The Morning Star Community
(Stella del Mattino- Comunità buddista zen italiana)

On the religious path

The key is the right and regular practice of zazen. The right practice is the practice rooted in a constant striving towards a responsible and welcoming moral integrity. Regular means that it is carried out over a long time. It means that there is no end to it. Practice never stops.
The religious identity of this Community is made up of these two pillars, the way of zazen and the moral striving.
Here below are some instructions to those who want to learn this practice and spirit or to deepen their understanding of them in order to assimilate that identity.

The framework

The direction and the route are the same for everyone, but each of us walks on that route for the first time. One’s way is original and unique. There is no standard. There is no one typical way of life.
In principle, one can get involved as much as one wants. However, in practice, there are two main ways to realize one’s own religious identity along the footsteps of Zen Buddhism, while preserving the unique identity of each of us:
The realization in the world for those who consider family, society and culture integral part of their own life,
The realization despite the world for those for whom family and social relations, friends and work do not constitute a priority, but give priority instead to religious life.
These two ways are described in the dialogue between Dhaniyo and the Blessed One in Suttanipāta, vv. 18-34. The infinite variety of human lives that walk the religious path are synthesized into the two scenarios presented in this dialogue, that of the good family man and of the ascetic. The first includes those whose highest aim in life is to renounce freeing themselves from the world, the second instead those who prefer to renounce investing in the construction of a social life. Both tendencies are valid, provided that they embrace of religion according to Zen Buddhism in their daily lives.

The protocol of those who renounce

Thanks to its spiritual guides, the Morning Star Community allows those who belong to these two worlds to embrace the Zen Buddhist tradition by taking paths that are similar but suited to the personality of each individual as well. These routes have the aim to transform their spiritual commitment – however sanctioned by an ordination – into the reality of their everyday life. The goal is to attain a free spiritual life. The set religious context encourages the development of an original spirituality. The whole path benefits from the dialogue, the counsel and the instruction of the community’s spiritual guides. This kind of relationship, however much it could evolve, never breaks down. On the contrary, it constitutes a new and enriching type of relation, around whose essence all other relations grow. One learns how to be a “friend” in the religious sense, in order to offer this kind of friendship to everyone else (Suttanipāta, vv. 35-49).

The rule

Who wishes to renounce this world and to embark on a path that defines all the aspects of his life must first spend a certain period of time within the Community, to become acquainted with it and to make himself known to it. Then, with the agreement of his spiritual guide, he or she cuts away from his/her previous life in order to realize in full the goals mentioned above as a human being free from the world. Though the separation from the families of origin or destination may be traumatic, it is indispensable that a peaceful accord be reached with all the persons affected, and this may require a period of preparation. The separation from one’s own previous life should not preclude the possibility of a return to social life, in a similar or a different position or environment. The norm is that the community should be a place of study and experience that prepares also to a life outside of it. The community is not the end of the voyage. This preparation may find its natural completion in a formal ordination ceremony according to the norms that are currently valid for the so called shukke of Japanese tradition. The community indicates an appropriate place, which, for a period, can also be outside the community itself, in which the person in question can dedicate himself or herself exclusively to the realization of what s/he has learnt of Buddhist teachings, with distraction and interruption kept to a minimum. The aim is that this person should be able to lead a full and free intimate life and become the form of the religious identity of the community itself.
Who wants instead to develop in the wider social context while conforming to the practice of zazen and walking the right path must first spend a period of time within the community, to make its acquaintance with, and to be known by it. During this period, in agreement with his or her spiritual guide, s/he takes part in the crucial activities of the community – the retreats and the monthly meetings, with a view to realizing the goals mentioned above in full, as a free human being out in the world. This commitment will demand time and energy that will be withdrawn from social relations. Therefore anyone who wishes to carry out this programme must reach an agreement with, or at least obtain the concurrence of, family members and other persons with whom s/he wishes to maintain a relation. This new type of bond with the community does not need to be limited in time. On the contrary, its continuity over time becomes the norm for those who choose it, as well as a nourishment for the life of the community as a whole. This relation is in itself a way of life and can be accompanied through a type of ordination similar to that which is called zaike in the Japanese tradition.

The community

The community is made up of the spiritual guides, those engaged in the practice that calls for separation from the world, and those who attend regularly and contribute with their very presence to the life of the community. All take part in the joint effort of keeping everything in top form so that it may constitute a benchmark of religious life, and a lab in which every day a collective and individual life is created along the teaching of the Buddha.

Se volete, lasciate un commento.

You must be logged in to post a comment.