Building Your Sangha

"The first thing we need to do is to look around and identify the elements of our sangha. We have to start like the Buddha did. We mustn't wait for our next retreat or summer vacation; we need to join a sangha or start building a sangha right away at home. Then we can continue our practice. We can do walking, sitting, breathing, listening to the bell in mindfulness. Sangha building is a very important and noble work. Every one of us should think of doing this as soon as possible. Please build a sangha, a true one, a community that can generate brotherhood and sisterhood, peace, and the energy of mindfulness.

"If there isn't an existing sangha that is close enough or suitable for you, please start a sangha in your home, in your town, and create a refuge for yourself, your children, your friends, and your family. Group energy is stronger than our individual energy by itself, and if you know how to borrow from it, you will be strong enough to hold your feelings and not be overwhelmed by suffering.

"When you throw a rock into the river, no matter how small it is, it will sink to the bottom. But if you have a boat, you can keep many rocks afloat. The same is true of a sangha. If you are alone, you may sink into the river of suffering, but if you have a community of practice to help carry you and you allow it to embrace your pain and sorrow, you will float. Many of us have benefited greatly from the collective energy of the sangha. If you see that the sangha is precious and crucial for your practice, try your best to get a group of people to practice with you, and everyone will benefit. That is your lifeboat.

"When you practice well, you become a refuge for yourself and also for your loved ones. If you transform your family into a sangha, other people can come and take refuge in your family. If you're able to bring a few families together, you set up a sangha, and if the practice goes well in your group, it becomes a refuge for many other people. When we're in a sangha, we're like a drop in a great river. We allow the sangha to hold us and transport us, and our fear, pain, and suffering are recognized, embraced, and transformed."