The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Me And My Sangha

Priest Class 2010 began last night, and there were many of us around the table, though not all, and I found myself missing those who couldn't make it due to other obligations, and those who had decided to move on to other opportunities to learn and practice the Dharma.
As usual, I missed the physical presence of my 3 Dharma brothers who Skype in from 3 far off cities.
And I found myself contemplating what the 4th year of formal studies might reveal to me, about my self, about my brothers & sisters in the Order, those that I have come to know in our Sangha and my greater connection in our world. What path will I put my foot on this year? Who will accompany me? Who will awaken and share their experience? How will the vows I take daily as a Priest find manifestation?
As always, the considerations to follow one path and not another, require a certain rigor of consciousness, a certain attitude of patience and perseverance, and certainly, faith! But faith is so amorphous, and more often than not, I've been tricked by my own delusion concerning faith's presence and role in my choices, like a little wild animal following a trail of bread crumbs, only to feel the net of the hunter descend at the end of the path.
As a Buddhist, I realize that yes, sometimes I am that wild animal, and sometimes I am the hunter.
When I am both, entrapping my own curious nature and innocent open love, that's when I feel most deluded.
Yet this is where I practice.
Last night, we spent our class time sharing our particular stories of spiritual/religious past, and how we each found ourselves at this juncture in our lives. Some of us have live short lives, others have been on the planet for over 60 years. Despite our differences in age and circumstance, something very sweet kept reaching my ears, a song of adventure--without exception, we had all felt at one time or another that there was something more waiting around the corner, something luring us beyond our biological and historical past. Even in some cases with great upheaval, we had been enticed to find whatever it was, just around the corner, and even though there were times when we each followed the bread crumbs and felt the hunter's net over our heads, the fact of our common discovery was that in the dharma, there is no hunter's net, there is no hunter!
Surprised, we had each found a place of radical acceptance, wide open, spacious, boundless and indestructable!
What a relief.
My autobiography included my deep connection as a child to nature, to the natural world and its inhabitants. The Tao flowed through me like a brook (haha), and this had a profound effect on how I eventually flowed into took me a little while, I needed to live some life first before the dharma opened to me like a lotus flower.
What I failed to mention was my practice of Yoga, which has been an essential ingredient guiding me to Buddhism. As my mind opened beneath the practice of meditation, Priest Studies, learning the 4 Directions and experiencing the balm of those who listened deeply when I spoke, my body experienced Yoga as can opener! I used to laugh at the image I sometimes conjured of the Tin Man, lying on his back in Savasana, practicing asanas and relying on the breath--I was the Tin Woman, and the breath was slowly, slowly, slowly acting as a can opener, until everything was laid bare...a big beating heart, finally freed from its metal prison of habit and conditioning, offered in whatever way I could possibly imagine, to anyone and everyone!
Yoga worked on the tin can body, meditation worked on the mind, the 4 Directions worked on the psyche, the natural world and art worked on the spirit, and smiles from my dharma family are still flowers floating in water.
And that's how I got here....


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