Excerpt from New Sangha Practice Book by Thich Nhat Hanh
Alone we are vulnerable, but with brothers and sisters to work with, we can support each other. We cannot go to the ocean as a drop of water—we would evaporate before reaching our destination.
But if we become a river, if we go as a Sangha, we are sure to arrive at the ocean…
You need a sangha;
you need a brother or sister, or friend to remind you what you already know.
The Dharma is in you, but it needs to be watered in order to manifest and become a reality.
A Sangha is a community of resistance, resisting the speed, violence, and unwholesome ways of living that are prevalent in our society.
I’ve been a monk for 65 years, and what I have found is that there is no religion, no philosophy, no ideology higher than brotherhood and sisterhood.
Not even Buddhism.
In society, much of our suffering comes from feeling disconnected from one another. Being with the Sangha can heal these feelings of isolation and separation. We practice together, share a room together, eat side by side and clean pots together. Just by participating with other practitioners in the daily activities we can experience a tangible feeling of love and acceptance.
A sangha is a garden, full of many varieties of trees and flowers. When we can look at ourselves and at others as beautiful, unique flowers and trees we can truly grow to understand and love one another.
One flower may bloom early in the spring and another flower may bloom in late summer. One tree may bear many fruits and another tree may offer cool shade. No one plant is greater, or lesser, or the same as any other plant in the garden. Each member of the sangha also has unique gifts to offer to the community.
We each have areas that need attention as well. When we can appreciate each member’s contribution and see our weaknesses as potential for growth we can learn to live together harmoniously. Our practice is to see that we are a flower or a tree, and we are the whole garden as well, all interconnected.
Supported by the Sangha Body My practice flows easier,
Allowing me to swiftly realize
My great determination to love and understand all beings.
– Thich Nhat Hanh