What is Sangha? What Is The Role Of Sangha In The 21st Century?
Buddha established the Sangha which is a community of celibate monks and nuns who follow the strict discipline of teaching Dharma to fellow Buddhists. Let us learn more about Sangha and how it has helped humans of the 21st century.
Table of Content
What Is Sangha?
One of the three traditions of Buddhism, Sangha is a Pali word which means it is an association or community. During ancient time, Sangha meant an association of monks and nuns. A refuge in Sangha is a way to lay off fear and anxiety. You will feel protected when you are around the community of your fellow followers. You can simply turn to Sangha and you can get advice, share thoughts and juggle up your mind and thoughts.
The ones who followed Buddhism and formed a community were called Sangha. They were Monks also known as Bhikkhus and Nuns known as Bhikkhunis. The individuals who become the monks and nuns went through an ordinary ceremony of shaving head and donning robes which actually became denoted as the symbol of world renunciation. The bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis became homeless and wandered through the monasteries. They only settled down at the monasteries during the rainy season.
Some people in the world also believe that amongst the whole community of Sangha there are Buddhist followers only. However, from the beginning, the people who followed Buddha’s principles were also included at the monasteries by Budha’s disciples. The ordained and the laity follow the basic path of religious life at Sangha. In accordance with this treaty, Pratimokasha was written, where the rules followed by the ordained individuals were included. The monastics or lay communities are interconnected. The laity receives knowledge and preachings from the monastic. On the other hand, the monastics receive food, cloth and shelter for the laity. This act of providing food, shelter and clothes like supplies is an act of kindness. It is actually the laity trying to gain merit and earn good karma.
Where Did Buddhist Sangha Origin From?
The earliest Buddhist Sangha originated from religious and educational institutions where religious gatherings used to take place. This sangha ultimately gave rise to new social and political ideas and systems. The Vinaya Patrika consisted of 227 disciplinary rules and constitutional laws. They were established by monks of Buddhism. The community supported the moral example set forth for the sangha members. Thus, even in today’s world most of the countries in Asia have a strong reference to Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.
Before passing away, Buddha ensured that there were many trained monks in the world who could confidently carry the dhamma. After 45 years of his service to humanity and the Devas, Buddha passed away. The Buddhist Sangha was carried forward with the concept of being the standard-bearer and leader of the dhamma. They were to preach dhamma by example so that the learner can follow the path to understanding and enlightenment. This is the active role of the Sangha community from past to present. It is recognized as the greatest contribution to spreading Buddhism throughout mankind.
How To Find Refuge In Sangha?
There are different schools of Buddhism, Meditation and Spiritual traditions around the world. It might take a while to find the specific Sangha for you, but it takes a while to reach up. Keep an open mind, allow the discomfort and start participating in a similar kind of work that involves good work.
Modern life and its fast pace have been raising a lot of questions about the lives of monastic communities and their members. However, monks and nuns are definitely trying to adopt this new practice and the disciples that lay communities come up with. They are trying to preach spiritual guidance and its benefits more than ever. Maybe you can go through The Role of Sangha in today’s world in brief and decide how to find your own refuge and build a path towards being a part of Sangha.
What Is The Role Of Sangha In The 21st Century?
The Meditators Of Caves And Forest
Some monks and nuns still prefer complete renunciation. They stay away from crowded places and reside in quiet places. They feel this is the only way through which they can cultivate their mind to purity and lead themselves to ultimate liberation. There are also some bhikkhunis who have emerged after years and years of meditation to share their experience.
With the ease of digital media and technology, their personal stories have been shared throughout the world which can definitely benefit many people of the world. For those who crave the path to spiritual meditation and enlightenment, they can choose to receive guidance from such monks
Study And Research About Dhamma
There has been a surge in the number of people who are interested in Buddhism. Particularly the people in the west are trying to find out about religion and its preaching. Buddhist teaching, preaching and commentaries are preserved in texts and are thoroughly researched and transcribed into modern languages. Thus, the treasure in the form of knowledge and wisdom can be supported by people of this generation.
Many monks and nuns have also started training themselves in modern languages so that they can help preach the religion through different sects of people. These individuals also contribute greatly towards the research and publication of Buddhism scriptures around the world.
Mental Peace And Buddhism
Mindfulness is a stress-reducing program that is a part of Buddhist teachings. The Buddhist sangha teaches various types of meditation that are integrated with various psychological benefits. They promote healing your body as well as your mental health. They create spiritual balance which you need in day to day life.
Some of the examples of mental practice that help you reduce stress and attain calm are:
- In-out mindful breathing
- Loving-Kindness Meditation
- Tea Mediation
- Drawing and Painting
- Flower arrangement
All of these are effective ways for disciples as well as followers to reduce stress and develop an awareness of mental processes. These have proved to improve spiritual health as well as provide calming effects.
Live Broadcasting Of The Propaganda
The Internet has become a useful platform to preach Dhamma propagation. We do know it doesn’t actually match a face to face conversations but it helps you reach a lot more people. We live in a world where people are increasingly referring to the internet as the global village and thus the communication methods keep changing with time. Thus, the internet has become the place for global interaction.
It can help an individual have access to Buddhist scriptures and knowledge from anywhere in the world. Communities with little or no knowledge of Buddhism can actually discover the possibilities of this religion and its preaching. Attractive communication, Global audience with no boundaries and cost-effective methods, What else do you think we require to preach Buddhism and Buddhist Sangha?
Be A Spiritual Leader
Buddhist sanghas are gaining more and more fame through contemporary societies and people around the world. They are trained skilfully in preaching spiritual activities that indeed help with spiritual health. They attract various people from diverse cultures and religions to renunciate and become monks. They may have distinct career choices but, might indeed decide to renounce the materialistic life and walk on the path of ultimate joy.
Disciples come to Buddhist monks for spiritual advice and to release their stress and sadness behind. Thus, Communities can make face to face interactive sessions with a spiritual leader and help each other regardless of the physical distance. Buddhist monks and nuns can play a vital role in changing the lives of people of this generation in modern times. Their duties and responsibilities can be interrelated and it will only benefit their own spiritual development and thus, their cause of spreading Buddhism throughout the world will be met.
Buddhism is usually remarked as an isolated path, where an individual embarks on a journey towards finding peace and utter happiness. However, one can not deny that the best result so meditation can only come to you with isolation. However, Sangha is an equal part of Buddhism where everyone needs to help each other to reach that release of distress. Buddha while talking about stress has mentioned that a good support system can actually reduce the stress you have in your life.
Thus, Buddhist Sangha helps you remember your life goals and makes the path of achieving the ultimate peace of mind easy. Sangha as a community helps you visualize the meaning of life, and see along with the positivity while walking through your journey of life. And when it comes to this modern generation, maybe Buddhist sangha can utilise the power of communication through digital media to reach out and connect with people in more interactive ways.