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Finding a Sangha to Join

WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran

I'm pretty new to Buddhism. I've been doing some fundamental meditation, breath awareness, and some 6-element practice occasionally. I've been doing some reading as well.

I haven't made any move about joining a sangha yet. I'm fortunate to have a wide a variety of options, living in a fairly large city. These are three that I'm interested in:

Chin Yin Buddhist Temple
This is a Vajrayana Sangha, True Buddha School

This one is local, I could even walk to the temple. Might be nice to get to know more people in my local community.

Edmonton Buddhist Meditation Group
This is a Soto Zen Group, Order of Buddhist Contemplatives

This one would be a bit of a drive to get to. I do have a strong interest in Zen. I have read some very unflattering reports about some of the groups in the order, especially in the U.S., but nothing about this group in particular.

Ratachadham Thai Buddhist Temple (Can't find a website for this group)
Looks to be Theravada

This one is pretty close, a bit farther away from home than the Vajrayana group.

I have no particular preference of any tradition as yet. I would appreciate any experience or advice any of you may have. Thanks.


  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Go by how you feel when you visit and interact with the members. You will probably know fairly quickly whether it is a good fit for you, or not, even if you have a lot of questions about the rituals and so on. Visit them all and see what feels like home, so to speak. Even amongst online groups-NewBuddhist is home. I've looked at many Buddhist forums, but I just can't get into them. They aren't "it". It was the same when I met my teacher and sangha. I've met and retreated with several teachers, but only a couple feel like home.

    That said, sometimes it's easy to want to dwell in our comfort zones TOO much. Balance doesn't come from always seeking that which we feel most comfortable with.

    My teacher is a Vajrayana Tibetan teacher. Some things in Vajrayana get pretty...complex. At least for me. There is much less focus on the 4 noble truths and the eightfold path. The foundation is not excluded, but it is implied that it is built into what you are learning otherwise so there is somewhat of a suggestion that you already know and understand them decently. I've had to do a lot of study and such on my own. Thankfully right now our sangha is more focused on Mahayana stuff, we just did bodhisattva vows as a group this past fall, so that I grasp decently and can keep up with. The Vajrayana aspects are different and more difficult for me and sometimes when we are focused on that, like last spring we did a week long retreat on guru yoga...I feel a bit like I am learning a 3rd year of a foreign language that I missed the first 2 years on. I ask a LOT of questions of my teacher (who while he lives 200 miles away and is only in the US half the year) who thankfully is willing to phone and email...and especially his senior student. I'm pretty sure she head-desks when she gets emails from me, lol.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited May 2015

    Yep. You'll know where you fit in. I agree with that. I tried about 3 local Temples before finding the monastery/group affiliated with TNH. Once I went to a retreat and the monks were playing handball and thought my faux hawk was funny...hahaha...I've been hooked ever since. I liked that they have talks in dual languages and the strong sense of combining/bringing people together (even if I disagree on the whole living Buddha Living Christ concept)...I liked that I didn't agree 100% of the time. The feel...of mixing cultures and activism and such seemed like a good fit for me over all. Just have to go through the awkward social stuff at first...hahaha...but that's anywhere, hell, even the grocery store or meeting new people at the car's not's you. Show up and show in. Then decide.

    Only one way to find out.... :smiley:

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    You need hardcore zen training.

    However if you get your timing right, when they feed the monks ... Thai food Yum.

    Also you have some sort of communist dharma Centre within walking distance. Gosh. If you take up running they will be even nearer ...

    You lucky!

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @lobster That's only three. There's lots of other groups in my city. Feel a little sheepish when some of you have to drive for hours to associate with your sanghas, and you don't have the smorgasbord to select from that I do.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran



    Baa ... Do you have pub or bar crawls?

    You could do a dharma crawl! B)

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran

    Walking meditation from temple to temple!

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    So when you checking out the hydrants? Pictures welcome. Don't piss in temples [lobster top tip].

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran

    Well, won't be this weekend. Lot's of stuff going on. Having a BBQ on Sat. night, niece is coming over with her fiancee and hopefully his parents too, and a bunch of my family. Sort of a meet 'n greet for the two families to get to know each other. Sunday, my b-i-l has asked me to come over and help set up this.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    One of the nice things about seeking out a Buddhist sangha is this: You can not fail.

    Literally -- it's just not possible.

    Keep it in mind.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Walker said:
    Sunday, my b-i-l has asked me to come over and help set up this.

    I am unaware of a leaping order in Buddhism like the Order of St Beryl

    However I believe the Transcendental Meditators could benefit ...

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran

    @lobster This could maybe be part of a Rinzai Zen sect?


  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Ah Kosho from 'The Prisoner' the greatest Dharma TV series ever. Well spotted. Very interesting stylistically. The bowing at the end was my favourite, very sporting. :)

  • she_singsshe_sings Easton, PA New

    Anyone know of a sangha near Easton, PA?

  • WalkerWalker Veteran Veteran
    edited November 2015


    Found this group on Bing. It's in Bethlehem. You may want to check them out.

    By the way, Welcome to NewBuddhist!

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @she_sings said:
    Anyone know of a sangha near Easton, PA?

    I'm not sure, there may be a Zen place in the general vicinity. Do you know what tradition you're interested in: Japanese Zen, Vietnamese Zen, (Thich Nhat Hanh), Tibetan, southeast Asian, South Asian, etc.? Theravada (southern) vs. Mahayana (various northern traditions)?

    Google "Buddhist centers" + your town, and you'll see there are some on the NJ side, as well as a scattering of centers N & S of you. Be aware that not all Buddhist centers are in dedicated buildings, temples and the like; some are in people's homes.

    We usually advise to try several for a few sessions each, and decide where you're the most comfortable. Be careful of red flags, like if someone says you should only buy the Buddhism books that are authored by the head of their sect, or other signs of "groupthink". Otherwise, enjoy your explorations. :)

  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    Theravada group but it is long from your location therefore i can not advice.

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