By Peggy Metta Sheehan
Mosquitos love me. And last week I was doing a good deal of scratching, scratching in my sleep, at work, in the shower. There is something quite satisfying about scratching an itch, too hard to stop at times. I would stop only to feel a stronger urge that I could not resist, and scratch away again. However, I could begin to notice when I’d crossed the line: Uh-oh, now it’s bleeding and oozing. Okay, stop! And I could. Often I can catch myself before that point, but not always.
You might be familiar with Pema Chödrön’s wonderful teaching on shenpa in Getting Unstuck. Shenpa refers to becoming hooked, and to this urge to move, to scratch the itch, and to reinforce the habit of moving and scratching by moving and scratching. Tibetan teachers have described the human condition as children having a bad case of scabies, being old enough to scratch, but not old enough to know that scratching spreads the scabies.
Most importantly, it is said that two conditions are needed to heal. First, a desire to heal. Second, enough love for oneself to begin the process.
Most find their way to a meditation center such as ours having touched the first, a deep and profound longing to heal, to find a true place of refuge that is the ultimate healing. Yet, this deep and profound longing, though it exists within each of us, does not belong to us as individuals. We awaken together in community, as community. This sangha and the mahasangha, the earth, moon and stars, rely upon each other, cannot stand alone and will only awaken together. I hope you find that a relief. It’s not up to you alone—never has been, never will be.
Now, how about the second necessary ingredient—enough love for oneself to get started? What is enough love? Well, just enough to get started. That’s all you need, and from there it grows exponentially in community, in sangha.
That has been obvious in these past few weeks. There is love and there is longing. Something essential is occurring in our community. It is not to be feared but rather welcomed and embraced. There is love and there is longing. There is love for each other, for our strengths and our weaknesses, for heartaches, miscommunications, for integrity and principles, for standing together and supporting one another in uniqueness and difference. And there is longing. Longing to stand up, to grow our hearts and our humanity. Longing to heal the disease of separation and the sickness of injustice and delusion. The forces of love and longing are converging, and we can trust what will unfold. Together, we and all beings heal.