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Dear Dharma Friends,
Rio Grande del Norte - Taos News
   Those of us who work with The Mountain Hermitage deeply
value our home here in Taos and cherish the connection with the living environment & beauty that surround us in the high mesas & mountains of northern New Mexico. For the last 10 years, our retreat  "home" at San Geronimo Lodge has embodied that unique spirit for us on a microcosmic scale.  Now that the lodge is up for sale, we are thrilled to have found a new retreat "home" up in the Taos Ski Valley, where the Columbine Inn provides the Hermitage with a spectacular & comfortable high -country setting for our upcoming 2015 programs.
    And in recognition of the deeper levels of connection to our living environment, we are offering in this issue an important article by teachers John Stanley & David Loy on the role of Buddhism in understanding & addressing the looming climate crisis threatening our precious planet.  We hope you will read this piece with full attention & an open heart.
                         With metta to all living creatures, Cathy Viele, The Mountain Hermitage
Looking forward to 2015...
Marcia2 cropped more
April 12 - May 10, 2015  ONE-MONTH SPRING HERMITAGE RETREAT with Marcia Rose
The One-Month Mountain Hermitage offers a uniquely supportive space of solitude and silence for qualified individuals who wish to undertake longer periods of intensive meditation practice.  Support offered for Vipassana/ Insight, Brahma Vihara,and Samatha/Concentration practice. 
June 27 - July 3, 2015  FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH
Insight meditation is a simple and direct practice based on moment-to-moment awareness, a technique that opens the heart and clears the mind. This will be an opportunity to practice continuous mindfulness in silence throughout the day - in sitting and walking meditation.
August 16 - 25, 2015  MANIFESTING SPIRITUAL ASPIRATION BY DEEPENING PRACTICE: People Of Color Retreat For Experienced Students with Gina Sharpe & Larry Yang
This retreat for Communities of Color will be the first such retreat of 10 days' duration for experienced students. We will deepen practice to live with integrity, kindness, attention and true service in our vulnerable world.

with Buddhist Teacher & Environmental Activist David Loy
at San Geronimo Lodge
Does Buddhism provide any special insight into the ecological crisis? Do its teachings imply a different way of understanding the biosphere, and our relationship to it, which can really help us at this critical time in history, when we are doing so much to destroy it?

November 13 - 20, 2015 LISTENING, CONTEMPLATION &  MEDITATION: Study Retreat on The Art & Practice of Loving 
with Ven. Dhammadinna & Tenzin Jesse
This retreat will combine the practice and study of metta, or loving friendliness meditation. The Buddha taught metta meditation to quell fear and anger, toTenzin Jesse cropped close
promote harmonious relationships, and to purify the mind in concentration. The benefits of this practice touch every aspect of our lives.
Columbine Inn - Our new retreat home in Taos Ski Valley...
Why the Buddha Touched the Earth... by John Stanley & David Loy

     "The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as  

a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the Earth. When we

realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise -- then we can  

build a noble environment. If our lives are not based on this truth, then we shall perish".           --Buddhadasa Bhikkhu


"The term 'engaged Buddhism' was created to restore the true meaning of Buddhism.

Engaged Buddhism is simply Buddhism applied in our daily lives. If it's not engaged, it  

can't be called Buddhism. Buddhist practice takes place not only in monasteries, meditation

halls and Buddhist institutes, but in whatever situation we find ourselves. Engaged  

Buddhism means the activities of daily life combined with the practice of mindfulness."  

--Thich Nhat Hanh


     In one of Buddhism's iconic images, Gautama Buddha sits in meditation with his left palm  upright on his lap, while his right hand touches the earth. Demonic forces have tried to unseat him, because their king, Mara, claims that place under the bodhi tree. As they proclaim their leader's powers, Mara demands that Gautama produce a witness to confirm his spiritual awakening. The Buddha simply touches the earth with his right hand, and the Earth itself immediately responds: "I am your witness." Mara and his minions vanish. The morning star appears in the sky. This moment of supreme enlightenment is the central experience from which the whole of the Buddhist tradition unfolds.

