"It has been said that the twenty-first century will be a century of spirituality, and I think it must be a century of spirituality if we are to survive. . . . Spirituality is something we can cultivate. To be spiritual means to be solid, calm, and peaceful, and to be able to look deeply inside and around us. It means having the capacity to handle our afflictions our anger, craving, despair, and discrimination. It is being able to see the nature of interbeing between people, nations, races, and all forms of life. Spirituality is not a luxury anymore; we need to be spiritual in order to overcome the difficulties of our time," writes Thich Nhat Hanh in this collection of essays paying tribute to the importance of the Sangha or Buddhist community.
Now more than ever, people find solidarity and meaning in practicing mindfulness together as a stay against the confusion, anger, fear and hatred afoot in the world. Jack Lawlor, who compiled the material here, states that Sanghas offer a wide array of skillful means to address the real issues in people's lives. The practice of formal and sitting meditation, study of the Dharma with discussion groups, reciting gathas, making vows, and other community-building activities are discussed. Sangha leaders from around the world talk about life together in community and the challenges that lie ahead.
Thich Nhat Hanh has commented: " What is most important is to find peace and to share it with others." The Sangha is the place where the practices of attention, harmony, equanimity, patience, and love can be activated in the presence of true spiritual allies and friends. Here is where we combat our worst habit energies, including the suffering resulting from dealing with difficult people.
We were especially impressed with Larry Yang's trainings of the mind in diversity. Here is one of them: "Aware of the suffering caused by the violence of treating someone as inferior or superior to one's own self, I undertake the training to refrain from diminishing or idealizing the worth, integrity, and happiness of any human being. Recognizing that my true nature is not separate from others, I commit to treating each person that comes into my consciousness with the same loving kindness, care, and equanimity that I would bestow upon a beloved benefactor or dear friend."