This week saw me sit online for the first time. I’ll be honest I was quite dubious. I was of the understanding that one of the key factors of what makes a sangha work, is the actually having the people physically around you in a room or designated space of some description. A physical gathering of people on the same path working towards similar goals. From my experiences this week it is simply not true or at least non-essential. It seems when you sit with a sangha you sign in to some unwritten contract or vow to sit through regardless of how bored, restless etc. you get. It’s like you’re all here for each other and this contract isn’t diluted or compromised because of a webcam or a physical distance of thousands of miles.
The initial mechanics of the meditation were initially quite difficult but were overcome very quickly. In the zen tradition I practice we face the wall with our gaze focussed downwards. The problems of facing a computer screen and other people was easily overcome though. The main difference I have noticed thus far is the ease of adding length of practice on top of my own personal sitting which is of obvious immense benefit. The meeting of similar people on this path, or whatever it is, is the same as the ‘real world’ sangha in that you console share and help each other. It is of great comfort to meet like minded people regardless of distance and such obstacles.
I also hosted my first online sittings this week which were both terrifying and amazing. I have never organised or hosted any kind of meditation practice for others before. It was a completely new experience. My main concern in the whole process is when people ask me questions regarding the practice as I am immensely unqualified in experience to answer their questions sufficiently. From my own experiences I have had some very bad or dark stuff brought up from meditation and without my own teacher this could have been much worse and lead to a very bad situation. A lot of people come to the practice w/ many problems, as a people we generally have quite a few problems, I have very few if any friends that have not either been prescribed medication for mental health issues or at least worked through a mild depression. Fortunately, thus far, the two questions I have received were on reincarnation and how to sit. In both instances I offered my sincere reflections from personal experience attempting to steer away from any intellect or learning from books and such that I may feel I understand but could be confused learning. It is my sincere hope that everybody I practice with has or finds an experienced teacher in which they can sit with at least once a month and can guide them on this sometimes very arduous path. Making their own island or light to shine upon themselves through the guidance of people that have tramped these mountains before.
deep within the stream
the huge fish lie motionless
facing the current
James W Hackett