Sangha is a Pali word which in Sanskrit means ‘community’, ‘assembly’ or ‘association’. Originally it was used to describe groups of Buddhist monks or followers who meditated and studied together. These days it has been widely adopted as a term to describe any kind of formal or informal spiritual community.
The real work of spiritual awakening can be a very lonely pursuit. Many people, myself included, often initially opt for the solitary route because isolating yourself is sometimes the only way to figure out what’s really going on — to get some distance from the automatic reactivity, thought patterns and belief systems that kick in so fast and frequently around others as to be barely discernible.
It can also provide a nice break from pretending — that you’re not changing, that you’re still up for the drama, that questioning your entire worldview doesn’t sometimes feel like the ground is breaking up under your feet.
I think some initial isolation may be necessary but then, after a time, if the urge to do this work has its hooks in deep enough, a person can hit a wall. There’s only so far you can go alone — at some point you need others to help you go further. Real spiritual work can only be done alone but, paradoxically, I think at some level it can only be done alone, together.
Enter: sangha, or ‘spiritual friendships’ as I sometimes call them, as they’re unlike any other friendships I’ve had before in my life. They can get very serious very fast, especially if you end up connecting with people who have been ‘bit by the bug’ as hard as you. You can end up in some scary places, but you will find courage in knowing that you won’t be there alone.
One of the greatest gifts Jubilee gave me was the opportunity to form some of these friendships that continue to nurture and grow me today. The initial program, and then Jubilee Deepening, as well as my archetypes group, have connected me to some amazing people who have taught me the power of sangha, the gift of holding space and the real meaning of bearing witness. We challenge each other, we melt down in front of each other and we love each other unconditionally.
There’s transformative power in being seen so deeply, in being received so unconditionally. I think it can be as powerful as the sun in sparking new life… and I think it may be one of the greatest gifts of the human experience.
The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee
If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch with Dale Bially, Communications for Prairie Jubilee. Email email@example.com