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Open Dharma Newsletter


~ October Newsletter
There are so many new ways to connect with the Open Dharma circle of friends. In this newsletter, you'll find information on Jaya's latest experiments-- meeting for one-to-one interviews over Skype this month, and exploring "experiential anatomy" together over many months. Jess writes about launching the new facebook fan page. The fantastic Julia writes about meeting with Jaya over Skype from North Carolina, another innovative way to connect. Gemma shares her reflections on the influence of Raimon Panikkar, a great sage who died this August, and Rachel and Roser reflect on recent retreats. We hope you will enjoy it all, and will feel the connection only growing stronger. 

(Photo above: sent by a friend.)


by Jessica

In this newsletter

~ News from Spain 
~ Letter from Gemma
~Launching the Facebook Fan Page
~ Retreat Reflections 
~ Connecting with Skype 
~ Volunteer Opportunity
 Upcoming Events

~ News from Spain

Jaya has passed along information about two new Open Dharma experiments. 

One-to-one interviews with Jaya
Jaya will offer one-to-one interviews of 10-15 minutes each via skype on 24 October from 4-5:30 (her time, in western Europe).
If you would like to schedule an interview, please email Alison at: interviews (at) opendharma.org
"Freedom of Movement"
Jaya is offering a "laboratory" on movement, body, energy, and freedom, from now through the end of 2011, for people anywhere with access to internet 2 times a month.
We will use some of the principles of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's "experiential anatomy" as well as Jin Shin Jyutsu and meditation.

The lab will include:
1) Daily individual investigation into the area, organ, or system of each month.  For example, first feeling the heart or bones and then moving for 5-10 minutes from that awareness.
2) A group investigation where we present our experiences and synthesize what we are learning each month.

Please email Alison by the 20th of October if you are interested in participating  at: interviews (at) opendharma.org 

~ Letter from Gemma

Half Indian, Half Catalan
In a tiny village of the Catalan Pyrenees lived a man of wisdom and deep inspiration.
He--half Indian, half Catalan--attracted my attention ever since I was a child.

His words, whenever on TV, radio or in books, told me about another possibility for this world and encouraged me to move forwards in my search for freedom and peace.

In my teens I used to go to his overflowing meetings on a beautiful mountain range where we looked down on the clouds below. The place was so packed with seekers as to seem overcrowded by European standards. But this thin man with beautiful, always-young skin, white hair, lungi (sarong or wrap-around cloth “skirt”), sandals and a walking stick, would shout to me across the multitudes:  “There is plenty of space up here!” It seemed I had no other option than to jump over rows of people to sit near his feet.

And then hours would pass just listening to his passionate way of speaking--speaking without holding back, without having to match any other way of thinking than his own. His words were powerful, and his presence and deep experience were even more powerful and revealing. His words filled with knowledge were not separate from his experience. That non-separation is what inspired me.

His love for India also started to filter into me--gradually opening my heart to travel one day to that magic country, to drink that same water.
Nothing in his being was imitation; he was full of authenticity--unique and extraordinary in a way that I believe all humans could be once they have looked into every corner of themselves and dedicated themselves fully to what life is for.

I bow before him and I hold him in my heart as a great being.
Which voice will now speak, challenging any and everyone to guess the answers?
Which person will now represent in my country the power of contemplation and radical social and human change?
His seeds are planted and trees are growing everywhere.

Thank you, Raimon.
Raimon Panikkar died on August 26, 2010, at the age of 91.

Here is a great tribute to his life: through this link
(Photo: Raimon Panikkar.)

by Gemma

~Launching the Facebook Fan Page 

Hello everyone! I wanted to let you all know about the launch of the Open Dharma Face book fan page. I am one who has been somewhat reluctant to engage with ‘disembodied,’ cyber space, was the last of my friends to sign up for a mobile phone and email, account and am definitely not heralded for my computer skills. However, when I think of thedharma breaking into and upon ALL people, like the roots of trees in Varanasi bursting through seemingly solid walls to flower over neighbouring rooftops, I feel a motivation rising that burns through my misgivings. . . . . . .

