I wasn't sure whether to call this article community or happiness. Let me explain further...Kelowna Yoga House hosted a four day workshop on therapeutics last weekend. There were 30 Iyengar Yoga Teachers from all across Canada who attended this event. This was part four of a six part course. Whenever we take on the responsibility of hosting such an event, it is an opportunity for us to work together as a community and the yoga house community shone. Many of the visiting teachers took us aside during the course of the weekend and commented on the amazing energy in the studio.
One of the definitions of community is a social group whose members have a common purpose. Well, what would be the common purpose at Kelowna Yoga House? I am sure that we all could answer that in a different way but I see it as living a more healthy life. A life where success is not determined by personal achievements and acquisitions but rather a life based on acquiring skills and ways to live honestly and compassionately. A life lived with awareness. Community offers us a way to be supported in this goal and to support others.
If you were to attend a Buddhist Meditation retreat, the meditation sitting often starts with paying homage to the Triple Gem. The Triple Gem being the Buddha( the teacher), the Dharma( the teachings) and the Sangha (the community). It has always struck me that the community is so revered. The Buddha said that the success of any spiritual life depends one hundred percent on spiritual friendship or community.
The ancient yoga teachings encourage us to cultivate the "divine abodes": the states of maitri ( friendliness), karuna, ( compassion), mudita (gladness in the joy of others) and upeksanam ( equanimity). The teachings even say that our consciousness changes and becomes more serene and benevolent when we practice these qualities. So just like your mother told you " We best help ourselves by helping others." Even the biggest and most complex problems come down to what is in our hearts. Our modern society can sometimes disdainfully mock the simple virtues like sharing but this can transform our lives. This empathic connection relaxes boundaries and encourages a frame of mind that lets more in. It dissolves the sense of self and other. It is all Self.
It is interesting how this act of sharing is built into every ecosystem, a cooperation that sustains all earthly life. I think that we are much like the earth's ecosystems and are interdependent on each other to live a life that is whole and filled with new growth. The Dalai Lama says, "Happiness is not ready made, it comes from your own actions."
The following quote was relayed to me by Ajahn Sona of Birken Forest Monastery. It is a quote which I often reflect upon to overcome my deluded sense of separateness. " I am a link in a golden chain of love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong knowing that what I do now depends on not only my own happiness but that of others." Fostering the community at Kelowna Yoga House is a way to keep our links bright, practice happiness and live a sustainable life.
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