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Open Dharma Newsletter


~ August Newsletter

If it's hot where you are, you can let this newsletter, full of more spark and warmth from the recent retreat in North Carolina, melt over you. You'll find a letter from Jaya on the power of revolution; Ajay and Jaya explore the idea of awakening, and Julia and Steve offer their reflections of their time at The Stone House, during July's deep rest retreat. It's all about heat, liquidity, reflections, depth--and the pond.


by Jessica

(Photo: Above, The Stone House pond, by Claudia.)

In this newsletter

~ A Letter from Jaya 
~ Awakening, by Ajay and by Jaya 
~ Retreat Reflections from Julia and from Steve 
Upcoming Events


~ A Letter from Jaya

Revolution kept coming to mind and heart at The Stone House retreat in North Carolina in July.  On the opening night, the I Ching (Book of Changes) reminded us that revolution happens all the time-- in seasons, day and night, the clouds-- and yet for us to catch the flow of our part in the revolutions, we need to keep 4 things in mind:

1) Patience, or neither hesitation nor hurry.
2) Finding a way to transformation that increases joy.
3) Not adding personal agendas to what needs to be done, or left undone.
4) Answering a real need, towards a clear goal, and based on what is possible from within the circumstances at this time.

Getting into The Stone House pond gave some of us on this retreat a way to connect with fluid strength and childlike grace.

Each day I swam, I met a different face of life:
One day it was the wings of wasps, a stiff black "v"until it met its reflection in the water: "x."
One day my arms scooping up the cool water from below, as if an underwater being swam with me. 
thin gold threads of dragonflies sipping
swallows not just skimming the surface for a drink, but chopping into it to eat
seeds, sailing -- look just like the gnats trapped
bubbles coming up as if out of nowhere.  

the meditation hall, the pond with its roof of clouds and sky and sun a gracious unfolding of life, aliveness, revolution. 


by Jaya

(Photo: The pond at The Stone House, North Carolina, by Claudia.)

~ Awakening

The Israeli sangha Tovana recently asked a group of teachers, including Ajay, Jaya, Christopher, Shaila, Stephen Fulder, and others, for responses to some questions on awakening. We've included excerpts, just little tastes, from Ajay and Jaya's answers below. To see the full text of the  interviews, please click here.

An excerpt from Ajay's interview....

What is your definition for awakening in daily life? 
Ajay: The Sage would say: understanding not from the individual understanding. That will be the awakening. For Life it is possible to understand, somewhere Life really always understands. But somehow there is no connection to that understanding from the individual.  
A better way to say it is: when Life's understanding is accessed by an individual it will be an awakening.  

When we are not living without holding -- is it because individuality gets in the way? 
Ajay: Individuality has its own understanding and it holds on to that. If those holdings are not there, Life comes with surprises every time, but because of the holding we don't allow Life to surprise us. Which is like a really breezy way, like living in the breeze. Because of holding, because of individual control, we have to live with air-conditioning, but otherwise the whole breeze is available. 

Please share with us an insight you had recently. 
Ajay: Most recent insight I remember is in the Sattal retreat (April 2010), when I was asked about the planet, there are so many things going on making people worry, worry from propaganda. I was asked what I would say about this, and I said: to consider, to care about the planet, but not worry. That's what came in that moment. 
I think that is the most recent insight. Afterwards I could see that that can be useful, if people don't make propaganda, don't make others fearful, but try to make people to care about, but not worry. If people who make propaganda are able to make us worry, they can really take what they want from us because, as we know, when we worry we close down, and people can even steal from us. But if we really care, maybe we do very little but if everybody does something -- it's very helpful.

On awakening
(Jaya's answers excerpted) Jaya: "Not to think that awakening is what we think it is, what we imagine it is, what we hope and fear it is. Yet, awakening is a clear end -- of distortions of the mind and being. We cannot imagine it, yet it is real, precise, and possible....

