Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of Northern Chautauqua

companionship  on  life's  sacred  journey

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. – Mahatma Gandhi

A Message From Our Minister

One of the main teachings of Buddhism is that about the root of suffering or dissatisfaction. It is the second of the Four Noble Truths the Buddha taught. This root the Buddha named desire – desire that is understood as grasping, clinging, holding tightly to the idea that if we could only get this one thing (person, job, education, house, money, object), our lives would be peaceful, content and happy.

The root of suffering arises not only in our individual lives, but also in our communal one. We see this when we find ourselves thinking “This is the perfect (and only) statement of purpose/vision/strategic plan for our congregation! This is the perfect (and only) building/space for us! This is the perfect (and only) program for our congregation to undertake!” The corollary to this is: “And once we have this ___, things will be perfect for us all! Eternal satisfaction, meaning, happiness. But only if we get that one thing. If we don’t get it, the future ahead is bleak indeed.”

Things may be better for us with any of the above, but none of them will solve all our worries and cares forever. Each will bring joys and each its own challenges. Each are steps that may help us mature spiritually, grow in connection, broaden our perspective. And each can pull us in the other direction as well. It’s up to us to decide which it is. Every moment. In every step we take.

Grasping or holding too tightly to our idea of what is the one, right way to proceed narrows our worldview and our ability to connect with others who might not see what we’re holding onto as important as we do. It also negates possibility – that there are many programs, visions, statements of purpose, buildings/space that will support and encourage our UU ministry here in Northern Chautauqua.

The Buddha taught that if we understand how suffering or dissatisfaction arises, we have a better chance of growing in happiness and satisfaction with life. When we loosen our grip, work to listen in order to understand, recognize there are many possibilities and routes to take and that we can learn from everything – mistakes and failures, as well as our successes – we may find new joy. Joy not tied to getting our way, but joy tied to being curious and staying connected.

As we continue to walk together, aiming for the best for our spiritual community, may we all open our hands a bit to welcome what may come as we explore and consider the many possibilities before us.

With every good wish,