WHAT IS SANGHA?
Sangha, or community, is considered to be one of the “three jewels” of Buddhism. Sangha is a group of spiritual friends who support each other in practice and help each other make sense of the way that Buddhist teachings show up in the world. Our relationships within a sangha help us practice compassion for ourselves and for others. Because sangha is essential to what we offer at Winding Path Temple, we want to be clear about how you can be a part of the community.
There are three different ways to interact with our community. These three pathways are descriptive and not hierarchical. Some people find that making a formal commitment to a community or to a particular path deepens their practice. For others, that same commitment might prove to be an obstacle to practice. We hope that one of these three pathways will help you find your way of belonging to our community.
ATTEND AS A GUEST
Everyone is welcome to attend our virtual and in-person gatherings as a guest. You can keep attending as a guest for as long as you like. All you need is interest and openness to follow this path and a respect for the sangha community. You might join us just once or twice, or you might drop in this way for several months as you get to know us. There is no expectation for how often you attend.
BECOME A SUPPORTING MEMBER
Becoming a supporting member means making a more formal commitment to support our community through various types of dana, or generosity. What does support look like? One way of supporting the community is by regular attendance at weekly and monthly services. We recognize that every person has a different schedule and different time constraints. Becoming a supporting member means making a commitment to show up as often as you are able so that you are there for other community members. The second way of supporting the community is through a formal pledge for service or monetary donation to help with the operations and upkeep of the temple. This is a freewill donation based on what you are able to give. Each year there will be an opportunity to reflect on your contribution and determine how you’d like to contribute in the following year.
How do I become a supporting member? After you’ve attended our Intro to the Path workshop or another introductory session, you can either meet with a teacher or fill out the sangha member form.
TAKING FORMAL REFUGE
If you’ve been practicing with us for a while and determine that Tendai Buddhism is the path for you, you might decide to participate in a formal refuge ceremony to publicly declare your vow to follow this path of practice. As part of this ceremony you are forging a more formal connection with the Tendai tradition and with the teacher who gave you refuge. You may notice that people who have gone through this ceremony will wear a hagesa, or small scarf around their neck while meditating. This is a way to remind themselves of the commitment they have made and can help infuse energy into their practice.
How do I take refuge? Typically we ask people to practice with the community for at least a year before taking refuge. If you decide that you are ready to explore this option, you should schedule a meeting with Reverend Shingaku or Reverend Ryushin.