March 10, 2011
It’s a good month to be a member of the Tricycle Book Club. We’re discussing two very excellent—and very different—books through the end of March. The first is Sex and the Spiritual Teacher by Scott Edelstein. It’s a levelheaded, honest look at a serious and real issue—and it couldn’t be more timely. Here’s an comment from the discussion already taking place, from Edelstein:
When something becomes the norm in a community, it isn't easy to speak out against it. You're not just challenging the specific practice; you're also challenging all of the people in it, their leaders, the agreements among all these folks, and the organization itself.
When we're new to a community, we tend to keep mum because we're still learning about it, and we know that we won't be taken seriously. If we challenge things, we'll probably just be quickly shown to the door.
And once we've become part of the community, the norms may no longer seem so strange or bother us so much. Wittingly or unwittingly, we may have even adopted them ourselves. And now we have things to lose--friendships, commitment to a teacher or tradition, the possibility of future benefit--by speaking out. It's a classic setup.
Have something to say? Come on over.
The second book that we’re discussing is Living This Life Fully, a book by Mirka Knaster about the life of Munindra, one of the most important vipassana teachers of the twentieth century. Here’s a great story about Munindra that’s already surfaced at the discussion:
I had the great good fortune of attending a retreat when Joseph had his teacher, Munindra in attendance.
Praying on my conscience was the fact that I had been spraying aphids in my green house and, I suppose, looking for absolution. Joseph's response to my confession was that I should consider whether or not having a green house was something I wished to, or should, continue. I explained the extent of my financial and emotional commitment to such and Joseph suggested that I should talk to Munindra.
Because the dictate of non-killing is unambiguous; I questioned what he might be able to do. Joseph responded that he certainly did not know but strongly suggested that I should see him.
And so I did. To begin, I was immediately impressed. He listened, questioned, questioned and finally; rather than offering solutions or indeed, condemning my actions, he became highly personally inquisitive.
Finally, looking directly and hard at me he said, "You are not killing aphids, you are growing vegetables." And so, the element of motivation became crystal clear.
Share your Munindra thoughts, stories, and questions here.