Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

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katy steger, modified 5 Years ago.

Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
A few+ years ago I was planning to go on retreat requiring me to take longhaul air travel. Then I realized I could refund the ticket and commit the air fare & travel & food funds to an organization and community with a good track record for giving and working in dire places and creating sustainable improvements in their areas of care.

That was, for me, and still is, a large chunk to give away and it was easily the best decision I've consciously made on this meditative practice.

I know that many in this DhO community here do the same, because in the course of the years some of us have talked offline about dana.
These conversations arise when we're sharing our grief about a certain situation and who we're sending some dollars to to try to help. 

So when I look at new(er) meditators weighing all these different retreat centers and so many teachers, I think, "Well, it's okay if people consider this option, too: retreat somewhere more locally, keeping a small carbon footprint to retreat [1], talking to the retreat centers and aware teachers about your actual food costs and giving the bigger chunk of dana to an organization that is working hard and well in changing dire conditions." 

And this is how I've found my great teachers. Like, Daniel pays for this online retreat and discussion center (the DhO) there are teachers out there who pay for the retreat center to exist so that dana can be just like above: outgoing. (It's always good to offer one's meals and utilities' costs on retreat)


So this was a helpful change to make early on: training closer to home/at home and taking the savings of in simple retreats with aware teachers into dana in dire places with effective teams. I speculate that this conservation helped the training.



And I'm also posting this article on Tom Catena, MD, not just to offer an article and place for dana consideration, below, but because I'd also like to see articles over time on where other people have found to send their dana, dana places they'd like to share, and to see a "Dana" subcatgory set up.



Dr. Tom Catena, the only physician permanently in Sudan's Nuba Mountains, examines a leprosy patient, Nemat Kuku, whose child Nasra Makous is malnourished. Both leprosy and malnutrition are common in the area.


http://nyti.ms/1Kl2e69
SundayReview | OP-ED COLUMNIST


‘He’s Jesus Christ’
JUNE 27, 2015

Nicholas Kristof

IN THE NUBA MOUNTAINS, Sudan — IF you subscribe to the caricature of
devout religious believers as mostly sanctimonious hypocrites, the kind who rake
in cash and care about human life only when it is unborn, come visit the doctor
here.

Dr. Tom Catena, 51, a Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, N.Y., is the only
doctor at the 435-bed Mother of Mercy Hospital nestled in the Nuba Mountains in
the far south of Sudan. For that matter, he’s the only doctor permanently based in
the Nuba Mountains for a population of more than half a million people.

Just about every day, the Sudanese government drops bombs or shells on
civilians in the Nuba Mountains, part of
a scorched-earth strategy to defeat an
armed rebellion here. The United States and other major powers have averted their
eyes, so it is left to “Dr. Tom,” as he is universally known here, to pry out shrapnel
from women’s flesh and amputate limbs of children, even as he also delivers babies
and removes appendixes.

He does all this off the electrical grid, without running water, a telephone or so
much as an X-ray machine — while under constant threat of bombing, for Sudan
has dropped 11 bombs on his hospital grounds. The first time, Dr. Tom sheltered,
terrified, in a newly dug pit for an outhouse, but the hospital is now surrounded by
foxholes in which patients and the staff crouch when military aircraft approach.
“We’re in a place where the government is not trying to help us,” he says. “It’s
trying to kill us.”

Given the shortage of resources, Dr. Tom relies disproportionately on
makeshift treatments from decades ago.

“This is a Civil War-era treatment,” he said, pointing to a man with a broken
leg, which he was treating with a method known as Buck’s traction, using a bag of
sand as a weight.

“Sometimes these actually work,” Dr. Tom said. “You use what you have.”
Pope Francis seems to be revitalizing the Vatican and focusing on the needy,
and I have a dream — O.K., an implausible one — that he’ll journey to this Catholic
hospital in the Nuba Mountains as a way of galvanizing opposition to the evil of
Sudan’s bombings.

One reason I’m so impressed by Dr. Tom is that most of the world, including
world leaders and humanitarians, have pretty much abandoned the people of the
Nuba Mountains. President Obama and other global leaders have been too silent
about the reign of terror here, too reluctant to pressure Sudan to ease it.

