Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 02/06/2013

Brothers and Sisters in the Dhamma

Last night marked the end of the meditation course for which I was volunteering. At the end of the class the teacher spent some time talking about gratitude and guided us through a quick meditation on the theme. His focus on the importance of Sangha qua spiritual community resonated deeply within me and yet was met with an inner clamor of contrary voices.

As is usually the case, the committee of critics levelled their critiques at the teacher and backed up their arguments using quotes from the scriptures. I found myself trying to reconcile the Lord Buddha’s admonition for monks to practice in solitude and his lauding of seclusion with his correction of Ananda when he said that noble friendship is half the holy life. This tension between solitary practice and being a member of a parisa suddenly seemed to take on a significance which it had never previously enjoyed.

To say I had never thought about this apparent dilemma before would be untrue but at that moment my mind seemed to want to be the contrarian and take whatever position was opposed to that which the teacher was espousing. And why? Certainly there is no good reason for it and I am fortunate that, over the course of my practice, I have been less and less liab le to believe the voices of the crazy, misguided troublemakers in my head.

May we never act out of greed, hatred or delusion and may we cultivate boundless gratitude for our teachers and our brothers and sisters in birth, aging and death.

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