Looking for a Sangha

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Looking for a Sangha

Postby Murkve » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:49 am

Hello.

My name is Murkve, and I am a new seeker living just north of Minneapolis.

I've always known the basics of Buddhism, and have always been drawn to it, but lately I've begun to appreciate the Dhamma at a much deeper level. This may be because I have witnessed its myriad applications and wisdom in my chosen field (Education), or it may be because I find it's philosophy beautiful, self-consistent, and applicable - much like Mathematics. More than likely it is a combination of both, though I truly cannot say for sure what sparked my interest this time.

Here's what I do know:

- I like the Buddhist emphasis on impermanence and change (Anicca). As a Calculus teacher, I greatly admire how the Dhamma addresses the never-ending change and mutability of Nature. For this reason, I can see many connections between the Dhamma and Calculus - as both attempt to address and understand impermanence.

- I am pleased with how the Dhamma answers the age-old philosophical problem of the Identity of Theseus' boat versus its reconstruction. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus) I have been grappling with that question for years. It may be my western, binary mind, but it never occurred to me to consider that there was no 'Boat' to begin with. I understand this as 'Anatta'.

- I enjoy the focus of morality being on 'Wholesome' and 'Unwholesome' acts, rather than on 'Good' or 'Evil'. It comes across as more goal oriented.

Over the last 2 months I've been reading quite a few Buddhist books, Suttas, and other literature such as "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Boddhi, "What Makes You Not a Buddhist" by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, the "Dhammapada", and "Being Dharma" by Ajahn Chah. I like to read the Suttas slowly, and reflectively. I'm inexperienced on Meditation yet, but I like to think that the focus and mindfulness it cultivates is not unlike that cultivated whilst doing Mathematics.

I'd like to take my practice further - with a community, and I've located 3 near enough to my home to make attendance regular. The first two are foremost in my mind:

Minnesota Buddhist Vihara - This is a Sri Lankan Sangha led by the Venerable Witiyala Seewalie Nayaka Thera. I am optimistic about this Sangha as it seems to incorporate Theravada ethnic traditional services while still being accessible to people from without the culture. From what I have read many services are offered in both Pali and English. http://www.mnbv.org

Common Ground Meditation Center - This is a thoroughly western Buddhist center. I can appreciate that, and I know that the culture here would likely be easy to 'fit in' with. At the same time, I'm not sure if I'm fully OK with that concept. I like the myriad support options that they offer, but it almost seems run like a Martial Arts Dojo - with differing classes every day. http://www.commongroundmeditation.org

Wat Anoka Dhammaram - This is my third choice. It seems to be completely ethnic Buddhist - which is fine. However, from pictures and literature on the site, the services look to be completely in Lao. This makes it nigh inaccessible to me, which is a shame as it looks like a nice community, and in a great location. http://www.watanoka.com

I'm asking you all this as I'd dearly like your input on this, as practicing and experienced Buddhists. I'm not very familiar yet with various Buddhist Communities in the US. I've mainly been looking into Theravada Buddhism as my first experience, as it is more in line with my modes of practice and thinking, but I am not opposed to exploring other paths.

So, thank you for reading and:

Any thoughts?
"Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal." - Arthur Schopenhauer
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:06 am

Welcome aboard! I hope your stay here is fruitful. Is http://www.triplegem.org/ in your area? I know they are a very nice organization.

I would really recommend going to a center that has some element of cultural Buddhism mixed in with a practical emphasis on meditation. While some enjoy the more secular approach, I think someone who is first exploring Buddhism would benefit from seeing both the pragmatic and the ritualistic as to get a fuller picture of what the path entails.

If you like Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Buddhadasa is another great Thai teacher. His tract Anapanasati: Mindfulness with Breathing is an absolutely wonderful comprehensive introduction to traditional breath meditation. I would really encourage you to read through it!

I hope that helps, but I'm sure others will have more to say. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you have any questions you think I could help with. Otherwise, good luck!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby marc108 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:24 am

you should go spend say 4 weeks at each one and see which one you like. :smile:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:28 am

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
:buddha2:
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:34 am

Welcome :group: Murkve! :group:

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby Murkve » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:13 pm

Thank you all very much for the warm welcome. I'm happy to be here.

And thank you for the advice. LonesomeYogurt, I've seen Triple Gem of the North and it looks like quite a nice place. I'll have to check it out. Unfortunately it's about 40 minutes from my house - which would make it difficult to get down there as often as I would like.

I think I'll check out MNBV first. Any tips for visiting a Vihara for the first time? I've seen flowers as a suggestion, and of course to call ahead...
"Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal." - Arthur Schopenhauer
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby hermitwin » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:37 pm

welcome.
i cant help you much with your search for a sangha as i am not from that area.
however, i do believe online resources are very helpful.

if you are into reading scriptures, then check out,
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

for meditation go to
http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/334/

and finally for a jolly good time with a wise english monk, go to
http://www.youtube.com/user/BuddhistSocietyWA

cheers.
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Re: Looking for a Sangha

Postby waimengwan » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:19 am

Welcome to the board :)
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