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The Diamond Mountain Blog

This is an unofficial blog of news and info from Diamond Mountain University and Retreat Center which was founded by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Dalai Lamas.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Almost all clear

This morning there is no smoke visible from my vantage in Bowie. The back burns are out and the apocalyptic mushroom cloud that has become a fixture in the southern sky is absent. Yesterday we had fifty mile an hour winds all day. I found this stressful as fire likes wind. Over the years of living and working at Diamond Mountain I rarely knew how fast the wind was blowing. I realize now that we had fifty mile an hour winds pretty often during parts of the year. In that condition, working outside becomes difficult and in some cases dangerous. My man Johneo and I have both been blown off ladders while building homes out here. Luckily, I have mad ninja reflexes but only when I'm not trying. And Johneo is just tough. I say that because he hit the ground pretty hard once on his tuckus but got right up with minor complaint. Tough.
The fire fighters are happy with the work they did yesterday. All the fire breaks held and we almost have an all clear. This would be an amazing relief. So many things are on hold because of the threat of possible evacuation. Perhaps I should say "opportunity" instead of "threat". Perhaps not.
It has been interesting watching myself and others here at DMU go through this. We all seemed to vacillate between very agitated and calm. Some have been losing sleep. My stress peaked yesterday to compliment the wind storm. I was having an inner wind storm. Nothing could satisfy me. I did a great yoga and mediation session in the morning. But through out the day I was like a hungry ghost. Unable to find anything to satisfy the agitation. I could not do some things I would have liked to because I had to stay in Bowie in case of evac. I did find myself thinking of all the people around the world who live in fear of coming disaster. I thought of people who live in war zones. I thought of the karma this country is accumulating in regards to the stress and fear our military inflicts on whole populations. Will the drone fly over and blow up my wedding today? It's important, I think, to resist supporting this sort of thing in word and action, to say the least. I digress
For the time being, nothing at DMU has been destroyed and if feels like we will be spared. I cannot, then, say that I can relate to others who have lost property, livelihood, etc. My empathy for them, however, is greater. Is empathy any good without a follow up of action? I only speak for myself here. Living with the wild fire has made my worst mental afflictions more manifest and raised important questions. I haven't even covered the worst of my afflictions that came up over the last few days. They really put on their party cloths and hit the town. Glad you weren't in my mind to see it.
Thank you all for all your prayers and meditations. I know that many people were thinking of us out here at DMU. Face Book made this evident. It is a comfort. If I sit and can relax and think of you, where ever you are, and make an effort to open my heart to your love for us, I imagine I can feel it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unstoppable Wall of Flame Ever Closer to Quiet Retreat!

Again, I apologize. That title brought a much needed laugh. Tonight is a big night. Fire fighters have trooped in to do battle all night as to be ready for the morning. There is a windy day in the forecast tomorrow. If you don't know, the wind here is epic. Old men in sea captain hats write books about wind like this. It is a heart breaker of a wind. A mind splitter. A wind that elicits curses and tries relationships. The wind is not good news.
Listen, I don't know what sort of person you are. If you like the idea of putting out a bowl of water and sending prayers, it that's your thing, please do it. A lot. A lot tonight and more tomorrow. Give water to people you know then think of that fire going out. If you think that's all superstition, fine. This is America, after all. The great melting pot of...of...things that melt together under great heat. Bad simile. Take a swim at the local pool and think of the fire going out. Donate to the local fire station. Anything. Do it.
Years ago there was a fire two valleys over from DMU. There was no multi million retreat valley back then. Just yurts and homes and the temple. The fire department came out and spent the night on the camp ground. They sent Johneo and I up on a ridge where we could see if the fire crested and started to move toward the camp ground. Ironically, they gave us a flare to signal with if we saw it coming. Flares are very hot and start fires really well. They said, "If you boys see it come over that ridge, signal us and then you got about an hour to get back and get out. I packed my meager belongings from my tent, which was my home at the time, and put them in the "Oven" a giant shipping container that is in the campground. My belongings fit in one back pack and two boxes. I was ready. JEO and I played music on the ridge into the night waiting for the end to come. The devil may care, we didn't. Ok, we did. It was a strange feeling. Elated and nervous. Nothing happened that night. Allison chain smoked with the fire fighters and made snacks.
This fire is no fun. It's huge. Biggest in AZ history. And it seems to be narrowing down and pointed right at the retreat valley. Does that seem odd to any one else? Perhaps I'm being self centered. I am. Of course I am. But the damn thing has moved over miles and mile and weeks to end up at our back door. Why didn't it go to Willcox? Or hit the back of Dos Cabesas peak? Pleanty of room out there, you know. It all bespeaks a little to much of, dare I say it, the super natural. I leave it to you. If there were such things as negative spirits, they would frikin hate what the retreaters are up to in there. Oh, it would make them so mad. This would make a great beginning to a radio drama. Sleep tight, dear listener. Dream of water.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Raging Fire Encroaches! No Problem.

Again, sorry for the dramatic title. I could not resist. It's true, however. As it stands now, the fire fighters plan to dig a huge fire break about three miles from the Lama House. Yup, three short miles over the mountain behind the Lama house. They have confidence that they can stop it there. Lots of money and people power is going behind this fire break. No problem. Yes, we have all sorts of evacuation plans, don't worry. Forget about it. It will take more then the largest wild fire this state has seen in memory to push those retreaters out. It will take more then the coldest winter on record in over 100 years to freeze them out. Yes sir. Perhaps both combined. Perish the thought. More to come. Off to bed.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Giant Wildfire Burning Close to Retreat!

I know that the title is very dramatic. It's not usually my style. But I couldn't resist. There is a giant wildfire burning not far from here. It's twenty miles away now. Nicole, Rob, and Joe went to the fire meeting and got the low down from the folks fighting it. If it shifts and burns toward the retreat valley there are several places where they feel confident they could cut a break and stop it if the wind cooperates. I personally don't feel it will come. I hope I'm right.
If I had to leave my home because a fire was coming I would first wrap many bananas in tin foil and leave them in the path of the fire around my house. To some of the bananas I would add marsh mellow. Upon returning, even if my home were reduced to a smoking pile of personal posessions, I would have a tasty warm treat waiting for me. If I were a 13 year old boy again, I would press two of my least favorite GI Joe action figures in tin foil and leave them in the path of the fire. What sort of twisted figure those two would become! What fun! This sort of silly imagining is easy for me. I don't own my home, I have no family here living with me, I have very little in the way of personal effects that I really need. Me and the cat would hit the road. Computer, I would never leave you. Bananas, the end is nigh.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Short update

Life up at DMU is pretty quiet. We have a good crew up there now. Folks are all getting along with each other. Viet and Alisha's baby, Priya, will be a year old in a week. Having a little family on the land is a great blessing. Priya is a mood altering drug of a baby. Brings a lot of smiles to everyone. The big news of the week is that we are going to move the giant shipping container that we call the "Oven". We store tools and camping gear in it. The Patron Saint of Earth Moving equipment and Road Maker from Heaven, Jeff M. is coming up from Wilcox with some giant machine to drag it twenty yards or so. This will put it out of the main line of sight of the DMU Campus, which is very tiny. We need to get ready for the July teachings, spruce the place up. I had more to say when I started this post but it sort of faded away. Next time.