Finding a Sangha

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Finding a Sangha

Postby Infinite » Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:28 am

I know many ask which Sangha is right for them but that isn't what I am after with this post. My question is are there any kind of warning signs I should be aware of when looking at Sanghas? Like is there some kind of behavior or mentality that should raise red flags about the nature of the group? I've just been curious as I have already been looking over the Sanghas in the northern part of why State for when I finally transfer to see where I would like to visit and get a feel for the place. So I figured I could ask here about anything I should be aware of or questions I should ask.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby steveb1 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:05 am

I have no experience of public sanghas, as I'm a solitary practicer.

I can only extend the warning attached to cults - beware of a charismatic sangha leader who says things that "just don't feel right" or who obviously skews normative, standard teaching. Watch out for the Dharma being subordinated to anything else. Watch out for "mind control" methods. Inquire ahead of time if you can, talk to members and ex-members.

That's all I can think of. Presumably people with sangha experience will give you helpful details :)
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:05 am

Infinite wrote:I know many ask which Sangha is right for them but that isn't what I am after with this post. My question is are there any kind of warning signs I should be aware of when looking at Sanghas? Like is there some kind of behavior or mentality that should raise red flags about the nature of the group? I've just been curious as I have already been looking over the Sanghas in the northern part of why State for when I finally transfer to see where I would like to visit and get a feel for the place. So I figured I could ask here about anything I should be aware of or questions I should ask.


I would start off with a filter - examine Google on 'cults' and weed out ones which are universally condemned - ToS here don't permit discussion of some groups and can be a guide for you as well.

You may encounter a local group which seems fine but later find out their Guru is dodgy, so I would research the Guru well.

Having said that:

Demands for money which are unreasonable (donations to cover room hire etc. are fine).
Advice never to accept teachings from another Guru, or read any other books excep the 'approved ones'.
Pressure to conform - cults have many methods, some very sublte, which seek to sweep you along on the tide - such as attending a retreat, where pressure will increase as your number of 'friends' increases rapidly.
Advice to abandon your family, job and other responsibilities and live in the group's Centre, working for free.
Advice to give up medical treatment and rely on the Guru to cure you.
Sexual predation - it can and does happen across many Buddhist groups.

Many of the above can be innocent. For example, if they all seem to conform totally in modes of speech, seem detached from anyone outside and want to hug you all the time you may have stumbled into a wonderful group or a dangerous cult. If they mention 'assimilate' then RUN! LOL :)
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:22 am

BG seems to have covered it well. Good summary. :thumbsup:
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby justsit » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:32 pm

A list of controversial teachers/groups to be avoided here.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:22 pm

justsit wrote:A list of controversial teachers/groups to be avoided here.



Yes, it's a very useful list - check these out carefully.

There is a range listed, from harmful cults to groups where the only 'fault' has been the married leader allegedly having an affair and then leaving the organisation, which still has good qualities and good teachers (White Plum, for example).
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Infinite » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:52 pm

Thanks everyone this is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. :twothumbsup:
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Wesley1982 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:48 pm

I'm under the impression that you would have to journey/travel to the Eastern regions where Buddhism originated.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby LightSeed » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:10 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:I'm under the impression that you would have to journey/travel to the Eastern regions where Buddhism originated.



To find a sangha?!
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

— AN 5.198
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Wesley1982 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:22 pm

LightSeed wrote:
Wesley1982 wrote:I'm under the impression that you would have to journey/travel to the Eastern regions where Buddhism originated.



To find a sangha?!


In the Eastern regions of upper India, the country of Nepal, and crossing the border of Nepal and to Tibet is where the real Sangha communities are.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Jikan » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:43 pm

Not really, no.

You can find people to practice with in all 50 states of the US&A, for instance.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Dave The Seeker » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:45 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:In the Eastern regions of upper India, the country of Nepal, and crossing the border of Nepal and to Tibet is where the real Sangha communities are.


:thinking:
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Wesley1982 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:53 pm

I know its unrealistic but I can show you on a map where Buddhism originated in its native lands.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Jikan » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:51 am

Wesley1982 wrote:I know its unrealistic but I can show you on a map where Buddhism originated in its native lands.


Yes, Buddhism originated in India & Nepal. That's a fact. But there are practicing Buddhists everywhere in the world.
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Nosta » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:10 pm

Indeed Blue Garude made a great summary of signs you should be alert.

I think that any group with new age ideas or mixing buddhism ideas with "beautiful" (but non sense) ideas shoudl be avoided. For example, a group dedicated to meditation as a mean to relax, a group giving extreme importance on meditation a final end byitself, is not a good one.

You should learn a lot about buddhism and make questions about things you know to themaster group, so you can see if he knows Dharma or is just saying giberish stuff.

I am a lonely practioner. I cant complain, probably thats because of some bad karma on a past life.
So, thats why i came here. This forum is really my only Sangha, but i am happy with that.

:namaste:
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Re: Finding a Sangha

Postby Wesley1982 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:56 pm

If you find a sangha community then thats good but if you don't have one youll have to learn & study Buddhism by yourself.
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