Linked with Sanghaseva (Seva Sangha).
Interview published on Sangasheva /click on the internal link: Interview with Zohar and Nathan, by Aviv, not dated.
Aviv: When Zohar talked about Sanghaseva at the end of the Tovana retreat what stood out for me was your stressing having community. Community is important for you isn’t it?
Zohar: Yes community is very important and it’s a big part of out retreats, the support of doing things together helps to get us active. It is much harder to get motivated to do something as an individual. And then while on the retreat, the process is really enhanced by the group explorations. Both by articulating what is going on for us and hearing what is going on for others makes more of the experience We deepen and explore together and support each other to go further than we would on our own. Also in the nature of the retreats, which emphasise interaction and group process, more of a network is created to carry on the sangha support and sense of community. We leave the retreat with close connections that are often maintained. Also people are coming back to do more of our retreats, which to us feels like a SanghaSeva community being built up. For myself I feel community or sangha is a key to being in the world in an openhearted way. Spending time with others who have the same motivation for their lives, and who speak the same weird language, gives me energy to carry on.
Nathan: Yet equally we are interested in expanding our boundaries, letting our idea of who are our friends in this world keep getting bigger. Expanding community interests me especially in relation to our being peace retreat. So much conflict seems to arise when the fringes of us meets the fringes of them.
Aviv: Can you elaborate more on the connection between the spiritual practice and the activism? Can you describe how you experience the urge to be involved rising from your spiritual practice?
Nathan & Zohar: For us our spiritual practice has been about a growing sense of connection and opening, and feeling more sensitive to the pain and suffering in the world. When the pain of separation is more obvious than the numbness of ignorance, we are less able to ignore. Coming with this there is more of a connection to how much we actually care and how much the pain in this world hurts.One day there was simply the sense that this was the thing to do, it was that simple. The sense and logic came after the urge.Each time I act from this sense of connection I understand a little of the great saint Shantideva when he said “it is like feeding myself I hope for nothing in return”.
Aviv: Hardly anyone from Tovana joined your project. People are happy to go on a meditation retreat but almost no one joined for the activism. How do you feel about that? I don’t mean personally but what do you feel about the low level of involvement of the spiritual community? During the Dharma Gathering there was a discussion on engaged spirituality – it’s easier for people to talk about it than to come and join actions such as yours.
Zohar: That is why we are doing it. There is a gap between what we all feel we want to see happen and what we are able to motivate ourselves to do. We are opening the door to people to act, we know its very difficult to act individually, and more simple if there is a group to join. So this is why we organise these retreats. It is actually very selfish, because this is what we want to be doing with our lives, and we want to do it with others. So we create these opportunities, and until today someone has always joined!I can think of many reasons why people didn’t come, on one level it’s a disappointment, but on another it’s just what is. I cannot wish that any of our retreats would be other than what they are.But we want to make it very clear we are not lone warriors struggling upstream. There was enormous active support from the Israeli sangha; a lot of people in Israel gave their time and energy to make this happen. It feels important to also notice this …
… Nathan & Zohar: We feel great about this retreat. It was amazing to experience the maturity and sincerity of the group, and the energy that was created. Actually it hasn’t been easy telling people about it, putting it into words. Not because the experience wasn’t powerful, but because it sits in a very tender place in our hearts, a place beyond words. Answering your questions has been very good in that way. Finding ways to articulate that feeling, that tenderness. We are still blown away by what happened, and the impact it had on others and ourselves. What comes to mind are conversations with random people like bus or taxi drivers. People who stereotypically we could imagine would disagree with our actions responded very supportively. It feels like the energy was stronger than the words, it was that energy which came across in conversations, and that same energy that connected hearts.
It gives me hope, about all of our potential as human beings, and faith in the power of a small group to come together and be something very special.
Aviv: Do you think of having another project here?
Nathan & Zohar: We definitely plan to do it again. We hope to see you there.
(full long interview text /click on the link Interview with Zohar and Nathan).