That’s the context in which Dr. Tom stands out for his principled commitment.
Dr. Tom has worked in the Nuba Mountains for eight years, living in the hospital
and remaining on call 24/7 (the only exception: when he’s unconscious with
malaria, once a year or so).

Dr. Tom acknowledges missing pretzels and ice cream, and, more seriously, a
family. He parted from his serious girlfriend when he moved to Africa, and this is
not the best place to date (although hospital staff members are plotting to
introduce him to eligible Nuban women as a strategy to keep him from ever
leaving).

For his risks and sacrifices, Dr. Tom earns $350 a month — with no retirement
plan or regular health insurance. (For those who want to support his work, I’ve
posted how to help on
my blog.)

He is driven, he says, by his Catholic faith. “I’ve been given benefits from the
day I was born,” he says. “A loving family. A great education. So I see it as an
obligation, as a Christian and as a human being, to help.”

There also are many, many secular aid workers doing heroic work. But the
people I’ve encountered over the years in the most impossible places — like Nuba,

where anyone reasonable has fled — are disproportionately unreasonable because
of their faith.

I’ve often criticized the Vatican’s
hostility to condoms, even as a tool to fight
AIDS, and we shouldn’t tolerate religious bigotry against gays (which the latest
Supreme Court ruling may chip away at). But we also shouldn’t tolerate another
kind of narrow-mindedness, irreligious bigotry against people of faith. Diversity is
a virtue, in faith as well as race.

Certainly the Nubans (who include Muslims and Christians alike) seem to
revere Dr. Tom.

“People in the Nuba Mountains will never forget his name,” said Lt. Col.
Aburass Albino Kuku of the rebel military force. “People are praying that he never
dies.”

A Muslim paramount chief named Hussein Nalukuri Cuppi offered an even
more unusual tribute.

“He’s Jesus Christ,” he said.

Er, pardon?

The chief explained that Jesus healed the sick, made the blind see and helped
the lame walk — and that is what Dr. Tom does every day.

You needn’t be a conservative Catholic or evangelical Christian to celebrate
that kind of selflessness. Just human.


 By Adam B. Ellick 00:40Surviving 11 Bombs


Edit: link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/opinion/sunday/nicholas-kristof-hes-jesus-christ.html

Dana interest can go here:

Dr. Tom Catena
Comboni Missionaries
1318 Nagel Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45255

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katy steger, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
le bump...

From above...[1]: for a society-wide change beginning with individual actions and  as air travel starts to skyrocket here is this:

"For many people reading this, air travel is their most serious environmental sin. One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the average European, 10."http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/sunday-review/the-biggest-carbon-sin-air-travel.html

So not flying to retreats is another form of dana stemming from understanding; letting that carbon dana be available for someone who needs to fly, sending the larger portion of dollar dana (no matter how small) going out to effective orgs that work on dire conditions. 
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
katy steger:

So not flying to retreats is another form of dana stemming from understanding; letting that carbon dana be available for someone who needs to fly, sending the larger portion of dollar dana (no matter how small) going out to effective orgs that work on dire conditions. 

If you believe that is how the nature of reality works, then that action makes sense.  But if you don't believe that way, then you might make other decisions.  Each person has a story in their mind about things work and those stories vary quite a bit leading to different decisions by different people.
-Eva
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katy steger, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Yes, personal carbon footprints and societal greenhouse emissions systems and climate change are a "math and science" story to some, for others they are terrifying foodless,waterless, warring "stories" at present and distressing future-view "stories". 

An action is like a line item in a check book: the less and less money one has in the bank, the more those line items "stories", to borrow your words, are seen in terms of their actual consequences. When there was more "float" in the account, choices could be more like "stories".

