Ananda, Lord Buddha’s long-time personal attendant and monk-disciple, asks Buddha:
“Lord, is it true what has been said, that good spiritual friends are fully half of the holy life?”
The Master replied, “No, Ananda, good spiritual friends are the whole of the holy life. Find refuge in the sangha community.”
In these times of confinement and uncertainty, being with the Sanga, the group of practitioners, is like finding water in the desert, feeling connection and interchange. A beautiful image is that a person practicing by itself is like a tree that grows alone, the ones that are twisted, sometimes leaning to one side, while the Sangha is like a forest that grows together and is stronger for that reason.
With the quarantine, practitioners appear on the screen of the computer or cell phone, but they fill the house with the energy of practice. I participate in some groups, but in fact it is only one, it is Sangha de Buddha.
Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 am I start a Zoom Meeting an we sit listening to the birds of Pirenópolis, Brazil, the place I’m staying. On Wednesday at that time there is Zazen and Morning Ceremony with the Sala Therigatha.
With the Zen Center of San Francisco I join the Online Zendo at 10:30 am (my time). I also participated in the Practice Period in which we studied mind training for compassion, known as Lojong, a traditional Tibetan practice with a series of 59 slogans to train the mind.
With Sala Therigatha, every day we sit Zazen at 7:00 pm and then Monja Waho Sensei reads an inspiring text, that could be, among others, Tich Nat Han, Suzuki Roshi, Charlote Joko Beck. Masters who enlighten our practice with their wisdom and compassion.
The Sangha also dreams together, how do we bring our Bodhisattva vows into action? How can we To do no evil, to do good, to save all beings? With the Sala Therigatha, we had a meeting to think about actions, which Monja Waho Sensei called “Sewing the Great Robe”, a reference to the practice of sewing the Buddha’s robes when people make a commitment to live according to Buddhist precepts , Rakusu for laymen/women and Okesa for monks. And for me, there’s a brazilian song for children written by Chico Buarque, “Todos juntos – all together” that comes to my mind, “next to me there is a friend that we need to protect, all together we are strong there is nothing to fear! And in the world there are so many they say , of people like us!”
And for you, how is your practice happening with the quarantine?
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