This week Camille will facilitate.
In reflecting on last week's sharing "who is sangha" - Annie talked about the importance of the sangha and how in this community and this collective practice we can help heal ourselves, each other, and the world. I didn't really have a chance to share - but I was feeling deeply grateful for the sangha at that moment - so much so - that I just wanted to listen and absorb the collective energy of everyone there. So this week - I wanted to take the opportunity to continue the discussion on sangha, share some of my thoughts about what it has meant for me, and finally share some of a video clip of Thay's thoughts on sangha with the monastics chanting the song of Avalokiteshvara.
Last week one of the questions Annie asked us was what we saw as our role in the sangha, and do we want it's support. In the first year I went to sangha I mostly sat and listened. I thought my role was to sit quietly, walk quietly, breathe quietly, and then listen attentively but also quietly. I thought it was pretty easy and that I could be a really good listener and really good at this practice - a piece of cake. I also thought it was mostly about me being there for others - and I didn't really need to share. Then I began to think that I should try and share, but went through a period of doubt that maybe I couldn't articulate what I wanted to say in a cohesive manner and that what I had to say was not "juicy" enough as one member of our community puts it. Or maybe I was just afraid or embarrassed of my suffering and that maybe talking would make it worse. All of this to say - I just wasn't understanding the whole concept.
Happily with lots of help and practice from friends, books, and sangha, I have been able to recognize my pain and suffering more and no longer have the fear of being overwhelmed by it or the fear of talking about it. For me the sangha has become a place of refuge where I know I have others who breathe, sit, and walk with me and open their eyes and ears to me and fully listen with open hearts. How wonderful to have a sangha community who listens without judging (not something that comes naturally at home). I finally recognized that I am there for them and they are there for me as well. The love and compassion is shared by all.
As Thay talks about suffering and how the sangha community can help, he says "the collective energy of the sangha can help with our suffering. The collective energy of mindfulness will penetrate our body and will help us to heal and relieve tension and anxiety in our body and reduce pain and suffering." He goes on to say "we behave like a drop of water in the heart of a river. We allow the whole river to embrace and transport us as a drop of water. The sangha can transport us if we open our hearts. As a drop of water we say - dear sangha - please help me, alone I cannot embrace it by myself so please help me embrace my pain and sorrow."
I invite you to continue to think about how the sangha can support you and how you can support the sangha.
During this Monday night gathering - we will watch part of a recording of a plum village retreat where Thay talks about the sangha, about suffering, and about how chanting can help us stop our thinking and allow the energy of mindfulness and compassion penetrate into our body and mind. I hope you enjoy listening and will have an opportunity to relax, sit back, and enjoy taking refuge in the sangha.
I look forward to seeing and sharing with you on Monday night.
In love and light,