Monday, April 17, 2017

Islands unto themselves.

At the time of the Buddha, his disciples wandered alone most of the year. They carried out their practice, upheld their discipline and were largely islands unto themselves.

During the monsoon season, they would convene for a few months. They would receive teachings, ask questions, discuss with fellow Sangha their own practice and understanding. When the rains stopped they would depart, going their own way. 

There is a strong parallel with this type of lifestyle and our own modern society. Most of us are pretty busy with work, family and projects. Within the context of our own life, we strive to maintain our practice, uphold our discipline and act as islands unto ourselves. The challenge is often how we orient ourselves to our circumstances and carry the teachings into our life. 

The monastic discipline is designed around simplicity and cutting through confusion. Most of our daily life is conditioned around complexity and feeding our ego. We need to spend some time reflecting on our own discipline and figure out how we continue to fall into certain neurotic loops and defeating cycles. Their isn't a manual, but there are teachings.

Carrying out your practice with diligence, you then convene yearly with fellow practitioners. You receive teachings and instruction, ask questions, discuss your practice and where you are getting stuck. 

This is the way the tradition began, and the way in which it can continue to flourish. 

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