News Update 2015

March 2015

Hello everyone,

Well, it has only taken three years to get the two-countries newsletter thing sorted out!

We have been in New Zealand since November last year, and are having a very full experience of friendship, community and teaching. Adjusting our arrival-departure schedule to accommodate visa requirements and a more sensible rental cycle for our kindly landlords, Jane Hobday, Graham Sandlant and Sybrand Kamermans, meant we had some badly need rest and recuperation time.

We were very fortunate to “land” at David and Judy Pooch’s bach on the water near Matakana . . . the perfect combination of quiet rest with nearby foodie heaven! Somewhat restored, we headed off on the first tour of Northland for both of us. Rural New Zealand has a timeless quality that always restores us. Our first encounter with the massive Kauri trees that once covered much of the land was profound. All ancient beings convey their power, and these threatened forest masters, visited at twilight as the whole forest was coming to rest, wove tendrils into our hearts.

Cape Reinga, enclosed in strangely shifting mist, was our turnaround point . . . there’s nowhere else on land to go. We sat in stillness at the spot where, in Maori tradition, departed ones leave this life in this land. We had landed in Auckland to the news that an old friend’s son had died, and our daily prayers for his journey and his mother’s well-being deepened as we felt into this transition space between worlds.

December was a month of people connections, slowly settling into the familiar rhythm of our home here. We were happy to meet Kai Skywalker Fakan, now 5+ months old as you can see below . . . nearly born born at Toi Toi House, good as! Our first community picnic revealed a big transformation in the demographics of the group, with more young families changing it up for the old wrinkly people!

After Christmas we headed to Wangapeka for the annual Garden of Mindfulness community retreat. Inspiring, fun, rich with learning and sharing . . . we were only able to stay for a few days, but you can have a taste of the whole, if you like. Anna Wilde crafted this video which captures the whole GOM spirit:

In January, it was time to get to work! What an amazing program the Gangstars (our splendid organizing group . . . Jane Hobday, Kath Mitchell, Ramona Clark, Diane Johnston and Chani Grieve) worked hard to create. Prepare to be amazed, as we still are:

annual Study Group exploration, continuing with Western Mysteries, this year focussing on the Qabbalistic Tree of Life;
two weeks of Anapanasati (Meditation on Breathing) retreat, emphasizing the transition from development of tranquility to insight;
boat cruise, picnic and hike in Abel Tasman National Park with our friend Cyrese Lingard, from Boise Idaho, Jane Hobday, Kath Mitchell and Mark Schrader
Monday morning Chenreizig practice and Wednesday evening silent meditation at Toi Toi House;
overview of Satipatthana (the Four Foundations of Mindfulness) in weeknight classes and intensive weekend workshops;
a week-long Introductory Retreat at Wangapeka;
introduction to Vajrayana, again a month of weeknight classes and weekend workshops
weekend exploring Ngondro at Wangapeka coming up on Friday.

Woven into all this . . . a flying trip to Christchurch for gastronomic indulgence to celebrate Matthew’s birthday and a wonderful month long visit with Bonni’s son, Quinn Arnfield. What a pleasure it was to introduce him to our New Zealand world.

April will be retreat month at Wangapeka, continuing to explore the relationship between form and emptiness as we have been doing for the past three years. This year, the theme is Sound and Silence. A big surprise will be the wind harp crafted by Matthew and Chani Grieve (with inspiration and unhelpful meddling from Bonni.) Stay tuned . . . there might be a sound clip before this is finished. We’re excited that Canadian students Brandon Schwinn, Marie-Andree Papineau and Sarju Sooch will be joining us.

In May we’ll conclude the Nelson teaching program with a Living the Dharma city retreat focussed on kindness and compassion, followed by the opportunity to receive (or refresh) the Bodhisattva Vow. Then packing . . .

Back in Roberts Creek in June! We have a full retreat program planned through the summer into fall. Here’s the program outline: