12.01.2011 - Sangha as a way of knowing - Part One

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    Ways of Knowing -- December 1, 2011

    "Sangha as a way of knowing" -- Part One


    Aph: Hey Bruce

    Bruce: Hey, Aph!

    Aph: Just going to make myself a sandwich brb

    Bruce: Before anyone else gets here - - Would you like to say something about the "recommendations" -- at the beginning?

    Bruce: ok. take your time.

    Aph: Um sure. thanks. In about 5 minutes?

    Bruce: Hey, Mick.

    Bruce: Good to see you again.

    Bruce: kk.

    Mickorod Renard: Hi Bruce

    Mickorod Renard: how are you?

    Bruce: Actually, I'm not feeling well. . . but all things considered, I'm fine.

    Mickorod Renard: hi Aph

    Bruce: How are you today, Micki?

    Bruce: Hey, Pila!

    Mickorod Renard: I am ok thanks, not perfect

    Mickorod Renard: Hi Pila

    Pila Mulligan: greetings

    Mickorod Renard: hi San

    Bruce: Hey, San!

    Aph: Back. Hi all!

    Bruce: wb., Aph.

    Aph: san has made such a beautiful art work!

    Bruce: Let me guess -- salami on rye?

    Bruce: (ooo0-ps... not San's artwork. . . (!)

    San: :) with dijon

    Bruce: kk.

    Aph: um no, feta and avocado and tomatoe and lettuce

    Bruce: Are you referring to the Dome exhibits?

    Aph: yes

    Aph: (nothing to do with my lunch

    Bruce: Mine has not been built yet.

    Aph: I saw it built. Did you change it?

    Aph: Did everyone here get my email summarizing the proposals from last meeting?

    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, thanks Bruce

    Bruce: After our last two session, in which we discussed the future of WoK, Aph put together our recommendations in a . . .

    Bruce: yes, Aph. . . I was just about to mention that. . .

    Mickorod Renard: yes thanks, and Bruce's mail

    Pila Mulligan: hi atari

    Bruce: please go ahead, if you will.

    Violet: Hi everyone :)

    Mickorod Renard: Hi Atar

    Bruce: Hey, Violet!

    Aph: so, any concerns, changes, amaaaaaendments?

    Mickorod Renard: all looks well to me

    Aph: If not I'll leave the floor to Bruce and Cal

    Aph: If it's OK we'll put it in the wiki

    Aph: and report the changes to KIRA

    Bruce: Oh, hey, Cal. . . didn't see you arrive.

    Calvino Rabeni: :) I just materialized

    Aph: um...

    Mickorod Renard: hi Cal

    Pila Mulligan: hi Cal

    Calvino Rabeni: Hello

    Aph: ok I will silently submerge into the background

    San: hi everyone! phone distracted ~

    Mickorod Renard: :))

    Bruce: I felt that you summarized our concerns very well, Aph... and I really have nothing to suggest or add.

    Violet: Hi San :)

    Pila Mulligan: hi San

    San: :)

    Bruce: Today I sent everyone on the mailing list an excerpt from last Sunday's evening session -- with Cal as GoC.

    Mickorod Renard: yes, thanks Bruce

    Pila Mulligan: nice discussion

    Bruce: Although I was not at that session, I felt that it was an excellent "launching pad" for our discussion of "Sangha as a way of knowing."

    Bruce: Aph began by saying that from a sangha she expects support and some form of teaching-learning.

    Bruce: --- stressing sangha as "community"

    Bruce: community of support.

    Bruce wonders if he's going to be the only one talking.

    Pila Mulligan: :)

    Calvino Rabeni: hehe

    Mickorod Renard: I like that idea, and I am sure Wok has in most been that

    Aph: community support f- but for what?

    Violet: :)

    Calvino Rabeni: That's a good question Aphro

    Aph: support spiritually? intellectually? emotionally?

    Mickorod Renard: in nature though, the explorations we make are in some respects in subject matter that is not everyday stuff

    Pila Mulligan: is there an introductory presentation for this session? It looks like we are into the topic already

    Aph: Traditionally it has been spiritual support

    Bruce: I'm "hearing" from you Aph, that you expect sangha to include some "purpose" or "intentionality"

    Calvino Rabeni: I was thinking along those lines

    Aph: yes. No Pila there is no introduction but Bruce sent out a summary of a discussion a the Pavilion on the sangha that raised a few ideas

    Bruce: Good question, Pila. I was hoping that the chat-log from Cal's session would be that intro. . . but am up for more. . .

    Pila Mulligan: ok

    Bruce: Traditionally, of course, "sangha" is one of the three jewels in Buddhism. . .

    Bruce: and specifically meant the monks and nuns who had taken vows.

    Bruce: But that leaves me out.

    Bruce: ;-)

    Calvino Rabeni: I think, starting at square one, that the word has a kind of exotic tone to us, indicating the possibility of something that may exist in another culture, but that we're drawn towards and at the same time not sure of

    Aph: nods

    Calvino Rabeni: And it seems to strike up against the pride and isolation of individualism

    Aph: strike up?

    Violet: Mm, Cal...

    Calvino Rabeni: so the "support for what" idea rubs up a feeling of not being supported

    Mickorod Renard: some of the subject matter we tend to cover borders on the extraordinary, because of this I believe a Sangha type thought would inspire trust amongst ourselves that our thoughts are cultivated in a respectful way, finding guidance amongst ourselves

    Pila Mulligan: :)

    Calvino Rabeni: or against not having a predefined idea of what to be supported for, what purpose

    San: support for developing as a human being

    Aph: When one follows a path that is challenging, one has the choice of going it alone or getting help from sympathetic community

    Calvino Rabeni: yes that's a good one Santo

    San: sangha can be

    San: also in the realm of anything that is unseen

    San: for example

    Bruce: Does that "supporting community" need to be visible, tangible, physical?

    Aph: but I feel sangha has a more specific meaning; it implies that the others within the sangha have something to offer more than sympathy. Experience, knowledge, expertise

    Aph: I look for those 4 thngs

    Aph: that form of support

    Mickorod Renard: you mean like blood brothers or the like?

    San: it's not necessarily other people, is my point

    San: can be

    San: buddha realm

    San: plants

    Calvino Rabeni: It reminds me of the wizard of oz story .. the three characters were thinking they needed someone to give them a heart / brain / courage, but they had it all along, just needed someone to tell them it was there

    San: birds

    Aph: blood brothers?

    Calvino Rabeni: Agree, Santo

    Aph: I like that.

    San: holy places

    Violet: I do, too.

    Calvino Rabeni: could there be a sangha-of-one? A person who decides the trees and wind are a teacher, and has the intention to learn?

    Bruce: So, a sangha brings out the true essence of who we are - - - or tries to?

    Aph: the original concept of sangha included beings other than humans?

    San: why not

    San: it can

    Aph: depends on what we are needing Bruce

    Bruce: Hmmmm.

    Aph: I am not sure if I have a true essence

    Violet: Hi Druth :)

    San: hello druth :)

    Pila Mulligan: hi Druth

    Aph: Aph waves at druth

    druth Vlodovic: hi guys

    Bruce: One of the metaphors used last Sunday evening was the "container" -- that Sangha provides a container for sharing, for honesty, for growth, for protection. . .

    Bruce: Hey, druth!

    Pila Mulligan: maybe quintessence, Aph

    Aph: Pila?

    Mickorod Renard: perhaps we can try to define what would be the order of our development, so as a Sangha, or community , we are pulling in the same direction?

    Calvino Rabeni: Perhaps imagination starts to create the sangha, which then materializes or becomes more socially realized

    San: yes, imagination is key

    Mickorod Renard: Hi Druth

    Aph: If we imagine the sangha it will come?

    Calvino Rabeni: but I like the suggestion to venture to look at the specifics, Mick

    Aph: nods

    Bruce: I'm not sure that I would trust any sangha that was NOT imagined.

    San: :)

    Mickorod Renard: I was thinking that if we have too many directions on the go at one time we will create fragmentation, the opposite of community

    Aph: but it seems sangha is different for each of us; we need different things

    Calvino Rabeni: People to each other, even with an understanding of working together, are sometimes wise and sometimes idiots

    Violet: :)

    Bruce: Imagination seems to precede the sangha experience for me. . . and commitment to the tangible, visible, group is difficult.

    Aph: so... that means a sangha can change...?

    Calvino Rabeni: the fallback position is "the wise man learns more from the fool, than the fool from the wise man"

    Bruce: I imagine that the sangha will accept my idiocy.

    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, day to day, it changes

    Violet: I like that, Cal.

