The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sangha & The Twisted Life We Assume

Sangha, in its many forms, has been deep in my thoughts recently; all the permutations of connection and disconnection, location and dislocation, life-giving and destroying, strands taken up and strands put down--all a part of our living as a human being on this planet, struggling with the little mind that stands apart and sticks her tongue out, all the while resting right here in Shunyata!

Nowhere to be!

Sangha welcomes the little mind into big mind over and over again, to remind us of our liberation in emptiness!  Truly, pull at one strand, and all around us the vibrations quiver, even if we assume we are not aware.  And a willful refusal to be aware?  Dukkha!

But Sangha fosters awareness within the deepest recesses our of unconsciousness.
I want to tell my meditation group that their meditation will lead to something, something good, but that is not necessarily the truth.  It is not about good/bad, bitter/sweet, something/nothing, etc.

I recognize that I still want to please, be popular, be nice--for hours after some Thursday meditation nights I feel inadequate and puzzled.  Did it go ok?  Did anyone like what I offered?  What the *$%#@ am I offering anyway?  
My brow furrows, and the lines are etched deeper into my skin.
Wishing for dream-signs, I dream a dreamless sleep, but nothing comes to guide me.

Later, I laugh at myself, and big mind says over and over again, "gentle, gentle, gentle...." 

No one to be!

Last night, the Sangha felt so serious.  Earnest faces lean in like sunflowers, and when my eyes rest on each face, I see softening.
"This is a respite," I tell them, "this is a refuge.  It is not heavily weighted and ponderous, here there is a sense of ease."
I urge them to find a physical balance in their physical sitting: an upright spine and an awareness of the gentle curve.  Flexing.  Settling the breath.  Relaxing the jaw, where so much tension is stored.
And then, what is this?

In our 20 minutes of zazen, I come back over and over again to the wonder of Sangha!  Sometimes it is overwhelmingly sweet.  The top lifts off my head.  The greater Sangha is at hand.  

There are flowers from my husband's garden on the large limestone boulder beside me that I call Buddha, and the flowers are gathered in a clay pot my friend from South Caroline made.
This boulder, along with two others (the Triratna!), was extracted from a local quarry by the men who are stonecutters for our buildings; they know all about limestone, how it is formed and how it behaves beneath a hammer and chisel.
The benefactors of our space, the Koh Family, are still remembered and silently thanked as I light incense.  
Yes, Koh-Do!

Next Thursday there will be Ikebana displayed throughout the zendo, a marriage between Buddha nature, Buddha flower, Buddha clay.

Next Thursday there will be a Jukai Ceremony for 3 new students welcomed into the Sangha and dinner afterwards at a local noodle shop.  The tea they serve is toasted barley, brewed with care.
Just to taste this flavor on our tongues is what every moment has led us to.

Nothing to do!

The greater Sangha is at hand, and each hand that offers what it can contribute is always exactly what is enough, what is needed, what is whole and harmonious.  
When we doubt our humble contribution, we suffer.  When we ignore Sangha we are lonely in our assumed non-connection.  When we become too self serious, we do not clearly hear laughter and "gentle, gentle, gentle..." from the True Self.

Time is fleeting
Do not hold back
Appreciate this precious life!

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