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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dear sangha,

The word "sangha" means `gathering;' it is the community of like-minded people who share a love of and commitment to the Dharma (a life of awakening). The word "satsang" is related, meaning, a gathering of people devoted to truth. The sangha is brought together through wisdom and compassion. It cultivates letting go and deep friendship. In fact, it's been my experience that some of my deepest relationships have been in sangha with people I would not normally (superficially) have much to do with!

The sangha is not a cult nor sect; it has no particular religion, and no dogmatic standpoints. The sangha simply shares the view that greed, hatred, and delusion need challenging. This is the gift each member of the sangha offers to the others within sangha. Even just knowing that there are others committed to awakening reminds us that we are not alone. With this knowledge, we can keep from succumbing to feeling overwhelmed by suffering.

There are those who confuse the nature of the sangha with identification and clinging attachment to a particular group, teacher, book, or belief system. Traditional Buddhists regard the order of monks (and sometimes nuns) as the sangha. The sangha is, again, simply all those men and women of wisdom and compassion – including those who aspire to wisdom and compassion. The Buddha said that one does not become a Brahman or noble through birth, but through the practice and cultivation of a noble life. Within the Mahayana tradition, the sangha is spoken of as being `four-fold:' monks, nuns, lay- women and lay-men.

When seen as all that supports us in awakening, we come to see our body (all its various constituents), the earth, the sun, the whole universe as `sangha' because we know that without the universe being just as it is, we could not be here, practicing mindfulness!

The "duty" of the sangha is to work diligently for the awakening of all – to cultivate a culture of awakening. Thus, given a society and culture of consumerism such as ours which subsists on the creation of ever more `desires' and `needs,' to take refuge in sangha is a radical, revolutionary act. The presence of sangha upholds what is wise and compassionate within the human spirit.

As partners within sangha, our priority is the application of Dharma to our daily life; to placing Buddha (awakening) at the center of our mandala. The sangha does not own the truth; it cannot possess it. The truth cannot be organized nor made claim to by the sangha. How can truth be a possession owned by anyone or any group? Truth cannot be measured; it cannot, fundamentally, even be spoken! Humbled by this realization, the sangha knows it has nothing to hold on to. Free from clinging, it lives in harmony with the Dharma-Life of awakening. The truth, just as it is, liberates.

Some questions to contemplate and discuss:

1. Do you have contact with people living with/in wisdom and compassion, or who
aspire to do so?
2. Do you feel isolated? If so, why?
3. Do you make any effort to attend gatherings of committed practitioners?
4. Are people all the same, different, both or neither?

yours in dharma,
bopsa frank jude

.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 9:34 PM


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