I like the sense that the dharma can be available and accessible to us all; whoever or whatever you are, regardless if you live within urban or natural scapes, are a monk or a millionaire, an artist, a lawyer, a gardener, a saddhu, a traveler, dark or light, east or west, female or male; or perhaps a mixture of both.

The truth force of the dharma plants us all on equal ground, challenges appearances, plunging us into the naked human heart. Here, there is room for everyone.

I like the sense that, in time, and through the application of our sahdana, (offering ourselves a depth of love that holds us close,) we can walk with courage into any arena; both the myriad inner textures that live within us, as well as the actual worlds we walk through; that we are not bound to being any particular way, or fixed to any particular image of ourselves. In this way, the trajectory of our own lives can surprise us.  Our deepest native desires will not be left to smolder in the shadows, but, once located and sparked, can be used as fuel to propel us forward into these new and fresh encounters with life.

I am humored and find delight in the fact that I have found myself here in Australia, assisting in setting up a facebook page! I believe that the fact that we have all found our way here together, communicating in this way, willing to dismantle our armor, is very a precious thing. And if technology, one of mankind’s greatest experiments, can provide a vehicle for this, then so be it.

Let us enter the market place!

I hope the offerings and personal reflections on the Fan page, from different members of the sangha, providing direct links to talks and meditations, offer us food and stamina to keep going, empowering our hearts, encouraging us all to embody the dharma in our own unique way; offering ourselves in whatever way draws the depth of our nature out. Giving us fuel to find clear channels in which we can be ‘tasted.’

To link to the official facebook page (www.facebook.com/opendharma) please click here.

by Jess

~ Retreat Reflections

Here is a snipet from Rachel's memories of arriving at the retreat in Brighton this September. Click here for more of her writing.

"I couldn’t believe it until the very last moments that Jaya and Gemma were coming to my island. Yes, I know they are Open Dharma, but I still sent an email to the Dominique on Thursday a.) Can i bring a dog? b.) Who is giving the teachings? (The dog  (Kali) I found a home for--what was I thinking coming to a landscape of SHEEP, let alone me being on retreat!)
Putting trust in Sat Nav I turned right up a narrow No Through road, and coasted down to Telscombe, a name I did not know how to pronounce until Gemma spoke it on the last day, as Tel-es-comby, and it remains just so. I’d arrived at the South Downs on a glorious September afternoon, slanting sun on green and generous curves of hills, on which were spotted horses, sheep and cows, necks lowered timelessly feeding off grassland on chalk soil. Where was I, and were Jaya and Gemma and Gyan actually here too?
‘India’, said Jane to me, outside, while registering. Connected in that memory, we walked together up to the dead end of the road, declaring our fault lines, sistahs of the road, and at the top beheld the SEA, and gave each other a bear hug...."

by Rachel

Here is part of the letter Roser wrote to herself while on retreat in Spain this summer....

"Hello Roser,
I write you this letter from the Open Dharma meditation retreat that I am doing in the mountain range of Prades (Catalonia) at the end of August.
It is a gift. A space to penetrate into what we all have and, at the same time, from which we are so disconnected: basic kindness. There is something more, a state of permanent love that is different from love as an emotion or an accumulation of pleasant moments. And I was able to live it and to sustain it a good while, Friday, when Jaya guided us in a metta meditation. It is a state of living completely the present, the breath, the outer and inner noises, the breeze... A state that allows you to live and to hear the rhythm of life, the rhythm of heart... and feeling one with the Whole...."
She later writes, “Now I want to allow this experience to transform me. I want to permit myself a space (even if they are only some minutes every day) to perceive direct experience, basic kindness. I think that what I will work on, little by little--without a big effort--is to accustom myself to this state in which nothing is known and everything is uncertain. Little by little to become a friend of this sensation of being out of the comfort zone, where the potential in me manifests itself and where what has to come simply comes.”

