Did not know what a Buddhist sangha could mean to me, until four of us aspiring students focused on a multi-colored insect at lunch, discussed its past and future life-aspects, and showed compassion to a sentient being whom we might have swatted away before gaining our insight Sunday.
I became one with the three. Fell in love with each, as we contributed to a blissful feeling of awe and wonder that arose from our recent meditation and studying of Buddhist dharma. We questioned whether we should “seek refuge” by taking the next step in our spiritual path, by becoming something called “initiates.”
For a moment, I felt a bond. I became them. They became me. We all merged as one with that little bug curiously feeling out the world around it and within.
The insect, a flying bug of beautiful iridescent blue and touches of green, landed on a plate of food we were sharing at a lunch table near the Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. We watched as the creature slowly explored, moving one mili-centimeter at time, possibly concerned more with feeding than protecting itself from the more enormous creatures sharing its world.
We admired this critter, watching intently, hoping no harm would come to it while in our presence, and putting into action what we just learned at classes for alleviating the suffering of others, all others, no matter what shape or size.
Jessica pushed a crumb of food toward the critter. Not sure if it nibbled then. But later, I felt the insect, or one of its fellow bugs, alight onto my index finger. I watched it crawl over the ridges, the lines that police use for “fingerprints.” Wondered if this flying critter had trouble moving over such a surface.
It crawled to the other side and then made its way to the middle finger. I was captivated by it. Looking back, I wonder if this was how an Adam and an Eve felt when having all the time in the world to explore the world and marvel at God’s creation?
We were drawn back to Spring Garden Street in center city Philadelphia, noticing that we sat at the exact place where Hershey, the founder of a chocolate empire, had opened his first store in the latter part of the 19th Century. He moved some 10 years later after “credit” problems, only to flourish as a confectioner in another part of Pennsylvania, according to a historic marker. Laura and Helen had to move on, each promising to return next week for more enlightenment. Jessica and I chatted a little while longer, but left curious about our next step along this spiritual path and if we could create as good a condition for our future selves as we did for the insect we related to earlier.