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Web of Connection Newsletter
December, 2019


Our aim is to foster a greater awareness
of humanity's capacity to live in harmony with each other
and the planet we share. 
                                             
   Shining Forth

This month's theme in our Awareness for Life  meditation and inquiry sessions has been "Shining". No, we're not into horror movies. Instead we're talking about the bright qualities of the heart that can be demonstrated both individually and collectively. In a culture that emphasizes the individual superstar, comparison and critical self-analysis lead many to experience feelings of inferiority and loneliness. Rather than seeing our strengths, we tend to see our weaknesses. Instead of coming from a place of sufficiency, we tend to perceive our experience through the lenses of lack. 

Of course it is important to be honest with our shortcomings so that we can own up to them instead of blaming others or the world for our suffering, but we don't have to let them be our predominant view. The Buddha recommended that we reflect on the wholesome qualities that we are cultivating such as generosity, loving-kindness, compassion, and patience. Seeing these, we can rejoice, not in a way that inflates the ego but in a way that celebrates the capacity of the human heart to shine. In his teaching to  his followers, the Buddha praised each of their diverse gifts that allowed them to "illuminate the forest like the full moon." (
1)

Groups can also shine - not by defeating or putting other groups down, but by acting, speaking and thinking in ways that consider the well-being of each other. (2) When we show up with integrity and without any intention to harm, we foster an atmosphere of trust where others are more likely to feel safe and at ease.  We open the space for each other to be vulnerable and present in ways that bring forth courage and understanding. In this way, we can create a new culture that counters the epidemic of loneliness as we cultivate these shining qualities and share them with each other. 

As we enter the darkest period of the year (and some may add the darkest period of our history as a species), let us not shrink from the cold but come together to generate warmth. For many it is a time that we would just as soon crawl into a hole or distract ourselves with a myriad of entertainments or substances to dull the ache of the heart that feels alone. But remember, winter solstice is the day that we celebrate the return of the light. Even things that are broken allow light to come through and illuminate their wounds. As the saying goes, "Don't curse the dark, just light a candle."

Like a seed that lies dormant in the cold, dark soil, know that there is a tremendous potential that is waiting to emerge. If we enlarge our perspective, we will see that on the other side of the planet, the light is shining brightly. Much larger than this duality is the wholeness: one planet, one heart, one humanity, one interconnected living system. Can we allow both the dark and the light- the tendencies we all share within us - to speak to each other in order that we may embrace our wholeness? 

  - Ayya Dhammadhira
   References from the Pali Suttas: (1) Majjhima Nikaya 32, (2) Majjhima Nikaya 48

 
Light and darkness
What do these words mean to you?
Is the light good?
Is the darkness bad?
How can one be without the other?
What would it look like
to have a celebration
of integration?



        In the spirit of our Dharma Contemplation meetings,  I invited members                 of the community to submit inspiring quotes or original poems that speak to           the winter solstice season. Here are the results:


Pink sky in the West.
Darkness settles with a chill.
Dawn's light feels doubtful.


                                                -Ann Grant-Martin


“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it.” – Brene Brown (from Beverly)

 


Breathing

Darkness emerges from the receding light.

Watching

Pageant of moon shadow fills the night.

Resting

Cloaked in silence no hint of fright.

Dreaming

Wisdom swirls shades of black and white.

Knowing

Path is clear guided by insight.

Breathing

Dawn emerges from the receding night.


-Ted



Inner Spaces
 
I venture out to take in the impossibly ancient sky shimmering with points of light. Looking at the glowing Betelgeuse ready to implode Orion’s shoulder, my breath fogs visible, nose hairs freeze, gloved fingers turn numb and I can’t help but feel my temporary and vulnerable stay on this tiny blue planet. 


Inside there’s tangible comfort—a hint of wood smoke, warmth of glowing embers, the blood pulsing at my temple thawing from the cold. Within this physical space where the body finds pleasure there’s an inner space aslant the sensate:
it’s a rare spot where stillness pervade. 
 
-Sally Im


"The spiritual community pushes this narrative of love and light strongly and neglects to explain that you must enter the darkness to reach that love and light. If you are not acknowledging those "negative" parts, your practice is surface level."   Ayya Yeshe 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious."    -Carl Jung
 
Web of Connection Welcomes You
  

Saturday Meditation and Inquiry, from 4-6 pm weekly. All are welcome to attend these gatherings where we develop meditation skills, investigate Dharma themes and discover how they apply to our daily lives.


Dharma Contemplation, 6:30-8:00 pm, 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the monthThis is a contemplative practice that gives each participant the opportunity to be still, reflect and respond to a particular text within a supportive structure. Listening to the responses of other participants also helps to expand one's perspective and understanding. Each time we meet a different passage will be explored. All are welcome; no prior experience is necessary. For more information on the methodology of Dharma Contemplation, see this link.


Deer Park Learning Center is located at 15 Columbia Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. The house and meditation hall are set back off of Columbia Road, just North of Pikes Peak and before you get to Buffalo Lodge. Turn onto the alleyway and then into the driveway on the left.

                             
                             
  We hope to see you soon!

 
Web of Connection is a 501(c)(3) federal non-profit organization. All donations that you make are tax deductible.                       EIN#: 81-4552275 

As an alms mendicant living outside the support structure of a monastery, Ayya Dhammadhira relies on the ongoing support of individuals like you to continue her practice and service in community. Your monthly contributions are much appreciated. 

Your generosity is what makes it possible for our programs to continue to touch the lives of many people. As our community develops, we will be able to provide a more extensive example of a sustainable lifestyle that nourishes body, mind and spirit. Each one of us is an integral part of this WEB. Thank you for your support!
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