Destination Unknown

Sherri Maxwell

Dark eerie forest scene with fog and twin trees on halloween
Dark eerie forest scene with fog and twin trees on halloween

When starting on the path, you have the guardrails up, the training wheels on, you are on track, and everybody is there to support you. How wonderful. We are headed towards “Enlightenment.”

Your Sangha is heavenly, your Guru is amazing—you are all set.

That is, until life events punch holes in your conviction and your emotions take you to a place you never thought you would be, and the very Sangha that is there to support you . . . judges you, and even talks behind your back.

The Dharma asks to be tested in order for its validity to be proved and to be integrated into a person’s mind, and life does that quite well. It tests any idea or belief, no matter who you are. But some Sangha members feel the need to have an unrealistic level of faith (fandom), which condemns the humanness of which we all made.

We hold so tightly to the blade of our faith that we end up cutting ourselves. The presence of this philosophy called Buddhism is meant to help us lessen suffering, not create it. And yet we do create it, and so well, I might add. The very fact that we need to be right and someone else wrong, the fact that we try to convince someone else that our reality or perception of reality is the correct one and to sway people’s opinions . . . In order to justify our feelings and actions, we tell stories to make us feel better, with the potential cost of hurting someone else.

There are infinite perceptions of reality: who is to say which one is right?

Don’t get me wrong—Sanghas are amazing groups. Some people from the Sangha are my lifelong friends, some closer than family, and the Sangha can teach you so much. It can be a reflection of the group consciousness, you, and itself.

The Sangha is the Dharma in action.

But a dear Buddhist friend of mine went through some difficult times, and the only thing I could do was stay away and not engage with the situation, or do, or say, anything . . . this was so that I could reconnect later, once the dust had settled. But the amount of judgment and sheer volume of stories being told, opinions being swayed, allegiances being made . . . the effect of my friend’s realization that her approach to the Dharma needed serious realignment causing some discomfort with the Sangha, which did not want that type of change . . . But we have realizations about our attitude and practice all the time (at least I hope we do), so why should this one have had such an impact?

I felt it was not for me to get involved, as to participate would have meant to potentially create even more suffering. Don’t think I did not get in trouble for making that choice.

Sometimes, we trap ourselves in our perceptions and act as if transient situations are eternal, when they are not. We want to comfort ourselves in a situation and identify how we feel, so as to validate it over another person’s feelings, in order to fit in, to be a part of, to belong. So that we can feel comfortable.

But in truth, we have all done something at one time or another where we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?” Do we really know ourselves? Can we know ourselves? Do we pretend to know ourselves?

It depends on the situation, doesn’t it?

This was when my destination changed.

We are the unknown, we are the destination.

Buddhism helps us explore this destination.

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