Thread: Solitary practice vs. Sangha

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    Forums Member jgolds72's Avatar
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    Solitary practice vs. Sangha

    Recently I was told that I needed to attended a temple to expand my practice. I have been a solitary practitioner for over 10 years. The reason I have chosen to this point to be a solitary practitioner is simply out of a desire to see the truth with my own eyes. My entire life there had been an environment of this is how you should act, speak, think or be and each time the person or group making these statements expressed without question that theirs was the "correct" path.

    When I had my car accident I was forced to see the trap that type of belief system had built for me. When I read my first book on the teachings and life of the Buddha I found an understanding that transcended the need for doctrine, that showed the Buddha nature is within all of us and to realize liberation we only need to embrace that nature. This is the seed that Buddha planted in my heart and I let that seed guide me in my practice.

    Having contemplated many teachings and read the works of many masters searching for a path I found the teachings of Hui-Neng. In these simple straightforward teachings I planted the seed and with mindfullness, humility and meditation do I nurture it. That said could any of you who attend a Sangha give me a notion of what that environment may offer?

  2. #2
    Hi John,

    I don't know much about Zen, but its said that one needs a teacher to be able to progress with the practice in that tradition.

    I have attended various kinds of teachings, meditation instruction and group practice and discussed my personal practice with teachers with two different traditions over the years - and for me that has been very important at different times in my life. Its also good to be able to talk to other practitioners at a centre/temple/monastery after doing group activities together.

    However I appreciate that there are others on the internet who are a long way from centres or who's personal circumstances make it difficult to attend one.


    with kind wishes

    Aloka

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    Forums Member Goofaholix's Avatar
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    You can see the Buddhas view on this topic in the Upaddha Sutta here http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....002.than.html

    I don't think attending temple is all that important, though maybe so in a Buddhist culture that centres a lot of social activity around a temple.

    Once your practice is well established then the input of teachers and support of friends is less necessary.

    In my experience intensive meditation retreats are vital to get your practice started as it really helps push one out of ones comfort zone, of course there you'll have the support of teachers and spiritual friends also.

    I don't know why somebody would think themselves on a spiritual path and not take advantage of all means possible to propel it in the right direction. Of course after having done so one may find practice has a momentum of it's own, continued retreat practice is less necessary, and solitary practice can bear fruit.

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    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgolds72 View Post
    The reason I have chosen to this point to be a solitary practitioner is simply out of a desire to see the truth with my own eyes.
    Hi jgolds,
    Sounds good. Has it worked for you?

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    Forums Member Jennyneon's Avatar
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    I recently started attending a sangha after many years of solitary practice. When I first found the buddhist path I used to go all the time. Then I moved away to a remote part of the country and found myself continuing my practice alone.
    I find rejoining a sangha has been beneficial when I have wanted opinion on interpretation of teachings. Also to open my mind to issues I may not have considered alone.
    I suppose it's preference but I get a lot out of group meetings and discussion..

    Jennyneon

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    Forums Member fletcher's Avatar
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    John,
    Have you thought about possibility of joining an online Sangha such as treeleaf.org. That could give you a taste of being part of a Sangha before making the decision to commit to something more physical.
    Gassho
    Gary

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    Forums Member jgolds72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    Hi jgolds,
    Sounds good. Has it worked for you?
    It has though I must admit it isn't the easiest path. There was alot of trial and error in researching, experimenting and ultimately building a meditation practice. Then of course there is the constant mindfulness of action and intent to avoid the pitfalls of delusion. All in all it reminds me of a spiritual garden, lots of work but there's nothing better than the fruits of your own labors.

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    Forums Member jgolds72's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone,
    I appreciate all the feed back. I will be attending the local Sangha in the near future. Also I'm looking into the Treeleaf.org thanks for the link Gary.

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    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgolds72 View Post
    It has though I must admit it isn't the easiest path. There was alot of trial and error in researching, experimenting and ultimately building a meditation practice. Then of course there is the constant mindfulness of action and intent to avoid the pitfalls of delusion. All in all it reminds me of a spiritual garden, lots of work but there's nothing better than the fruits of your own labors.
    Very much my experience too. The trial and error are crucial because at the end of the day the only thing that works, is that which works for you and there's only one way to find that out.

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    Forums Member. GhostMice's Avatar
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    I would like to be part of a Buddhist community, there's a Buddhist center in the city, but it's not too lively at the times I pop in, and I'm the type of person who only has a small social circle anyway, and am a bit of an introvert, but I'm coming out of my shell a bit more, the theory of everyone having been your mother in the cycle of rebirth kinda helps me deal with strangers and the public a bit more....

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