winter at a river
Back River, Georgetown, Maine
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From the point of view of Mother Earth, poison oak and weeds are as wonderful as chrysanthemum or rosemary.
*Thich Nhat Hanh. The Other Shore: A New Translation of the Heart Sutra with Commentaries.
That is the warmth of a sangha [Buddhist community; by extension, any spiritual community]. Whether you are CEO of a corporation or a garbage collector, whether you are an opera singer or a dishwasher, you are united because you can look inside and see yourself. You do not see people different from you, you start seeing that people are your true self appearing. If you cannot handle people right away, because many people are not living in that world, then try a poodle if you want to see what it looks like for the light to look back at you with open eyes.
*David Radin. A Temporary Affair: Talks on Awakening and Zen.
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She asked, "Why do I need a spiritual community?" "Because," replied the Sage, "in a spiritual community, you see you are spiritual, and you see you are community."
What would happen by seeing you do not need to become spiritual, but spiritual is what you are? That you enjoy sharing with others, for that sharing expresses that you are community, not merely someone seeking for or in need of community?
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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David Radin reminds us a spiritual community can be you and a poodle sharing together. Spiritual community can occur as a chance meeting with a stranger. And we can enjoy spiritual connection with others at a distance. Often, for example, I awaken at night and pray the Maitri (or, Metta; Compassion, Lovingkindness) Prayer. I do this for all beings, for I know they and I are not separate. The body is at one place at one time, spirit is boundless. Spirit particularizes in form without losing its nature as formless. This paradox is beautifully taught in the Buddhist scripture called the Heart Sutra.
Anytime you connect with the essence the other is, your true nature is mirrored to you. In this mutual-mirroring, spiritual community occurs. Hence, you do not find spiritual community, it finds you. So, you find yourself. You can find a spiritual community, not spiritual community. And, if you belong to a so-called spiritual community that is not behaving spiritually, you are not in a spiritual community.
To say spiritual community is really better seen as a verb, not a noun. Such sharing is not located in space and time but appears in time and space. It is not a thing, it is a happening.
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One benefit of spiritual connection with others is thereby we receive inspiration to love those we find challenging to love. This love is an inclusion, an acceptance, not an affection. As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, "From the point of view of Mother Earth, poison oak and weeds are as wonderful as chrysanthemum or rosemary." By having mirrored back our true nature to us by others of like spirit, we pray to carry that insight into our relationship with the world at large. Possibly, too, by our unconditional embrace of another person, they can discover their true nature is love, also.
What is spiritual community to you? Do you recall a chance meeting whereby you came away feeling you had enjoyed a sacred meeting? Do you have regular - planned or unplanned - opportunities to enjoy spiritual fellowship? If you need more of these spiritual sharings, how might you plan for such? Have you had someone awaken you to or remind you of your true nature - love? Have you done this for someone else who had not awakened to their spiritual essence?
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.
*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.