In being really aware of walking, eating, sitting, driving, doing the housework, or talking with friends we reclaim ourselves from a life lived on automatic pilot. In doing so, we can enjoy the rest that comes with bringing our minds and bodies together and learn how to look after ourselves, our environment and those around us. Giving ourselves the space to look deeply into our feelings, thoughts, words and actions allows us to become aware of how they affect us and those we live with.
Philosopher: "I have heard that Buddhism is a doctrine of enlightenment. What is your method? What do you practice every day?"
Buddha: "We walk, we eat, we wash ourselves, we sit down..."
Philosopher: "What is so special about that? Everyone walks, eats, washes and sits down..."
Buddha: "Sir, when we walk, we are aware that we are walking, when we eat, we are aware that we are eating.... When others walk, eat, wash, or sit down, they are generally not aware of what they are doing."
Two Rivers Sangha in Reading is a community of local people from all walks of life that share this wish to find peace and stability amidst the busyness of life and share the benefits of the practice with others. By allowing ourselves the space to ‘simply be’ we are not just offering a gift to ourselves, but a gift to others around us who will benefit from the practice.
The practice at the sangha is rooted in the teachings of the Buddha and more specifically the traditions of Zen Buddhism. We are part of a larger network; the UK Community of Interbeing, which takes inspiration from the Plum Village community in South West France, and most notably the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
It is important to appreciate that in our tradition there are no religious beliefs to 'sign-up' to. The Buddha asked those who wished to practice with him to test-out his teachings and methods and not to accept anything he said in blind faith. Our beliefs and our understanding of the world changes throughout our life and we are encouraged not to hold on tightly to what we think we know, but be open to new understanding. Zen is the art of living beautifully in the present moment, it is experienced personally and directly in the here and now.
We welcome and celebrate our differences including our different life-styles, cultural backgrounds, religions, genders, sexual orientations etc. The only requirement to practice with us is that you have a sincere wish to develop mindfulness and compassion and respect the right of others to follow their own path. Furthermore, there are no moral commandments to follow, but through practicing mindfulness in everyday life, we try to find ways of:
Protecting the lives of people and animals and our environment that sustains us.
Finding ways of living that help prevent exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression.
Cultivating sexual responsibility and protecting others from sexual abuse.
Using loving speech that promotes peace in ourselves and others, whilst learning to listen deeply to what others have to say.
Consuming in ways that promote peace, joy and well-being.
At present, we meet once or twice a month to walk and sit mindfully together and support each other through the joys and sorrows of life. We would love you to join us.