamped newsletter with your energy. (Also, if you currently receive the newsletter in plain text, you can change over to full-color at any time by clicking on the preferences link at the bottom of this email.) 

This month's newsletter starts off with a letter from Jaya and includes Nanda's thoughts about her time at Dharmaloca in May, as well as news of July's upcoming retreats and my recap of a recent scientific study of happiness and friendship.  Please enjoy!

(Photo: Above, the retreat at Sattal, by Dave.)

by Jessica

In this newsletter

~ A Letter from Jaya 
~ Life atDharmaloca—Big & Bright 
~ Upcoming Retreats in the US and in Holland
~ Tuesday Treatments 
~ Three degrees of Happiness and Friendship 
Upcoming Events


~ A letter from Jaya

A retreatant wrote me this a while back: "What I love about Open Dharma is the way it is like India throughout history... adapting, bending, taking in, yet always maintaining its essential nature." 

 Two historical surprises from the "season" in India, 2009-2010:

1) Indians are being hit hard by inflation—food prices increased by around 20% this month, with pulses like lentils at 45%. In January, Anantha Niketan in Tiruvannamalai even had to raise their price for our rooms and food at the last minute.

On the day the retreat was going to start, we all realized together that they would need 40% more than planned in order to cover their costs for food, labor, and running the Ashram.

The generosity of our retreatants helped Open Dharma nearly cover its retreat costs, despite this unexpected expense.

2) In March, the leaders of Sattal Ashram asked us to give up the spacious, octagonal chapel, with its large windows overlooking forest and lake. 

Although the chapel would lie empty much of the time we were there, the new spiritual leader felt too uncomfortable with our using the chapel for meditation, and especially for lying-down meditation. (In India it is even more "surprising" than in the West to see people lying down in a "place of worship."  However, it was not a surprise to the Ashram that we were there to do just that!)

The participants of the 31-day retreat then graciously squeezed into what we came to call affectionately "the Barn"—as we felt a certain new kinship with Joseph and Mary giving birth to baby Jesus in the stables.

Uneven floors, fleas, small windows....

Instead of the usual guided meditation to complete the retreat, Ajayji had us dancing to a song called "All Izzz Well"—from a Hindi film (The 3 Idiots) where the eccentric, genius protagonist stays connected to himself in stressful moments by tapping his heart and saying:

"All is well, all is well."

I love to be amazed—again and again—by people and by the willingness to keep going, to be surprised by life, to open, to laugh, and to stay true.

I love to be amazed by how this transformative space called Open Dharma keeps on deepening, even as outer circumstances surprise us—extend us all beyond our expectations.

Meanwhile, at Dharmaloca:

~our first water lily bud nudged up above the surface of the water today (in the "pond" made from an old bathtub in the earth)

~the shower in the cottage is nearly ready

~a revolutionary discovery: broccoli leaves are delicious steamed or sauteed for a few minutes.  That makes one more thing in this life that we thought we had to throw away, but that turns out to be one of the best things in the garden.

(Photos: Everyone dancing at the Sattal retreat, above, by Sandra, and the mountains of Dharmaloca, at left, by Nanda.)

by Jaya

~ Life at Dharmaloca—Big & Bright

It is  hard to write about a place where you still are. For example, this mountain in front of my nose. Although I am here on Dharmaloca for almost two weeks now, I still can’t see the Montsant. Not really see it. It is too big. I have been writing, resting, cooking and weeding in its shadow. But the Montsant still feels far away.  I can see the red roses and the almond trees. I can watch them and appreciate them. But the mountain is so big, it is more like the sky. As something surrounding me, something which I can see, but is at the same time a background not noticed. Sometimes in flashes I feel its bigness -  when I look up from my little laptop or when doing my sunsalutions in the morning. But most of the time, it is just there. Behind me. Just like Jaya  and Gemma, living on the terrace above the terrace where my cute green caravan is standing. I see them hanging their laundry and hear the laughing of Gyan. 

Yesterday evening I made a walk to the top of the mountain to watch the sunset. But the Spanish sun is so bright that I could actually not look in it. But when I took a picture, I could see on my digital camera that the sun was round and red and the mountainsea was endless.

