Back into the Sangha?

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Great Sage EofH
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Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:12 am

So, it’s interesting, I was trying to find alternative sangha. This was because of my work schedule. But, as it turns out, the job is ending, so I can return to the same sangha. But I did explore some other places, the Harada Yatsutani inspired zendo, the Soto Zen group, and Insight Meditation Society of Washington outreach at the Unitarian Universalist Church. I explored all the forums here online, it’s been illuminating ~ more interesting than I expected. I now realize I had quite a few assumptions that needed challenging, which they were. Or are. The adventure continues. For one thing I was unaware of other Thein traditions. Another thing, these explorations open up unique possibilities, so I expect it to continue. Not that I’m planning on mixing and matching traditions? But there’s something to be said about sharing knowledge across traditions that’s gratifying. The sangha I’ll try to rejoin is one of Thich Nhat Hanhs original Mindfulness Practice Centers, this on in Fairfax, Virginia.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Dan74
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:03 pm

Let us know how it goes, SunWuKong.

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fuki
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by fuki » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:52 pm

Well wishes Eric like Dan said let us know.

ps picking a Sangha is easy, pick the first one who has a cat. :cat:
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Caodemarte » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:20 pm

Good luck!

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:56 am

I've been informally searching around, tried one of Thich Nhat Hanh Still Water groups in Columbia MD. They are nice folks, meeting there in a yoga studio, though the session didn't have the bite I found in a couple other zen centers I've visited on travel. There are a couple smaller zen groups closer into Baltimore that I'll get to trying sooner or later.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:04 am

narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:56 am
I've been informally searching around, tried one of Thich Nhat Hanh Still Water groups in Columbia MD. They are nice folks, meeting there in a yoga studio, though the session didn't have the bite I found in a couple other zen centers I've visited on travel. There are a couple smaller zen groups closer into Baltimore that I'll get to trying sooner or later.
Oh cool- yeah I liked the Ka Shin Zendo in Takoma Park MD. The DC area has a number of important teachers, I hope you find a good group near B-more
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:07 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:04 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:56 am
I've been informally searching around, tried one of Thich Nhat Hanh Still Water groups in Columbia MD. They are nice folks, meeting there in a yoga studio, though the session didn't have the bite I found in a couple other zen centers I've visited on travel. There are a couple smaller zen groups closer into Baltimore that I'll get to trying sooner or later.
Oh cool- yeah I liked the Ka Shin Zendo in Takoma Park MD. The DC area has a number of important teachers, I hope you find a good group near B-more
The way TNH groups work, take refuge & start helping the sangha grow. Then get into leadership. They don’t really talk to much about what’s going on. People assume it’s easy going, but other people in the know say it’s just very broad minded. That’s all I know
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:13 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:07 am
SunWuKong wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:04 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:56 am
I've been informally searching around, tried one of Thich Nhat Hanh Still Water groups in Columbia MD. They are nice folks, meeting there in a yoga studio, though the session didn't have the bite I found in a couple other zen centers I've visited on travel. There are a couple smaller zen groups closer into Baltimore that I'll get to trying sooner or later.
Oh cool- yeah I liked the Ka Shin Zendo in Takoma Park MD. The DC area has a number of important teachers, I hope you find a good group near B-more
The way TNH groups work, take refuge & start helping the sangha grow. Then get into leadership. They don’t really talk to much about what’s going on. People assume it’s easy going, but other people in the know say it’s just very broad minded. That’s all I know
Hehe yeah one other point, it’s partially like a Southeast Asia
Forest Tradition, I’d say reasearch that s but too for orientation
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:29 am

It is possible that coming from a Nichiren tradition I am accustomed to drama. I find I respond to the formal zendo scene (be it fancy or not), with a sharp and practiced sangha not reluctant to talk shop. I am in no way critical of the Still Water folks, they had all cushions filled with long-timers of various ages, in the discussion after I started talking sutras and schools with a couple folks and their eyes crossed. Another I visited out west I blew it on the kinhin & they corrected me right there, for the tea service after the conversation ranged all over the place- the latter is the kind of action I'm after.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:20 am

narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:29 am
It is possible that coming from a Nichiren tradition I am accustomed to drama. I find I respond to the formal zendo scene (be it fancy or not), with a sharp and practiced sangha not reluctant to talk shop. I am in no way critical of the Still Water folks, they had all cushions filled with long-timers of various ages, in the discussion after I started talking sutras and schools with a couple folks and their eyes crossed. Another I visited out west I blew it on the kinhin & they corrected me right there, for the tea service after the conversation ranged all over the place- the latter is the kind of action I'm after.
Oh interesting, yeah i know what you mean. some sanghas are more about the meditation and therapy
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:29 am

