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Thread: Solitary practice

  1. #1
    Forums Member Clint01's Avatar
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    Solitary practice

    Hey all,


    What do you think about practising alone? A lot of emphasis is put on the Sangha (as the community of believers) but what if you don't have a Sangha to which you belong, is Dharma practice still as effective in solitary practice? Are group practices an absolute necessity? I don't have a Sangha to which I belong. My practice consists of chanting the Heart Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra and mindfulness meditation.

    Thanks
    Metta!

  2. #2
    Forums Member JCC's Avatar
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    There is nothing wrong with solitary practice. Depending on who you ask it's actually better to practice alone. There is a Chinese Pure land teacher named Patriarch Yin Kung who says if you can't make it to the temple, then practice on your own. If you are beginning, it's good to stay in contact with some form of teacher. I believe you said that you have a teacher that's a buddhist nun. Keep in contact with her, or on here for any sort of questions or doubts you have about practice.

    The Dhamma is the Dhamma, it is just as strong in solitary practice as it is for group practice. Depending on how one defines the Sangha, you are still a part of it.

  3. #3
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Buddha taught if you can find no suitable companions then to practise alone:

    If you gain a mature companion,
    a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
    overcoming all dangers
    go with him, gratified,
    mindful.

    If you don't gain a mature companion,
    a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
    wander alone
    like a king renouncing his kingdom,
    like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
    his herd.

    We praise companionship
    — yes!
    Those on a par, or better,
    should be chosen as friends.
    If they're not to be found,
    living faultlessly,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Khaggavisana Sutta: A Rhinoceros

  4. #4
    Forums Member Clint01's Avatar
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    Thank you both very much for your replies! I really appreciate it.

    Metta

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint01 View Post
    Hey all,
    What do you think about practising alone? A lot of emphasis is put on the Sangha (as the community of believers) but what if you don't have a Sangha to which you belong, is Dharma practice still as effective in solitary practice? Are group practices an absolute necessity? I don't have a Sangha to which I belong. My practice consists of chanting the Heart Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra and mindfulness meditation.
    Thanks
    Metta!
    From my own experience, I've visited a handful of meditation centers seeking a Sangha for the first few years of practice. Nowadays, I go alone. In truth, not being part of a Sangha community is actually beneficial for my study and practice at this time. In some ways, the deeper and more dedicated we become on the path, the mind is able to "see" or perceive more, and being in a community of practitioners can become a distraction to our practice. Thus, we become more inclined to go alone versus being in a community.

    This forum site is also the Sangha and I signed on in that spirit, since I study and practice alone. It's refreshing to see so many folks from all over the world giving their best to practice the teachings of Buddha. It gives me strength and hope to keep focused on my spiritual aspirations and practice, and know that I'm not alone in my practice~

  6. #6
    Forums Member John Marder's Avatar
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    Just one little thing though. Isn't the idea of community about what we can give to it rather than what we can get from it...or at least the two in equal balance?.
    I fully agree though that this is a great community of believers

  7. #7
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    The honored Master Chin Kung(http://www.pureland-victoria.org/cos...ew&rid=1071725) said there is no prerequisite in forms of practising Pure Land Buddhism on condition that you grasped the basic rules.

    Of course, if the condition permits, group practice is better since it is more intensive and efficient both in time and result. But practising alone is also very important way to boost our progress. The key point of practising alone is to keep your heart calm whatever happens to you. For example if someone praises you for your good performance, you should stay very peaceful in heart. If someone makes you very angry, you'd better keep relaxed like nothing happened. Keep practising alone in this way and you will succeed in the end.

    This is because the Diamond Sutra told us: All that has a form is illusive and unreal. Whereby, we should secure our peaceful true heart all the time and devote ourselves to the career of benefiting others.

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    I believe it is useful to have access to a skilled, knowledgeable, qualified teacher.

    My brother in law practiced Buddhism for 14 years, and never did get the basic concept that Buddhism is NOT about "fixing" your life. Then after just a year with a live teacher (a Sri Lankan bhikkhu), he understood for the first time that Buddhism is about relaxing into what is wrong, not "fixing" it.
    From his example, and from the fact that we often get "solitary practitioners" coming to our centre filled with mistaken ideas about Buddhism .. I think we are much further ahead if we have a skilled guide.

    There is also one Buddhist website (khandro.net) that says that Zen and Tibetan Buddhism should never be practiced without a teacher (I have tried to find that quote, to reference it, but it's a HUGE site).
    And I recently heard a talk on Tibetan medicine, from a Tibetan doctor, when she said that if you meditate without a teacher it can "make you crazy" (whatever she meant by that .. I wasn't going to interrupt the lecture, and besides I have heard that from other sources as well, so it wasn't news to me).

    Myself, I am no authority .. I am just passing on what supposed authorities have indicated.

  9. #9
    Forums Member Maintop's Avatar
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    Hi there!

    I also treat this forum as my sangha as it is impossible for me to reach any temple or group from where I live here in Argentina.

    I feel that I am a better Buddhist than I ever was a Catholic and I try to practice hard. I meditate every morning and read some texts before turning in at night. But also during the day I find myself considering whether the way I am thinking or acting is the Buddhist way of doing it.

    Sometimes I wonder if being a 'loner' is better for me. Perhaps, if I went regularly to a group I might put off my practice until the next meeting.

    With Metta

    Robert

  10. #10
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maintop View Post
    But also during the day I find myself considering whether the way I am thinking or acting is the Buddhist way of doing it.
    If the thought or act brings peace to the mind, then, it is the Buddhist way; otherwise it is not.

    Sometimes I wonder if being a 'loner' is better for me.
    I used to have a sangha and it was cool. Now I practice alone and it is cool too.


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