Kleshas and Tanhas

ethics morals faiths ideals

A Sense of Community

with 9 comments

Noah Levine really hits home the significance of community in spiritual circles in his Against the Stream. “Both inner and outer spiritual rebellion are relational experiences. The revolution cannot take place in isolation.” (Levine, 80.) While more moderately faithful may find the terms rebellion and revolution nonreligious, maybe even irreverent, I find that in this specific instance, his use of such irregular diction stresses a point of emphasis. Spirituality is in itself a rebellion. Metaphysics can be seen as an attempted empirical explanation of the unseen, rationality we possess. (But really, who can pull that out of their brain prima facie?) But believing in the unseen, nontangible stuff that quite a few people believe in could not succeed if there were no communities. Being radical takes a toll on you. You need a support group.

While in Western circles, the Catholic Church can be seen as the initial model of spiritual communities, I find this Buddhist point of view capable of tying down some loose strings many nonbelievers (and believers in some instances) may have with communal religion. Levine holds that communities must consist of believers “of both more and less wisdom and compassion than ourselves.” (ibid.) I think for many, those of us in, or having been through any higher education, understand the significance of those who possess more wisdom than us. They are our teachers. They hold the keys to knowledge. Their past experiences have led them (or not) to become more compassionate towards others.

But what about those who have less wisdom and compassion than us? This still might be easy to answer; they can teach us as well if we choose to respond “with understanding and friendliness.” (Levine, 81.) And in the instance of those with less compassion, which I find somewhat more difficult to answer the above question, friendliness really becomes difficult to embody.

Yet, when the going gets tough, such as it does when someone is being a jerk, Levine points out: “community allows us to put into practice wisdom and compassion toward all beings-even the annoying members of the revolution.” (ibid.) I find this the point of emphasis in Levine’s point on community. Personally, I have taken it for granted that my “community also serves as a teacher by challenging us in the places where we get stuck.” (ibid.)

This would be one of those loose strings I mentioned. I don’t think people, myself definitely included, would be able to make the hard right without some sort of support system. What makes spiritual communities stronger and more dedicated is the interlinkage of faith. And in some instances, which I have found while participating in other religious practices that are not of my own faith, you still share that same faith in something unseen (most of the time) that cannot be explained in plain rhetoric.

Believe in the believers!

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Written by Jack Viere

November 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Yes! This is great! Community is extremely important to me, and you captured its importance and benefits with poise. Thank you!

    Rapunzel

    November 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

  2. The last two sentences of your first paragraph speak loudly to me today… for many different reasons … primarily this unanticipated community I’ve discovered online at WordPress.com. Thanks for another thoughtful piece and for being part of “my community” 🙂

    Aurora, HSP

    November 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

  3. Believe in the believers! I buy that! I have been fortunate to participate in many spiritual communities of different beliefs as I studied spiritual healing here in Brazil. I love that it all merges together when we let it. Interesting site, you have here, Jack. Thanks for visiting me so I could find you. hugs, pat

    Pat Cegan

    November 14, 2011 at 7:29 am

    • I have done some really introductory level practices in a variety of spiritualities as well.
      Some of my more personal experiences will surface to the blog when I have more time to write a
      well thought out reflection!
      I am glad you like what you’re reading!
      Stay in touch,
      Jack

      Jack Viere

      November 14, 2011 at 9:53 am

  4. You’ve definitely captured the spirit (no pun intended) of Catholics call to be part of a community and not keep our faith hidden. I think your points also lend to so many other religions, Native American customs, etc. Thanks!

    Anonymous

    November 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

  5. This is what I am wishing for…the human community…uniting and enlightened working together in communities to push forward…I probably side with a metaphysical type of spiritual community…Greek Mythology and Philosophy (although they clash) appeals to me…because much of Greek Mythology and the Gods were representations of Nature. Nice post.

    Tincup

    November 14, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    • This might be even more of a stretch: Hinduism as that combination of mythology and philosophy.
      The various avatars for one divine identity can be seen as the different representations of Nature.
      No?

      Jack Viere

      November 15, 2011 at 9:07 am


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