Friday, February 19, 2016

Booda Bill's GAR Journal #1 Post

Recently I was closing the Gar’s entrance gate and gazed at four mountain ranges surrounding me and entered a deep state of peace, compassion and well-being. Living up at the Baja California retreat center for over a month now, I am in this View each time upon entering the land, as each interaction becomes important, each person a daka or dakini, and all the flora and fauna my spiritual teacher.

If I need more inspiration to get into this mood, there are always people around to practice a Tun, Ganapuja, Green Tara or a Vajra Dance. Recently I have been practicing early in the day and this sets an atmosphere for all activities and experiences. There have been a couple staying from the Czech Republic and the Gekyl, who is also “checo”, and we talk in a bunch of languages, mostly Spanish and English.

In a typical day, a non-dualistic, blissful perception seems to organically enter into many activities, especially when I’m working with Nature. My daily routine includes mindfully checking the gardens, looking for insects, signs of growth, areas needed inout. Everyday some new growth appears or a baby seed pokes through the ground proving once again that space, earth and joy can be inseparable. Hundreds of seeds, seedlings and new plants all need attention and love so that they may in return benefit and bless you with their beauty and healthy benefits. One of my favorite things to grow, the orange-root Turmeric, has over 600 medicinal benefits. No wonder the lama’s robes are orange!

Along with the dharma study and practice, I have been training with permaculture teachers who work synergistically with the local landscape. Three workshops are taking place this year and I enjoy being able to live in a place where I can think, work, live and eat in the most healthy ways possible.

After several hours of work, it’s off to the outdoor kitchen where members often gather and talk, catch up and discuss current events and projects. More work is followed by a nature walk, saxophone practice, and then dinner.

A typical night at the Gar has zero light and noise pollution so stars, planets and meteor showers become a vivid, peaceful experience. With no street noise within 10 miles, I only hear our mountain stream and the gentle tinkle of bells around far away goats and cows. It’s a well accepted fact that everyone’s dreams become deeper and more profound on this land. Occasionally, Nature appears in the form of a Buddha like the hummingbird that was resting in front of my casita and wouldn’t let me open the door.

Waking up early as a naturalist has been my best strategy, although I carry the camera with me all day: you never know when an amazing insect, passing hawk or desert hare might appear. Paradoxically, looking for birds yields less birds. I find it better to walk up to one of the many stone terraces and meditate upon the spectacular view of the Cape Mountains and Lowlands. Inevitably, a bundle of feathery beauty will emanate out of the thickets and scrubs to  look at me. As I am blessed by their beauty, gratefully receiving them as a blessing.

One challenge has been dealing with the wild pigs coming to destroy months of hard work preparing garden beds in the Cape Mountain jungle. The pigs are thriving, like everything else, activated by the extra rains from the last two years. After many primal emotions had arisen and dissolved, I found it best to create 2-3 feet of spiny Mesquite branch barriers around all access points. So far this has worked and my frustration has been transformed into equanimity.

The Gar includes 3,000 acres, south of a UNESCO world heritage site calle Sierra la Laguna, a biosphere with 15% endemic plants. There are many species of animals also that only call this area home, and combined with the UNESCO protected coral reefs, makes this the “Galapagos Islands” of Mexico. These are not the dry mountains of past years. This jungle requires months of cutting, trimming and hauling out to clear the amazing hiking trails, many lined with stone walls adding a sense of permanence to the ever changing mountains.

For personal retreat and practice, the surrounding landscape, mountains and ambience helps me expand into Nature’s benevolence, abundance and power. There is so much peace and stillness here, followed by much movement and activity where the stillness can remain.

Inspiration and dharma reminders infuse the retreat center atmosphere and especially during and after retreats. When Steve Landsberg recently taught, we were deeply inspired and took the practices to the hot springs where we soaked in natural mineral waters, swam in cool mountains waters and generally blissed out. The practice and study accumulates, and after each week I enter more deeply into clarity, wisdom, compassion and seem to have a bit more integration.

Vajra Dance Mandala

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