      The great 20th-century Vedantin sage, Ramana Maharshi said that the Earth is in a constant state of dhyana (meditative absorption). The Buddha's earth-witness mudra (hand position) is a beautiful example of "embodied cognition." His posture and gesture embody unshakeable self-realization. He does not ask heavenly beings for assistance. Instead, without using any words, the Buddha calls on the Earth to bear witness.

      The Earth has observed much more than the Buddha's awakening. For the last 3 billion years the Earth has borne witness to the evolution of its innumerable life-forms, from unicellular creatures to the extraordinary diversity and complexity of plant and animal life that flourishes today. We not only observe this multiplicity, we are part of it -- even as our species continues to damage it. Many biologists predict that half the Earth's plant and animal species could disappear by the end of this century, on the current growth trajectories of human population, economy and pollution. This sobering fact reminds us that global warming is the primary, but not the only, extraordinary ecological crisis confronting us today.

      Has Mara taken a new form today -- as our own species? Just as Mara claimed the Buddha's sitting-place as his own, Homo sapiens today claims, in effect, that the only really important species is itself. All other species have meaning and value only insofar as they serve our purposes. Indeed, powerful elements of our economic system (notably Big Oil and its enablers) seem to have relocated to the state of "zero empathy," a characteristic of psychopathic or narcissistic personalities.

      The Earth community has a self-emergent, interdependent, cooperative nature. We humans have no substance or reality that is separate from this community. Thich Nhat Hanh refers to this as our "inter-being": we and other species "inter-are." If we base our life and conduct on this truth, we transcend the notion that Buddhist practice takes place within a religious framework that promotes only our own individual awakening. We realize the importance of integrating the practice of mindfulness into the activities of daily life. And if we really consider Mother Earth as an integral community and a witness of enlightenment, don't we have a responsibility to protect her through mindful "sacred activism"

      As the Buddha's enlightenment reminds us, our awakening  too is linked to the Earth. The Earth bore witness to the Buddha, and now the Earth needs us to bear witness -- to its dhyana, its steadfastness, the matrix of support it continually provides for living beings. New types of bodhisattvas -- "ecosattvas" -- are needed, who combine the practice of self-transformation with devotion to social and ecological transformation. Yes, we need to write letters and emails to the President, hopefully to influence his decision. But we may also need to consider other strategies if such appeals are ignored, such as nonviolent civil disobedience. That's because this decision isn't just about a financial debt ceiling. This is about the Earth's carbon ceiling. This is about humanity's survival ceiling. As the Earth is our witness.


John Stanley & David Loy direct & advise the Ecobuddhism Project which is dedicated to exploring a a Buddhist response to global warming. Their website is a treasure trove of resources on this important topic and includes sections on Science, Wisdom, and Solutions. The Mountain Hermitage will be offering a weekend workshop with David Loy in September 2015 at San Geronimo Lodge in Taos.

Please don't forget...
Begging bowl   ...we always need donations to help with operating expenses & to support  those who  would not be able to attend Mountain
Hermitage retreats without financial help.   
                  THANK YOU!                   
We are also deeply grateful to those who offer their dana to The Mountain Hermitage year after year through vital volunteer work that enables us to continue our retreats.  Seated Buddha statue with flowers
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For more information on all these retreats, you can contact us...
Limited scholarship support available for all of our retreats. Application Necessary.
Extensive information on the website:

May our practice serve towards the welfare, the happiness & the awakening of all beings.
"...To deal effectively with the climate crisis, we need to experience a sense of urgenTuan lotus reflectioncy as intense as that which inspires the personal quest for enlightenment.... What we need is to feel the sense of urgency collectively, on a mass scale. We must feel it horizontally, as a global community embracing all nations and peoples and life forms on earth, and we must feel it vertically, as directed toward countless generations as yet unborn."

Venerable Bikkhu Bodhi,