Okay, so some of you may be scratching your head at the definition of sangha. It’s a term used in Buddhism to denote community. At the surface, it’s most often used to denote the community that makes up a temple or center. In Western Buddhism, it’s sometimes expanded to mean the broader community.
I’m using the broader definition of community. The group of people who make up your support system, your social network, friends, and so on.
I’m a very social person and have always valued my circle of friends. There are so many levels of friendship, but they’re all important to me. And while my social network is really precious to me, I’ve also learned through the years to be happy with my own company.
Long-term travel has taught me, however, that while I can be happy by myself, and with my kiddo, spending time with friends is even more precious than I had realized.
Tigger misses there being more than just him and I all the time, too. Even if he doesn’t immediately recognize it. Last year for his birthday we had the choice of going to a new country or returning to Kuala Lumpur where we could celebrate with friends (all adults). He chose the latter.
As one of our favorite holidays—Thanksgiving—approaches, we discussed different travel options. His main focus was he wanted us to have Thanksgiving dinner like we used to, surrounded by friends. Thankfully, a house sit became available near my sister and her family, and it would mean that for the first time Tigger would get to experience a Thanksgiving celebration with family! Well, other than “family by choice.” How absolutely wonderful!
We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in Honduras, Morocco, and Romania. While they have been enjoyable (and creative) events, it’s just been the two of us, and we’ve both felt the absence of friends profoundly.
Sangha is one of the reasons we are seriously considering settling down in Washington state in the US. We have friends and family there, and my temple is there. While I’m not a very religious person, the chance to be closer to my home temple, which means being closer to some of my favorite people in the world, is really exciting.
This whole idea of community is really more important to me than I realized. No wonder the sangha is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism. I guess it just took me being away for a few years to really understand the full depth of that message. I guess that Buddha fella was kind of smart.
What’s been your experience with that feeling of community?