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Thread: Who is NOT my sangha?

  1. #1
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Who is NOT my sangha?

    This thread started by Willow http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4761 got me thinking: "who is my sangha?" We talk about taking refuge and showing devotion to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Who is Buddha? What is Dharma? Who are the Sangha?

    Where do I find Buddha?

    Where do I find Dharma?

    And who is the Sangha?

    I want to focus on the 3rd, though it seems to me that all three questions seem to be about one/not-two thing/no-thing really.

    So who is the Sangha? If I say it is Treeleaf, an online community whose members are scattered all over the globe, this is true. If I say it is my wife, my son, my siblings, the people I interact with - this is also true. If I say my sangha is every being I will ever/never meet/not-meet, this is also true.

    In the almost two years I've been a member of Treeleaf I've only ever had dokusan w/ Jundo once - and that was only because I figured if I was going to join a sangha, it would be nice to have some face time with the teacher (I also - and I hope Jundo doesn't take this the wrong way, I'm just not naturally a "group" person and am generally cautious of joining groups - wanted to feel him out, to see and hear how he speaks person-to-person as opposed to recording a video talk). Technical, geographical scheduling issues mean that I can only sit with recorded zazenkai videos. Even Google+ hangouts are a challenge - most of the time the connection is lost, and even if it isn't, I'm usually hanging out alone. Will I ever be able to walk across the room and shake the hands or embrace a fellow Treeleafer? Go out for pizza and beer and karaoke? Not very likely. Still, Treeleaf is my sangha. I learn from you, practice with you, sit with you.

    My wife does not practice zazen or any form of practice (though she does identify as a Buddhist). My son is still a toddler. My siblings and their children are all Roman Catholics. None of them have ever been on Treeleaf. Only my wife knows of Treeleaf's existence and my participation here. Very few people outside my family know I'm Buddhist. Still, they are my sangha. I learn from them, practice with them (though they may not know it), sit with them.

    When I sit, I sit alone. And I sit with the Universe.

    Maybe the question ought to be: "Who is NOT my Sangha?"

  2. #2

    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Thanks for opening the discussion onto this thread.

    'When I sit, I sit alone. And I sit with the Universe.'

    Yes - absolutely. As it says on the Treeleaf Logo - 'life is our temple'.

    ....but I also see the term 'sangha' as a useful descriptive word that intimates a community that focuses
    on a shared emphasis. For me, this sangha gives a sense of belonging that I do not necessarily feel in every sphere
    of my life. That's not to valorize it over other relationships - and there are lots of overlaps and flowing into .....

    Gassho

    Willow

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Rafael wrote;
    So who is the Sangha?
    And I've struggled with that too.
    Willow wrote;
    For me, this sangha gives a sense of belonging that I do not necessarily feel in every sphere
    of my life.
    but, I can't relate to this Sangha, as i would to a "real brick and whatever, group"
    Whereas, I have taken a vow to commit to "the sangha."
    So, Like Kaishin, I took to reading Sutras to find "the answer."

    Conclusion: "all sentient beings throughout the universe." Be kind to one another for none of us gets out alive. :mrgreen:

    Somehow the word, Equanimity comes to mind.

  4. #4

    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Quote Originally Posted by pinoybuddhist
    So who is the Sangha? If I say it is Treeleaf, an online community whose members are scattered all over the globe, this is true. If I say it is my wife, my son, my siblings, the people I interact with - this is also true. If I say my sangha is every being I will ever/never meet/not-meet, this is also true.
    For me, the Sangha is the practice place for living a buddhist life, living the Bodhisattva way. The Sangha is ideally a safer and more protected enviroment than our normal chaotic lives, where we can support each other fully while walking the same path to nowhere, open ourselves up without fearing what others are going to think and without making ourselves vulnerable, share our frustrations and insights, expose our faults without fear of getting run over, be more honest with our most intimate thoughts and our heart's innermost desires. That way, we might more easily get to know ourselves, which in turn helps us forget our selves as Dogen said, which makes it easier be wise, compassionate, kind, open, honest to each other. And just like Zazen on the cushion becomes Zazen in all of life with practice, perhaps practicing the virtues of a Bodhisattva within the Sangha may be helpful in bringing the Bodhi mind into all aspects of one's life?

