The circle has always been an important symbol in Buddhism, especially in Zen. In our Zen tradition, we sit in circles, eat in circles, chant in circles and walk in circles. When I taught in public school, behavior problems ended when I had the students sit in a circle. The students intuitively knew that this was a more natural way to be together.
And the circle is not only revered by Buddhists and public school students. Native American Medicine Man, Black Elk, eloquently describes how all of life reveres the circle.
"Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tipis are round like the nests of birds, and these are always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children. But the Wasichus have put us in square boxes. Our power is gone and we are dying, for the power is not in us any more."
Those of us who feel the power of universal energy understand the great power that circles hold.
Maybe someday all classrooms will return to the circle, where we once again remember that all beings are precious and none more important than any other.
May these Zen circles bring you back to your own true power.
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