Meditation is a deeply personal space. When we meditate we isolate into the realms of our own minds and beyond. Ironically, we connect to a universality which can only be experienced through transcendence of the self. At once we are completely at one with just ourselves and our own minds, but also at one with the entirety of existence. Buddhist practice asks for contemplation, reflection, meditation, and mindfulness. For a practice that often strives to quiet and liberate the isolated mind, it spends an awful lot of time there. From the outside, this can make Buddhism feel like a solitary effort. Meditation and other buddhist practices do provide a blessed and sacred solitude, but the journey of Buddhism is anything but solitary.
Quoting the Buddha about friendship, Zen teacher Norman Fischer describes a conversation between the Buddha and his lifelong friend Ananda. Buddha tells Ananda that, “having good friends is the whole of holy life.”
In his dying moments in Alaska after the solo trip of a lifetime, the center of the tale Into The Wild, Christopher McCandless, weakly scribbles into the pages of a book: Happiness only real when shared.
Fischer writes that enduring friendships with good people who are all together on a shared path of spiritual practice makes it “almost impossible– just as the Buddha says– for spiritual qualities conducive to awakening not to ripen.” “Friendship,” he continues, “ripens and deepens our capacity for compassion.”
Sangha is the term we use in Buddhist practice to describe community. At Refuge Recovery, we work to create a community that invites our residents in and helps them grow community among themselves. From our Against the Stream Buddhist meditation society and center to our various Refuge Recovery support meetings, our residents are exposed to the collective who are spiritually progressing. Through community they learn that spiritually based friendships are some of the most enriching they will experience. “Spiritual friendship,” Fischer explains, “is less about personal connection than it is about helping one another grow in faith and goodness– to realize, as we say in Zen, our true nature.”
Refuge Recovery incorporates community as a core tenet of our treatment philosophy. Grounded in Buddhism while utilizing evidence based and scientifically proven therapeutic treatment methods, we help residents fully embrace and grow their true nature. We believe all beings are inherently good and capable of love. Come see it for yourself. For more information on our treatment programs for men and women, call 323-207-0276.