Dear Sangha,
Thank you Joy, Kozan, Nora, Jim, and Janet for leading our sangha during the long time I’ve been away. We have built a solid continuity over years, a place to count on for community and sitting practice.

downloadWe’re almost to the end of The Wisdom of No Escape. After a lot of thought and consultation with others, I have chosen our next book, The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation, by Chogyam Trungpa. This book is not easy. It will take EVEN LONGER to read.Newcomers may be baffled, but that will provide us an opportunity to re-cap, explain, and work with the material in different ways. For those who’ve been sitting for a while, it should be very helpful. Please order the book, since we’ll be finished with our current book in the next month.

Our discussion yesterday, based on Pema Chodron’s chapter called “Not Preferring Samsara or Nirvana,” was concerned with ritual. “Genuine, heartfelt ritual helps us reconnect with power and vision as well as with the sadness and pain of the human condition,” says Pema. There was conversation about some childhood religious rituals that felt oppressive to us, and how that might impact us still, as well as rituals that have become deeply meaningful to us.

download-1Rituals, as Pema says, slow us down. Ideally, we temporarily stop our grasping for the next thing and notice more deeply the action of the ritual. Pema says ritual “opens up space,” and we thought about how this might be true. Doesn’t it also demarcate boundaries, and in that way, shut down space? We talked about that.

Ritual is timeless in the sense that we do it over and over, the same ritual, maybe, all our lives. If we respect it as ritual, it can provide continuity, a sense of lineage.

Pema says our whole life can be a ritual. “We could reconnect with the weather that is ourselves.” I liked that line. She goes on, “and we could realize that it’s sad. The sadder it is, the vaster it is, and the vaster it is, the more our heart opens. We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark.” We hold it all in our hearts, she says.

See you next week.