    Calvino Rabeni: :) Bruce

    Aph: :-) Bruce

    Bruce: without that hope, I would never commit.

    Mickorod Renard: :)

    Calvino Rabeni: and ones true friends learn from one's idiocy and make something of it to give back

    San: lovely

    Aph: a useful sangha is not judgemental but helpful

    San: hmm, what's your definition of "helpful"

    Aph: helps us understand ourselves better for one

    Bruce: Hmmmm. . . to be sure, Aph.

    Calvino Rabeni: yes

    San: :)

    Bruce: but the idea of safety is somehow also very important to me.

    Calvino Rabeni: and to deal with those troublesome blind spots

    Bruce: safety of the container.

    Calvino Rabeni: that's important

    Mickorod Renard: do we still post on a public wiki?

    Bruce: I think that the monks and nuns also knew this need to be safe.

    San: know

    Aph: perhaps that is the simplest definition of a sangha- a safe container to grow and learn

    Aph: safe

    Calvino Rabeni: nods

    Aph: within

    druth Vlodovic: a "place" to grow out into yourself

    Mickorod Renard: I think I agree

    Aph: yes druth!

    Bruce: I honestly don't know whether our wiki is public or not - - Does one have to be "enrolled" to see it? I know that I have to log in to post anything there.

    Calvino Rabeni: anyone can read it, Bruce

    Bruce: and that's part of the safety, perhaps.

    Aph: anyone can see it; have to log in to post

    Bruce: kk. thanks, Aph.

    Bruce: Sangha seems to suggest an expectation -- or a whole bunch of expectations.

    Aph: does that make us more vulnerable?

    Aph: being read on our wiki?

    Bruce: I don't know, Aph.

    Bruce: I don't feel especially vulnerable -- but perhaps that's because I protect myself pretty well.

    Mickorod Renard: I was thinking that it makes a sort of nonsense in having a Sangha for safety and containment when the wiki is public

    Bruce: I have an expectation of interconnection.

    San: i would tend to agree with you Mickorod

    Calvino Rabeni: Nods to Mick, this is an open container

    Aph: I don't think the world reading the wiki is our sangha but I do feel the people who come here and talk are

    druth Vlodovic: [14:35] Bruce: I don't feel especially vulnerable -- but perhaps that's because I protect myself pretty well.

    druth Vlodovic: :)

    druth Vlodovic: but when PaB tried having "private" (unrecorded) sessions they didn't last long

    Aph: how do you protect yourself Bruce?

    Bruce: Well, I try to watch what I say carefully -- sometimes so as not to sound like an idiot.

    Calvino Rabeni: But there is the "hidden" part of it, which is the conversations that happen one-on-one, that are given some of their abilities by this WOK activity of the members

    Aph: IMs you mean Cal?

    Bruce: And yet, I realize that my idiocy might be the very thing that needs seeing/hearing.

    Calvino Rabeni: Sure, or emails, or any other communications

    Pila Mulligan: [14:25] Bruce: So, a sangha brings out the true essence of who we are - - - or tries to?

     [14:26] Aph: I am not sure if I have a true essence

     quintessence: 'the most perfect embodiment of something' --

     satsang: 'sat = true + sanga ... an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth' -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satsang

     -> in this discussion, sangha may mean a group talking about the quintessence of their awareness or experience

    Mickorod Renard: Bruce, you always sound a non-idiot to me

    Calvino Rabeni: other groups, and so forth

    Bruce: heh heh, ty.

    Aph: Thanks Pila

    Aph: Hi Zen

    Pila Mulligan: hi Zen

    Zen: Hi all

    Violet: Hi Zen :)

    Calvino Rabeni: So any old club or class or meeting isn't satsang/sangha

    Bruce: Cal spoke of a barber shop as one place that transmissions of value/truth can occur -- without the visible structures of traditional religion, etc.

    Mickorod Renard: The point is, I, like Bruce, feel restrained (maybe for the good) by the thought that I may say something silly

    Aph: I wonder what I embody most perfectly

    Bruce: It is inevitable that I say silly things.

    Bruce: It is part of who I am.

    Calvino Rabeni: :)

    Aph: we all do Bruce

    Calvino Rabeni: you speak for myself Bruce

    Bruce: so, I seem to need containers that understand that and accept it.

    Aph: and define silly for me...