So flying to retreat centers is a just consideration of personal actions. Maybe in 2015 one flies to someone they long for in teaching, maybe in 2016 someone drives a few days to a retreat center, maybe in 2017 someone stays home and sees the places and people for dana that that's the retreat now too.
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
katy steger:
Yes, personal carbon footprints and societal greenhouse emissions systems and climate change are a "math and science" story to some, for others they are terrifying foodless,waterless, warring "stories" at present and distressing future-view "stories". 
Not really that but more like how you believe things are caused and the exact chain of progress from cause to effect.  Everyone has their opinions on that kind of thing.  Maybe in one person's view, a trip to another country changes their perspective a great deal, in another person's view, that is just wasted money and carbon footprint.  Maybe neither are right.  Yes, IMO, they are all stories, we live here to live a story.  You may think I have had some kind of ideal happy life and so can't appreciate other people's problems but that would not be accurate.  Just that over time, I came to view life as a story we tell ourselves every day and I've come to pay a great deal more attention to my narratives and assumptions.
-Eva
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katy steger, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
HI Eva,

I am just surprised that in an post about finding those teachers, who live relatively at ease due to their training, are therefore not needy for some student dana and monies, have arranged their lives so that they'd like "good effort/practice" to be any donation while money donations to go out to help abate suffering conditions-- in this and an example of a doctor who remains in warring Sudan-- that what provokes you to speak here is air travel.

I would just caution you then and anyone (me, included as well), not to be too righteously stern with your stories-- this air travel one you're attracted to (compared with a skilled physician staying in a war zone...) People are still going to fly. Climate change scientists fly to climate change policy conferences =) 
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katy steger, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
So I want to add something again here about stories, Eva. I was talking to someone today who said when she was a little girl she thought the outhouse was her doll house: When someone knocked on the door she'd collect her doll babies, head outside, and then return. Outhouse/dollhouse: Practical and playful story.

So this is not a travel-diet I'm proposing. If you read my OP, and I think you did, I'm raising a considering of dana awareness and retreats as there are thousands of options. As people get on with their practice, there's often not much a retreat offers that a room does not-- that anywhere does not.

I enjoy so much the company of teachers and peers who experience this, too, the use of their life, homes/residences, to upkeep the basic space, accept tiny donations, and encourage that dana go where it can serve others who clearly benefit-- an intense return on investment-- with those who are clearly braving terrible conditions to bring, as in the above story, actual doctor's aid to serve a (mixed-religion) community being bombed.


That "story" has love, generosity and skill in a place being bombed (another "story" to borrow your word..).


If a human mind is a generator of stories (formations) that one is wise and compassionate, even playful, despite the painful conditions.
Derek Cameron, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Stories are our way of organizing our experiences. Where things go wrong is when one person tries to impose their story on another. And by the way, I'm making it mandatory for you all to agree with me on this point. emoticon
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Derek Cameron:
Stories are our way of organizing our experiences. Where things go wrong is when one person tries to impose their story on another. And by the way, I'm making it mandatory for you all to agree with me on this point. emoticon
While I am not typically one to believe something just becuase someone told me too, I do happen to agree on that particular point.  ;-P  Actually, it's a more direct and more concise version of approx what I was trying to say.

As for picking travel as my subject, it was just an example, chosen in large part because I thought it would be a less hot button issue to think about.  As for the good doctor, I didn't have much to say, the story speaks for itself and I didn't feel the need to add anything.  Although it happens, typically commentators are less likely to make posts just to say 'yup, cool.'  I typically only post on issues I feel like I have something additive to say. 
-Eva
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katy steger, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Retreat centers, carbon and dana: Dr. Tom Catena

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
To keep it very simple and short, this post is, again, a consideration. 

Among the many teachers there are those who'd prefer good practice and effort over being paid, as like the Buddha is purported. And there are retreat centers that seek only to be paid for food costs.

This avails student's dana to go out to where there is an outrageous need, to donate the merits of the practice --- the good luck to be able to practice meditation in safety and relative ease --- where there is this tremendous need. 

If you read the article above you see how one person is giving his history of a good family, good education, good training to a warring area in a community that is grateful for it.

As for taking umbrage and the consideration of flying long distances to retreats --- this post is in the eco dharma section Daniel set up recently. Regardless of umbrage, personal air travel is one of the biggest individual carbon footprints a person can make. One can donate the funds they'd spend on an airfare, for example, and retreat close to home as an option.

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