Liberation – April 2017

Not Church - La Misión, Baja California, MexicoThanks to everyone who participated for another wonderful Not Church gathering.
Choir-oke gets better every month…it’s amazing what can be accomplished with a little practice and some margaritas.

Not Church - La Misión, Baja California, MexicoGratitude for the present moment and letting go help unlock the doors to liberation as we were reminded in Martina’s story..

Liberation is not a destination
by Bodhi Martina

For many reasons, I left the church at 14. I loved Jesus, but this God they talked about who was vindictive and judgmental and liked to smite people….was pretty frightening. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when I was told that it was God’s will that my mother, suffered a 10 year battle with cancer and died at 43, leaving 3 children. I wondered, “What kind of God was that?!”

But it was this – that began my spiritual search. 20 years later and books, therapy and teachers. I was still searching this illusive understanding of the truth. I wanted to be happy. Why couldn’t I make that happen? I love to write, so I wrote a book, Call From the Heart, that told of my spiritual travels. I took the manuscript to the Shaman whom I had been following. She gave me a ceremony to do in order to birth the book. I had chosen not to bring children into this world, until I was sure I could make them happy. This wise woman said the book was my baby. Following her instructions, I journeyed to southern Baja and camped on the beach at the edge of the exquisite Gulf of California – a cathedral of nature – was for me the true church. I climbed a little mountain to its top.

When I was finished, I did not feel relieved. I felt frustrated and angry. I still did not understand, what I was after? Why couldn’t I rest? I was still in a state of deep yearning for something I could not name. I looked into the vast blue Baja Sky and crying out to the invisible guiding ones, I begged. “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? I HAVE TO KNOW NOW!” It sounded more like a wail, than a prayer.

Suddenly, it was like being thrust into that blue sky above…a clarity overcame this very small Martina. This “me” I thought myself to be disappeared into the vastness. There was nothing! Yet it was everything! IT was VASTNESS no words or names could touch. It was so sudden, I was filled with wonder and awe.

I began to laugh. The pure joy of laughing consumed me and I could not stop. I knew everything and it was nothing at all. I came down the mountain in a state of euphoria for days in the beauty of land, sea and sky. The great birds spoke to me of freedom. Yet, ever so slowly, the egoic mind began to nibble away at the experience, until I found myself “me” again. A “me” with a name, a story, a past and a hopeful future. I was truly saddened, “I” thought I’d lost “IT”…but you can’t lose what is not an object.

Since this mountaintop experience, there have been many more such gifts of awareness, as well as painful challenges, rising up to test the truth. But they are an experience and as we are learning, these experiences are subject to change. Experience is impertinent, joy comes and goes, pain comes and goes, LIFE comes and goes and so does the experience of Liberation. For most of us, Liberation is never complete, it is always unfolding like the lotus. Moment to moment Liberation. You can’t speak of liberation, because as soon as you put it into words, it is only a story of an experience in the past. We can only hope that the story points out the direction. Each moment is an awakening experience. Mental thoughts and words cannot touch the Vastness of being. What we seek, is Here and Now, so simple it is overlooked. SIMPLE? Yes, but not easy. Our minds don’t see simple. The mind looks for something really hard to do. That is its job. In order to attain, we have to work hard. The ego does not want to lose its job, so it sends us on a search outside of ourselves – as we have been taught to do.

We have entered a new millennium and this gift of the Universal Life Force, that some call God, is so very present, right Now, HERE in this room, in each beating heart. Liberation happens when the yearning for something other than what we have, STOPS. The search is over, when finally we have absolutely no doubt in the VASTNESS that has NO name.

Not Church - La Misión, Baja California, MexicoNot Church - La Misión, Baja California, Mexico

Come join us May 7 at Poco Cielo for the next Not Church gathering.

Wisdom – March 2017

Photos from our March gathering on the topic of Wisdom, completing three sections on the Serenity Prayer. Choir-oke was back and now they’re even practicing!

Join us next month, April 2nd 10AM at Poco Cielo.  The theme will be Liberation.

Choir-oke March 2017

Sandy March 2017 John March 2017 Marti March 2017 Ron March 2017

Mindfulness Opportunities!

February 21st

Buddhism in the Eyes of Beholders from Ancient Times to the Present
Sanskritist and Buddhist Studies scholar, Dan Bisgaard will discuss the article,“Big Tent” Buddhism and clear up some western misconceptions (possibly your own) about Buddhism.
Please read the article and send questions to Dan in advance.
RSVP to Nadine –  if you are interested in attending.

February 28th
Half-Day Mindfulness Retreat
Please RSVP to Anna –

Half Day Silent Retreat Ron de JongEvery Monday at 8:30 am
Meditation with Ron
Sessions include an introduction, a 20-30 minute meditation and a discussion afterward. It’s a great way to start your week!
Location: Plaza del Mar
For information:

Mindfulness in Plain EnglishTuesdays at 2pm beginning March 7th
Happiness Study Group (Because mindfulness makes you happier!)
We continue into our third year of mindfulness study and practice with an exploration of Vipassana Meditation in our new book, Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana.  It’s available on Amazon in paperback and kindle versions.  Reading is strongly recommended for this chapter by chapter study and we’ll jump right in with the first chapters on March 7.  Specifics will be posted on our  Happiness Study Group Facebook Page, and on the Not Church Facebook Page as well.

What Exactly is Vipassana Meditation? This short article will give you some background on the practice.   

Seating is limited so please contact Nadine if you are interested in joining the group.  

Tuesdays at 2:30 – 4pm
Mindfulness in Northern Baja with Mary Contreras
Meditation and book study…This group is open to anyone, whether you have read any of the books or not. The Group is currently reading Pema Chödrön’s “How to Meditate.” Each session includes a quiet centering, a weekly check-in on the use of the mindfulness and meditation techniques, current chapter study and a 20-25 minute meditation followed by a short discussion. The group is held at Bahia 353, San Antonio del Mar (down two flights of stairs inside). Participants need to park on the street in the 200 block and walk the last bit as the house is on a dead end street with no parking. Email or call Carol Clary for directions and information /Hm (664) 631-2185 and US cell (323) 401-5518.

Courage in February

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference”

Steve Wayles - CourageThank you to all who participated…

The serenity prayer is well-known, but only in its abridged form.  You might be interested in the full, unedited version by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


As Steve Wayles told us, Neibuhr was quite the courageous fellow.  If you’re interested in knowing more you can find details here

Choir-oke was spontaneous and fun…who knows??  We may see them again.  We’ll see what John has in store for us next month.

January Gathering

Philip-Poco-Cielo2The Guest House by Rumi
Shared by Sandy Stadelmann

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.