The Purpose of Sangha
Sangha is a dedicated group of individuals coming together for the purpose of learning about, discussing, and living the Dharma. There are few places in our world where we are encouraged to focus on the life of faith, so sangha is precious in this regard.
The Amida Mosaic sangha comes together every month to study the Dharma and to share our lives as honestly as we can. This is not a hand-picked group of homogeneous personalities; rather, it is a menagerie of unique people, each responding to the call of the Dharma in his or her own way.
Over time, sangha members become friends. We share our sacred stories with one another, and so the threads that bind us become strong. Ideally, when there is disagreement or irritation among us, we use the occasion as a training ground. Our intention is to use “right speech” and to listen attentively to one another.
Sometimes we fail; but, more often than not, we are able to cross the divisions between us, learning tolerance and compassion along the way.
For these reasons, belonging to a sangha is attractive – at times so attractive that our desire to belong becomes possessive, which is often accompanied by unrealistic demands, followed inevitably by disappointment.
I recall living at the Buddhist House a training centre for Order of Amida Buddhists in England for five weeks and feeling sad and anxious as I imagined the time when I would have to leave my Dharma family. Interestingly, my appreciation for what I had been given was accompanied by a deep sense of wanting more…. more teachings, more dharma, more support, more connection. In my desire to hold on, I was losing sight of what sangha is really about.
Sangha is a like a well of drinking water. The world, with its many burdens and necessary demands, takes a toll on us, leaving us thirsty and in need of hydration. We come to sangha to drink the clear, cool waters of the Dharma.
The Buddha said, “ Go forth, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of all.”
Sangha is a place we return to regularly in order to sip the refreshing waters of compassion, love and acceptance. In fact, it is this act of returning again and again to the well that enables us to go forth into our daily lives, bringing kindness and compassion to our families, our work places, and the world at large.
Namo Amida Bu, Prajna