New Year's Blessings of Peace, Compassion, & Freedom, plus a large helping of Faith & Hope!
Santikaro spent most of December in Siam, leaving the morning the tsunami hit. Therefore, he was never in danger. Thanks to all of you who inquired after his safety. He doesn't personally know any of the people killed or displaced by the destruction, but knows NGO workers who long helped poor fisherfolk in the affected areas and who are now busy with relief work. Further, old friends from the Sekhiyadhamma network of socially engaged monks and nuns are giving moral and material support. If you would like to support these grassroots Thai efforts, we can help channel your donations to appropriate groups. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Santikaro's trip, though followed by tragedy, was itself enjoyable, fruitful, and rewarding. It included a second major Enneagram training hosted by the new Thai Enneagram Association. Fortunately, his Thai language skills recovered more quickly than the jetlag. Good friend Joan Ryan co-facilitated the training, along with a close group of Thai friends who make this work meaningful and fun. Later in the trip was an Enneagram Meditation Retreat, the fourth in Siam. This format includes a lot of Anapanasati, guided by Enneagram perspectives on type, plus guided imagery practices that lead into the experience of each type.
(Cloud Mountain will host the same kind of retreat May 13-20, but in English. It is still possible to sign up. If you are interested, please visit the Cloud Mountain website www.cloudmountain.org or call 360-274-4859.)
Over the New Year weekend, Liberation Park -- along with Oak Park Yoga -- hosted our first Chicago area retreat. For three days, Santikaro guided the meditations and offered reflections on the passing of the old year and birth of new. William Hunt of OPY led asana practice, helping all of us with more comfortable sitting postures and more subtle awareness of the breathing. We used the facilities and kitchen of Resurrection Center in Woodstock, IL. We hope to offer similar retreats in 2005. Santikaro's talks are posted on the website.
Jo Marie started working at Horizon Hospice in late November. She enjoys this much more than the large hospital where she worked over the summer. Hospice care is an area of medicine less corrupted by the profit motive, so the ethics are healthier. Jo Marie has years of experience with hospices in various parts of the country. While she earns a salary she is able to cover a significant portion of LP's expenses. However, we see this more as an expression of LP's healing vision than an income earner. Santikaro and community member Mary Woodbury are currently in training with Horizon Hospice to bring their massage and chaplaincy skills to patients, as hospice volunteers.
Community member Joan Cantwell led the Women's Group in a body-centered art therapy session during the last weekend in January an afternoon of creative and meditative healing inspiration for all who attended. We look forward to more creative Dhammic endeavors in the future.
At the end of February, we will make a short move to a new location in Oak Park. Starting March 1st, all activities will be at the new location -- 518 Belleforte Ave -- three-quarters of a mile directly west of our current location. Liberation Park will still be just north of Chicago Ave. Belleforte is two blocks east of Harlem Ave (the western boundary of Oak Park). The new place is on a quieter street and has beautiful trees, more in keeping with our name. The heating & cooling, kitchen, and bathrooms are better, too. We will also save a little on rent. It is closer to the Metra station and accessible by CTA trains; there is plenty of parking on the street. Please visit us at the new place as soon as possible.
In February, Santikaro will guide another retreat at Cloud Mountain, this time for 2 full weeks. This retreat will feature a detailed exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta. William Hunt will provide guidance on finding a healthy, balanced posture. There will be plenty of time for silence, exploring the breathing, body, feelings, mind, and Dhamma.
In addition to the May Enneagram Meditation Retreat mentioned above, Santikaro continues to help with Enneagram activities in the Chicago area, including Helen Palmer's March workshop. He also has a couple articles in the works. They explore the connections between Dhamma practice, Buddhist teachings, and Enneagram personality type studies. Check the website for online versions of these articles.
The new Chicago chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship continues to meet. Some of us are involved in tsunami recovery fund raising efforts. Activities for 2005 are being discussed and a newly formed Study Group meets to bring an aspect of political & social analysis to our action plans. Click for more information.
Dhamma study and practice here is beginning to establish itself in a healthy weekly rhythm, with Sutta Study on Friday evenings the best attended of the classes. A small group of sincere Dhamma practitioners is growing and establishing itself. May all our efforts continue to prosper and thrive.
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May we all have a good year of Dhamma practice in 2005 and may we share the benefits of that practice with as many beings as possible.