It is interesting. These big and bright things that we can not see when we are too close. Dharmaloca is like that. Like being close to the source. Without knowing it.  It is small. Homey. Familiar. We cut the grass, eat lunch and sing. I think it is only when I am at home that I can see, what I can see on my camera now. The bigness of the mountain of support behind me. The  brightness of the love put in this place. A kitchen, a shower, a toilet, a caravan, food, water - it is all there. Open Dharma has created a place for people having the wish to stay close to the source. A truly bright and big gift. (Photo: The big, bright view, by Nanda.)

by Nanda

~ July Retreats in the US and in Holland

The upcoming Deep Rest retreat in North Carolina (7-14 July) will come at a lovely time of year at Stone House, says Claudia. "July is the height of abundance in North Carolina. The garden will be full of juicy tomatoes and yummy greens, and the peaches in the orchard should be perfectly ripe. The pond is higher than its ever been—ideal for a late afternoon swim. The sun sets late and evenings on the land are full of the sweet sounds of life in the country." 
(Photo: The summer bounty at Stone House.)

by Claudia

The upcoming Deep Rest retreat in Holland (24-31 July) is the second Dutch retreat, says Nanda. It brings "a possibility to explore the richness of silence amidst of forest and the flat, green countryside. We stay in an old farm with a huge piece of land where you can camp near a small lake, wonder through small shady paths and talk with the horses, rabbits and ducks. The Dutch sangha is really happy to welcome you here. It feels like a privilege to organise this retreat - we are all very exited about it. The retreat last year was for many of us a deep and joyful experience."
(Photo: The beautiful retreat site in Holland.)

With love, Nanda, Dieuwertje, Manon, Mirjam, Anke, Roos en Wim

~ Tuesday Treatments

The ongoing Tuesday treatments continue, every week on Tuesday from 9-9:30 pm Indian time. One friend wrote: "I am staying at a cabin with a friend, somewhere in the mountains, to have a quiet time to do some writing. And we just woke up after the treatment. Thank You very much. Since the retreat I didn't miss a single one and it is a nice weekly routine, maybe something like a sangha. Today my friend and I lay side by side and I put my hand on her belly so she could connect, too. I think it somehow worked and it was very nice. Actually, do you have any recommendations for how to share the treatment? Well, the way we did it today was nice."

How can we enjoy the treatment as well as share it? We welcome to send  in stories of your experiences...


~ Three Degrees of Happiness & Friendship

An article on scientists studying the spread of happiness really surprised me—and made me happy, too. A joint effort by the Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego brought a measured, scientific approach to what we already know, or may have guessed, that happiness spreads, not only from one friend to another, but on to that friend’s friends, and even further, to the friends of that friend. It is a flow of three degrees.

Researchers worked with 5,000 people over a 20-year period, trying to understand how births, deaths, marriages and divorces in the group affected the participants, their friends, and friends of those friends. The results are amazing: When someone is happy, a friend living within a mile radius has a 25% chance of increased happiness. A friend of that friend benefits by an increased chance of happiness of 10%. And a friend of that friend benefits by an increased chance of 5.6%. Incredibly, sadness does not spread, and by contrast giving someone an extra $5,000 only increases their chances of happiness by 2%. Compare that to feeling the energy of a happy friend of a friend of a friend. Lovely!

(If you’d like to read an article on the study, click here.) May all beings feel happiness spread!

by Jessica

~ Upcoming Retreat Dates & Details

7-14 July, 2010 Deep rest retreat in North Carolina, USA
at the Stone House, home of "radical hospitality."
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to: 
opendharma.nc (AT) gmail.com

24-31 July, 2010 Deep rest retreat in Holland
Teachings will be in English
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to: 
opendharmaholland (AT) hotmail.com

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
For information and registration, write to: 
retirosopendharma (AT) gmail.com

September, 2010 Weekend retreat in Brighton, UK
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to: 
retirosopendharma (AT) gmail.com

25 January, 2011 - 3 February, 2011 Silent retreat near Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India
Teachings will be in English
Facilitators: Ajay and Jaya

For information and registration, write to: 
opendharmainfo (AT) yahoo.com

~ Welcome to Everyone

We would love to include your reflections on a recent retreat—or a not so recent retreat—in an upcoming newsletter. Photos! Poems! Drawings! Musings! Please feel free to send any contributions (500 words and under is a good length, unless you feel otherwise) to newsletter (AT) opencentre.es



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