My friends seem to think that, because I am a Buddhist teacher, I must commit to hours of meditation practice everyday without fail. Certainly I have my own daily practice, but I am a human being with a job, family, friends, and many demands on my limited time. I do my best to commit to a consistent practice but I admit that my practice waxes and wanes: sometimes I have plenty of time for practice, while other times I am struggling just to find 10 minutes in a day. I don’t think this is uncommon. I don’t think it is bad either. It is just the natural flow of life. This expression of natural flow in my practice helps remind me of impermanence. Even my practice is impermanent: sometimes it surges and sometimes it subsides. When I remember this, I can relax and be present. When I relax into the present, my practice flourishes no matter what I am doing.
Just as my personal practice waxes and wanes like phases of the moon or waves on the ocean, so does my attendance at Sangha. And I don’t think this is just me. I have spent most of my life in spiritual groups and I have seen people come and go and come back and go again. One of the great things about Sangha is that the community remains available to you whether you come once every week or once every incalculable eon (that was my attempt at Buddhist humor).
Rocky Mountain Insight is an exceptional Sangha filled with wonderful practitioners who understand that practice and attendance wax and wane. In this time of transition for all of us, I join with our Spiritual Director, Dr. Lucinda Green, in extending a warm invitation to all of our absent faces to return and sit with us if you so desire. Whether you have missed a week or a year, please remember RMI exists to support your practice.
Here are Lucinda’s own words:
“We understand that sometimes both internal and external events intervene, impinge on your opportunity and availability to avail yourself of the much needed support. We encourage you to return, to come back if you have been away. RMI exists to support your practice. Meditators are always welcome!”
Whether you are a long-absent meditator or stepping onto the cushion for the first time, RMI exists to support your practice.
Meditators welcome here.
Peace and metta,
On Sunday, December 15th, Morgan Smith was awarded the Boy Scout Sangha award, which is the religious award for the Buddhist faith.
To achieve the Sangha award, he had to demonstrate to Dr. Lucinda Green, the Spiritual Director for RMI, his knowledge of the Dharma. He wrote an extensive paper on the differences between the three main schools of Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana) and gave talks on the importance of the Dharma. He also led the aforementioned Eightfold Path Study Group, an intensive course that investigated all the different factors in the path to enlightenment.
Morgan also had to demonstrate his willingness to help the Sangha. At the beginning of 2013, Morgan and three other RMI members (Sally Farell, Jeffrey Snowden, and Michaela Smith) started Rocky Mountain Insight’s Facebook page (view it by clicking here). After establishing our presence on Facebook, Morgan continued his duties of modernizing RMI’s overall presence on the Internet by re-designing our logo and re-creating our website. He continues his role as our Webmaster, sending out weekly newsletters and updating our site.
It took a total of one year and seven months to achieve the Sangha award. It typically takes two years to achieve the highest award that is bestowed upon a Buddhist scout.
Pictured above, Morgan is with his parents – Robert and Nicole – and Dr. Lucinda Green.
Morgan is also an Eagle Scout and will continue his contributions to Rocky Mountain Insight.
It is that time of year in Colorado when our northern neighbors flock down to winter in our warmer climate. I’m not talking about Wyomingites or Canadians (well, not human Canadians), I am talking about geese. Canadian geese. I’ve found that many people do not like geese, they say that they are messy, that they walk through the road to stop traffic even though they can fly, and can be very mean and territorial. Do you know someone who has been bitten by a goose? Most of us do, it seems.
But I like geese, I always have. I like the sounds they make as they meander around the shore of a lake, or in a parking lot, or outside an office building. I love the large formations they make in the sky and the meaning and power of such a formation. Did you know geese mate for life? Not only do they mate for life but they mourn the passing of their partner. They will fly around them, honking a special grief honk, sometimes for days. So I have been told, anyway. I believe I have seen this at least once, though I cannot know for sure.
Geese remind me of Bodhisattvas. They work together to bring everyone home. If a single goose drops out of a formation on their migratory path because it is sick or wounded, at least one other goose will stop with them until they are either well enough to fly or dead. They never leave anyone behind on their own. Geese have taken a Bodhisattva vow to support all beings, or at least all geese, on their path. They won’t give up on each other. Isn’t that amazing?
When teachers talk about Bodhisattvas and being on the Bodhisattva path it seems like they talk about it in such a way to encourage you, the listener, to aspire towards the Bodhisattva path. This is very helpful. But, I think sometimes we need to know that there are Bodhisattvas out there who will not give up on us. We need to know that we have support, help, and back-up on our path. However dark or difficult our life may be or however confused and afflicted our mind may be, there are countless Bodhisattvas out there who have vowed to help us overcome all obstacles in our path to enlightenment. If we drop out of the formation flying to Nirvana because we are sick with kleshas (neuroses) or have been wounded with the bullet of confusion, there will be one or two Bodhisattvas (at least) who will fly down wherever we land to help. They can’t force us to fly, they can’t pick us up and carry us to Nirvana, they can’t do the work for us, but they will stay by our side until we are strong enough or skilled enough to stretch our wings and leap back into the vast expanse of sky above. Bodhisattvas never abandon a sentient being. That means you will never be abandoned by enlightened beings.
So next time you are struggling with difficulties or challenges in your life remember that there are countless beings living the Bodhisattva vow. You are not alone. You have not been abandoned. You never will be abandoned. There are countless Bodhisattvas reciting the Bodhisattva vow. Here is a portion of the vow recited by the Dalai Lama:
For as long as space endures
And as long as sentient beings remain
May I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world.
This is what I imagine the geese are chanting everytime I hear them honking as they fly overhead.