This is long. You might want to get a libation and put your feet up.
Fitting into and joining the pace and flow of nature is bringing a joy and appreciation to each season, which is relatively new for me. Born in the spring, full-tilt through summer, a growing sadness and dread as autumn, and worst of all school, makes an appearance, and then surviving the short, dark, cold days of winter until we get to spring ahead to longer, lighter, warmer days. It was such a shock to learn that there are people who prefer the fall, who prefer winter. Inconceivable.
Now, not so much. All of nature works hard all the time. Growing, producing, sustaining. By the time autumn begins its appearance, all seem ready for a slower pace. Time for a rest. Time not to do. Time to support rather than to create and produce. An easier time simply to be.
These short, cold days and long, cold nights can be wonderfully inspiring as well as relaxing. In spacious quiet, in more time for just being and less for just doing, there can be extra room for possibilities to drop in. We have a few of those to report!
It’s been nearly 20 years since we were in Kantolomba and first learned of Theresa Kapenda’s vision for her community. Those of you who have been with us on the journey know that since she gathered a few of her friends and began feeding 20 of the hungriest children, that vision has now grown to feeding more than 1,000 children and their community of providers seven days a week. There’s now a school to provide basic education for kids whose parents can’t afford to send them to school. They have clean water and health care that has moved families from losing 7 out of ten children before the age of 5 to families raising healthy, happy well-nourished children with future possibilities that simply did not exist in that community 20 years ago. We now have children graduating from college as nurses and teachers. We have others who are choosing paths such as tailoring, catering, and various small business ventures.
We can say, and Theresa and the community will agree, that we have “resolved” the issues we were invited to come there and assist with. Living Compassion Kantolomba is a thriving, loving community filled with happy, enthusiastic, excited individuals supporting and caring for themselves and one another.
Which brings us to one of our very favorite Awareness Practice questions: What now? The fact of the matter is that the economy of Zambia is in dire circumstances. The result of the general poverty is that there is simply no employment, even for a college graduate. Our nurses and teachers have graduated and joined thousands of other graduates waiting years for a job opening.
So, what does Theresa and her intrepid team have in mind? They are envisioning a local economy based right there in the Living Compassion Cooperative that will provide employment for all the folks in the community who choose to participate. The teachers will teach on the property, creating an English language learning center that will place our kids at the top of the list when jobs do become available. The nurses will be on the property every day providing health care and education to the members of the immediate community as well as the larger, surrounding area. Plus, they’re seeing what we might call a small “shopping center” that would provide a grocery with fresh vegetables, a clothing shop selling what the tailors create and stitch, a bakery, the beginnings of a tea/coffee shop, and a hair salon. This is in addition to the tutoring center and medical facility.
Ambitious? No doubt. Are these people up to the task? Absolutely. In fact, on our second call talking about all of this we learned that they already have a young fellow studying to be an architect who has agreed to draw up preliminary plans for the structures needed. Our challenge on this side is going to be keeping up with them!
One of the most exciting “the time is right” aspects of this is that state-of-the-art internet has reached Ndola in the form of Starlink. This will enable us to have a long-held dream come true: a Buddy on this side of the world teaming up with a Buddy in Kantolomba for English language practice. It will be possible to speak together, write to one another, practice reading aloud, and focus on reading comprehension, the area Theresa says is most difficult for the kids.
Again, this is 20 years of unwavering Sangha support coming through and paying off in ways we could not have imagined lo those many years ago.
“Learning to Love Learning”
As a wildly curious person possessed of learning disabilities that largely precluded formal education, I have lamented the fact that school often robs children of a love of learning. What passes for learning is too often simply memorizing material long enough to pass a test. Once those requirements are no longer in place, most people slide into not learning anything new, unless required to. That’s the training. Learn what you have to; don’t learn anything you’re not required to learn. In other words, learning is not fun so why do it if you don’t have to.
