In Seoul I used to attend Saturday Sangha with Chong Go Sunim and some of the good people you can see on the sidebar here. In Bangkok my Sangha was the Seon Club and the whole Littlebang group. Here in Tokyo, I’m working so hard I’ve hardly even had the chance to look for a spiritual community.
Yet at the same time the whole community is already here with me. My Dharma brothers all blog, Dharma friends email and say hi, even postcards are exchanged (thank you again Roy!). I live with my wonderful wife, truly the most patient Dharma teacher you could imagine, and I have the whole of the Internet!
Tonight on my walk home from work I was listening to a podcast from the wonderful Tara Brach, a talk called “Taking Refuge” from January 2010. One bit, just as I was approaching my door, really caught my attention and I thought I’d share it here. What I love is the way she brings together both the outer and inner dimensions of refuge.
The outer refuge, the way we take refuge in the Buddha in an outer way, is – we bring to mind any being that expresses to us the enlightened heart-mind. It could be the Buddha, or Jesus, or the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kuan Yin, or any being, living or mythic, any spiritual figure that in some way represents that to us. And the way that we then take refuge is to imagine that being’s love and that being’s awareness. And then let ourselves sense how that lives through us.
The reality is that in many of our moments we live in this trance of a small and limited self. Many of our moments the idea of an awakened being is outside of us, down the road, something exotic, so when we talk about taking refuge in Buddha-nature it seems abstract. And yet this refuge is so powerful, so liberating. If you imagine for a moment how your life would change every day, many times a day, in some way you glimmer that this radiant awareness really is your very essence. That in a way this whole spititual path is undoing that trance. It’s stopping pedalling away. When we stop pedalling away we come home to an amazing amount of space and aliveness and awareness.
The full talk and many more, as well as guided meditations, can be found on her website http://tarabrach.com/. So really, with all these resources, how can I ever forget that I’m always in the midst of Sangha? How can I forget, as Daehaeng Sunim says, that within myself I always have a Dharma hall, “which is always filled with light and where Buddha is always present.”
All we need now is for Chong Go Sunim to grab a microphone and master the art of podcasting too!