It's also been a joy to work together with the sangha, this group of people who share together in this dharma and practice. There was one meeting where people were making presentations to the sangha. I talked a little bit about how easy it is, when you feel very passionate about something, to get self-involved and attached to your own position, particularly when others disagree. So here, there is the practice of taking something very seriously, but not being self-serious; of caring but without attachment to results. And I thought, how wonderful to be able to ask everyone to throw themselves into their work and leave any sense of self-importance aside, and be met with understanding and enthusiasm.
MR: Do you see people letting go within the functioning of the process?
Sensei: Yes. I've been involved in some local community meetings recently in Brooklyn and have seen the swiftness with which they often become angry, highly contentious and decreasingly constructive. It's very difficult for people's deep passion for, and fear about these issues not to taint the shared efforts of trying to find good solutions and work together as a community.
I've seen how easy it is for that divide to appear. It's not that this doesn't appear in our work, but there is a clear path to seeing that and addressing it.
MR: What have the greatest challenges been for you, personally, but also that you've seen the group struggle with?
Sensei: It certainly hasn't been effortless; we've put a lot of work into it. But it also hasn't been a struggle. But the thing that I realize now I'd hoped for was that the project would continue to grow in a steady way, that more and more people would become aware of what we're doing and become interested in it and get involved, and that's happened on some level—but not as much as I would have liked or hoped for. Because if you think about it, there's no way that anyone who has any degree of knowledge about what's going on can excuse themselves from the issue. It's not only that we are all part of creating the problem, but we are all certainly going to reap the harvest and we are all obligated to be a part of trying to deal with this new world that we have created— what Bill McKibben describes as "the end of nature."