Practicing with no sangha

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Practicing with no sangha

Postby Jakob » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:53 pm

I wasn't sure about where to post my thread, but I settled on this one, so here goes :)

I've attended several lectures and debates about buddhism, a few years back, and recently i've been reading a lot again. I've practiced mindfullness meditation from time to time, and I've attended Karma Kadjy meditations on the 16th Karmapa.

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.

The question I am getting at is; can one practice without the support of a Sangha? - There are no real centres in the part of the country where I live, and most of my time is set of for studies, my girlfriend and our two daughters (5 years and 7 months respectively). The only time I feel I have, is when I'm home alone. 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.

Best regards
Jakob
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:55 pm

May I ask where you live Jakob ?
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Jakob » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:57 pm

Yes ofcourse :) - I live in the northern part of Jutland, Denmark.
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby PeterB » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:26 pm

I googled Vipassana In Demark and found several contacts that might tbe worth checking Jakob, including a Goenka Centre in somewhere called Horsholmsgarde.
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:44 pm

I have a Danish acquaintance who may be able to help IF I can find his e-mail I will contact him, and let you know.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby baratgab » Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:33 pm

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.


I don't use much source nowadays, so I can only recommend a few sites, but I consider them as a good source of information, and more importantly, inspiration:
Access to Insight – Sutta translations and other texts in English
BuddhaNet ebook library - Downloadable books from various teachers, on various subjects
Buddhist Society of Western Australia – Dhamma talks, videos and sutta studies from some teachers, but mainly from Ajahn Brahm
The YouTube-channel of BSWA - Easily understandable dhamma videos mainly for general lay people
Dhammatalks.org.uk - Dhamma talks given by various teachers in the Theravadin Forest Sangha tradition

Also, if you like Thich Nhat Hanh, you can find many talks from him on Google Video and Youtube. For example:
Five-day Israeli-Palestinian Retreat, 2003
Throwing Away

Best wishes :smile:
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Guy » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:45 am

Hi Jakob,

You have found your way here to DhammaWheel which is very fortunate, possibly a result of past good kamma. It certainly can be inspiring to practice meditation along side other people and to have conversations about Buddhism or hear Dhamma talks from monks and nuns in the "real world"...But even without all that I am sure you can learn a lot about practicing the Noble Eightfold Path online and there are many good monastics and lay people at DhammaWheel who are very happy to answer your questions.

Also the links that Baratgab has provided are very good resources.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:59 am

Official podcast site for Thich Nhat Hanh and the PLum Villiage: http://www.deerpark.libsyn.com/
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:19 am

Greetings Jakob,

Jakob wrote:The question I am getting at is; can one practice without the support of a Sangha?


I practice only with the support of friends here at Dhamma Wheel as there's nothing local here that's practical for me.

It does require a lot of diligence though and at least a solid foundation in the basics of Theravada.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Reductor » Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:33 am

I'm in the middle of nowhere, but feel I'm doing well.

Just remember that you should not read those modern authors to the exclusion of the Buddha. They can be side by side (I started out on Accesstoinsight.org, and still read from there daily). Other than that you just have to 'do it', as I recall it being stated. So meditate after the kids konk-out.

Ten minutes of meditation can get a lot done if you do those ten minutes every day and with complete commitment. So turn off the phone, and put the wife on hold, until you've done yourself the best favor you could ever do. Really, it is simple.

And don't worry. Besides, you now have found Dhamma wheel, and there many good people here.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Jakob » Sat Feb 20, 2010 1:17 pm

Hi again guys, and thank you so much for the many helpfull responses.

They have really opened up my eyes, and I feel more confident about practicing on my own, at least in the understanding of the more basic stuff.
- I think I will continue reading and reflecting for some time to come, at the same time I will try to do the meditations which I know, as often as possible.
I can post questions here, on the forum, so I don't lose track.

Thank you, and all the best
/Jakob
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Mukunda » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:29 pm

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.
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Clueless Git » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:42 am

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.

The best single book on buddhism I have ever come across to this very day :)
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby imagemarie » Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:04 pm

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.



Good for you. :clap:
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby BobbyC » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:11 pm

Hi guys! (I'm new here - really glad to have found this forum!)
I've actually only just discovered Buddhism (Nov last year) and because of a disability, I'm not really able to attend temples or classes, even though I have in the past. Having said that, I still keep my faith going by reading a lot and meditating every day and discussing it with friends. It is, of course, easier to follow Buddhism with the support of classes and Venerables, but it's by no means impossible to follow it on your own!
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Bodhisurfer » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:58 pm

Hiya,

I too live quite some way from the nearest Therevada centre. Meditate everyday, listen to the sutras and commentarys on my mp3 player, read... I'm sure you know how it is. :smile:

And tell the kids that as soon as theyre grown, I'm off to become a monk :tongue:
Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby Laurens » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:59 pm

I think to answer your question simply; at one time it probably was necessary, but nowadays with the advent of places such as this, usefull websites, books and youtube etc it can be easier to practice by ones self. But having said that, if there is a Dhamma centre nearby, you probably would benefit from visiting.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby RayfieldNeel » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:29 pm

I'm not yet sure about where it's going...but I'm a bit intrigued with the Second Life Buddhist centers that have sprung up. The only ones I've sampled are actually in the Zen tradition, but it's interesting to take your avatar to a dharma talk, and "sit" with other people in that setting. Every sees you, (your avatar), and who you identify yourself as, and some of the teachers are fairly well known in their circles.

Obviously not as engaging as actual attendance, but more so than my podcasts. :)
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby dawgfvr » Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:08 pm

I think we all need reinforcement...buddies along the path and someday, hopefully, a teacher to mentor us. Still...there are times...and places...where we have to go it alone for awhile and I always refer to the following statement...not sure who made it...but I revere/cherish it:

"The real practice of Buddhism is based on purification of conduct by way of body and speech, followed by purification of the mind, which in turn leads to insight and right understanding"

I can always practice this dharma...and never seem to get beyond the body and speech conduct-polishing...let alone grappling with the mind.
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Re: Practicing with no sangha

Postby nschauer » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:10 am

I have been practicing with no sanga for over two years. My main source of information/inspiration has been Gil Fronsdale at IMC - all talks. I am glad I found this forum because I am beginning to feel that I need to communicate about my meditation - and to hear from others on the path.
The main disadvantage about solo practice for me is that I don't really know as much of the Pali canon as others. I have also basically rejected the notion of rebirth - except as I know it within my own life ( changing from teen to adult - from asleep to awake).
I also find it difficult to actually say anything about the experience of following this path - because to say anything might be more about 'self' than about the path. Also, in the course of meditation - it is difficult to communicate what is happening - because it is all stuff to become aware of - thus there is nothing to do about it expect investigate the different states I am in. How does one have a conversation about becoming aware - if the conversation is not adopting views or clinging to ideas?
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