Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning in August of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
June 25, 2010
Student: Recently, you were talking about preventing the clinging to sangha. You said that, like anything else, if we get caught by how we feel about our sangha we can get a little lost. How in the heck do you do discourage clinging for individuals who are truly excited about being around people that are on the same path?
Michael: You kinda’ answered your own question. The minute we get caught by anything, we either run toward it because we like it, or we run away from it because we fear it. Both of these moves keeps us from being intimate with the sacred fire of what’s being offered. Feel the burn in its totality first, then choose a response. This always helps us go more deeply into our practice.
Student: Isn’t going deeper still part of the “me” story? One dives, so to speak, for the treasure, but then we start to see that if it’s not here, it’s not anywhere. On the other hand, we see that if the treasure is over there, it’s also must be here.
Michael: That’s right. There is no absence of spiritual treasure. Ever. All we ever need is always here.
Student: So then this goes back to the original question. How do you deal with a sangha that clings to itself or to you.
Michael: I’ve found that the best medicine for this is to remind practitioners not to cling but then let them cling away. Over time their clinging will be revealed, as I said, to be something that’s preventing them from deepening their work. This is the way teaching works, it seems: remind, point out, ask questions. Repeat if necessary. The same thing applies to me. I let them cling to me and my version of the teaching in the hope that as their practice deepens they see not only that I’m not really there, but that there is no teaching to absorb. Weird, huh? One dives into this work hoping to find treasure. Over time, the practitioner realizes a radical oneness. They see that it’s all treasure. At this point, one comes home as treasure meeting itself.