Starting Your Own Sangha
I hope you’re enjoying keeping up with our local sangha. If you’d like to see our website, it’s http://tcmmg.org . We have an hour’s discussion before our hour-long sitting (which is broken into two half-hour segments). During the second half hour of meditation, I offer individual interviews with anyone who wants help with sitting practice or integrating the practice into our ordinary lives. We’ve been meeting for four years now, ever since I left my sangha in Delaware and moved to Traverse City. When I couldn’t find a group to sit with, I started one. I find that it’s absolutely crucial to have others to talk with about the practice and to sit with. If you live somewhere where there’s no one at all who can be your own local sangha, well, just keep up with us here and use some of the really fine on-line helps. I mention a few on our website.
When you find a friend to sit with, sometimes a third person will be interested, then a fourth, and before long, you have great support for your practice. Meditation requires diligence, faithfulness, and commitment. Some people are drawn to it, some not. I think when people get a taste of the brilliant clarity and, yes, intelligence about their lives that results from the practice, they get more and more drawn in. There’s nothing we can do to aid that other than offer the place, the personal support, and the discussion, and hope that happens.
I was out of town last week, and this report is from our back-up leader, Karen:
This week we completed the chapter titled “Doing no Harm” in Joseph Goldstein’s One Dharma. Goldstein describes a basic teaching on the path of awakening common to all Buddhist traditions: “Do no harm, act for the good, purify the mind.”
In this chapter, Goldstein discussed the ten unwholesome actions that harm oneself and others. They are three of body: killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; four of speech: lying, harsh words, gossip, and useless talk; and three of mind: covetousness, ill will, and wrong views.
Why study and remember these ten unwholesome actions? The intention is to cultivate awareness of our actions, with patience and equanimity. We may begin to notice more and more when we are engaging in actions that cause harm. How fortunate we are when we see this, instead of continuing habits unaware. There is no need to judge or condemn when we catch ourselves in the act. That would be adding more layers of aggression, more unwholesome action, more suffering. Just practice the noticing. Take a close look and see for yourself what happens in the light of awareness.