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The Company You Keep

"You are the company you keep."

The Buddha

This past Thursday, many of us in the Tao Tribe community attended a special screening of the documentary about Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (seen above) called, Walk With Me. Among the many things I cherished about this remarkable film, was the beautiful sense of community between teacher, monastics and the everyday people who take part in the meditations and retreats. They're shared moments of silence, meditation and stillness while walking together, eating their meals or having a laugh, were like watching priceless jewels of wisdom and true intimacy.

This brought home to me the teaching of the Buddha, who said that living an awakened life is like a stool that has three legs; the first leg is meditation, the second leg is the dharma (the teachings of Truth), and the third is the company we keep (sangha). Though I once believed that regular meditation is the most important practice for our unfolding peace, I now feel that it is the friends and companions we walk our path with, that have the greatest impact on the quality of our lives, and whether or not we will continue with our meditation practice.

All of us have been in situations, either with family or in our workplace, where we were surrounded by

people who radiated negative energy; situations and relationships that leave us feeling depleted and stressed. We find that very few, if any, of the people we share our day-to-day affairs with, are actually practicing mindfulness meditation, let alone concerned with being present in the here and now moment. We can begin to feel like a solitary leaf blowing in the wind, longing to touch down in a community where we can share the practice of meditation and mindfulness with like-minded people who are actually uplifting to be around.

The Buddha said that finding such a community is one of the greatest blessings we can be given, for in doing so, we find the inspiration to continue doing our practices and living with wakefulness. It is in such a community that we can truly be ourselves, and find the support to continue making choices that lead to greater joy and ease in our daily lives. In such a community we share an intimacy in meditation that goes beyond the need to know everyone's story, and instead feel the bond of a deepening stillness and peace, that is at the heart of who we all truly are.

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