Sangha = a) a spiritual community and b) something I’ve been missing dearly.
Could I find something as intimate as a spiritual community… online?
I’ve been listening to the Interdependence Project’s weekly podcasts, and hearing people talk about Buddhism in the 21st century mentally brings me back to SI and all the wonderful, stimulating conversations we had about the meaning of life – sprinkled with humour and vivacity. I’ve learned a lot about “contemplative practice” over the past year, but as you might be able to tell from that vague description, I don’t atually know that much intellecutally. So, being the nerd that I am, I signed up for the ID Project’s “Hardcore Dharma Summer Series” as a homelistener.
Today, an email from the teacher with the syllabus and expectations of the course excited me. (Actually, come to think of it, much like when I received information about SI, about a year ago.) Yes, homework excited me. Reading! Meditating! Being held accountable! … even if just by the fact that somebody other than myself expects me to read, meditate, and take this course seriously.
More than any of that, I feel encouraged and reinspired to practice because I know that others are in it with me. Community is so, so important to me, and how excited I was about the email to the class list confirmed that for me. Even if I’m not even sharing physical space or even conversation with the people in the class in New York, I feel connected, on some level.
And now, I repeat my seven day meditation vow, which they will repeat each Wednesday in class and I will repeat each Wednesday to myself, outloud, and right now, online for the world to see:
I, Elizabeth Cooper, with confidence in the benefits of a regular practice of sitting meditation, do hereby commit, for myself and no one else [my emphasis], to practicing at least one session of sitting meditation, for as short or as long a period of time as I am willing and able, for each of the next seven days.
I really like what Ethan, the teacher, writes about why we take the vow:
The taking of this vow creates a tangible memory in the mind of the person speaking it. The mind of the vow-taker is tethered to the flagpole of her commitment, bound only by an elastic cord of awareness. Whenever we stray from our vow, may that cord of awareness snap us back—with gentleness and humor—into the space of our practice.