Fairfax Mindfulness Center is okay with me. It's not Zen is the way we normally think of it, but there's clear lines of authority that rule out a lot of wasted time and efforts of people putting skin in the game. One of the things i notice around less experienced teachers is allowing discussion that's way off topic or simply harmful, and not leaving themselves an avenue to shut it down. There's a lot of wisdom in the way Zen masters conduct themselves that if you've been around scenes that have gone terribly wrong, you come to appreciate. Fairfax teachers seem to have a firm grasp of the situation. I'm personally inclined to favor formal sitting practice and not so much guided meditations, but for now I'm satisfied
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:45 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:20 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:29 am
It is possible that coming from a Nichiren tradition I am accustomed to drama. I find I respond to the formal zendo scene (be it fancy or not), with a sharp and practiced sangha not reluctant to talk shop. I am in no way critical of the Still Water folks, they had all cushions filled with long-timers of various ages, in the discussion after I started talking sutras and schools with a couple folks and their eyes crossed. Another I visited out west I blew it on the kinhin & they corrected me right there, for the tea service after the conversation ranged all over the place- the latter is the kind of action I'm after.
Oh interesting, yeah i know what you mean. some sanghas are more about the meditation and therapy
I think its possible that being well-read and well-informed, as well as willing to apply one's self to practice beyond the goal of attaining "well-being" is beyond the purview of the mainstream. So teaching is going to be pitched at the ability of the audience to "get it" - - and sometimes it's over-simplified and watered down. Sometimes there simply isn't a way to translate some things into basic English, meaning to go beyond the mundane you actually have to study Buddhism, Chinese Philosophy, or Indian Mahayana, or whatever academic field seems most appropriate.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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michaeljc
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by michaeljc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:07 am

Oh that I should be that lucky to have any choice. Who else here would need to drive 3 hours and stay over, all at considerable cost?

Hence why I get a little irritated at the constant advice> "ya need a teacher, ya need a sangha!"

I have considered starting a little sitting group in the local village

mmm - scary :oops:

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by KeithA » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:49 am

michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:07 am
Oh that I should be that lucky to have any choice. Who else here would need to drive 3 hours and stay over, all at considerable cost?

Hence why I get a little irritated at the constant advice> "ya need a teacher, ya need a sangha!"

I have considered starting a little sitting group in the local village

mmm - scary :oops:
Go for it!! I have toyed with the idea of that in my area. I would just give very basic instruction and keep it non-denominational, as it were. But, alas, I have very little time as it is.
You make, you get.

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Emmet » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:22 am

michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:07 am
Oh that I should be that lucky to have any choice. Who else here would need to drive 3 hours and stay over, all at considerable cost?

Hence why I get a little irritated at the constant advice> "ya need a teacher, ya need a sangha!"

I have considered starting a little sitting group in the local village

mmm - scary :oops:
I have been quite fortunate to have lived within 3 miles of a Zen Center where I practiced for many years, and a Plum Village sangha as well, in a large and very diverse urban area. The Zen Center was very much my home, although with the virtually exclusive focus on zazen, we tended to be a group of individuals who would silently come, sit, and leave; we struggled to develop a real sense of community; while I developed some deep relationships with some folks, it tended to be a very individualistic thing. I very much liked the TNH sangha with their very strong focus on community and bodhisattvic practice; collectively "flowing as a river", all Buddhism; all the time.
Four years ago I was diagnosed terminally ill with a neurologic disorder, and we moved to be closer to family. We now live in the buckle of the Bible Belt in a very homogeneous rural Appalachian village of 311 people; 98% White, 97% American-born, with the highest weekly church attendance in a very religious state (94%); but only Christian churches; there are no temples, mosques, or gurdwaras for perhaps 100 miles. With the permission and encouragement of my teacher I tried to form a sitting group, but after three months the membership remained steadfastly at exactly one (me), and my host's business was experiencing negative repercussions from the community so I lost the venue (an Italian restaurant in the next town over is heavily boycotted because the village has collectively decided that the Italian emigre (dark complexion; foreign accent) who owns it is actually a Muslim; despite her crucifix). When Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston was shot up by a White supremacist, killing nine parishioners, a veritable thicket of Confederate flags sprouted overnight across the county, and fanciful odes to the Confederacy, and overtly racist screeds, are regularly published in our weekly paper. We don't exactly celebrate diversity here, and neighbors regularly carry sidearms into the coffee shop or hardware store. A cousin cautioned me to be much more circumspect; warning that this area was known for "burning out" nonconformists...literally. It's a very curious place to practice; the heart of Americana.
As I said, the nearest sanghas are 6 hour 'round trips in any direction, and I don't drive. Even if I did, I'd never really be a member of their communities in the true sense; able to attend only rarely, I'd always be a visitor; a stranger. I continue to sit zazen in the little zendo I've set up, listening to on-line Dharma talks, but it's absolutely not the same as practicing with a sangha. Having experienced practice with and without, I'm acutely aware that 'sangha' is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism for very good reasons. It's beyond my comprehension why anyone who is so fortunate as to have the opportunity to practice with a teacher & sangha would not avail themselves of it.

