an Art of Dying fragment
There is a strong (and undeniable) spiritual parallel between the Buddhist Sangha and Our Prince’s Sea Organization. They are both congregations of harmonized belief. Harmonized, mutually supported and reinforced belief.
As I believe, you believe. As you believe, I believe. As I trust, you trust. As you trust, I trust. And if my belief, or trust, for whatever reason flags, I only need look your way to see (and drink in) your firm and in-no-way flagging belief and trust and so re-charge, un-flag mine.
I only have to look at my friends down there on the aft well deck, loading stores from our Portuguese chandler (whose large orange and white van is parked near the gangway for easy access), stocking up for our next voyage; I only have to see them smile and hear them banter and laugh to know their beliefs are strong and shared and beyond question. Seeing and knowing this I feel my own belief pulse in unison and, like the Phoenix, rise again and flex fresh, strong wings. Soaring again.
Ananda, the Buddha’s PA of many years, once suggested to the Buddha that the spiritual friendship of the Sangha was better than half of the holy life. Gotama Buddha corrected him and said that the spiritual friendship of the Sanga was more than that — it was all of the holy life.
Our Prince would beg to differ. According to him, the holy life was Him, Our Prince, nothing and no one else. He was Source, the Heart, the life and wisdom of our Sangha, all of it; the discoverer and codifier of our spiritual technology. And don’t we ever forget it.
We learned that over and over; and over.
The rest of us only had the occasional walk-on part.
However, on a personal experience level, I knew, looking down at the aft well deck that I was surrounded by support and a harmony of belief that would see me through any doubt and hardship — each friend a firm and irreplaceable brick in the wall of our shared castle. The castle was our ship Apollo. Our wonderful Prince its captain and supreme potentate. And the thought that someone would voluntarily up and leave all this behind, well, it was an unthinkable one.