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Being In A Spiritual Community & What It Means To Me by Sherri Rosen

Many people are under the misconception that when going into a spiritual community all of the people will be kind, unselfish, compassionate and have all of the good qualities we yearn for.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all coming in with “our stuff.” Most people in the beginning are coming in with their good behavior, but the longer you are together “the stuff” comes spilling out.

When I went into a spiritual community called Diamond Heart about 7 years ago, the first thing my spiritual teacher, Alia, said to us: “If you think that you will never get hurt in this community or that you will never hurt anyone, while in this community, think again. At one time or another, you will all be hurt and hurt one another.”

It was shocking to me when I first heard this honesty and truth and directness. It was the first time I heard a teacher say this in a spiritual community and it was the truth. It was refreshing, because why waste my time if I’m not going to change.

When I first went into the Tibetan Buddhist Community in NYC many years ago, I thought it would be a very social experience for me, but it wasn’t. We were all coming in with “our stuff” and we were all trying very hard to work on ourselves and work on “our stuff” to transform it. If I made a connection with another that was great, but what I learned was it wasn’t about the social connectedness. It was about learning to clean up my own act before I could help others. It was about facing my darkness and transforming it. It was about not laying blame on others for my mistakes. It was about owning “my stuff”. Taking responsibility for my actions. It was about learning about kindness and compassion for myself and others and putting that into action.

The transformation isn’t an overnight job. It takes years. What I experienced was that some hang in there and actually do it and others just keep repeating the same habitual patterns that got them in trouble in the first place.. But the deal is not to give up. To hang in there. Some learn faster than others and it takes a lot of exertion and hard work.

The best lesson for me is when I would get angry at someone, that my anger doesn’t take over. I allow myself to feel it and then make a judgement call on whether to share what I am angry at with the other person. This can only be done with compassion for myself and the other. Sometimes it works and other times the person just does not want to be bothered, and I have to “let my anger go.”

Anger is there to protect me. To show me something isn’t right with me. It is not there to decimate myself or another human being.

Much of this working of “my stuff” is through meditation. Be it through the Buddhist path I chose, created by Chogyam Trungpa, the mindfulness path created by Joesph Goldstein or through Diamond Heart created by Almass. There are many more, but these have been the paths of choice for me on my journey.

I had an incident with a long time spiritual friend in one community who would have many conflicts with me. We would always sit down and talk about it and work it out, but what I would find is that 2 weeks later the same stuff would come up towards me with this friend. When I would believe we had worked things out, what I realized was, I had worked it out and let it go, but my friend once again kept holding onto it and bringing it up again. I learned to just stop talking about it with her because nothing was going to change. I said to her “every time I think we work something through with one another, you bring the same thing up again a few weeks later, and I realize it’s not worth talking about any longer.” She didn’t understand and it was frustrating, but I tried communicating this with love and compassion and again just letting it all go. And also it never took away my love for her.

I’ve been in a few spiritual communities but the one where I transformed the most was within Diamond Heart. The difference for me in this community was I had a commitment to the truth. Meaning nothing or no one was going to get in my way of finding my truth and many times speaking it. This is a lonely path, not for everyone. I find my need for people around me is less, because I am willing to deal with the aloneness and what that brings up. And the only way this commitment has come to fruition is the great love and compassion I have for myself and others.

AS long as I am to be on this earth I will always have work to do on myself and hopefully when it’s my time to leave I can leave a legacy of love and compassion.

400-Sherri Rosen RED - square photo, enlarged (400x400)

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 9th, 2016 at 3:18 am and is filed under Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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