Sunday, September 26, 2010
I had a busy morning down at the zen center today. As part of our sangha's annual meeting, three of us gave short dharma talks about issues related to board work and running communities. I spoke about the next generation of practitioners, suggesting that the continuation of our sangha into the future will require us to stay in-tune with the ways people, especially younger folks - are finding Buddhism these days. And we will have balance adaptations like online classes and blogging, for example, with a preservation of the thrust of the practices and teachings that have been handed down to us.
Following the dharma talks, I was back "on stage," this time as the chairman of the board of directors leading the annual meeting. We've got a lot of stuff on our plate - discussions about our space and changes coming in the neighborhood our center is located, a new development plan that's designed to guide the organization's next 3-5 years, our current budget and the prospects of breaking even this year - it's a lot to consider.
A little over five years ago, our sangha was nearing the tipping point towards closing, after having lost 40-50% of its members and its head teacher. So, it was petty amazing to be standing in front of a vibrant, energetic group this morning, and to be considering long term goals of sustainability, instead of short term goals of survival.
And when I consider my own life, and how much basic shyness and worries about self image I had as a teenager and early 20 something, it was kind of surprising to find myself where I was at this morning - in a position of leadership, where people wanted to hear what I had to say. Perhaps some of you who have been reading this blog wouldn't find that terribly surprising, but I can still remember how resistant I used to be to making new friends and other connections. How sacred I was of expressing ideas that didn't match up with what others thought. And how, even if I found myself in a leadership position, that my lack of articulateness (due to being too closed up and attached to outcomes) often weakened my presence and impact greatly.
So, I guess I'm feeling grateful to my sangha for all the years of support, and to the teachings and practice in general for opening my life up in such a way that I might be able to lead effectively. Just before I gave my part of the morning talk, I said to myself "Just be open to the wisdom in the room. Let it run through you." And that it did.
We are always supported, even when it doesn't feel like it.
*Imagine of Clouds in Water Zen Center Zendo.