Finding community in those around me

In Buddhism community is a crucial part of spiritual practice.

There is a concept known as the three jewels through which Buddhist take seek guidance and take refuge. The three jewels are known as the Buddha (the ideal plain of spiritual enlightenment), the dharma (Buddhist teachings and scriptures) and the sangha (the Buddhist community). 

I have found that I lack balance in the three jewels, I often take refuge in the Buddha and the dharma but I have yet to find a sangha in the Spokane. There is a void in my spiritual heart. To fill this void I have turned to my friends and my family. They have given me the gift of contentment, they fill my moments with happiness and they surround me with love.  Even with these amazing people around me, they are not a sangha.  They do not share my spiritual beliefs, and they don’t join me in my practices. In my spiritual life I am alone, and I believe that this solitude stunts my spiritual growth. Human beings need community for growth and support, without that our progress is retarded and our failures are that much more devastating. In times of need community lifts us up, and while there is definitely virtue in working to help yourself there is also great virtue in accepting the help of those around you. 

When I search for community I try to take the most that I can from the people around me, while they may not share my spiritual beliefs they do walk on the earth with me. They know suffering and they know joy and I have much that I can learn from each of them.  Their experience, empathy and aide have helped me grow in ways I have previously found unimaginable. While I lack a sangha, I am not alone.

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  1. Why can’t you find that in the local Buddhist temples?

  2. I’m glad you asked Eric, there are several reasons. For one, Buddhist are like Christians in that there are a myriad of different sects. The temples in the Spokane area are Tibetan, zen, and Amida in nature and I am Nichiren. Secondly, like Christian religions the holy day of worship (in this case it is called the obon) is traditionally observed on Sundays which happen to be one of the only days that I am reliably not in Spokane. Lastly, I am only in Spokane for work and consequently have little time to visit the local temples during my time here. On the days I am not working, I am in Pullman, there are no temples in Pullman… I wish I was fortunate enough to have ready access to a Sangha, but presently current circumstances have not afforded me the opportunity.

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