Dharma Topic: Aspirations, Friends, and Community

Dharma Topic: Aspirations, Friends, and Community

Discussion date: Thu, Sep 07, 2006 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,Stephen Covey makes the useful observation that most of us spend mostof our time working on things that are not very important, but thathave immediate deadlines. As a consequence, we tend to giveinsufficient time and attention to the larger issues, the ones thatshape our future, because there are no immediate deadlines associatedwith them. This dynamic seems to be true in our work lives and in ourspiritual lives.

In our program this Thursday we will explore together the big question of how our deep aspirations and our desire for spiritual friends and community fit together. (It is a question we are currently studying in our Still Water Working Group.)

We will begin by focusing on what is really most important to us, whatdo we most want to be about? Can we say it in a way that is simple andmeaningful to us? We can think of it as a personal mission statement.The Disney Corporation says that their mission is “to make peoplehappy.” The Starship enterprise had as its mission: “To explore strangenew worlds . . . To seek out new life and new civilizations . . . Toboldly go where no man has gone before!” What is our personal mission?

Once we have begun to identify our deep aspirations, we canthen turn to questions about friendships and community. In terms ofliving lives deeply infused by our aspirations, what sorts of friendships, what type of community, will support and nourish us? Can we put that down also in a few simple and meaningful words?

In the excerpt below, Thich Nhat Hanh addresses these issues and, I believe, models the use of clear and meaningful language.

I hope you can join us for our meditation and our program.

We will also have our Still Water Orientation this Thursday, beginning at 6:30.It is a time for newcomers to Still Water to learn about our communityand our practice – and for others to share their practice. Pleaseconsider attending and possibly bringing a friend along. (And if youare planning to attend, it is helpful, but not required, to let us knowahead of time by sending a short message to info@StillWaterMPC.org.)

Warm Wishes,
 
Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


Excerpt from Friends on the Path: Living Spiritual Communities by Thich Nhat Hanh

Spirituality is something we can cultivate. To be spiritual means to besolid, calm, and peaceful, and to be able to look deeply inside andaround us. It means having the capacity to handle our afflictions–ouranger, craving, despair, and discrimination. It is being able to seethe nature of interbeing between people, nations, races, and all formsof life. Spirituality is not a luxury anymore; we need to be spiritualin order to overcome the difficulties of our time.

Alone we are vulnerable, but with brothers and sisters to work with, wecan support each other. We cannot go to the ocean as a drop ofwater–we would evaporate before reaching our destination. But if webecome a river, if we go as a Sangha, we are sure to arrive at theocean. Taking refuge in a Sangha will allow the Sangha to carry us, totransport us, and we will suffer less.

A true Sangha is a community that practices the teaching of liberationand becomes free; a true Sangha practices the teaching of understandingand becomes more understanding; a true Sangha practices compassion andbecomes more compassionate.

Discussion Date: Thu, Sep 07, 2006


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