View Full Version : Practising Without a Sangha

07 Sep 19, 10:30
Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner talks for approximately 7 minutes about practising without a sangha.


Any thoughts about what he said?

07 Sep 19, 16:58
Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner talks for approximately 7 minutes about practising without a sangha.

Any thoughts about what he said?

Hi Aloka

Thanks for posting the video, I think the advice given was very good, I have experience of both practising alone without a sangha and in forming a small sangha

The practising alone advice is good, it does take persistence, at least at first, until you become more adept at meditation and the pleasure of meditating becomes part of who you are.

I would add it is worth investing time, particularly when setting out, in going on retreat to get a good grounding in the meditation practice.

A problem for people setting out is that they will have no real idea of what meditation actually is like, but a lot of preconceived ideas about what it should be, there are very good books out now that help dispel a lot of the cultural myths about meditation but my (limited) experience is that people have difficulty in recognising the simplicity of meditation, and as Brad says there can be a lot of projection

As for setting up your own sangha, this I found particularly difficult, I am no teacher, do not pretend to be one and am very explicit in reinforcing that fact.

However, I found that a lot of people want to be reassured that the Buddhism they are following as a group has some authority, not just a random set of enquiries based on personal preference

My own group is based on Vipassana meditation, so I use books and podcasts and talks from the insight meditation movement combined with visits as a group to the Thai Forest Monastery closest to my location.

Despite my emphasis on where the Buddhist study is coming from, people still project on to me many ideas that are patently incorrect and at times positively uncomfortable.

It is something you have to be very wary of and if you are not very aware it can lead to a lot of difficulties.

Having said that the upside of being able to talk to like-minded people, explore the concepts of Buddhism with other people, seeing their understanding, I have found very useful and rewarding

07 Sep 19, 20:20
Interesting & honest talk. Thanks for sharing it.

My experience has been that having a focus both on a personal and group level on what Buddha actually taught is/was beneficial to the efficatiousness of my practice as measured by results in the improvement of my life and the lives of those around me.

Study, discussion and practice of what has been documented in The Suttas / Sutras is my practice as a result.


10 Sep 19, 04:44
Good talk, not much to add except that my wife and I are moving at the end of month so we will have to deal with this situation ourselves. Usually I’ve been lucky finding a group practicing out of their house. They don’t have a organized Sangha in town. As far as what Brad has to say he’s on the money.

Mike :peace:

10 Sep 19, 10:28
Having worked with people all my life I would be very wary of starting up a sangha. Most people would be good to be with, but there are enough with their own issues that they want to impose, or at least let them impinge, on any group. Unless you have a good grounding in mental health issues too, I would be wary of leaving yourself open to hosting such a group, although one or two like-minded people may not be a problem.

As Brad says, there is now a lot of useful stuff out there on the internet for the savvy person to usefully use if they are isolated from formal sanghas, or if, like Brad, they don't feel up to interacting with people. The important thing for me is to develop checks and balances into your own practice, always measuring against those which have been developed over many hundreds of years.