The result is that we have a widespread assumption, changing somewhat in science, more slowly in people’s belief systems, that learning gets harder as we get older. We now know that brain plasticity does not end at age 25 as previously believed, and that we have the physical ability to keep learning throughout life. Yet many cling to the stereotype that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” (Which is not true with dogs any more than it is with humans!)
This whole subject has long been a rant of mine because of how those beliefs affect Awareness Practice. Ego wants people to believe that anything other than being in a conversation with it—being told what to do, what not to do, what everything means, and how dangerous everything but it is—is the way to stay safe and happy. Those of us practicing Awareness know that being in a conversation in the head with the voices of ego emphatically does not result in either safety or happiness!
“Would someone please write a book that encourages people to learn to love learning, please?” For years I went on about it and never had a taker. And then on my 80th birthday Ashwini presented me with the book.
It has a couple of features that, to me, highly recommend a book—it’s accessible and it’s clear. Plus, this one also has the merit of being entertaining, fun, and a delight for the eyes. An additional plus is that it can be read at any level. It could be read to kids who would get it, read by kids who would get it, and read by adults who would get it at a different, deeper level.
I began an immediate campaign to make it available to Sangha, but the book is an unusual size and full of color, qualities that make a book expensive to produce. After much research we’ve found a printer who will do the job at a price that is not prohibitive. I will be very excited to let you know when it’s available. All proceeds benefit the Kantolomba Living Compassion community.
When we knew Sequim was going to be our new home for practice, we began looking for an actual home. We searched and searched and searched and came up with nothing. Finally, a property came on the market that seemed perfect. Twenty-five acres of meadow with a view off to miles of forest and majestic mountains beyond. Big house with lots of bathrooms (3) and bedrooms (5) and huge garages for storage. Okay. We’ll take it.
I was just talking with someone about the fact that getting a green light from Life is no guarantee about what’s going to unfold. We think if we get a clear “yes” from Life that all we’re envisioning is going to evolve just as we think. Nope. All it seems to “mean” is that “yes, that’s the thing, place, decision, choice for you right now.” Doesn’t say a darned thing about “next.”
Turns out that property, stunningly beautiful as it is, doesn’t work as a future home for the Zen Center. What does work for us is the four acres in town that we stumbled across after we’d already committed to the 25-acre piece. Oh, dear. What to do now? We don’t know. But what has occurred to us is that we need to let people know. We need to get the information out, roaming around in the larger universe in order to get it within the sights of the person/people for whom it is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also perfect. And while we do, 25 Acres continues to be a sanctuary for some who have chosen to commit to being here with a plan to make proximity to practice in Sequim their life choice.
So, there you have it. If you know of anyone who would love to have a farm/small ranch with critters and gardens, maybe with a dream to have horses they can ride from the back of their property up into miles and miles of public land—we can help you out!
Speaking of that four acres, we have news there as well. If you’ve seen the announcements about this year’s Summer of Sangha you know we have a new format. To go with the new format, we are planning a new meeting place. The tent, while we will always be grateful for its service, was a bit high maintenance. This year, assuming all goes as planned (and we know about that whole notion, don’t we?), we will be gathering in a large gazebo. Since I currently live in the former Mash Tent, fondly renamed “The Bunker,” we will convert the woodworking shop into our location for fridge, microwave, etc. As we like to remind ourselves, Change Is Good.
License plate holders
As mentioned in the most recent update on Kantolomba, one of our beloved Sangha adages, Inner Peace World Peace, in the shape of a license plate holder was resurrected rather than recycled. Someone in Sangha has indeed ordered a batch of them and will be offering them as a fundraiser for Kantolomba. More on that soon as well.
I warned you this would be long. This is what happens in those short, dark, cold days when there’s plenty of time and space for new endeavors to drop in and come together.
Thanks, as always for being, for being Sangha, for being practice, for being a participant, contribution, and general gift from Life to Life.
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