Sharada’s May update

New leaves on the old maple atop the mound

New leaves on the old maple atop the mound

Hello to everyone from all of us at the Centre. It’s a glorious day today – sunny, warm, the air filled with the sweet fragrance of spring blossoms and freshly mown grass. Life is in full swing here, with programs or rentals scheduled every weekend and some during the week, plus guests who are here on personal retreats. Below is a little update on some of the goings-on at the Centre.

Seedlings ready to be transplanted

Seedlings ready to be transplanted

Farm update
Jack reports that the farm team is currently planting ten varieties of cucumbers, twenty varieties of melons, six kinds of zucchini, fifteen kinds of winter squash, including some blue pumpkins and some that can get up to 100 – 200 pounds! Meanwhile we continue to enjoy amazing meals, with as much as is available from the farm. No 200 pound squashes yet, but lots of greens – best salads anywhere!

Kids at the school maypole dancing in celebration of May Day!

Kids at the school maypole dancing in celebration of May Day!

School update
The school’s garden is also in full swing. The kids did the work of preparing the beds, including the spreading of manure – farmers in the making. They’re now planting the seeds that they gathered and categorized in the fall. Having just completed making homes for mason bees, they’ve now taken them home to their families to attract these pollinators to their gardens. In other school news, rehearsals for “Pinocchio”, this year’s school play, are well underway. Coming up at the beginning of May is the annual May Day celebration, complete with dancing around the maypole, a tradition begun by Usha way back in the earliest years of the school.

Annual Community Yoga Retreat coordinator announced
As mentioned last month, planning for the Annual Community Yoga Retreat is going strong, and we are happy to announce that Kathryn Kusyszyn has accepted the position of ACYR Coordinator. She has been attending retreats here for quite a few years and familiar with the program and the community. We are very lucky to have her.

Offerings Articles
I invite you to read this month’s Meet our YTT Grads article, featuring Kenzie Pattillo who graduated from the first YTT offered at the Centre in 2002. Kenzie also contributed the Asana of the Month piece, focusing on Gomukhasana (cow’s head pose), with lots of variations for those of you who find this pose difficult. The Our Satsang Family feature will return next month. Included in this newsletter is another teaching from Baba Hari Dass on the subject of developing positive qualities, something we can all practice.

Spring time at the Centre

Christine and Ben hanging out In the orchard after a day’s work; walking through the trail

Blackburn Lake to become nature reserve? 
We are delighted to share some local island news with you. Please read Paramita’s letter about the property next door – currently an organic golf course and hopefully soon to be a nature reserve. The Centre is in full support of the proposed zoning change that would allow The Salt Spring Conservancy to buy the property for the purpose of protecting the land and the many species of animals and birds that live there (and here). You can click on the link in Paramita’s letter to read the letter from the Salt Spring Conservancy.

AGM Update
Also, please take note of the posting about the upcoming Keeping the Flame Burning weekend. More information will be posted on our website with details about the weekend, which will include Dharma Sara’s Annual General Meeting along with some fun stuff. This is not to imply the AGM isn’t fun! It’s an opportunity to learn about the many facets of Dharma Sara’s projects, including the many projects at the centre.

May the longtime sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.

In peace,

Developing Positive Qualities

babaji-1999Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

We may understand this as an intellectual concept, but it’s not how we usually live our lives. We have some very strong preferences (in itself not a problem), but when we react when something doesn’t go as we want – with frustration, irritation, anxiety or any of the many variants of anger or fear – we create suffering for ourselves, and often for others. Babaji has told us that if we develop positive qualities life will flow more smoothly.

Reducing negative qualities and developing positive qualities are not two different things.

The flow of energy in the body is blocked when the mind indulges in anger, hatred and selfishness. Keep your mind pure and you will see how easily the energy moves.

Living in the world of dualism – good/bad, right/wrong – we create problems for ourselves. Life isn’t going to hand us exactly what we want all the time.

Life is full of tides, like an ocean…everyone’s boat goes up and down.

No one can be happy all the time. Sometimes we get sad and depressed, and at that time our sadness projects onto the people around us, which creates problems or dissatisfaction. I have not seen any householders who can say that they have no problems. I can’t say that householders can eliminate all problems, but they can reduce the emotional strain by understanding the real situation.

The instruction is to understand the real situation. How to do that? Watch the habits of your mind. Is what you think true or is it a projection? When someone says or does something that brings up a reaction in you, pay attention. The reaction is a habit; not everyone responds to that stimulus the same way. Why is it that you react the way you do? Pay attention to the feelings that arise because they’re pointing you to the source of your suffering. The feelings themselves are just a momentary thing – feelings change all the time, like the weather – but what is underneath? How would you like the situation to unfold? Perhaps you long to be listened to, to be heard. Perhaps what you’d like is to connect with honesty and respect with the other person. Perhaps you’d like to be able to be fully present with the other person without judgment or fear. The bottom line may be a deep longing for peace.

If we are not aware of ourselves, we cannot progress.

Progress depends upon your honesty.

Much as we’d like it to be otherwise, we have no control over how other people act. If we have control over anything, it’s our own responses. That’s the work.

It takes courage to begin inquiring into the workings of our minds and investigating our habitual responses; it seems easier to look outward and blame others (or ourselves), but that doesn’t support our self-development; nor does it work. We have to accept responsibility for our part in any situation.

The mind always goes through different stages, sometimes negative and sometimes positive. When the mind dwells in the negative, we have to discover the cause. There is always some self-interest that creates negativity. Discontentment begins when we don’t get what we want.

If a person wants to hike a mountain and starts thinking about how weak they are, how bad their diet is or how impure their mind is, then that person can’t go very far. You have to be positive, enthusiastic, courageous and firm in your aim.

Someone asked Babaji how to be simple, how to look inside, to crack through fear. Babaji replied: These things can’t be taught. They are developed by reducing ego, attachment and anger. One can’t develop positive qualities without making a discipline in life. First one should develop an aim, which is the attainment of peace. One should move regularly toward that aim.

Contentment, compassion and tolerance are the three pillars that support the palace of peace.

Instead of focusing on all the things that aren’t going well, you can shift the angle of your mind. It’s hard work but not impossible; minds are trainable. That’s why we practice.

Cultivate a sympathetic heart,
humility in dealings,
and selflessness in action.
If these are practiced
with earnestness and sincerity,
then you will win the race of life.

Contributed by Sharada. All quotes in italics are from various writings by Baba Hari Dass.