I know that our group is a secular one, but I can’t resist sharing this tidbit of Buddhist doctrine.
Buddhists take “refuge” in, i.e., derive spiritual support from, what are called The Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. The first two, Buddha and Dharma, can be interpreted in various ways, but its fair to say that they attract the most attention from Westerners because, compared to Sangha, they represent relatively elevated spiritual ideas. Sangha is mundane by comparison. It simply means the community made up of those committed to following the eight-fold path.
I find this ancient recognition of the importance of community (it’s a Treasure!) incredibly relevant today. As modern people of the West and descendants of the European Enlightenment, we believe that we live lives of individual accomplishment and suffering. As such, we nearly always overlook the subtle, and often subconscious, influence that others have on us (and we on them).
Adopting the ancient view that community (Sangha) is one of the treasures that energizes and supports our practice is a different view entirely. Something new and different happens when we sit together. You lean on me. I lean on you.
I thank you for your practice.