(Photo above: by Rachel.)

by Roser

~ Connecting with Skype
For the first time ever, on September 12, Jaya offered a meditation and talk over Skype to our sangha North Carolina, USA. It was delightful to turn on a computer and TV and see her smiling face, with no commercials! We set it up so she was on the TV and we could all see and hear well. A laptop with a built in video camera was in front of the TV so she could see and hear us too.

Steve’s thoughts on the experience beautifully illustrate the feeling of it:
“Having never used Skype before, I was not sure what to expect…but to see, feel, and communicate with Jaya, in 'real time,' was remarkable. The ability to exchange reflections and experiences, and for Jaya to see us and sense where we were at, both individually and collectively, was really great.

I am thrilled to have been part of the first Skype experiment and I look forward to hopefully more in the future. I felt the sound quality was excellent and it appeared, like others mentioned, the visual quality decreased over time. I’m not sure how to improve the visual quality but it sounded like others had some ideas.

Personally, I think this way of being together in sangha has tremendous potential for Open Dharma. I also trust that the technology will continue to improve over time.”

As the session went on the audio remained clear, but the visual connection declined, so that Jaya looked like a moving painting. She gave a talk at our last Deep Rest retreat at The Stone House about Henri Matisse and his open window paintings, and she began to look like a Matisse herself. She kindly checked in with each of us, so we got some individual guidance as well as the meditation and talk.

Our sangha is looking forward to connecting with Jaya’s incredible teaching again over Skype at our January meeting. 
 (Image: An open window painting by Matisse.)

by Julia

~ Volunteer Opportunity

Open Dharma is looking for a volunteer

Position: "Sound editing" ~ Likely not as technical as it sounds; basically someone is needed to run talks from retreats through a computer program that removes background noise.
What is needed in a volunteer:  Someone with knowledge about sound editing (or someone willing to teach themselves how to use a program like Gold Wave) and willing to commit to the position for 3 years.  The editing is only to remove background noise and not to edit the content of the talks.
How it works?
Gemmaji sends a DVD to the volunteer after every 2 or 3 retreats with the recorded talks (already with titles). The volunteer will pass the recordings through a sound editing program like Gold Waves or any other program that is similar. After the editing the volunteer sends the DVD with the edited talks to Benoitji in Quebec and he puts them online.
Preferable: Someone who has a fairly stable living situation = a consistent mailing address.
If you're interested: Please contact Alison: alisonreaster (at) yahoo.com

by Alison

Upcoming Retreat Dates & Details

25 January - 3 February, 2010, Silent retreat near Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South INdia.
Teachings will be in English 
Facilitators: Ajay and Jaya. Jess Huon will assist with teachings.
For information and registration, write to:
opendharmainfo (AT) yahoo.com

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

?20 - 27 February, 2011
Possible 7-day retreat with Ajay and Jaya
Jess Huon will assist with the teachings.
There is a possibility that we will lead 2 retreats instead of one.
Location is still unknown!

17-22 April 2011, Deep Rest retreat in the hills near Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
retirosopendharma (at) gmail.com

21-28 May 2011, Deep Rest retreat at Le Moulin de Chaves, France
Teachings will be in English & Spanish
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:
mail (AT) moulindechaves.org

1 - 30 June 2011, One month retreat in Dharmaloca, Catalonia, Spain
Teachings will be in English & Spanish
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma, and we hope Ajay will come.
For information and registration, write to:
dharmalocaretreat (at) opendharma.org

16 - 23 July 2011, Deep Rest retreat in Holland
Teachings will be in English
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
For information and registration, write to:
opendharmaholland (at) hotmail.com

19 - 21 & 21-28 August 2011, Deep Rest retreat in the hills near Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
One weekend and one 7-day retreat back to back.
Teachings will be in English & Spanish
Facilitators: Jaya and Gemma
retirosopendharma (at) gmail.com

~ Welcome to Everyone
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