Seeing Self, Seeing Sangha

“True friendship is the entirety of spiritual life.” – Gautama to Ananda

Sangha can be an inspiration and offers many forms of social support. A family of sorts, one founded on certain beliefs and principles.

Digging a little deeper we find that having a friend, someone who is a true friend, can provide a wealth of information about who I am in any moment. It requires that I pay attention though. Attention to what rises unbidden in the streaming thoughts. (I’m not at all sure what defines a “true friend,” I imagine it would be different for everyone. In a sense it’s paying attention to another being, period. “True” or not.)

In attention, I notice when I’m attempting to be “right” about something instead of just exploring it. I notice when I start playing that “slightly better game.” A friend might offer an experience and then I may have that internal push to “top that” and offer some experience that was better in some way. Of course, without attempting to seem as thought that’s what I’m doing. And, I notice when I’m not paying attention to what’s being said because I’m busy formulating some response. All ways to manipulate or control rather than offer a safe place to self-express, one that’s grounded in kindness.

That strange dance of social interactions. Two beings constantly evolving and adapting to their own moods, emotions, changes in belief, and biological imperatives, then coming together to experience each other.

It can happen in a second. I can move from one belief to another, and my entire system will shift and recalibrate. I decide yes instead of no, and then a minute later no instead of yes. When I add another being to that equation it can get really messy. Each and every encounter needs to recenter itself, re-establish positions, and restructure a secure zone.

I need the other to see how I really am. The other is a mirror in more ways than we can imagine, and although I can never really know another, that entity over there, isn’t it funny that I can get to know me in those moments of experience, when I pay attention to my own processes. (Actually you don’t need a human friend, the stream of thought, those ideas and conclusions, will also tell you who you are in reaction to almost any sentient being. It can be a horse, dog, cat, fish, platypus, aardvark, pine tree, or in some belief systems a rock. (Personally I belief anything exhibiting life is sentient. Although I’m not convinced about some people. I know, I know, that’s mean.)

Friendship is friendship and hardly can be described as the “entirety” of spiritual life, but it’s way up there when it comes to seeing how I’m processing life. And in seeing self’s processes, see others.

See yourself in those mirrors today when you pay attention to what rises in the streaming thoughts.

Bryan Wagner

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