An Experiment in Community

When I arrived at Dharmalaya here in BEAUTIFUL Eugene, OR, I had no idea what would be in store for me. I arrived; expecting it to be similar to my only previous WWOOFing experience, but what I found was that Dharmalaya is unlike anywhere I have been in nearly seven years of traveling the United States.

I was introduced to the idea of starting a Community Supported WWOOFing (CSW) program almost immediately after arriving. It didn’t take long to gain enough support from the community to officially kick off the program. The idea was that Ravi, Madhu and Asha would be our gracious hosts while the surrounding community would provide either direct food donations or monetary donations to be used for food and incidentals in exchange for work on their property. The WWOOFers would then be free to manage their own food supply and live in a small community within a community.

We commenced the CSW experiment with three exceptionally motivated individuals which provided the energy needed to jumpstart the program. In the first few weeks we found ourselves working with five different permaculture properties located within a mile of one another in the River Road neighborhood of northern Eugene, OR. It seemed that, through our variety of projects, everyone was having an opportunity to not only exhibit their strengths, but to pursue their own specific interests as well.

However, as WWOOFers come, WWOOFers go. I find myself watching this program develop and succeed as not only a means to help support a very intelligent, progressive community, but as an experiment in a sort of fluid intentional community where house/land mates are often changing. In, just six weeks I have found myself working and living alongside six other WWOOFers and countless members of the community on eight properties. Projects have included design, construction, gardening, irrigation, composting, nursing plants, and various others. The people in the community here are open to allowing you added responsibility if you show an aptitude for handling it.

As if that isn’t enough, I have also fallen into a period of deep spiritual development. Since I was a child I haven’t resonated with any form of spirituality. It was interesting to find myself drawn to meditation and yoga upon my arrival to Dharmalaya. I never felt forced or any sort of dogma being pushed upon me. Sunday group meditation was my first experience with the spiritual aspect of Dharmalaya. I was unsure what to expect, but what I found is that the whole gathering is devoted to making everyone feel happier through time tested techniques; from the opening singing to the toe tapping dance, the silent mediation and group discussion. And trust me—it works. Since then I have been developing my practice slowly, taking meditation lessons, and reading about the fundamentals of meditation. I find my ideals shifting slightly to make way for a more conscientious form of myself.

I expected Dharmalaya and Eugene to be just another temporary stop on my journey of self-discovery, although with all the incredible knowledge, people and experiences I can see materializing, I’m not sure when, if ever, I will leave.

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