The question of the day for our morning check-in was, “why do you show up to this early morning meditation service.” My mind started spinning, as there are so many reasons. Here are some of the thoughts that went through my mind:
- Working as a group towards a common goal can bring superhuman strength to the effort. You see this in many team efforts, be it team sports, the military, adventurers, and so on. We work extra hard when the success of a group is at stake.
- There’s a collective wisdom in groups that are as powerful as the wisdom of the most exalted expert. I am always amazed by the wisdom of our Sangha. (group of practitioners)
- Doing something as a group is a discipline that often falls by the wayside if one works alone. Take a look at the success of gyms, yoga groups, and exercise groups. People could do these things alone, but at least in my case, I don’t. I go to the gym as part of my routine and being with a group of like minded people makes the effort much easier to maintain in my daily routine.
- As the Harvard Study of Adult Development, an 80+ year study, and many other studies shows, the strength of our personal relationships are the single most powerful determinant of our happiness and wellbeing.
- And finally, I quote Dogen Zenji,
MASTER DOGEN’S GENJOKOAN INSTRUCTIONS ⊕
To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be
enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind
of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are
wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever.
At least in our Sangha, people let it all hang out. There’s much laughter, tears of joy, tears of pain, and we can share our most intimate feelings without any fear of judgement. At least in my case (and I believe for many), this is the only place where I can be totally open. The rest of my day is much more reserved. I hold back sharing. I bottle things up. Until the next time I meet with my Sangha. Were it not for my Sangha, I’d have no outlet and would bottle up feelings that fester over time. So with our Sangha, we can get in touch with our true selves. To study the Way is to study the self. That’s hard to do when we live behind the walls of denial and fear of judgement. The Sanghs breaks down these walls and allows us to be real.
To that end, I welcome anyone who suffers (and that’s everyone) to join a meditation service and experience this liberation. The schedule is right here: https://mtadamsbuddhisttemple.org/