August 2015 Newsletter

flowersFeatured News:
Natural Dharma Fellowship Completes First Dathun

As July comes to a close, Natural Dharma Fellowship has completed its first annual Dathun at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. We would like to take a look back at the month and express our heart-felt gratitude for all those involved in this wonderful new adventure. Wonderwell was deeply nourished by teachings from Lama Willa Miller, Lama John Makransky, Elizabeth Monson, Lama Karma Chotso, Lama Samten Bryn Dawson, Joel and Michelle Levy, Camille Hykes, as well as two sessions of yoga per day offered by Janine Grillo-Mara and NDF movement team. The month featured two sections of the Natural Wisdom practices of the NDF Margha Program, and two weeks of intensive Vajrayana retreat. Early in the month Lama John gave his most comprehensive transmission to date of the Bodhicitta practices. Not only was the Dharma bountiful during this month at Wonderwell, but the organic garden, tended to by Berry Shepherd and other volunteers, produced a vast amount of produce that beloved kitchen manager Donna Lewandowski and her support staff Sheila Williamson (along with others), were able to weave into healthy, nourishing, fresh and organic dishes. The timing of the Dathun coincides with the natural produce cycle and allows us to utilize our organic garden to its fullest capacity to nourish Wonderwell’s practice community with organic fresh garden produce during this five week retreat period. Wonderwell was also able to extend the Dharma teachings of the Margha retreats beyond the physical boundaries of the refuge environment through Wonderwell’s streaming service, reducing Wonderwell’s carbon footprint by allowing between 15-30 people per day to share in the retreat environment virtually. As we transition from this first NDF Summer Dathun, the collective energy of practice in the cultivation of wisdom and compassion is palpable. We are grateful to all of the many near and far who make it possible.

2015 Generation X Dharma Teacher Gathering

The Generation X Dharma Teachers Conference was convened on June 6 and ended on June 10. It was an international and multitraditional gathering that brought together around 55 teachers from many Buddhist traditions. The goal of the gathering was to create an environment that fostered communication and collaboration across tradition helping to foster a future Dharma in the West where teachers are able to find support and community not just with other teachers in their tradition but with teachers in other traditions as well. Lama Rod served on the organizing committee for the gathering.

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation

Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams Sensei and Lama Rod Owens have been teaming up to lead a series of conversations in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and the Charleston Massacre to address the challenges they face as formal teachers and teachers-of-color within the American Buddhist community. They’re situating themselves squarely within the teachings of the dharma to meet the presence of white supremacy and racism in our lives, in our practice centers, and in our relationships to liberation. The idea was generated after they saw the results of having been asked to participate in such a dialogue together for Buddhadharma magazine. The positive response made even clearer the unique interconnection of their perspectives and positions on the value of Buddhist teachings in reflecting on the moment in history we are in.
(Below is a link to one of their conversation for your review.)
As Lama Rod says in the dialogue posted above, “There’s a problem when the only person of color in this room is me and I am on the cushion in front… there’s a lot to hold there.” We want to bring this conversation about radical dharma to bookstores and meditation centers and universities across the country to open up space for folks to tell their stories and cut through the “diversity” conversation so many of us are familiar with to get to the heart of separation by putting the basic tools of our practice into practice. We are calling this series of dialogues Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation and are conducting these conversations as part of the work of building towards the creation of a book in the tradition of Cornel West and bell hooks’ Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life, a pivotal book by the two prevailing black intellectuals of the times.

EcoSattva Tip of the Month, From Dan Gilner:
Tip for August: Get outside, and play in the dirt.

One of the most powerful ways for us to develop a deep sense of interconnection and compassion with the natural world is to actually step out into it, and to experience it, in all its splendor and diversity, for ourselves. In our busy lives, we can often become trapped in a cycle where we struggle to find time to get outdoors and experience nature. Stepping outside for a short walk everyday, and becoming aware of the miraculous natural beauty all around us is an easy way to connect with nature. Planning a weekend hike or a picnic in a more remote location is another way to be present with, and to connect with the natural world. And finally, gardening, or “playing in the dirt” is a great way to connect with the natural world. Gardening is especially connective, as we can see the miracle of growth and development, of shepherding a fragile emergence into a grounded and blossoming entity. Plus, if it is a vegetable garden, we get to enjoy the delicious produce!

Monthly Words of Wisdom:

When looking again and again into the unseen mind, the fact that there is nothing to see is vividly seen as it is. Cutting through doubts about its nature being or not being, may we unmistakenly recognize our own essence.

— His Holiness Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, From Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche As It Is, Vol. 2

Listen Online:

Unable to join us in person for Dharma Sunday August 30?  Join us live with Lama Willa Miller and Elizabeth Monson. Streaming starts at 10 am. Find out more here.

Wonderwell Garden Updates

Summer is in full swing at Wonderwell! Our vegetable garden is currently yielding produce that we are utilizing for meals in our retreats. This is a great aspect of Wonderwells current sustainability initiatives, and is also providing our retreatants with fresh, organic, low/no impact delicious produce!

Please contact us if you are interested in opportunities to come work in the vegetable and Mandala gardens. We hope you can come share in these outdoor contemplative practices that connect us to our beautiful natural environment, and our food systems.

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