Group Guru Doug Sensei

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Doug Duncan Sensei on the Group Guru

You shouldn’t think that your material life, or life in the world is just to get you to the meditation center, to pay for your retreats. You should really think that your main meditation is the world, and your retreats are a place where you get to take a breather, review and see how you’ve been doing. The centre becomes a place where you actually retreat, the world is where you advance. Your practice has to be firmly established in the world, and you learn the basis for how to do that here at Clear Sky, or at places like it. And so too when you’re involved in any organisation or group. The function of the group and organisation is to give you a model or a working basis for your involvement in the world.

It’s important for you to understand that working to the development of the institution in a sense is working towards the idea of group guru. I really want to underline this one here, and
also for the future. The days of the great individual are over. The future is the future of the group. In a population of 6 billion people, unless you belong to a group you have absolutely no power. No individual is really heard anymore. Having said that, the group is only as strong as its individuals. So there are two paths to strengthening an individual. One is solitary practice
and I mean not only meditation, but learning how to be alone with others, without being defensive or indifferent. The other is learning how to work with others without being solitary, alone and defensive.

In my dialogue with my teacher it was a two pronged effort. Initially I saw only Rinpoche, the Guru, and the group was a kind of encumbrance that I had to put up with. After a few years I saw that the real teacher was actually the group and that Rinpoche was the axle or focal point for that group to come together. The real Guru was in the group. This dialogue went back and forth and back again.

So fundamentally in terms of the organisation, you should see it similarly. Solitary meditative work in your individual desires and path in life is the Guru, and the group is also the Guru. And so you should have a healthy relationship between your ability to work in a group, community, society and the ability to stand alone and go your own direction.

These two should be like two boots. If you’re the kind of person that just wants to retreat into a solitary private world, you really need to take that apart, it’s not healthy. On the other hand if you can’t function without being in a group, having a lot of people around you, then you really need to take that apart. It should be a two step process.

– Doug Duncan Sensei from The Naked Alaya, Nov 2007.