Exploring Togetherness

Dear Friends,

Please note that Sandra Kim’s visit is postponed by a week, to Monday, June 24th.   We will start laying the groundwork for her visit tomorrow night by exploring the topic of togetherness.

The Plum Village website describes how sangha can play a role in our feeling connected:   “In society, much of our suffering comes from feeling disconnected from one another. We often don’t feel a real connection even with people we live close to, such as our neighbors, our co-workers and even our family members. Each person lives separately, cut off from the support of the community. Being with the Sangha can heal these feelings of isolation and separation. We practice together, share a room together, eat side by side and clean pots together. Just by participating with other practitioners in daily activities, we can experience a tangible feeling of love and acceptance.

Thay often says that the sangha is a garden, full of many varieties of trees and flowers. When we can look at ourselves and at others as beautiful, unique flowers and trees, we can truly grow to understand and love one another. One flower may bloom early in the spring and another flower may bloom in late summer. One tree may bear many fruits and another tree may offer cool shade. No one plant is greater, or lesser, or the same as any other plant in the garden. Each member of the sangha also has unique gifts to offer to the community. We each have areas that need attention as well. When we can appreciate each member’s contribution and see our weaknesses as potential for growth we can learn to live together harmoniously. Our practice is to see that we are a flower or a tree, and we are the whole garden as well, all interconnected.”

Over the next week, please ask yourself some questions.

When do you have feelings of deep togetherness?    What are the conditions - internal and external - that cause this feeling to arise?  What gets in the way of that feeling and causes you to feel more isolated and apart?  To what extent are you aware of these feelings and their underlying causes? To what extent are you longing for connection and/or protecting yourself by being apart?   Does your practice and/or sangha help you to feel more connected, and, if so, how?

I look forward to learning about your experience tomorrow (Monday, the 17th), and when Sandra joins us on the 24th, she will share how her practice has helped her care for the pain of disconnection with others and look deeply at its underlying source. Weaving together her Buddhist practice, anti-oppression analysis, and organizing work, she will share how she is able to consistently reconnect with herself and others and develop the deep togetherness we often long for.