The Buddha-Dharma Sangha, What is That?
We are a community of people striving to enrich our lives and the lives of others through meditation and mindfulness. We follow the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, the Enlightened One, who discovered the Path of the Middle some two-and-a-half millennia ago. Our contemporary teacher is Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, founder of the Plum Village community. He is the key to our understanding of the ancient Dharma as it applies to our modern lives.
The name of our group reflects the “Triple Gem” of Buddhism:
—The Buddha is the one who shows us the way in this life.
—The Dharma is the wonderful teaching of love and understanding.
—The Sangha is the community that lives in harmony and peace.
A Sangha does not strive for personal spiritual growth alone. Meditation and mindfulness are the tools that help us develop bodhichitta, the mind of wisdom and love that embraces the whole earth, all of her beings, and all universes. “If you have a supportive Sangha,” says Thich Nhat Hanh, “it is easy to nourish your bodhichitta…. Without a Sangha, your desire to practice may wither…. Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are three precious jewels in Buddhism, and the most important of these is Sangha…. Transformation is possible only when you are in touch.”
What is the source of your practice?
When the Buddha passed into ultimate Nirvana, he did not appoint a successor. Instead, he promised his disciples that the Dharma would be their guide. We are extremely fortunate that virtually all of his teachings have been preserved for us to study and to practice, along with many wonderful commentaries and later writings.
Who is your teacher?
We draw our inspiration from a gentle Vietnamese monk whose life and teachings radiate an exemplary mindfulness, tolerance, and compassion. Thich Nhat Hanh was exiled from his homeland during the Vietnam War because of his courageous peace activities, which led him to oppose both the Communist regime of Hanoi and the pro-American government in Saigon. He lives in Plum Village, France, where his teachings have attracted an international following. We call him Thây for short—an affectionate term for teacher (pronounced “tie).
What branch of Buddhism do you fit into?
Thây has succeeded in tracing the profound connections between the various Buddhist streams; thus he can truly be described as a representative of Mainstream Buddhism. Thich Nhat Hanh transcends the historical and geographical differences that have evolved since the time of the Buddha.
His ability to explain the Dharma to western audiences is unrivalled.
Do I have to become a Buddhist if I want to come to your meetings?
When you join us for our meetings, we assume that you want to explore the teachings of the Buddha. We do not ask you to make a commitment to a set of beliefs, but we hope you are prepared to put meditation, mindfulness, and the other steps of the Path to a real-life test.
What is your fee?
The teachings of the Buddha must not be sold. In the Buddha-Dharma Sangha no one gets paid. Still, we do have expenses, so we ask for a donation to cover our rent, printing costs, a little advertising etc. so that we can help others find the Noble Eightfold Path, too.