Try With All Your Might

Practicing in Your City

When you give, it always feels like you are the one getting the offering, because you get to serve.
  • Question: Elizabeth, how can I keep my practice alive Being in a city where I have no sangha And no one to share the dharma with? I look forward to reading your new Book! Sincerely, Barbara

    Dear Barbara,

    Thank you for your question. It reminded me of an experience I had – a day in the city with my teacher.

    Many years ago I was in San Francisco with my teacher, Kongtrul Rinpoche. We had the whole day just to wander around. But it ended up being really special because we each had some money in our pocket to give away.

    There are so many homeless people in California. There are homeless people on almost every corner, it seems. When we passed each corner we made an offering to the people we came across. Sometimes when we gave money the recipient would give us something in return, like an apple or a magazine. Some people seemed to expect something and didn’t look up. Sometimes we saw someone who looked strung out on drugs and so we would just go buy them some food or coffee. Some people didn’t like us to approach and flipped us off. But it was wonderful just to give. I think that, when it seems safe and appropriate just to acknowledge someone’s presence in the city is like making an offering. And it always feels like you are the one getting the offering because you get to serve.

    I love going to cities because I live in the country. I figure I see more people in 5 minutes in the middle of NYC than in 5 months of being where I live! My heart always feels stirred when I sit on the subway or walk down the street. My mind feels good in that situation.

    Then, when you get to go into your home or hotel it also feels like such a haven too! It is nice to just be present and practice and be quiet.

    It would be wonderful, Barbara, if you could find a spiritual community to practice with. But even if you don’t, you can consider everyone in the city your people – your community and work with that. You don’t even have to have pocketfuls of money…but just try to extend kindness every moment you can.

    I hope this advice is not too simplistic. I am just speaking from my experience.


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