Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Energy of Community

Today was our last qi gong class until September.  I will miss this intensive 4 hours of practice each week.  It reminds me of how important community is.  It was listening to more advanced students talk about their experience of chi that encouraged me to sit longer and actually experience the difference, to see how much stronger the experience of chi is when you sit for an hour instead of 1/2 hour or 45 minutes.

But what I was really reminded of today was how strong the chi is when you sit with the group, how we all build and share and surf on each others presence and energy.  It is so beneficial and encouraging to feel this.  And if you've never sat with a group, you might feel surprised by this experience.  I don't think there is anyone who doesn't notice the power of group sittings.

I remember this too from when I sat with the Zen Sangha that I belonged to for 4 years, how there was an energy that deepened our meditation when we sat and walked together.  And the energy at the Buddhist temple where we would go on retreat was even stronger.

It seems in our everyday world, especially here in the west we don't think much about this  invisible energy, how it is part of our life, present in each person and available for cultivation of health, awareness and well being.  We can't see it or hear it, or taste it, or smell it in any usual way, and so it seems to the modern western mind that it doesn't exist.  It is kind of sad really, that the rational, scientific mind has pre-empted so much of our experience.  The invisible part of the universe is unavailable to most westerners.  We know that blood circulates in the body because when we cut ourselves we see it, but chi, where is that?  It's like we lost our way at some point in the evolutionary process.  We took the big super highway of the material world (headed over to Walmart)  and left the narrower roads  of the unseen spirit, chi or energy,  to grow weeds and become unused footpaths.

I guess I am unravelling two threads here, one that meanders down the path of what we have lost by neglecting the invisible world of spirit and energy, a whole topic of it's own really.  And the other thread is attached to community.  And yet when the community thread came up today it was attached to the thread of energy and spirit.  I have thought a lot about both these things over the years.  When I look at what's missing in a lot of people's lives I sense it is both of these things, a sense of belonging and sharing and a sense of the deeper meaning of life. 

 It is that sense of connection that human beings long for at some level, that collective embrace that makes us relax and feel at home here in the world.  And I think our restlessness and anxiety is somehow fueled by the lack of the spiritual, by  not approaching questions like what are we here for, what is our mission, how do we decide what is important to do and how to behave toward our fellow beings and the earth we live on.  If you combine a sense of community with spirit, or unseen energy, it seems to me you end up with something very powerful.  In Buddhism, the community of spiritual practitioners is considered one of the three treasures or jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  And true Sangha provides this sense of community of those on the path.  

So that's what I'm thinking about today and since landing here  in the blogoshpere I have sensed I have joined another Sangha, one that stretches out toward you, in invisible space, boundless and without end.  Bows to you all, cyber sangha!

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