In the years that I have been a part of the Sangha at the Blue Mountain Lotus Society, I've partaken in many workshops, retreats, and liturgies...some I've actually facilitated. And in Carlisle, that's always the case--the nascent Sangha here is my responsibility, and it's a responsibility I take seriously.
In the beginning, many meditation evenings were attended by just one person, sitting silently with me in an empty room. And yes, there were often times when I wondered why I was bothering if only one person was going to show up, what good was that?
Interestingly, in the 5 years I have been offering meditation, there has never been a Thursday when NO ONE came to sit, and I started thinking about the odds of that fact, especially since we are a small Sangha and the one person who DOES always show up is always a different person!
So the one person, whoever that may be, has become something of a symbol, that no matter what the conditions are, one person is always enough--enough to become Buddha, enough to share the dharma, enough to join in Sangha.
Saturday, when my dharma sister and I were at the House of Meditation for the day with our Zen Arts exhibition and sale, the one person rule was the order of the day.
Around Noon, a dry cleaner's van pulled up and dropped someone off in front of the House, then sped away. We watched expectantly, as a young man came to the front door, and lingered for some moments before coming in.
"Wow!" he said, "I found it! This place is crazy impossible to find, I've been hitchhiking all over Harrisburg all morning trying to find this place, and the dry cleaner guy knew where it was, that was my last ride, and he got me here in no time, but man you guys are off the map!"
He was wearing a big oversized jacket with graffiti-style script across the chest, a t-shirt with the same, pants emblazoned with an eagle below the belt and serious kicks....natty street wear.
Lots of very male energy, with a bright spirit attached. Maybe one person but a lot of one person!
The three of us ended up talking for over an hour about music, dancing, Philadelphia (a shared original home with my dharma sister), painting, graffiti, family, food and work. He showed us photographs of what he likes to paint. He talked about how both his father and grandfather had been painters but that they had "moved on."
I asked him why they were no longer painting and what they had moved on to, thinking they had found another medium for creative expression, and he said, "No, they moved on."
We stared at one another, until he explained further, "They're gone, they died, they've moved on....That's how I say it. But they're still with me, you see, they just moved on."
OK, yes, another means of creative expression perhaps, just not what I thought.
And a very poetic and harmonious way of thinking of those who are no longer with us, but are still with us.
I looked at this young man more closely and he said, "You see, right?"
Eventually he got up from where the three of us had been sitting in conversation, wandered around and looked at what we were selling, found the wrist malas and chose one to purchase, said his good byes and left.
Just before going out the door, he told us his name was Robert. And that was that.
He would be hitchhiking back to High Spire on the other side of Harrisburg.
Soon after Robert left, I went out to get us some lunch, and thinking I might see him hitchhiking, to offer him a ride at least as far as I could, but he had disappeared.
And Robert was the only visitor we had on Saturday, in the 6 hours that we were at the House.
Those odds seem rare to me as well, but that's how it is sometimes.
That one person always makes whatever we do completely and totally worth the effort. Our shared Karmic connection and action moves in such unknowable ways, and that mystery is alive with possibility and potential.
That mystery is alive with the possibility for enlightenment and it never ceases to amaze me!
So many ways to awaken!