Jakob wrote:As a side question, how do I obtain the knowledge needed to practice, from where? - I have no problems with watching, listening or reading about guidance.
Jakob wrote:The question I am getting at is; can one practice without the support of a Sangha?
Jakob wrote:At the moment I am re-reading "the heart of the buddha's teachings" by Thich Nhat Hanh. I find it lovely and try to understand as much as possible.
Mukunda wrote:It is certainly possible to practice without the support of a flesh and blood sangha and teacher. But I encourage you to make every reasonable effort to find a supportive local community. I can tell you from experience that the benefits of having a local teacher and community far outweigh any inconveniences. Even something as simple as sitting in meditation is an entirely different experience when done with a group of people. And without a live teacher to check in with, it's far too easy to misunderstand the teachings and hamper our practice with wrong view. There's so much of the dhamma I had distorted ideas about until I had teachers and mentors in the sangha available to provide proper context, history, etc.
In my case, there's no Theravadin center nearby, but there is a Tibetan teacher and center, and a Zen sitting group. I periodically check in with Geshela for a "reality check" and any questions I may have, but I don't attend most of the services or functions of the center (I do support it, both financially and with whatever other assistance I can provide.) While Tibetan Buddhism is not for me, Geshela is an excellent teacher, and I think it would be silly to deprive myself of his knowledge and wisdom solely because he's not Theravadin. I sit with the Zen group for the support it provides to my meditation practice. Again, I really have difficulty understanding Zen teachings, but the group meditation provides me with so much support, and the other members really don't care whether I study Dogen or the Visuddhimagga.
For a while, I even sat in on weekly meditations at a Yoga center. It's hard convey just how much strength and support one gains from being physically with a group of like minded individuals, even if all that is done is sitting quietly.