Friday, March 25, 2016

The Practice of Sangha (3)

Read deeply the following Thay's teaching on "The Practice of Sangha".
The followings are the excerpts.

The only way to support the Buddha, to support our sangha, to support the earth, to support our children and future generations, is to really be here for them. “Darling, I am here for you” is a statement of love. You need to be here. If you are not here, how can you love? That is why the practice of meditation is the practice of being here for the ones we love.

To be present sounds like an easy thing to do. For many of us, it is easy because we have made it a habit. ... But for some of us it may not be so easy, because we have not cultivated the habit of being in the here and the now. We are always running, and it is hard for us to stop and be here in the present moment, to encounter life. For those of us who have not learned to be present, we need to be supported in that kind of learning. It’s not difficult when you are supported by the sangha. With sangha you will be able to learn the art of stopping.

The sangha is a wonderful home. Every time you go back to the sangha, you feel that you can breathe more easily, you can walk more mindfully, you can better enjoy the blue sky, the white clouds and the cypress tree in your yard. Why? Because the sangha members practice going home many times a day—through walking, breathing, cooking and doing their daily activities mindfully.

When I practice walking I make mindful and beautiful steps. I do that not only for myself but also for all of my friends who are here. ... And when they make a step in the present moment, smiling and making peace with themselves, they inspire all of us. You breathe for me, I walk for you, we do things together, and this is practicing as a sangha. You don’t need to make much effort; your practice is easy, because you feel that you are supported by the sangha.

When we sit together as a sangha, we enjoy the collective energy of mindfulness, and each of us allows the mindful energy of the sangha to penetrate us. Even if you don’t do anything, if you just stop thinking and allow yourself to absorb the collective energy of the sangha, it’s very healing. Don’t struggle, don’t try to do something, just allow yourself to be with the sangha. Allow yourself to rest, and the energy of the sangha will help you, will carry and support you. The sangha is there to make the training easy. When we are surrounded by brothers and sisters doing exactly the same thing, it is easy to flow in the stream of the sangha.

Meditation in the twenty-first century should become a collective practice; without a sangha we cannot achieve much. When we begin to focus our attention on the suffering on a larger scale, we begin to connect with and to relate to other people, who are also ourselves, and the little problems that we have within our individual circle will vanish. In this way our loneliness or our feeling of being cut off will no longer be there, and we will be able to do things together.

If we work on our problems alone, it becomes more difficult. ... But if you have someone, a good friend sitting with you, you feel much better. You feel supported and you have more strength in order to deal with your strong emotion. 

Because you feel supported there, the sangha is the most appropriate setting and environment for the practice of looking deeply. If you have a sangha of two, three, maybe even fifty people who are practicing correctly—getting joy, peace and happiness from the practice—then you are the luckiest person on earth.

So practice in the setting of the sangha is much easier. We don’t have to practice so intensely. Our practice becomes the practice of “non-practice.” That means a lot. ... Being aware that we are in a sangha where people are happy with being mindful, where people are living deeply the moments of their days, that is enough. ... If you put yourself in such an environment, then transformation will happen without much effort. This is my experience.

(My commentary)
Sangha is a spiritual family, so we can enjoy compassionate and peaceful atmosphere. We feel safe because we are accepted unconditionally. Then we feel happy and can accept ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally. We have no fear and insecurity. So, we can accept and love others without separation unconditionally. In this way, sangha gives us an experience (maybe for the first time in life) of being accepted and loved unconditionally. This experience is precious because unconditional self-acceptance or self-love will be nurtured within ourselves. And it will be the foundation of unconditional acceptance or unconditional love to others without separation.


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