I have been so calmed & uplifted just now by the visit with my North Country sangha1 this morning. The sangha is one of the “three treasures” of Buddhism, along with the Buddha & the Dharma. It is not impossible, but it is very difficult, to practice Zen outside the context of a sangha.
My friendsÂ came just before ten, we sat fifteen minutes of zazen, our dogs being remarkably & unusually quiet, then they went out & stacked our firewood for two hours in the pouring rain. After that samu,2 they came in again & we drank tea together. Doesnâ€™t sound like much, you say? I cannot even begin to express how precious this contact with my fellow Zen students is at this time in my life. At any time, yes, it would be lovely; but given my pain & the lethargy that follows pain, the transformation of mind / heart / body I feel right here right now is almost unbelievable. One is not used to medicines that work so quickly & dramatically & to such good effect.
- Sangha (Pali: à¤¸à¤™à¥à¤˜ saá¹…gha; Sanskrit: à¤¸à¤‚à¤˜ saá¹ƒgha; Chinese: åƒ§ä¼½; pinyin: SÄ“ngjiÄ; Tibetan: à½‘à½‚à½ºà¼‹à½ à½‘à½´à½“à¼‹ dge ‘dun) is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning “association”, “assembly,” “company” or “community” and most commonly refers in Buddhism to the monastic community of ordained Buddhist monks or nuns. ↩
- Samu (ä½œå‹™ samu?) refers to physical work that is done with mindfulness as a simple, practical and spiritual practice. Samu might include activities such as cleaning, cooking, gardening, or chopping wood. Samu is a way to bring mindfulness into everyday life as well as to get things done. Samu is popular in Zen monasteries, particularly as a means of maintaining the monastery and as practicing mindfulness. ↩