    Violet: :)

    Bruce: I could not be a part of a sangha that did not accept me for who I am.

    Aph: yes, but not passively Bruce,

    Mickorod Renard: but I wonder whether we may discover more if we feel free to divulge between ourselves

    Aph: I feel we need to be able to but up against edges

    Mickorod Renard: deeper thoughts knowing that it's contained

    Bruce: I have had such experiences of rejection many times. . . . so my "imagination" needs to feel acceptance before I even attend such a group.

    Zen: the trouble is that sanghas change

    Aph: sharpening my understanding...

    Zen: you might start in one and find it totally different after a while

    Bruce: dynamic sangha, Zen?

    Aph: is that a trouble or an advantage Zen?

    Calvino Rabeni: Yes we butt against edges, and get an uncomfortable feeling, and the dilemma is one of discrimination at that point

    Zen:a growing organic dynamic thing

    Mickorod Renard: Hi Zen

    Aph: yes, but I learn from that discomfort- or can

    Zen: it just is Aph

    Aph: you always say that Zen!

    Zen: it's ok as long as you can accept that

    Aph: but there are different shades of IS-ness

    Zen: It applies to all groups really

    Calvino Rabeni: The discomfort is a signal to sort things out, or a caution sign

    Mickorod Renard: I get the feeling sometimes that after such a period of attending Wok, many of us are getting pretty deep into this stuff

    Zen: have seen people start groups and then feel they 'own' them

    Bruce: Zen has had a lot of real-world experience with visible, intentional, communities of support . . . and retreats. Do you think of those as your sanghas, Zen?

    Zen: when new people start to change things they object

    Zen: I have a RL sangha yes

    Aph: change just IS

    Bruce: So, stability is valued.

    Violet: Change is fine...it's inevitable, and if it's not good, then it gives you a reason to broaden your horizons again

    Calvino Rabeni: by now most of us have probably talked to friends about how / why they moved in and out of groups

    Aph: it's our ability to work with change that is valuable

    Zen: yes Aph

    Zen: hit the nail on the head

    Violet: Yes

    Bruce ponders moving into and out of groups.

    Aph: which doesn't mean we have no values or beliefs but those values or beliefs incorporate change

    Bruce: wow.. wonderful point, Aph.

    Aph: or can

    Aph: Hard to do

    Zen: fluid and flexible

    Aph: yes

    Zen: but don't we have a tendency to stuckness?

    Aph: as we get older my brain as well as my muscles tend to flex less

    Zen: yeh

    Zen: how about our mind?

    Violet: We get into the habit of things..what's familiar is comfortable

    Aph: sticking to the familiar and the safe? yes. It's in our makeup

    Zen: stuck in old mindsets?

    Bruce: I guess for me it is a matter of trust - - and often I find it (well, not often, but USUALLY) I find it easier to trust animals and plants and the natural order of things, rather than people (no offense, anyone).

    Zen: good to notice in ourselves

    Calvino Rabeni: The diverse group can have strains based on that, or the diversity can result in a greater group intelligence .. interesting to ask what that depends on ... yes Bruce, trust for one thing seems basic

    Mickorod Renard: I dont know, I am getting on now but I am getting ever more hungry and so forth for knowledge

    Aph: hmmm not sure if I trust my cats

    San: no offense taken :)

    Aph: lol

    Bruce ponders the "psychology" of sangha.

    Zen: trust can induce freezing though Bruce...freezing people into how we expect them to be?

    druth Vlodovic: there was talk about how search engines adapt to show people the kind of things they search for, until they end up living in a world consisting of only what they want to know

    Zen: trust seems built on expectations

    Bruce: Mmmm.. I don't think I expect anyone to be anything -- except non-judgmental.

    Aph: interesting druth

    Calvino Rabeni: I think one skill is to recognize the unique things some other group member has to offer and bring things to where they recognize their value

    Aph: I expect people to BE judgmental

    Bruce: yes, druth, and what a drag that is.

    Mickorod Renard: yes, good point Druth

    Aph: yes- focus on others strengths Cal

    Mickorod Renard: this is key to the sangha, we must be open to paths

    Zen: reminds me of Christians I know who only read Christian books

    Bruce: Is there an expectation of reciprocation among sangha participants?

