-- Thich Nhat Hanh
"For where there are two or three of you gathered in my name,
I am there amidst you."
-- Jesus of Nazareth
In a peer setting, where none of us claims to be the "Teacher," I've often felt like I've been sitting in a Council of Buddhas.
Although 73 years of Life and 50 years of Practice usually cause me to season my declarations of Truth with the proverbial grain of salt, at the moment I'm inclined to proclaim something that seems Quite True to me:
Anyone who makes a commitment to explore their own experience consciously through meditation with a group, and then takes the opportunity to compare notes on their Lives and Practices with the others, will come to understand themselves, one another, and the nature of Reality at a deeper level.
You Can Feel the Difference
Meditating with other people is different than meditating alone. Everyone I've talked with in the Mindfulness Circles (and elsewhere) seem to agree. It feels different to sit in silence with others. Holding space for one another with an open heart and an open mind, we are held in the embrace of the space we share. Being Present, we can feel one another's Presence. This Presence is the Presence.
It only makes sense. No matter what a culture fueled by capitalism proclaims, we are not merely isolated individuals pitted against one another.
As Alan Watts wrote years ago, we are not "skin encapsulated egos." We are each unique and different, but we are not separate. In fact, we intersect. Even modern science realizes that. Not only are we "in this together" -- we ARE this together. I find that being conversational about this Reality can be quite inspirational!
It also feels different to give voice to our actual experiences in a setting that is committed to the practice of deep listening and the cultivation of a clear, non-judgmental quality of consciousness. Through Council Practice, in the Mindfulness Circles we each have the time to speak openly and honestly about our lives as others listen mindfully without judgment or comment.
As we do in basic sitting practice, the participants in the circle attempt to notice when we are thinking about what a person is saying, to let that go, and then return our attention to listening with our ears and eyes -- and our hearts. Several times in the past couple of weeks, individuals have expressed their gratitude to the Circle for providing a space where they can be completely open and honest about their lives.
As one member expressed it, "Here I know I can always be real!"
The Real Deal
Again and again during the past couple of weeks, various 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.
Although I continue to be grateful to the teachings that I continue to pour through (there are always stacks of books on my nightstand, kitchen table, and elsewhere), it was again made obvious to me "The Teachings" are beyond any teacher or set of traditional teachings. They transcend Buddhism or Christianity or Taoism or any of the traditions that have emerged. They emerge from Life itself.
IMHO, we all have the on-board equipment to recognize Truth, to Love, to Heal. That's the Real Deal.
It makes my heart glow.
Click here for a Brief (one page) Mindfulness Circle Facilitation Guide. Why not start your own? For more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org