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grounded in contemplative & spiritual practice
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Liberation Park Newsletter

December 2007


Liberation Park at Norwalk: One Year Old

After the pleasure of living a full four seasons in our new location, we’re as happy to be here as ever, and pleased with the developments of the last year. With the help of many industrious LP workers and friends, it’s been a busy time on the land, with lots of projects completed and in progress, a plethora of new knowledge to assimilate, and much Dhamma inspiration to renew us.

June saw the purchase of an additional twenty-five acres to the original forty-five, bringing the full boundaries of the valley into our care. Many hours of work have gone into clean up (with many more lying ahead), and by November the landscape had changed somewhat from the beginning of the year, with several building projects unfolding. The well has been sunk and permanent power installed. The foundation of the first multi-use cabin is completed, tarped, and ready for work to resume in the spring. The outhouse with composting toilet, and two platforms with wall-tents, have been erected for rustic retreating (one still stands for the winter, if there are any brave campers out there wishing for a snow retreat!). Finally, the barn is walled in, awaiting just finishing touches of trim, doors, & windows. The horses, hay, building materials, and an assortment of feral cats are occupying it during this snowy season.

We attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Association conference in June and gathered a tremendous amount of information to begin planning for responsible and renewable energy use at LP. Beth Jarvis, our trusted botanist, toured more of the land during the late summer to continue assessing and advising regarding restoration of native plants. The outlook for restoration continues to look good, with many healthy areas needing just a little management to continue thriving -- though we have the heavy work of honey suckle and prickly ash eradication to look forward to, as well as a schedule of annual burns.

We are most grateful to the many workers from Chicago, Minneapolis, La Crosse, Madison, further afoot, and right here in the Kickapoo Watershed who invested their time, labor and good spirits into all these building projects. We also thank Santikaro’s students & retreatants whose donated funds kept the projects moving forward, and the Dharma Zephyr Sangha of Nevada for the purchase of a much needed generator and compression tools. Finally, we extend deepest gratitude to those who came to meditate & study, inaugurating the use of the land for Dhamma observance, and inspiring us in work and practice.

Looking Forward

When Ajahn Buddhadasa was asked when a particular project would be finished he would reply “It’s finished every day!” In that spirit, we too rest in being “finished” every day. Building and other developments may be a long, slow process, as labor and funding dictate, but we are happy to offer Liberation Park as a ‘finished’ Dhamma refuge each day, to any wishing to practice and awaken here in current circumstances, whatever they may be.

As 2008 unfolds we hope to continue some of the following projects:

If you feel moved to help with funding, skilled or unskilled labor, or expertise in the above areas, please contact us: http://liberationpark.org/contact/addresses.htm

As always, we are entirely dependent on donations and volunteers to continue.

Local and Beyond

Santikaro is just back from his annual visit to Thailand, and looking forward to spending the next several months on translations before beginning his spring travels. See http://liberationpark.org/events/retreats.htm for a schedule of teaching & travel for 2008.

For those in the near area, see http://liberationpark.org/events/wis.htm for local Dhamma activities.

Events in Burma

We’re saddened to observe how the corrupt Burmese military junta has brutally squashed the recent attempt by Burmese people to soften the junta's oppressive grip on their country. The nasty exertion of authoritarian control continues. You can find updates at: http://www.uscampaignforburma.org/

There is no easy answer to a problem that has festered for decades and has roots going back to British colonialism. The players and supporters in the drama are complex: China, India, Japan, ASEAN, gun merchants, oil companies, a US regime that is itself increasingly undemocratic, and others. Real change there, and at home, will be a long journey. Anyone who would like to help should look towards long-term involvement. Nonetheless, there are some short-term things we can do to be of temporary help. To explore some of these short term actions please see:

http://www.uscampaignforburma.org/whatyoucando/getstarted.html

http://bpf.org/html/whats_now/2007/burma_main.html

For the long term, and here at home, we can commit ourselves to actively participating in strengthening democracy, human rights, and demilitarization here in the USA. Money-driven electoral politics is failing us. We need creative alternatives that are people-driven. Until we get our act together at home, we can have little impact as a country or society to influence democracy, human rights, and demilitarization elsewhere.

Farther from home we can become active in international campaigns for democracy, human rights, or demilitarization, such, as Amnesty International, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Doctors Without Borders, and other good organizations that go beyond band-aid approaches.

Lastly, we believe part of the solution is to be found in supporting spiritual and personal growth that are part of a larger fabric of transformation beyond the merely individualistic. We see value in expanding our understanding to take in the diverse forms of suffering, and in exploring how our personal issues are interconnected with those of others around the world.

In Dhamma

“The Buddha said that one who has realized the Noble Truths -- one who has really realized them, thoroughly understood them, although hasn't yet practiced them fully -- just to know them, will eradicate all but a little bit of dukkha. He compared it to a piece of dust on the tip of one's fingernail. That's how much dukkha is left compared to the Himalayan Mountains, which is how much dukkha there was before. Then with both understanding and practice there will be no dukkha left at all. This is the tremendous value of the Noble Truths. It is important for us to study these Noble Truths until we realize them thoroughly. Not just to listen to talks, read books and think about it, but to work on it very deeply in the mind until it is a direct experience, until we know directly for ourselves what dukkha is like, and see that craving is the cause of dukkha, and that by ending craving dukkha quenches, and that the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to remove that craving and quench dukkha. In another place the Buddha compared the value of the Noble Truths in the following way: he said that someone who sincerely wanted to realize the Noble Truths would put up with being beaten and stabbed with sharp instruments all day long for a hundred years if that would lead to a penetration of the Noble Truths. Or that one would be willing to travel great distances -- would go on the most distant and powerful and dangerous journey -- if it would be the cause of realizing the Noble Truths. The value of these truths are so great that one would be willing to put that much into it, would stand any hardship or danger or difficulty to realize these truths.”

─ Ajahn Buddhadasa

In Dhamma,

Santikaro & Jo Marie