Meditating with other people is different than meditating alone. Everyone I've talked with, in Monday Morning Mindfulness and elsewhere, seems to agree. It feels different to sit in silence with others.
To anyone who has glimpsed the Essential Oneness (and I maintain most of us have, at least as children), it only makes sense. After all, at a fundamental level, we are not merely isolated individuals. As Alan Watts wrote years ago, we are not,"skin encapsulated egos". In fact, we intersect. Not only are we "in this together" -- we ARE this together. I find that being conversational about this Reality can be quite inspirational!
The Mindfulness Circles I participate in each week have continued to confirm a belief that I've held for quite awhile now: Anyone who makes an effort to explore Life and Practice consciously, and has the opportunity to compare notes on this effort with others similarly committed, will come to understand themselves and others at a deeper level. As this happens, a sense of community will develop --and Practice will deepen.
Although the basis of one's Practice is highly individual (like Smokey says, "only YOU can prevent forest fires"), the support that a community of like minded spiritual practitioners can offer can be extremely helpful, if not crucial. In fact, traditionally the Buddhist Sangha it is seen to be as important as the Buddha and the Teachings, one of the Triple Gems of the Refuge Vows. Similarly, a community of believers apears to be fundamental to the practice of the other major spiritual traditions of the world as well.
As I sit here with wisps of memories of what has occurred during the Circles these the past few (READ MORE)
weeks running through my brain, I am struck with a sense of awe and a feeling of gratitude. Sitting regularly with other folks who have the heart and courage to explore and share their experiences of Life and Practice openly and honestly, continues to amaze me.
At one point a couple of weeks ago, I made the comment that I felt like I was sitting in a Council of Buddhas. I meant it.
Although I occasionally do my "teacher" thing, and try to share some ideas about specific meditation techniques or specific understandings drawn from Buddhism or the other spiritual traditions that I've worked with over the years, again and again it is made obvious to me: Each and every one of us comes fully equipped to discern the Truth of the Matter for ourselves. The Teachings are beyond any teacher or set of traditional teachings. If you're paying attention at all, they emerge from Life itself.
Again and again, during the past few Mindfulness Circles, members of the circle have offered forth, sometimes with tears in their eyes, powerful insights into the heart and mind. These truths came forth as simple expressions of their own experience.
How cool is that?
(As Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, if you can't connect up with a sangha --find a friend or two and who are interested. You folks can create your own! If you want to bounce ideas around about how to structure that, write me at email@example.com)