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Community

Community is an important devotional and spiritual aspect we should never exclude from our path. We grow in the context of community as we bounce ourselves off the questions and tests of every day life.

It is in relationship to community where our weak points show up

The community gives us opportunity to discover our weak point and to start working on them.  It is too easy to be mistaken in thinking that one has cultivated adequate love to approach the Light of Love, when one is living as a recluse in a mountain. Take the recluse to the community and test his/her love as it is faced with the thieving drug addict, the septic hobo, the rich and lascivious, the egocentric mammon-maniac, the 'righteous' evangelizing condemning Christian, the wayward teenager and the screaming baby, the honking taxi and the hysterical shopper...  We are ultimately tested in the community.  Yesu reminds us that it is easy to love one's family, even sinners do that, but it is the un-lovable that we have to learn to love, in order to learn love. 

Where two or three get together...

Spiritual energy runs through a like-minded group as electricity runs through a transformer.  A properly set group-mind can amplify spiritual energy to 'mind blowing' extent.  This is another aspect of community in one's spiritual path which should not be neglected.

Individuation of society

It is a paradox that the East, with its history of emphasis on individual spiritual responsibility, still functions well in social communities who get together to form extended families and care circles--while the West, with its history of emphasis on communal spiritual responsibility and the dictum 'extra ecclesium nulla salos' (outside the church there is no salvation), ended up being a collection of individuals who feel no responsibility or fraternity to one another.

Western society is breaking up and people are living as islands.  These people are robbed of communal care, group loyalty, sharing of love on the many fronts that caring communities provide, and they are nurtured to be egocentric lonely individuals.  This is not good breeding ground for holistic inner growth, for learning to be tolerant, compassionate and humble.

Devotional communities

Church of the East has long, since the 4th century, been surviving in, and because of, devotional communities.  The social and political world is not always friendly to people who think and believe differently and often persecute such 'others'.  Sometimes the effort to keep roof over head and clothes on the bottom becomes a full time struggle that allow precious little opportunity for deeper spiritual quests.  In times like these a devotional community may be an answer to one's future.  The devotional community is usually, somehow, self sufficient and the new family that one adopts becomes one's communal spiritual school, and the place where one can learn humility, simplicity, compassion, and more...

Ashram

A common form of devotional community is the ashram.  An ashram is a place of spiritual striving and always sets this as the priority over other things.  Traditionally ashrams operate on rather rigid programme rules and work very long hours to fit in daily tasks, community work and the priority of spiritual study and practice.