I’ve not invited articles according to a specific theme for this new magazine, so it has been satisfying to see patterns emerging nonetheless. This third edition of The London Buddhist has been no exception: the importance of community seems to run through all of it.
The bonds that exist between us are an inherent part of who we are, how we live and what we do. Never the less, the games of separation that we play, through force of habit, produce aversion and conflict, polarization and difference in our lives and the world. Individually and globally this is a cause of great suffering.
How is it possible to live in such a way that we can love our fellow man without becoming exclusive with our love, reserving it for those within our group, our nation, our race? If we simply go along with the group our passivity will not bring solutions. If we react to the group then society will be made up of individualists who live only for themselves. Only a spiritual community can allow each of us to associate freely with others, while living up to the highest ideals in which love has both an individual and universal dimension. Only a spiritual community will help individuals grow towards their fullest potential.
Even in war there is love, and Sāgaramati explores the strong bonds of brotherhood that form in times of life and death, being forged deep beneath the ocean. Later he rejects the goal of war but finds a similar brotherhood in a spiritual community, which has the highest and most positive ideals.
In what we hope will be an occasional series, Vajratara writes to us from the spiritual community (Tiratanaloka) that she is living within and talks of the transforming power of nature and communication. We also get a glimpse into another spiritual community, and Abhayanandi’s world, having ‘gone forth’ onto the Buddhist Path.
Other contributors have approached the idea of community through the arts. In his column on books, Ollie Brock turns his attention this time to spiritual experiences which can have a frightening effect outside of a supportive context, and also how the poetic imagination can influence how we receive such experiences. Maitreyaraja’s interview this time is with Jnanavaca. With the end of the world imminent in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, he tells us, the tension brings people together under a common goal, and as Jnanavaca recounts the journey to the sun, we find the community being drawn deeper and deeper into beauty.
Finally, Singhamanas gives us a few glimpses into his life and the lives of others as he takes the spirit of community to a soup kitchen, exploring the questions that come from his encounters.
Perhaps it is the presence of a shared, positive ideal and a living spiritual community that is missing in today’s world. With increasing secularisation and indiviualisation, what is going to bring us together for the growth and benefit of everyone? I hope that some of these articles stimulate your vision for what a new society might look like.