Wisdom in Relationship

One result of BIN's effort to bring Insight leaders together is that we are coming to see a larger view of the Insight Meditation movement through encountering the character, programs, and activities of other sanghas. This can be a fruitful realm of practice when held in the right way.

Our practice teaches that it is our relationship to experience that determines our freedom or suffering. When we look outward at the character, programs, and activities of other sanghas, are we relating in a wise or unwise way?

There are many healthy options. We may experience wonder at the kaleidoscope of Insight offerings spawned after the initial set of teachers returned from Asia. The vital creativity of the Dharma itself ensures that such variation will continue to flourish. We may be inspired by the work of other groups to make positive changes in our own sangha or to connect more deeply into the BIN community. And we may discover humility, or the spirit of not-knowing, as we contemplate how each group has a different set of concerns, sometimes quite different from our own. We do not hold the whole picture: Whatever issue seems vital to us may not be so urgent to others; something we assume to be normal may be a great challenge for another group.

There are some unhealthy stances to watch out for also, even if they are subtle: Conceit drives us to compare "their way" to "our way," setting us up for the suffering of arrogance or inadequacy, the twin conceits of "They should be more like us" and "We should be more like them." (Surely we are a more socially conscious sangha! Or perhaps we look terribly unorganized.) If we are strongly wedded to our views, we will see others' activities through the lens of our own concerns, rather than opening to others as they actually are. Ignorance leads us to dismiss that which seems foreign, unrelated, or in some way threatening.
A relationship of freedom and wisdom includes an element of lightness. Each group is itself a changing process, as is the collection of all of us.