A positive path for spiritual living

The Gifts of Spiritual Community

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:00am -- nstrauss
Hello! Whether you've been with us for awhile or are one of our new subscribers, it is good to be with you.
These past months I've been thinking a lot about the gifts and dynamics of spiritual community. In Buddhism, this is one of the "Three Jewels" which are primary focal points of practice: The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (spiritual community). These can be closely mapped to own focal points:  
  • Buddha is representative of the Divine Presence within each of us, which may be called by any number of names: Divine Mind, the Infinite, Spirit, Presence, the Universe, the Christ
  • Dharma corresponds to our concept of Truth: the body of Universal spiritual laws and principles which are helpful as we travel the spiritual path.
  • Sangha is Spiritual Community: those who are traveling the path of Spirit alongside us.
 We need friends as we travel through life. We need to know that we are not alone and we need to know that we are part of something larger. Sometimes we need to be reminded that there are people who are happy to see us walk into the room. Whether we're sharing a hug or potluck meal, just knowing that there are people who wish us well can make all the difference.
In spiritual community, we practice grace with one another. We assume the best of each other.We practice looking each other in the eye and smiling. Sometimes we need to cry or laugh or simply tell our stories to folks who are willing to witness this sometimes-messy thing called being human.  
Whether you call them "Buddha- Dharma- Sangha" or "The Infinite- Truth- Community", these three jewels of spiritual life weave in and out of each other. When we might be feeling very small in our humanity, we can walk into a community of friends and be reminded that we are accepted as we are, and that there are others who understand. We are welcomed into proximity with others who have also felt very small, or confused, or tired, or unsure or any of the other less-than states of mind which humans may experience.
In spiritual community, we will be reminded that even though we are each only one human among billions of humans, we are also "One". We are the Divine expressing at the point we are. As we are awakened to the wonder of our magnificence, we also become open to hearing and recognizing Truth. We learn to recognize guidance, wisdom and understanding, as well as the strength and faith within us to do what is ours to do. We learn tools which can help us to express our Divinity more fully. We do our homework.
Community gives us opportunities to surprise ourselves with our own internal wisdom. It also gives us the space to admit where we struggle. Even though we may emphasize the importance of expecting Good in our lives, spiritual community is the place we can be authentic and admit when things aren't going well for us in this particular moment. The human life will involve challenges and troubled times; it is good for us to know that there are folks who care for us and will understand. There are times that we may wish someone could fix everything for us, but of course they cannot. What our friends in community can do is remain present and hold space for us as we walk through the discomfort of not knowing what may come next.
No matter where you are along the journey of this human Life, young, old, or in-between, finding a spiritual community which fits will help you to travel your path with more ease. We all know that the only constant is change. It is an immense gift to have people who will celebrate when celebrations are called for, as well as mourn and grieve with you when the inevitable losses happen.
If you're a local friend of ours and haven't been around for awhile, I hope we'll see you again soon. If you haven't been around because things aren't going so well, know that being chirpy and happy-happy are not pre-requisites! We miss you and look forward to seeing you as you are. If for some reason we're not a good fit, know that you take our blessings with you as you seek out the community which is most helpful for you.  
If you're not local, and don't have a spiritual community, I hope this message may inspire you to go exploring and find your tribe. This fully-human/ fully-Divine experience of Life can be more beautiful than we could ever imagine, and it can be more challenging that we ever want to admit.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your willingness to learn and grow and participate in the spiritual journey. Your friendship along the path is appreciated! Blessings- Nita