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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 60 WHEN WE EMBARK on the meditative journey, we may enter through many different gateways. We may begin to practice med- itation as a way of finding a little more calm in the midst of a chaotic life, to find respite from our turbulent mind. We may begin to meditate to find a way to meet adversities with greater understanding and balance. We may be drawn to meditation through experiences of joy—glimpses of stillness, intimacy, and connectedness—that inspire us to question whether such moments could be more than just accidental encounters. Both sorrow and joy can bring us to a point where we acknowledge the urgency of finding ways to be more at peace with ourselves, to be kinder, and to be more present in all the moments of our life. A personal meditation practice is the foundation of Buddhism, but do we need more? Essentially we make the journey alone, but many people find that committing themselves to the three jewels— Buddha, dharma, and sangha—helps take them further. These three make up the lineage, philosophy, and community of Buddhism. Their purpose is to deepen and expand our practice. Alone Together: CHRISTINA FELDMAN is the author of Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the Wo r l d . She is cofounder and a guiding teacher at Gaia House, a Buddhist meditation center in Devon, England, and a senior teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Practicing with sincerity, persevering through the peaks and valleys that are part of every spiritual path, we begin to discover that practice does indeed bear fruit. A steady mind begins to be more accessible, we are less prone to be reactive or judgmental, and greater sensitivity and mindfulness allow us to feel more connected to the present moment and to our surroundings. Our capacity to be delighted by life’s beauty is awakened, as is our ability to meet hardship without being overwhelmed. But this is not the end of the journey. Rather, the journey has now truly begun. As our practice deepens, our eyes open to possibilities beyond composure and balance. We open up to the possibility of an un- shakeable liberation, a timeless wisdom, and being intimately part of a wider community of people who treasure compassion and integrity. We may be inspired to bind ourselves more deeply to the path and to those around us. At this point, we may begin to ask ourselves not only what medi- tation practice is but what it means to live a meditative life. To help us accomplish this, we look beyond our personal practice and seek the support of what are known in Buddhism as the three jewels. These are the Buddha, or other living embodiment of enlighten- The Three Jewels C HRISTINA FELDMAN PHOTOS TAKEN AT THE SAN FRANCISCO ZEN CENTER BY ANDREA ROTH Finding Friends on the Path MAY 60-63.indd 60 MAY 60-63.indd 60 3/6/08 11:31:25 AM 3/6/08 11:31:25 AM