I love how some of my favorite Indian texts encourage us to expect deep experiences along the way. And to keep going.
Not to think that awakening is what we think it is, what we imagine it is, what we hope and fear it is, or what we can see or hear or measure.
Yet, at the same time, Awakening is a clear end -- of distortions of the mind and being. We cannot imagine it, yet it is real, precise, and possible. Freedom from our own ideas, as the Tao Te Ching says. And also: freedom from the ideas of others, from biology, from collective forces...

And then what is left?
Bright, ordinary, fresh, carefree.
A brightness that has its own fuel.
An ordinariness that is unstoppable, dignified power and skill.
A freshness that is familiar, ancient, shocking, clearing.
Carefree heart that cares without holding back.

(Photo: Tibetan prayer flags, by Augusta.)


~ Retreat Reflections

Julia wrote this after the recent retreat at The Stone House in July.

Oneness in The Stone House Pond
So, in my last installment (with this second one it feels like I'll write one every year) from Deep Rest in October I got in touch with my deep knowing, my inner Lionness, while wildwalking in The Stone House fields. This year, I became, well... EVERYTHING. One minute I was floating in the pond on a life preserver, gazing up at the clouds,  the next minute I experienced a feeling of oneness with everything that was absolutely seamless. It was such that for a minute or two it wouldn't be true to say I was one with everything, I was simply EVERYTHING. I've previously experienced this sort of thing in what I'd call a vision, where I became the universe and my body (or lack thereof) was the blackness of the universe, shimmering with stars, or I was floating in the ocean and then the boundaries of my body dissolved and I became the ocean. With these visions I went away some where and then came back to the bed or the yoga mat or wherever I was. These were absolutely peak experiences in my book, but becoming EVERYTHING in the pond a few weeks ago was even more extraordinary for me because I didn't go away. I was right there, in my body, eyes open. I was right there in my EVERYTHING-ness, seeing the same sky, feeling the same water. Since then I've been loving feeling an expanded sense and deeper trust of my oneness with everything and in the process of life, with occasional moments of sheer delight in remembering "I am that" when I start to feel disconnected or frustrated. Needless to say, I'll be at next year's retreat with bells on...

by Julia


Steve experienced his first retreat as a manager while at The Stone House this summer:
Serving as a manager for the first time on an Open Dharma retreat was truly a privilege. And observing the retreatants and being present with my own experience offered me the opportunity to explore in a deeper way the meanings of generosity and service. As I walked around the beautiful landscape at The Stone House everything occurring seemed to be so precious and sacred: silence, eating and being nourished by food from the land, dharma talks, being in nature and community, meditative chanting, and deep rest.  This created a sense of gratitude in me for being allowed to hold the space and trusting that each retreatant was receiving what they needed and finding their own way. 

by Steve

(Photo: Above, clouds over The Stone House pond, by Claudia.)

~ Upcoming Retreat Dates & Details

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

29 August- September 3, 2010 Catalonia,
Coming to life in Dharmaloca.

meditation, an ecology project, and a chance to taste
the magic of Dharmaloca. 
Only for those who attend the deep rest retreat, 22-29 August.
For information and registration, write to: 
retirosopendharma (AT) gmail.com

17-19 September, 2010 Weekend retreat in Brighton, UK
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:
retirosopendharma (AT) gmail.com

8-12 October, 2010
Deep rest retreat in Sierra de la Vera, Spain.

Teachings will be in English and Spanish
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to: 
opendharmamadrid (AT) gmail.com

25 January - 3 February, 2011
Silent Retreat near Arunachala, Tiruvannnamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India.
Teachings will be in English.
Facilitators: Ajay and Jaya
For information and registration, write to: 
opendharmainfo (AT) yahoo.com

9 - 19 February, 2011
Dharma gathering in Saranath, India.
Come any day, leave any day.
Offered completely on a donation basis.
Teachings will be in English.
Teachers: Christopher, Jaya and others...
For information check bodhgayaretreats.org

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