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:12 pm

Much metta Emmet.

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:54 pm

Wow, thanks Emmet.

The topic of Sangha and teachers is going to be one of the longest lasting on the internet, and too much about it can never be said. Partly because in the Sangha, and with the teachers, they are touchy subjects and the interactions are more often felt rather than proscribed. This naturally leaves plenty of room for quackery, in my humble opinion, but i find it easy when necessary to pick up my zafu and move on. The litmus test is whether the practice is a good fit. I'm not a big believer in one-size-fits-all, that all great teachings are for everybody, i tend more towards the notion that if there are 10,000 yogis, theres's going to be 10,000 schools of yoga. In all things involving ancient texts and traditions (Zen, Taoism, Lamaism, Yoga, Tantra, Sufism, Gnosticism, Shamanism, etc. etc.) i look at translation of what's true, what's probably true, what's maybe true, what's possibly true, and what's sometimes true. Needing a sangha and teacher in the way its often suggested is only sometimes true, as neither are at all avoidable in reality. The only things feeding our practice are our fellow practicioners who are both sangha and teacher, so its basically redundant to say you need them. You don't exist in a universe where they aren't present. I think the real suggestion is regular sangha attendance and instruction, but even the Patriarch Hui Neng once said if you find Enlightenment without these, don't go back to them. Either you can accept what the Patriarch says or you can craft your own tradition. But you can't change what they say. So one can seek these things (teachers, sanghas) to throw one's life into, or not. It all hinges on what's possible. The TNH teachers in my area are try to earn a two-income living from it, so they are loathe to delegate and disseminate, which i fully understand. But the travel time is too much, too many hours, too much time commitment. Still, its the affiliation I've chosen for the time being.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:27 pm

michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:07 am

Hence why I get a little irritated at the constant advice> "ya need a teacher, ya need a sangha!"

I have considered starting a little sitting group in the local village

mmm - scary :oops:
I can relate to that vexation Michael, I've been told that for a decade even when practising with a teacher/sangha. Sometimes it just ego-projection and sometimes ppl's way to motivate/inspire, but also that in their perception it's (nearly) impossible to "do it" on your own. Just let it be like water of a duck's back, no one can know what you need or don't need especially via the online medium, also the notion of needing vs not needing is a contrivance anyway. You can never match the criteria of someone's religious conditioning so why be bound by whatever folks project unto you/others. ;)

Also telling ppl what they need often has the opposite effect, life is the teacher, no resistance to what IS.

Starting a little sitting group would be wonderful! :)
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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michaeljc
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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by michaeljc » Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:36 am

@ Emmet

Great post above

Thanks

m

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Re: Back into the Sangha?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:30 pm

I'm still at the same place. My primary root teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh, my local teachers are Anh-Huong and Thu Nguyen, who run a Mindfulness Practice Center in Fairfax, Virginia. I've had other teachers in Community of Mindful Living sanghas in Eugene, Oregon, and Kansas City, Missouri. I also sit with followers of Fukushima Keido Roshi (who I've met and been instructed by), and Jeff Shore (haven't met yet). And Jon Kabat Zinn (I read his book and started my practice thusly), Allen Ginsburg, and Gary Snyder, and William S. Burroughs, who I've met and attended readings by, and studied their Buddhist works. In Buddhist Art History, my root teacher is Stephen Addiss, who I've also met and whose students taught me Asian Art. I'm active on Zen1.Space and Dharmawheel. I hold a BFA Degree in Design from University of Kansas with primary studies in Ceramics studio, Ceramics Art History, Ceramics Geology, Asian Art, Photography, Drawing, Poetry, Calligraphy, Typography, and Printing. I'm retired from 39 years working on large web offset printing presses. I enjoy hiking in wild places, visiting art museums, and working around the house. I'm working on a project in my garden called "Higurashi Dojo" based on a quotation form one of the Patriarchs: "Every place is a dojo, a place of Enlightenment." I am registered as a minister in Universal Life Church, the title for which I use when advocating for social causes. This forms a gentle reminder that I remain conscious and aware when letting my voice be heard in a respectful manner. It also red-flags incoming spam as: Rev. Eric A. Hansen
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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