Why is it so hard to practice outside of Buddhist institutions? I've been trying to do this for the last five years. I've been practicing Buddhism for 10 years: 5 years getting into Buddhism, and 5 years getting out.
But I still find it incredibly difficult, even scary, to do this on my own, 'with a little help from my friends', of course.
That need for what Glenn Wallace calls the Big Other--for affirmation, camaraderie--it's still there.
But yet, that's what the Buddha did.
@ShaunBartone I think it comes from a fear of the unknown. Of having no path. Nothing and no one to say, ‘that’s right, good job, you’re headed in the right direction.’ It’s a plunge into the unknown, the path less traveled. Yet that is exactly what the Buddha did. You have to trust yourself implicitly. As Krishnamurti said, it’s a path beyond the known, the guaranteed, the tried and true. It takes tremendous courage.
@ShaunBartone That’s why the Sangha is one of the Three Treasures. People who have been there can tell you which things are a distraction and which are a milestone.
@mithriltabby But the question for me is how much sangha do you need? Do you need a church or a formal group run by a teacher? Or do you just need some friends you can share your experiences with? I'm trying to work that out. I have a couple of Zoom sanghas that I hang out with, let's call them 'hanghas'
@ShaunBartone It helps to have a group that meets regularly, as a safety net for those days when it's really tempting to slack off. A certain amount of formality can be useful for discipline, but it can be overdone. The sangha that I settled in has freewheeling discussion and laughter during the dharma talks after the service. A lot of folks in American Zen take it TOO seriously, which is itself a form of attachment.
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