The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Suddenly, with the end of the Fall Semester, comes a pause in our Blue Lotus Sangha weekly Meditation.  Winter Break will last a full 6 weeks.  It feels like a long time, and mentioning our hiatus last week brought a few sighs, a bit of a droopy-shouldered feeling around our circle. 
I found myself silenced for a moment, making eye contact where I could, acknowledging this very vulnerable place: Sangha is the essential glue for us, and for many who are not specifically Buddhist, this is the manifestation of a foundational practice that will be missed until we meet again. 

Gathering in this space has been a tremendous gift, and I've bowed repeatedly to all those who have supported our Sangha and made the space available.  There are many to thank.
It really is a special place, and definitely has its own presence. 

The room accommodates a circle, which is how I've always wanted to sit in Sangha, but never could due to space constraints.
Our circle is large.  In the first weeks, I was physically too far away from people, and found myself leaning out over the edge of my chair, leaning into others to better connect.
Now the circle is organic, and our place here, wherever we happen to be in the circle, is harmonious no matter how it expands or contracts.
The Sangha circle is a communal inhalation and exhalation.  It is mysterious and mythic, ordinary and ancient.  Somehow, it is always the right size.

Back in September, when I first began setting up for our evenings, a circle spontaneously emerged; an intuitive process of pulling chairs and cushions from far corners and tugging the enso into a loose creation. How many chairs to include?  How many cushions to stack on the floor?  
I knew to place my chair beside the trio of huge limestone boulders that would serve as the truly indestructible Triratna, as well as a simple Butsudan, but I didn't know anything more.

Waiting for others to join me, the circle felt huge and impersonal, even absurd....Yet beautiful in its expressive emptiness.

As the weeks went by, the room seemed to expand to accomodate everyone who reverently passed through the glass doors, leaving their shoes and backpacks outside and placing their minds in their hands.  
Sometimes there were so many folks present that the center of the circle filled up.

This often produced in me an overwhelming sensation of being amidst a gigantic, trembling cell, all of us buzzing and vibrating, bumping into one another's energy, creating a rhythm that circled within the membrane of our sincere intention.  
And many times in our sit I was overcome with tears that were not brushed away.

I ask the Sangha, "Do you feel this energy?  What is this?"
No one ever utters a word. 
Loyal Ananda to my right, Amida Buddha to my left.  And in the center? A hollow reed, an open book, Unsui, glowing embers, the evanescent curl of incense and a bird on the wing, finding that the sky has no end and no beginning.

To all those who have sat in Sangha this Fall, within and without the physical circle or the virtual circle, may you be well, may you be at ease, may you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, may you be free!

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