Feb 13, 2000 - Sangha Meeting

At the sangha (community) meeting, Aaron spoke to the questions being raised about what was the Board's, and the sangha's, vision for the future. At first some had said, “We have no clear vision yet. How can we consider such a move until we have a vision?” This was Aaron's reply.

Aaron's Talk to the DSC Sangha Meeting     February 13, 2000

Aaron: I am Aaron. My love to you all. There is a story about a man who was a shepherd. He took his sheep along the road, planning to take them up into the hills. They had climbed quite a ways when several of the front sheep suddenly turned and ran off down the hillside toward the sea; the other sheep soon were running after. He tried to stop them for just a few moments and then saw they were gone, so he followed them down to the sea. Resting in the grass by the water, he looked up at the mountain top where he had headed and saw smoke. Sure enough, a terrible fire burned across the fields in those mountain top meadows where he often grazed his sheep.

He was the shepherd and he was responsible for the sheep but he did not know everything. The vision, if I may put it that way, of where they needed to be that day came from the sheep,  and as a good shepherd he followed them to care for them. You can only take a vision so far.  You must be specific without being overly detailed. Such precision can confine and limit the vision rather than giving space for expansion. For example, his vision was to safeguard his sheep, to lead them to a grazing ground. Together with the sheep he co-created the situation where they grazed by the sea and were not caught in the fire. He did not have to vision the specific pasture, only to vision the sheep's well-being.

May I suggest that all of you here already have the vision of what Deep Spring Center is and will be.. It is this vision which drew you to your practice and drew you to Deep Spring Center in the first place. It is the vision of a world at peace where beings may live in happiness and harmony. It is the vision of a life that you may live in harmony with all beings. It is the vision to investigate that which seems negative in the self to learn that you do not need to enact that negativity in the world nor do you need to be afraid of that negativity, but instead, may offer love where there is fear, drawing that space of negativity deeper into the transformative heart. It is the end of duality, where negativity ceases to breed further negativity within the self but instead becomes a catalyst for kindness. In its simplest terms, the vision is to live your life with love, not denying fear but not identifying with fear. It is to live your life in truth, not as the personal self only, although we certainly do not deny the existence of this relative plane being, but to live your life in the deepest truth of both the relative and the ultimate, knowing that you are not these aggregates of self but with respect for them, cherishing the body and the mind, cherishing the human experience without overly identifying with it.

All of you have learned that this is the way to happiness, to understand the workings of the mind, not to be caught in them as “my” mind and body, and not to separate yourself from mind or body, but to live in balance, attending to the human relative needs yet coming ever deeper into understanding of your true nature and enacting that truth into the world. All of you seek not contentment or comfort so much as liberation and not just for yourself, but for all beings. That is not to say there is anything wrong with comfort, but you have learned that is not the source of your truest happiness. All of you are willing to commit yourself to the spiritual practices which deepen your living of this truth. And because such truth, such dharma, has literally changed your lives, there is a commitment to make it available to others, never to proselytize, but simply to hold a door open to live your lives in ways that bear witness to the truth of love which is ground of kindness, compassion and wisdom.

This then is your vision. It can take many forms. The way you manifest that vision into the world is your free will choice. There may be a variety of ideas about how it can be manifested, for example, the small intimate center or the enormous center. A place where people may simply find a class or two or a place where people would actually live, or anything in between. Here you must balance your vision with reality. What resources do you have?  What is the most skillful way to offer your own spiritual work and the vision of true liberation, of freedom from suffering and from the endless round of karma-driven rebirth? What is the most skillful way to build a living structure to house this vision?

Through the years, the structure of Deep Spring has evolved organically through those involved seeking with an honest and open heart and intent not on control but co-creation. The vision of love and freedom was balanced with a real assessment of available skills and resources, and those resources which were lacking were offered more energy to be created. For example, you now have 12 dharma teachers where once there was only one. You have classes for 200 rather than 20. The need was seen, and appropriate steps were taken. Many people gave of themselves that there might be sufficient teachers and space to teach/learn.

Now, as has been pointed out today, you have the opportunity to take more responsibility and this responsibility is also part of your spiritual practice. You have broken the ground. What will be built there?  What can each of you give to support the realization of this vision, not just of comfort but literally of increased love, of real freedom, for all beings? In what ways does such effort help you grow as well as support others?

Someone asked, "How will I serve Deep Spring Center?" I would rather phrase it, "How can I serve dharma?" for dharma is simply the deepest truth by which you have learned to live your lives: the truth that kindness breeds kindness, hatred breeds hatred; the truth that you are master of your mind if you choose to be and do not need to unleash negativity into the world; the truth that you are radiant and holy spirit, as are all beings. Is it enough to commit yourself to develop these truths for yourself or to what degree are you willing to be responsible to make this available to all who seek it?  In what ways can you best be supported, each of you, in your own spiritual path?  Buddhism speaks of the refuges of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This can be translated into any tongue. The Buddha is the inherent awakened nature you have begun to recognize in yourself and all beings. The Dharma is the Truth, bare and seen just as it is - the truth of suffering; the truth of liberation. Sangha is the community which supports all of your work. It may be the community of one or two dear friends or a worldwide community of seekers, or anything in between. But there does need to be such support for the great effort to liberation and true happiness.

Now you consider a structure, which offers the opportunity for a greater growth of sangha. You come to such a point with a very real shared vision, not of the details, the floor plan, but of something much more crucial. Do not despair that you have no vision. The vision is right here in your own radiant hearts, your kindness and your commitment to your own practice. There is not one of you that do not vision a more harmonious world. Hold that in front of you and know that it is possible and then just ask yourself, what structure will support this?  And within the multitude of structures that will support it, what is most reasonable for a group such as you are in this time and place?  Do not be afraid. Hold your vision ahead of you. There is an ancient saying, "The dharma takes care of those who take care of the dharma."  Love will find a way. Thank you for hearing my thoughts. That is all.