Posted by Tony Page (22.214.171.124) on March 06, 2000 at 17:56:39:
In Reply to: No nose no tongue no body no sangha posted by Zarathustra on March 06, 2000 at 14:16:08:
>That part of American Buddhism that I have seen, in ten plus years around Buddhist groups, is a largely asexual milieu. I am not an asexual person, therefore I don't think I belong in the sangha, no matter what kind of value I find in the teachings and the practices.<
Fair enough, I'm with you on that one.
>Buddhists talk about friendliness; non-Buddhists are more likely to actually possess it.<
I must admit I can't see the logic in that, and frankly, I have found it not to be true. Apart from the fact that our teachers are surely most valuable friends for transmitting the Dharma to us, on a more mundane level in all the centres and countries where I have found sincerely practising Buddhists I have been struck by the welcome and openness with which I've been received.
Obviously, there are many people who may profess to be Buddhists, as there are many who profess to be Christians or whatever, who pay only lip service to the principles of their religion or philosophy. But on the whole I've found Buddhists to be more friendly rather than less.
Don't forget, one of the most basic practices is "exchanging oneself for others", and that presupposes a willingness to put the welfare of others above that of oneself!
>I know the sangha is supposed to be one of the three jewels; does anyone have any thoughts on whether sangha membership is essential to one's practice, <
The sangha as one of the three jewels refers to the ordained body of practitioners, both current and past. So clearly you don't have to be a member of the sangha to be a Buddhist. Many people think it is best if you become a sangha, I'm not completely sure myself. In any event, it's not right for me, so I simply continue on and practise as best I can in my daily life.
>or on what a practitioner who is not part of a group ought to do? Go to sites like this, maybe? Anything else?<
It's important to learn from a teacher who has the experience to help you find your way along the Path. So I'd definitely look for a local centre with a Lama to give me some input. They have seen it all before and know the kind of problems peope face (not that they'll necessarily give you an easy time!).
Fellowship with other Buddhists helps too, it's difficult enough to follow the Path in a materialistic world without a bit of encouragement when you're feeling down or lost!
Hang in there, it's worth it.
May the Dharma be with you,
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