Posted by Tim C. (220.127.116.11) on May 20, 2000 at 01:20:15:
In Reply to: stream enterer posted by kelsie white on May 18, 2000 at 12:15:40:
Unfortunately, I am unaware of any Buddhist temples or centers in Oklahoma. I know that there are a variety of websites which have national listings of centers accross the country, so you might want to try some of those sights (www.tricycle.com, etc.). I wish you great luck in your search.
With regards to being envolved in a spiritual community (sangha), there are great benefits for the practitioner. However, as you and many practitioners in this country are aware, there is not always a local sangha which is available in every city, state, etc. I do not personally believe that this means one cannot accomplish anything without a local sangha.
In a text I have been recently studying, it is emphasized by the teacher that before engaging in the physical practices (meditation, and internal transformation) it is important for the practitioner to have a firm understanding of the buddhadharma--the central teachings. With regard to this, I think that texts play a very important role (good texts by credible teachers, those who live and embody the buddhadharma) in one's initial understanding of Buddhism. So I would say all is not lost.
For me personally, being able to travel to a sangha (which is several hours from my current location) with ordained teacher and lay persons has been of great benefit for me and my practice. Not that I had no beneficial practice before being able to do so, but being taught medetation and other such practices by an ordained person has been of great benefit to me. Certainly, because of the travel distance I am not able to attend their weekly activities, but I am albe to find the time to go once every month or so. If you find a sangha several hours away and you find that you might be able to travel for teachings once a month or so, I encourage you to do so.
Other options you might have is attending a retreat. There are retreat centers accross the country which offer either several day retreats to month long, many month long retreats. If you find something like this to be possible, it will probably be of great benfit to you.
If you find all of these to be impossible, then I think that is okay too. It is a problem those interested in the buddhadharma often face in this country so you are not alone. It does not mean you are not Buddhist, or that you cannot take anything from the buddhadharma and apply it to your everyday life. Whether or not you have a sangha does not determine whether or not you can benefit yourself and others around you from your understandings and practice.
So basically, what I offer you is to encourage you to continue your search, and if you have no options available to you presently, keep you head up, continue to study and practice the buddhadharma, and make a strong resolve that when and if you encounter the opportunity to become part of a sangha you will do so. I think the opportunity will present itself at some time or another...in the mean time, you have a wonderful opportunity to practice patience.
Good luck in your search, and you can always be part of this cyber-sangha.
PS. Lama Zopa has a list of texts posted on this website (http://www.buddhasvillage.com/teachings/booklist.htm) you can use as a guide to what texts should be read in what order--and this advice comes from an individual who does embody the teachings of the buddhadharma, is certainly a credible teacher.
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