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Aug 28
Dharma Teachings

From the column Dharma Snacks by Cynthia Kneen

Society is made up of individuals. Really, enlightened society is an individuals’ community. There is no extra “thing” called society. The spark, or magic, lies in our individuality rather than our uniformity. But 2+2=5 when individuals share the same atmosphere, recognize the quality of the atmosphere, and work with it to build it, express it, and proclaim the harmony and indivisibility of that atmosphere. That’s magic, too. Whatever country we live in, we have a lot of uniformly recognizable behavior. And there are many groups within a culture, and they are uniformly recognizable, too. Still, the real magic starts with individuals. Really, regardless of the culture we are all basically, intrinsically different. We can see this in the “wow” that we experience when we’re with another human being. “Wow, I talked to that person. I didn’t know that. That person is very interesting!” “Wow, I read about the fraud. That is amazing. That person is really mixed up!”

Each of us has a very strong inner heart, or we wouldn’t have made it this far. This is true for heroes, heroines, children and crooks. It is evident in the way we dress or move about our world, the things that make us laugh, or cry, and what we care about. Whether it is covered up or manifests, a unique strength is always there. And seeing it produces an unspoken “wow” when barriers come down, when we talk openly, see clearly, meet together, watch each other across a room, or hear each other talked about. I wish us many naked “wow’s”. And I wish that things evolve in a decent and peaceful way for each of us, the countries that we’re in, all beings, and the globe we share.


Cynthia Kneen is the author of Awake Mind, Open Heart: The Power of Courage & Dignity in Everyday Life (Avalon, 2002), and the CD course, Shambhala Warrior Training (Sounds True, 1996). Cynthia has taught Shambhala Buddhist programs throughout the mandala for over thirty years and is currently writing a book on business and dharma. Visit her website at www.cynthiakneen.com

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1 response to “ “Wow!” ”
  1. Mark Hazell
    Aug 30, 2009

    In thinking about community a very useful resource is Peter Block’s book Community: The Structure of Belonging. Block isn’t a buddhist, but his insights into how people can work together to foster genuine community are wise and penetrating. A shorter (and free) exposition of his thinking on this can be found at http://www.asmallgroup.net/pages/images/pages/CES_jan2007.pdf .

    None of what Mr. Block says in any way contradicts Ms. Kneen’s comments — i just offer it as one possible skillful means to consider in our efforts to creat Enlightened Society.

    Mark Hazell

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