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  5. #5

    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Ok. Here's what I think right now.

    Words are words, whether written or spoken. Mainly with written you can edit what you say.

    In "real life" (meaning not in a forum discussion). We have fear. We have stuff like "This guy is going to see right through me, and see what an ass I am." However, words are words. Your practice flourishes. You wake up and see the words. You read them. Not a thing to say. Maybe some people like myself see the words as words. Ways to manipulate what you say, but in fact, the words are exactly what they are. Practice goes on. Have a nice chat. Enjoy yourself. Be grumpy. yada yada yada

    time for supper

    Gassho and all that

    W

  6. #6

    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    As many of the early Buddhist texts in Pali and Sanskrit were translated to other languages, much
    was lost in that translation. The definition of "sangha" seems to be one of those casualties.

    In early Buddhist texts, sangha usually refereed to the two types of religious orders: the order of monks
    (bhiksu-sangha) and the order of nuns (bhiksuni-sangha). There is also the term, "samagra-sangha" or
    “harmonious order.” It was felt that members of the sangha should practice in harmony since they share
    the same goal of attaining enlightenment. This to me seems to indicate that the term "sangha" takes into
    account all those who participate as a "community" towards the same end; whether monks, nuns, or lay followers.
    Pretty much all you meet while on your path.

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    I have thought of this before.

    You know, I say the whole universe is my sangha. But at the same time there are some members who are closer to me, like you here on Treeleaf.

    I have some Buddhist friends too and we have created a small creative/study group and they are also my sangha.

    But at the end of the day I end up learning from every one. And I think that's what matters.

  8. #8
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Myozan has a video talk on this subject. http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4778

  9. #9
    disastermouse
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    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    I think we have to be careful weaving in and out of nothing-something-everything. What I mean is that phrases like 'everyone is my sangha' are a little meaningless since in the reality of all-one-nothing or shunata-emptiness, sangha and everyone fade as concepts. However, a teacher may point out that all are the sangha if he sees a student clinging to hard to a sense of 'only my sangha has the truth'.

    'Sangha' means something - and we can honor that with occassional reminders that all are sangha.

    IMHO, though - no intent to offend.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I think we have to be careful weaving in and out of nothing-something-everything. What I mean is that phrases like 'everyone is my sangha' are a little meaningless since in the reality of all-one-nothing or shunata-emptiness, sangha and everyone fade as concepts. However, a teacher may point out that all are the sangha if he sees a student clinging to hard to a sense of 'only my sangha has the truth'.

    'Sangha' means something - and we can honor that with occassional reminders that all are sangha.

    IMHO, though - no intent to offend.

    Chet
    Yes, a Koan.

    All Reality is the Sangha, all Sentient Life, all the world, all people Buddhist and not, friends and enemies, all Zen Buddhists, all Soto folks, all Treeleafers, all my family, my town, my country, Chet ... that beyond and through-and-through my my my ...

    ... Each and All in their Way. Each a way of looking-non-looking at "Sangha".

    Much the same with "who are my teachers" on the other thread today.

    Gassho, J

  11. #11
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Re: Who is NOT my sangha?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I think we have to be careful weaving in and out of nothing-something-everything. What I mean is that phrases like 'everyone is my sangha' are a little meaningless since in the reality of all-one-nothing or shunata-emptiness, sangha and everyone fade as concepts. However, a teacher may point out that all are the sangha if he sees a student clinging to hard to a sense of 'only my sangha has the truth'.

    'Sangha' means something - and we can honor that with occassional reminders that all are sangha.

    IMHO, though - no intent to offend.

    Chet
    No offense taken. What you've posted is a very important reminder/warning for me to not make an intellectual concept of "all are sangha".

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Yes, a Koan.

    All Reality is the Sangha, all Sentient Life, all the world, all people Buddhist and not, friends and enemies, all Zen Buddhists, all Soto folks, all Treeleafers, all my family, my town, my country, Chet ... that beyond and through-and-through my my my ...

    ... Each and All in their Way. Each a way of looking-non-looking at "Sangha".

    Much the same with "who are my teachers" on the other thread today.

    Gassho, J
    Multiple channels, multiple ways of looking/non-looking... I will sit now.

    Thank you everyone who replied.

    _/|_
    Rafael

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