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The Sangha Is a Gift

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Extract from ’A Lions Letter’, 2007

Question: Can you tell us what the qualities of a sangha are. How would you characterize the Sangha?

OM: What do you see in a dusty mirror?


OM: Exactly. And the Sangha consists of a group of people who have dedicated their lives to cleaning and polishing this mirror, so that you, so that everyone who initially needs a mirror to remember themselves, can look into a pure and clear mirror. The Sangha reflects what is looking, it does not reflect the dust that has accumulated on this mirror. You constantly look into mirrors, which is your relationship between what initially appears to be inside and what is outside. And the purer, the clearer the reflection that you can look at, the more valuable and the greater the potential for insight.

What role does the teacher - the physically present teacher - play in this?

OM: The teacher is always present. The question is only in what field strength he is present. When you take the image of the dusty mirror, you know that in a normal human organism there is not much left of this field strength. It has so much covered itself with dust that actually only dust is reflected and no longer the teacher, no longer the One. A sangha is a group of people that aspires to the full potential of enlightenment. When their readiness is complete, the grace of transformation happens. And what previously seemed impure suddenly shines in clarity and purity.
You yourselves know what a difference it makes with what kind of people you surround yourselves, in what kind of environment you stay. For the environment provides always a certain food for the soul. And people who live in the normal state of dullness and unawareness and accordingly nourish themselves unconsciously, take in a constant poison: through forms of injury, of violence, of disrespect reflected in the environment. Of course, the environment is always what people unconsciously or semi-consciously select. And it is where their own tendencies, their impurities and their own addictions are reflected. But when people devote themselves to end the suffering of the ego and accordingly to put an end to the world, they begin to gain an understanding of what it means to maintain the right contact. They will begin to discern and correspondingly avoid a poisoning contact. In such a phase of a spiritual seeker's life often very strong upheavals happen and people leave old friends, acquaintances and may stand alone at first because the Sangha does not yet exist for them. Entering a sangha is a gift of Self to the seeker’s authentic willingness, and this gift is of the greatest support for the seeker’s inner process. This inner process consists, as I said earlier, of blowing the dust off the inner mirror and seeing only the SELF.

Is there still another meaning or purpose of the Sangha?

OM: The Sangha reflects society on a small scale. Thus the Sangha is also an instrument that has an impact on society at large. ’Enlightenment' and enlightened knowledge go out into the world to change the world. ’Enlightenment' today has simply different tasks in the world than it still had 10 or 20 years ago. The world is on the edge of an abyss. It is in a crisis, the dimensions of which the whole world will get to feel. I also talked about this at the Schweibenalp retreat. And the first impacts of this crisis, which many people still cannot imagine, have become manifest especially in the last 12 months: September 11, flood of the century, world economic crisis, climate catastrophe, stock market crash. These are signs that cannot be ignored...

I am not preaching social activism, as Roshi Glassman put it, because I don’t preach anything. All I can say is that I am witnessing the natural increasing of social activity, which is obviously needed now more than ever to drive change in society.

Isn't there also the tendency of the mind to feel better in the Sangha than the rest of the people, believing one has found the way?

OM: Every supposed sangha has the potential to become a sect. Because the mind, due to its half-silk nature, is sectarian. I mean the whole formation of an ’I’ is a sectarian act. So it is no exaggeration to say that the nature of this mind is sectarian. Every gathering of people can turn into a sect, which is a reflection of the inner sect. And whether this happens or not depends on the willingness, the seriousness and truthfulness of the individual. Of course, the Sangha cannot turn into a sect.

Extract from ’A Lions Letter’, print edition 2007

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