    Aph: and acknowledge them if you can. It encourages trust

    Violet: Mm, Zen

    Zen: like reading a Christian book on evolution

    Aph: or Buddhists who only read Buddhist books

    Pila Mulligan: group identity is one of the most common causes of conflict

    Zen: (not meaning to offend Christians. just some I met were like that)

    Aph: when it becomes them and us

    Mickorod Renard: me too, although I read all sorts now, Muslim , Buddhist all of them

    Bruce: But, I thought that sangha as "container" implied a membrane . . . and an identification.

    Pila Mulligan: Claire mentioned that at the end of the PaB session

    Zen: yeh I watch this in myself...like only reading Zen books

    Aph: we read journals and newspapers that support our political viewpoints

    Bruce: "we" are the ones inside the sangha and "they" are the ones outside of it?

    Zen: find Zen people can be like that too

    Violet: Our "tribes" can give us a valuable sense of belonging....but there's still a world outside them

    Zen: we reinforce each other's beliefs in sanghas is the point

    Calvino Rabeni: Every tribe has its sacred cows

    Bruce: "Belonging" as one criteria of sangha?

    Zen: is that always a good thing?

    Aph: I don't like the idea of a sangha being a power structure; a sangha can change for each of us depending on our needs and interests.

    Aph: I have many sanghas

    druth Vlodovic: any time you step in a new direction you upset your solid ground you use for security

    Zen: yes Druth

    Mickorod Renard: I suppose this is a risk of focus

    Zen: so tempting to cling to some belief though

    Bruce: I have few few RL sanghas (only one I can think of at the moment), but I have many many many non-visible sanghas.

    Zen: especially if it is comforting

    Calvino Rabeni: I think belonging is a ground state of humans, but it's not necessarily a group identity or awareness

    Violet: So we learn to walk with a spring in our steps, so we can hop over the loose soil and keep moving :)

    Aph: not surprising Bruce as you are a hermit

    Aph: Aph smiles at Violet

    Violet: ...nothing wrong with hermits! :p

    Aph: didn't say there was

    Mickorod Renard: I think we must recognize that the fact we are here, in wok, in a Sangha , means we have common cause

    Pila Mulligan: friendship often leads people to sharing their views, even dissimilar views

    Aph: or a common interest

    druth Vlodovic: a purpose might be more valuable to a sanga than a structure

    Bruce: It is a chicken/egg deal, Aph. . . Perhaps I am a hermit BECAUSE I could not find viable sanghas.

    druth Vlodovic: acting as a loose guide

    San: bye dear hermit thrushes ~ work calls

    Violet: Take care, San :)

    Pila Mulligan: bye San

    Bruce: Hey, folks, -- we will meet again in two weeks....

    Calvino Rabeni: Fly well

    Aph: yes, perhaps Bruce. Good point

    Mickorod Renard: bye San, be well

    Zen: bye San

    Bruce: on the 15th of December.

    Aph: Bye

    Aph: Bye! San

    druth Vlodovic: cya san

    Violet: Is that the current schedule? Every other week?

    Bruce: Between now and then, Cal and I will hone in a bit on some themes - - and we'll still be discussing sangha.

    Bruce: yes, every other week.

    Mickorod Renard: that was quick :(

    Aph: San and Bleu are my art /creative sangha in SL

    Calvino Rabeni: yes and/or satsang

    Bruce: and we will also need to find a good topic for January.

    Violet: Okay....that works a little better for me....

    Aph: unless we want to continue with this. The list of ideas will be posted on the wiki - somewhere...

    Bruce: So, thank you all very much for being here today. . . I look forward to editing this chat log and posting it. . .

    Bruce: that's always a sort of sangha experience for me.

    Violet: :)

    Pila Mulligan: thanks for doing it Bruce

    Mickorod Renard: perhaps the commitment we have made to each other is bonding enough to inspire what we are looking for

    Aph: Thanks Bruce for facilitating the discussion

    Mickorod Renard: thanks Bruce

    Aph: always very gently done

    Bruce: well, thank all of you, too!

    Bruce: ;-)

    Violet: I'm going to head kitchenwise now....thank you, Bruce. Be well, everyone :)

    Aph: Bye

    Aph: Bye! everyone.

    Bruce: May all be well and happy.

    Pila Mulligan: bye everyone -- and thanks

    Violet: :)

    Mickorod Renard: bye Aph

    Zen: bye everyone :)

    Mickorod Renard: bye Pila

    Calvino Rabeni: Bye

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