I just returned from a week long visit with All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington DC. Last month I was with the Austin Zen Center for a week as well. Yesterday, as I was preparing to leave DC, I started to reflect a bit on “offerings”.
Of course, we often think financial support when we talk about offerings. This is a very important aspect of the relationship between teachers and the sangha. Those of us who practice support through “dana” rather than a “fee for service” type of system can easily feel like donations of dollars have a higher value than other offerings. This happens in my own mind often, especially when I have looming bills, or needs that need to be met. It is scary to practice in this way, and rely on the generosity of the communities you serve. I have yet to feel “short changed” or lacking in the financial support from any of the groups or people that I have been in relationship with.
This post, though, really is about all of the other ways that offerings have been shared with me. There are those offerings that are ephemeral and unable to be put into words very well. There is something transmitted in the intimacy of sitting together, conversing together, and calling for the dharma together that is beyond words, and yet so very real. This is also the offering of folks bringing open hearts, and deep practice, and the intentionality of their vows into our shared space. People show up to workshops and lectures, and jump into the work with me, and all I can do is be humbled in that. I deeply believe that each of these moments are co-created, and this gets verified repeatedly every time I am in these spaces.
There is also the offering of caring. I am given such hospitality. More than just a comfy bed or room and more than a meal, there is a generosity of resources that just really can’t be ignored. There is “covering expenses” and then there is the generosity I have always found when I travel to other Sanghas. I am fairly independent and enjoy my moments to wander around on my own. I also enjoy spending time with folks in less formal ways than sitting, dharma talks, and workshops. I always leave my visits thinking, “I need to care for myself in the ways that I have been cared for here.”
Taking some time to notice, and appreciate all of the offerings that are shared with me, fills me with gratitude, reminds me that I am on the right track, and encourages me to keep making the effort to bring forth the Dharma in a whole hearted, well educated way. I am tired, and so grateful to be home, and in my space, with my stuff. The familiarity, and comfort of this “life” that I have is rejuvenating and restorative. And the chances to step out of that, jump into the Dharma with new folks in new environments, and seeing what gets created is also renewing and invigorates my practice. I am less without both of these things.
Thank you to all of the folks who I am able to come together with. Thank you to all of the support, in all the ways it comes, and Thank you for the continuing education of what it is we mean when we say “practice”.