Dear Sangha Members,
Nine years ago Ryushin and I hosted our first meeting of Winding Path Tendai Sangha (then known as Nagado Sangha) in the basement room at Christ Church Cathedral on Chestnut Street. We hosted a few evening meditations in February that weren’t attended by anyone other than the two of us, so we consider our official anniversary to be the beginning of March when we first had other people attend. We’ve had some sangha members who have stuck with us since the very beginning and others who have come and gone through the years, some attending for just a few evenings and others who contributed to the community for several years before moving on.
I always like to pause in March to reflect on the importance of sangha. This year, I’m also thinking about the importance of recognizing our place as part of a larger fabric of humanity.
This month we’ll have two Monday discussions focused on different aspects of interbeing. The talk about Hogo and lineage will look at the value of recognizing ourselves as part of a continuation of teachings that have been passed down for more than 2000 years. The talk about Homer B. Hulbert will take a wider view and ask us to consider the interconnectedness between ourselves and people we’ve never met and at the energy that resides in sacred spaces.
When we think about interbeing or dependent co-arising, it is often easiest to perceive how we are impacted by people with whom we have the most immediate or tangible relationships. We can recognize how our actions and sense of self are shaped by family, friends, and sangha members. It often takes more effort or intentionality to recognize how we are also shaped by conditions that we may have no present awareness of. Yet, in a very real way our experience in this moment is shaped by conditions from multiple other lifetimes. I don’t attribute it to mere coincidence that our sangha has ended up in a space built by a man who was a missionary and who spent a great deal of his life in Korea and advocating for Korean independence from Japan. Even though I cannot fully understand the relationship between Dr. Hulbert’s life and actions and my own, I can see them linked by a stream of connected thoughts and actions.
In the same way, the Winding Path Sangha that exists right now is not just made up of the people who are physically in the room with us on any given Monday evening or Saturday morning. The sangha continues to be shaped by the karma generated by everyone who has sat with us over the last nine years. Each time you show up to practice, you are generating energy that will drive the sangha forward and support yourself and others to continue practicing in the future.
Thank you to each of you for all you have contributed to sangha over the past several weeks, months, and years.
Dear Sangha Members,