Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Reflections on Dharma Circle

This reflection is meant for the Lamp of Wisdom, an annual magazine that the NUS Buddhist Society publish. It should be 200 words long and therefore I'll try to be short and to the point.

The first time I went into the Dharma Circle, there was a talk on a certain topic about Buddhism that lasted for about 40 minutes, then chaos ensured as the commitee of the NUSBS tries to divide the audiance into groups. I was shocked at the disorganisation, but it was excusable as I see them really doing their best to keep things under control.

Then in my group, I was again shocked that we're going to present our own views about the topic that the speaker discussed. I mean, what if I "misguided" the group y voicing my own "wrong" views about Buddhism.

It was until later that I realised that there's 2 Dharma Friends there in each group of about 10 people. So the discussion was "guided" in some sense that the Dharma Friends, acting as the group facilitators (definition:someone who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan to achieve them without taking a particular position in the discussion. Source: Wikipedia), have some idea of what we're talking about and can summaries our views into something that doesn't look like "rojak" but make sense and useful.

So when Eddy Suwandi, the Dharma Director came and ask me whether I want to be a Dharma Friend or not, I said yes. I mean why not? It's interesting to discover group dynamics and how to be a "guider".

And so I got a one day workshop training and there's my skills, all theories, then came the practice. I become a Dharma Friend for about 2-3? times after the workshop and find that actually being a Dharma Friend is not about knowing a lot of things about Buddhism. Rather it's about being able to gather the bits and pieces that we'll as a group have and mould them into something that everyone can learn from and enjoy. So Dharma Circle, where 10 or so people (perhaps mostly strangers) sit around in a circle and talk, is not wasting time, is not awkward, but it's learning from each other, sometimes you learn about Buddhism, other times you learn about life. But what is Buddhism but a way of life?

Ok sorry I overshoot the 200 words limit, so I think I'll cut and paste and edit until it's nice. But the long version is the nicest I think. So lucky you!

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