SuttaCentral

Building a Sangha from scratch 😉

Hi! For the past 2 or 3 years I’ve been trying to contact Buddhist followers to build a Sangha for practicing together. I’ve been posting on Buddhist websites and nothing happen… Here in Barcelona, Spain, we don’t have any Theravada Monastery nearby, that’s the reason, I guess, is kind of difficult to find people of our tradition… Any ideas will be very appreciated friends. :wink::+1::pray:

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Welcome to the SuttaCentral Sangha.

:pray:

Bienvenido a SuttaCentral.

Por cierto, estamos trabajando en algunas traducciones de la interfaz web para voice.suttacentral.net. Tenemos una traducción al portugués, pero no al español. ¿Le interesaría ayudarnos a proporcionar al mundo una interfaz en español para Voice?

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I would love to, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time… Thank you for your offer :pray:

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If you can’t find any other Theravada Buddhists locally, then how about considering a comparable tradition, Zen for example?

Have you checked the Buddhanet world directory?
Spain:
http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=73
Barcelona:
http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/province.php?province_id=675

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You might be interested in Bhante Sujato’s visit to Europe this year:

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Yes @Martin! Almost every tradition is present, except Theravada…

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Yes, thank you @karl_lew. But unfortunately I can’t go… This year… We see :pray:

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@Gustavo, maybe think about starting a Meetup Group Meetups near Barcelona | Meetup focused on Early Buddhism/Forest practice. I have used Meetup successfully in the past forming meditation groups in cities where there is no Forest or Theravada presence. My approach is to curate Dhamma talks/guided meditations off of youtube (mainly monastics found on the BSWA.org site ), present the talks on a TV monitor with internet connection, and then facilitate meditation sits. Most often, people new to the EBTs and Dhamma enjoy staying late and talking, and I found that even after the formal program, an hour or more was spent talking. It turned out to be a great way to connect people, and was quite beneficial to others, who had not known of the EBTs or Dhamma, and elevated their lives through these gatherings.

For space, I borrowed or rented space that was economical. I purchased cushions/zabutons, and folding chairs so that those unable to sit on cushions were able to sit comfortably. A small investment that paid huge spiritual dividends.

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So what are the practical options? I’m guessing it’s something like this:

  1. Remain an essentially solitary practitioner.
  2. Travel some distance for occasional contact with Theravadans.
  3. Spend time regularly with a local non-Theravadan group, and keep an open mind.

I would go for #3, but it’s a personal decision.
I’ve practised with many traditions over the last 40 years, and have appreciated all of them. Buddhist and non-Buddhist.

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…4. Invite distant Theravada teachers to come teach a non-Theravadan Buddhist group. That’s what a fellow in Arkansas did; he couldn’t find any local Theravadan teachers to participate in the local Buddhist interfaith community, so he invited a teacher from hundreds of miles away (me) to lead occasional weekend programs.

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It’s a good idea, but it would take a lot of confidence for an individual practitioner to arrange something like this.

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My way of dealing with such situation is:

  1. Listening to dhamma talks by my favorite monks regularly.
  2. Reading suttas regularly.
  3. Doing a lot of my own practice
  4. Every situation of life is part of dhamma when seen with wisdom and metta
  5. Having kalyana mitta - admirable/spiritual friend(s).

Truth is many “sanghas” are not in great shape, a lot of techniques are misinterpreted so such solution can be actually to your advantage.

I write “sanghas” in quotations, because for me true sangha (in which we are taking refuge) is community of monks/nuns who has reach at least stream entry fruit, who are truly Venerable and Noble, which I believe are not many.

With metta.

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Thank you so much @UpasakaMichael, I’ll give a try to meetup app (which, by the way, I’ve installed months ago to search for these kind of groups) and see what happens… :pray:

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Thank you @Invo for your advice :pray:

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Yes, point 3 is helpful. I participated a few years a go in a Thich Nhat Hanh group and it was very nice. And was also desicive to realize that it was not the tradition I want to follow…

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That’s a great idea @Charlotteannun. I’ve contacted a monk from USA who was happy to visit Barcelona to teach…
The steps would be:

  1. Search for a local Buddhist group who is interested to have the Ven. to teach.
  2. Find the resources to cover the travel an other expenses…
    Right?

Thank you,:pray:

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It may take first establishing personal relationships with whatever group you have in mind. An outsider proposing to bring in a teacher will probably be politely tolerated; the actual work of doing it would fall on you. If, however, you had become an integral part of their community before proposing the Theravadan’s visit, they’d be more likely to fully commit to everything involved, including fronting the funding for travel costs, doing the advertising, arranging local transportation, arranging a venue & taking care of set-up, and hosting the monk during his visit.

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Thank you for your advice @Charlotteannun🙏I will keep it in mind.
All the suggestions and ideas here are helping me a lot :blush:

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As someone in a city with somewhat small Dharma resources, I’ve generally been doing option 3. There’s a large Thai temple about an hour or so away but it generally focuses on catering to the Thai community, so it is much easier to just go to a small and closer Zen sangha.

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Suggestion: If you can, offer to give English lessons to the monks. You can form a close relationship that way with the monks which will be mutually beneficial. Many Thai monks in the 'States tend to be stand-offish to Americans due to shyness over their ability to speak English, so some practice with you could help them in their wish to teach. (By the way, that shyness vanishes towards you if you just speak to them butchering a few Thai phrases; their English being much better than that, it puts them at ease.)

Or offer any other service that you can jump into easily, like tell the monks if they ever need a ride to the doctor or anywhere to call you, or bring pizza for lunch occasionally, or offer nice writing pens, or offer maintenance on the Temple’s vehicle, or whatever. The nicest way for a layman to connect with monks is through service, large or small.

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