|Midwestern Dhamma Refuge
grounded in contemplative practice
for a peaceful, just, & sustainable society
We’re wishing you a peaceful and relaxed Holiday Season, from Liberation Park!
2012 has been a year of recovery and healing for Liberation Park and its humans. Even with drought conditions, the ground is making good headway in recovery from infrastructure placement two years ago. For the humans, signs of cancer have been absent since the second half of 2011 and the various side effects of treatment have diminished. The two wall tents were inhabited by meditators for much of the spring and summer, providing a healing salve to the environs.
Most of the domestic non-humans are thriving, snug, and happy this December, though we said goodbye to three this year: Flopsy the kitty, avid meditator and friend of many reached the end of her life this summer. Two of our more joyful residents, Huey the barn kitty and Freckles the duck, succumbed to predators. Grace the goose’s bravery in protecting Freckles earned her injuries and the deep concern of her partner Ruth, but she is fully recovered and back at her post guarding the flock. Our friends around us continue to point out the difficult and mysterious truths this existence blooms forth the familiar Dhammic stand-bys of illness, aging, and death as well as the more textured truths of ordinary violence un-accompanied by malice and girding the matrix of this life where obligatory consumption of other beings is a moment by moment occurrence. We say goodbye, grieve, breath, let go.
At the end of last year, we invited a group of students and friends to participate in a Transition Advisory Group (affectionately known as the TAG team). Twelve of us met four times in Madison and Norwalk, plus team conference calls, to respond to the question “now that a first phase of establishing basic infrastructure and connecting with sanghas has gone well, how might Liberation Park adapt and adjust to involve more people in decision making and responsibility?” We are blessed with a dynamic, creative, intelligent and loving group. The entire process was a joy - from initial meetings to exchange information and clarify purpose, to a full moon ritual in the back meadow, to a field trip to explore regional alternative building methods. We had a ton of fun, gained even more inspiration, ate some scrumptious home-made food, and came to deeply appreciate every person involved in the process. At the final meeting in November, long-range plans were initiated and working teams consolidated. The teams include Nurturing Sangha, Care of the Land, and The Building Team. The building team is looking forward to generating an overall building plan and organizing for either a first hermitage or a meditation hall. Details will be posted on the website as developments ensue. Many thanks go out to those who participated and who continue to oversee Liberation Park’s health and viability, Dhammic and otherwise.
The habitability of the cottage was enhanced by finishing the kitchen and bathroom with cabinets, sinks, and counters. Outside, stairs and porches were finished and stained. Clean up from long term construction was accomplished. A proper wood shed was built in time for winter (if it comes and stays). The driveway was improved with better turn-arounds. Painting of buildings continued, inside and out. A new fence went in along Kendall Avenue after it was widened by the township. With lots of help, the garden was planted again and compost readied for next year. The root cellar is storing a small part of the harvest.
After the first good snow of the winter and as years’ end approaches, we are reminded to look back on the past year in review of our Dhamma learning and growth. Done wisely, such review can inspire us to practice in two ways: by appreciating the healthy growth we clearly see if we look, and by recollecting insights into what remains to be done. This can provide both satisfaction and urgency. Such review is a natural endeavor, especially at times of yearly milestones (if we aren't too caught up in the seasonal madness). We hope each of us has opportunities to do so.
Ajahn Buddhadasa encouraged Dhamma students to look beyond their personal practice to take in larger implications. As each of us takes a few more steps of progress along the path, we also contribute to the Dhammic evolution of our species. Whether we become awakened or reach the goal is not so important. Rather, do we do our part in moving humanity forward? At a time with so many profound questions about the long-term well-being of economies, democracy, and the climate, such a great vehicle perspective is vital for our health and sanity. It lessens our attachment to the individual view.
Our work tends to the ending of dukkha wherever possible. As we look for signs of lessening dukkha - outside and in - satisfaction and joy are fostered, study-practice is fueled, and service to the diversity of beings expands. From a different view, as we ponder the meaning of the numerous and ominous crises facing the planet and her children where dukkha can seem to be ever increasing - we are urged to begin sooner, rather than later to gain sobriety in the face of such a view. Now, more than ever, the cultivation of calm, bright awareness; clarity and compassion are necessary in order to step forth into every moment with an appropriate response. We strive to foster Liberation Park as a refuge for the nourishment of these same qualities, for the ripening of an appropriate response in ever increasing continuity. Please join us when you are able.
To stay in touch with happenings at Liberation Park please wander the rest of this website and see Santi’s blogposts at www.liberationpark.org/blog.
Santikaro & Jo Marie