Consider the possibility that the second coming does not begin with the resurrection of Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Shiva or even the divine mother, but the awakening of a Sangha: a community of enlightened individuals. And the awakening starts with you. I share these words in hopes of shining more light on how to deepen your connections to individuals and groups who can help you feel more connected to the whole of humanity.
WHAT IS SANGHA?
The Sanskrit term most closely translates to spiritual community.
-In Christianity it is synonymous with the concept of fellowship.
-In Buddhism it’s often used to describe a collective of ordained monks or nuns.
-In the Hindu structure, it refers to students following under the same guru.
-From a Coaching perspective, a community is not only a network to support you in your professional goals but people you can share your love, life, dreams and concerns with.
Look around you; access your own concept of community.
Consider your friends and associates:
- What do you have in common?
- What do they mean to you?
- What do you get from them?
- What do you give to them?
- What do you feel for one another?
- What are your shared experiences?
- What’s your degree of involvement?
- And most importantly, what would you like it to be?
I go to many groups, workshops, classes, rituals, and surround myself with both teachers and students. I spend countless hours in volunteer community service and if I’m not consciously creating my community, I can feel spread-out or even schizophrenic.
MY PLURAL COMMUNITIES
I’ve found that different facets of our personalities yearn to connect and identify with different aspects of society at large. As a yoga teacher and vegetarian, I related easily to health practitioners, organic food enthusiasts, and other fitness freaks at healing centers and retreats. I even feel a silent connection with a random person crossing the street when I see a yoga matt rolled under their arm. As a writer I feel home around others who express themselves artistically, whether their playground is the stage, canvas, or the potter’s wheel. Since Burning Man is such an enormous artistic playground, I feel bonded to someone who’s donning a Burning Man bumper sticker at the gas station, just because we have a shared experience. My sacred sexual practices have also connected me to a variety of pansexual communities, whether that’s tantra, polyamory, the GLTB center, BDSM community, or just other heterosexual couples cohabitating out of wedlock. Ironically, what attracts me to these different communities is not so much a desire for variety, but a craving for wholeness. The feeling Oneness with others is a profound spiritual paradox. Part of the reason we create community is to connect to something bigger than self, yet I conceive of community as an extension of Self. The people you surround yourself with are a direct reflection of YOU. Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh calls the Sangha the “Second Body.” He teaches meditations in which you are to invite your community into your contemplation. These practices become more profound and complex the more we broaden our definition of community.
Coaching has introduced me to a number of networks, alliances and memberships in cyber space. In recent years there’s been a huge emergence of cyber groups such as Yahoo, Evite, Tribe.net, Match.com, and now there are weblogs and pod casts. Many have met dates, written books, moved in together and gotten married through the Internet. Imagine how different your community would look today, if it weren’t for e-mail. Ever since I began sharing my website and e-zine at large, I delight in this expanded new definition of Sangha. That’s how I’m writing to you now: a nameless, faceless, race-less nebulous entity whom I love. And if I’ve managed to get past your Spam filter, I’m thrilled to share that the truth of community is that it’s what you make of it. Community is created not only with your relationships, but your thoughts, beliefs and concepts about self and others. If in any given moment you’re feeling frustrated by a disjointed, apathetic, or insincere community, consider these are all just reflections of your own inner state. Step up and accept that everyone you’ve attracted around you is a reflection of who you are being. I often consciously shift feelings from schizophrenic to seeing the dynamic diversity, and infinite possibility of those around me. A Utopic Community is a state of mind. And if you practice love and acceptance to the one that is before you, the messiah will meet you there.
Enjoy the Dance,