|Midwestern Dhamma Refuge
grounded in contemplative practice
for a peaceful, just, & sustainable society
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Happy Winter Season to All. May you be cozy and warm wherever you find yourself. Here at Liberation Park we’re hoping to continue building this peaceful contemplative refuge dedicated to the flowering of wisdom and the cultivation of kindness. We hope you can join us, in body or in your own practice from afar, as you are able.
During the last six months Liberation Park and her friends have embarked on the intention to create our largest piece of infrastructure, a building required to comfortably host guests here in the valley and woods. The Guest House Project represents a departure from the normal way we fund building here. The scale of this building, though modest, is too large to comfortably accomplish with volunteer labor. So we decided to hire professionals and take on the attendant fund-raising required for a timely completion of the building.
We are more than a third of the way to our funding goal and look forward to continued progress in making this central building a reality. Presentations about the Guest House and Liberation Park will occur throughout the winter. Let us know if you’d like to help organize one.
Santikaro continues to fill his schedule with the teaching he loves and the continuation of the work of his beloved teacher, Ajahn Buddhadasa, both regionally and further afield. Study of the Pāli suttas is inspiring more people with friends in Chicago and Viroqua having formed study groups that he meets with regularly and a six-day Sutta study retreat at Cloud Mountain. Also, translation work is slowly progressing with help from the Buddhadasa Archives in Bangkok and good friends in Bavaria and Brazil.
With Santikaro in the midst of his usual travel schedule and Jo Marie on a study hiatus, the Orso clan have arrived to caretake the valley for the winter. Joe, Adrianne & Siporah are watching over the land, critters and buildings with their usual wonderful attentiveness and love. We are so pleased to have them on the land, and very grateful for their life-nurturing talents! We deeply value their energy of wise inquiry, quiet care, and creativity.
Jo Marie is residing in Tennessee for the winter with two of the herd, taking her study & practice of horsewomanship to the next level. She is homesick but enjoying the wonderful Southern climate and natural surroundings, as well as the excellent teaching available in the person of Aimee Brimhall.
Fund raising as provoked us with the practice of humility, as learning to ask for help has been a challenge. The virtue of self-reliance can also harbor pride and stubbornness, as well as confusion about legitimate needs. Learning to ask for help for something one truly believes in fosters faith when done honestly, simply and without spin. The freedom to ask offers others the freedom to choose if and how to help. Doing so without pressure on oneself or others is in the same spirit as early Buddhist mendicants on alms round. Freed of our ego games, we enter a realm of respect, kindness and mutuality that supports our personal and collective Dhamma work. We didn't see this one coming.
As we move forward in the coming year, cooperating with the valley to bring forth this Dhamma refuge with each day of practice, we hope you may be moved to join us by coming for a visit to study, practice, help in the labor or simply to be still. We appreciate all who arrive to contribute to the spirit of contemplative Dhamma practice in accord with the early Suttas.
We require volunteer labor on an ongoing basis. If you have a desire to help with the care, maintenance and building of the refuge, we would love to welcome you for a day project or a longer term stay. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The red fox trots outside our kitchen window again this morning, stalking then leaping and killing what we guess is a field mouse. Deer walk that path, too. In a short while, we'll cross the trail and head down hill to lay out a hay bale for Tara and Jera, the horse residents who keep us company while Jo and Santi are away.
This valley of Liberation Park is filled with the experiences of so many beings. Coyotes and owls, deer and nettles, apple trees and mushrooms all make their homes here or pass through on their journeys elsewhere. In the six years we've been coming here, the presence of these fellow beings have been a rich gift to us. Walking among them has helped affirm our desire to reintegrate our lives with their lives.
Recently, though, we have been talking about another dimension of this valley. Late this fall, we pulled our little house-on-wheels to the lot at the front gate so we, along with our one-and-a-half year old daughter, could dwell this winter in a slower, contemplative place. Since returning here, we have noticed that, while all land is infused with beauty and the presence of life, there is something else here. It feels different than walking other places, and not just because of the particular creature and plant communities. Drinking coffee the other day and trying to clarify what this sense might be about, we guessed it has to do with the widespread human community who relates to Liberation Park. When land becomes connected to people who are rooting their lives in wisdom and the deepest human values, those human intentions and practices bring a palpable presence to the land. They feed it, in a way, as the land feeds them. For us, this reciprocity between land and people is integral to the spiritual path, and we are grateful for the chance to be in a place where this reciprocity is so evident.
Jo Marie, Santikaro, Adrianne, Joe & Siporah
Santikaro's Blog for updates on happenings in & around LP