Practicing the Way in Russia

By Edward Meaning

I hope our newly organized Russian Sangha will survive and progress. I am absolutely sincere and accepting ardently Thay's teaching. The most important aim of our efforts is not an organization, but the fundamental thing about which Thay and other teachers never tire to tell us: arriving at the state of touching the here and now or the Buddha within ourselves. I feel that many are immersed in the fuss of outer activities making them as it were the goal in itself, being completely in the play of superficial developments. The person who has touched the here and now doesn't need special stimuli or specially organized circumstances to continue on the path.

I am not a "Buddhist." Buddhism just coincides with my natural manner of feeling the world and the tendency to make my human way in it. I refuse to label myself any "ism." Just being nobody, I am Buddhist automatically. But I don't want to demonstrate it or show it off. I don't feel a need to make any special effort. But to be aware of the values and the whole system of Buddhism, to know about Dharma, and practice it, is a tremendous treasure.

Dharmic truth is available in every moment. For example, I am still in a flush of shame after the incident when I found myself in the grips of attachment and could not let go. When I came on your invitation to visit, I had concocted a very clever short speech addressed to Thay to be pronounced at the moment of handing some flowers to him. But the situation appeared to be different. He was resting in his room, and my intention collapsed. But I was still playing with the broken fragments of this intention and thus failed to do the only natural thing—hand over the flowers to those present. Wisdom certainly lies with Dharma, not with concocted ideas.

Edward Meaning is co-coordinator of the St. Petersburg Sangha that hosted a retreat with Thay in September.

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