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a letter from jaya newsletter march 2011

For the first time in 24 years of visiting India, I went for only one month: 23 Jan to 23 Feb. It was also the first time Gyan and I would travel for so long alone.

I had had several different ideas of people who could help me with Gyan during this month, but none worked out. Our flight tickets--one of them donated by a sangha friend-- were non-refundable.

The same Saturday we were to fly to Chennai, I asked Ajayji on the phone, "Do you have any ideas?"

"Yes," he said firmly.

Too much static on the line to find out what he meant.

Jonathanji accompanied us in the taxi to Anantha Niketan Ashram, and after a rush of catching up, Gyan and I crashed in the back seat the whole rest of the way. We felt in good hands. It seemed like an auspicious beginning.

But jet lag had Gyan and I awake watching Sesame Street classics at midnight on the second night of the retreat.

And by day 3 of the retreat, I really wondered why I had come. Exhausted and frustrated, I had still not managed to help Gyan feel safe enough to let me out of his sight.

I could offer as many interviews as anyone could want (while Gyan watched Sesame Street again), and I could lead the evening chanting (with Gyan).

A sliver of a Dharma talk during the end of Gyan's nap, and finally a regular Dharma talk while Gyan splayed out next to me with his cars.

But no meditations whatsoever.

After a week, I started to accept that this was one possible way of helping to lead a retreat, just because this was what was happening. Evan Walker (one of the first Open Dharma retreat managers) had accepted Ajay's call for helping Gyan, and though he had little experience with kids, he had, as Ajay said, a heart for caring.

I delighted in the bright space of the intense, honest interviews. The chanting was deep and simple. I said what I needed to say in the talks.

And I was blown away by the flexibility and understanding of the many friends on retreat who accepted the situation as it was, who used their own reactions as something to learn from.

Because it was not after 3 days that Gyan felt safe enough to let me go fully into teaching. It was after 3 weeks. Together, we all went through an ordinary situation that showed us how much patience and skill and help life needs from us for its flowering and fruition.

If that much for bodily life, how much more for spiritual?

I continue to be amazed at the generosity of friends like Evan, Ben Heilveil, Dominika, Bat-el and Stu....who not only helped with laundry or expenses or heavy bags or creative games, but also enjoyed the practice of helping Gyan feel safe and have fun. They enjoyed putting love into practice.

And to be honest, I had a revelation. Something is more clear to me than ever before.

Because I had to, I tuned more precisely than ever before into what I really want, and therefore what I want to offer.

It feels like a temple in my heart, a sacred place where all can be welcomed. Where we can come each in our own way, can receive what if possible to receive in that moment. And it does not have much to do with getting into the meditation hall and saying words, though I was thrilled when I got to do that in Sarnath a couple of times.

Hope to meet you again and again in the hall and outside the hall, here, now and everywhere.

And, by the way, amongst all these miracles, another miracle: the Amazing Tom Riddle came up with 3 new short videos for Open Dharma this month.

You can preview them here.

love, jaya

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