February 2016 Newsletter

branch and fogUpdate on Wonderwell: The Next Hundred Years

Many of you may know already, but for those who have not heard, Natural Dharma Fellowship’s retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge will be undergoing renovations and upgrades to bring our beautiful old building into fire, food and life safety compliance for the State of New Hampshire. Because these changes will allow us to operate as a fully functioning retreat center for the long-term future, we have called this project Wonderwell: The Next Hundred Years.

In the Autumn of 2015, we began a fundraising campaign to raise the funds needed to make these changes. Upgrades include a new commercial kitchen, ADA compliant rooms, fire escapes from all sides of the building, and six new guest rooms. While our original fundraising goal was set at 1.5 million dollars, this goal recently increased to 2.3-2.5 million dollars. This change is due both to the scope of the project, as well as to requirements for code compliance issued by the the state of New Hampshire, such as the addition of a building-wide sprinkler system.
Due to the generosity of so many of you—friends and members of Natural Dharma Fellowship—we are happy to report that we have already raised over one million dollars in donations and loans. Because of your generosity we will be able to begin construction in March 2016.

While this construction takes place, Wonderwell is temporarily closed. We are continuing to fundraise and we are in negotiation with the state of New Hampshire and the town of Springfield to receive permission to reopen by May 1, 2016. We will keep you updated as soon as we know more details.

How Can the Community of Dharma Friends Help?

While Wonderwell is closed for construction, there are significant ways that you can help us reach our fundraising goals. More and more effective ways for our community to be involved in this exciting project are continuing to emerge, and we will update you monthly as to what these are.

Here are three things you can do to make a difference:

1. Make a monthly pledge for 1-3 years. Lama Willa, Liz Monson, Chris Hall and others made monthly pledges for the next three years. For most of us, a monthly donation is doable. If every member of NDF gave as little as $25 per month, it would make a huge difference. Please consider joining us in this easy and joyful form of giving.

2. Attend our many upcoming Wonderwell Benefit Events. There are several upcoming dharma events in which all the proceeds go to Wonderwell Mountain Refuge:

  • Join us March 4-5 in Cambridge, MA as we welcome Phakchok Rinpoche, a lineage holder of the Profound Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa from the Nyingma School of Buddhism. He will be guiding us in a one-day urban meditation retreat.
  • Join us March 6th online for Dharma Sunday Online with Liz Monson and Lama Willa. Registration required! Please see our calendar for more information.
  • Join us April 3rd online for Dharma Sunday Online with Lama Willa and Liz Monson. Registration required. Please see our calendar for more information.
  • Join us May 13-14 in Cambridge, MA for a one-day urban meditation retreat on The Vajra Songs of Shabkar with Lama Willa and Liz Monson. Registration required. See the Natural Dharma Fellowship’s online calendar for more information.

Deepen your practice, connect to sangha and help Wonderwell all at the same time!

3. Bid in Wonderwell’s Online Auction. It is time for Natural Dharma Fellowship’s Auction 2.0. Our auction last year went splendidly. We are excited to have a unique inventory of goods and services this time around as well, including statues, malas, thankas, jewelry, college counseling sessions, massages, yoga tutorials and so much more. Many thanks to our generous sangha for contributing such bounty! This year, the auction will open on March 1. Don’t miss out on bidding for the greater good!

Registration for 2016 Retreats

Wonderwell will open registration for most 2016 retreats on Feb 22, 2016. Please mark your calendar as our retreats have been filling up fast and onsite space is limited. Please see the Natural Dharma Fellowship website for information on individual retreats. During the summer months, camping options are available. Once space is filled in our main building, overflow accommodations are available at the nearby Enfield Shaker Museum Inn (http://www.shakermuseum.org). The Shaker Inn is a fascinating historical landmark and represents an alternative spiritual mandala for retreatants. The Inn was originally the meeting house for the Shaker community of northern NH. The architecture, decor, and atmosphere are all maintained in their authentic form. The guest rooms are spacious, comfortable and very clean. If enough retreat participants stay at the Shaker Inn, we feel that the retreat environment generated at Wonderwell can extend to include that space as well. Next to the Shaker Inn is a small, Catholic chapel, complete with Italian marble and gorgeous stained glass windows. The chapel’s central figure is Mary. Those of us who have visited have been struck by how similar the sense of warmth, gentleness, and openness found in the chapel is to Wonderwell’s meditation hall with Tara’s benevolent presence. Obviously, retreatants are welcome to book housing at other nearby inns or B&B’s as they prefer.

Monthly Words of Wisdom

Mindfulness is the guardian of our mind. If you are ‘undistracted’ you are aware of whatever thoughts arise in your mind. For instance, if an afflictive emotion arises, you do not focus on it-the object-but rather look at the subject, the point where the emotion is arising. And being mindul of that, you see the freshness of the mind. You can watch the emotions arising in your mind. That is meditation.

~Gyalwang Karmapa’s teaching on the Vajradhara Lineage Prayer

Help Wonderwell Staff Member Leo The Cat

Bodhisattva kitty needs a new home! We are looking to find a kind benefactor who might be able to give Leo a home. Because Wonderwell will be under construction and staff will be away, Leo does have claws and needs an outdoors to roam about in! Please do call Wonderwell at 603-763-0204 or email Elizabeth@naturaldharma.org if you can help.

We recognize that all people hold unexamined beliefs, assumptions, fears and prejudices about others, and especially those who seem different from themselves. These beliefs are a great source of suffering for individuals and societies. We welcome people of all races, cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, classes, religions, abilities and ages. We are committed to providing a safe place for all people to explore the dharma and awaken to their true nature.