Refuge in the Sangha: The Shape of Buddhist Communities

in Heartwood

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780226088990
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226089010 | DOI:
Refuge in the Sangha: The Shape of Buddhist Communities

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This chapter investigates how practitioners at Wat Phila and the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC) structure themselves inside each organization into communities or groups and relate to those groups. People at both centers rely on the centers for religious or spiritual and social support, though the forms that support takes are quite different. Practitioners at Wat Phila and the CIMC define the word “sangha” and form communities within their organizations in different ways. While practitioners at Wat Phila view the monks as the sangha and tend to conceive of themselves as one large community of monastic and lay members held together by merit, practitioners at the CIMC tend to view everyone involved in the center as the sangha and to conceive of themselves as a community of small groups joined by support and interconnection between practitioners. Despite recent concerns in the broader sociological literature about the strength and vitality of associations and communities in the United States, Wat Phila and the CIMC further show that Buddhist and other religious groups continue to provide support through communities, though in different ways to different constituencies.

Keywords: Wat Phila; Cambridge Insight Meditation Center; Theravada Buddhism; America; Buddhist organizations; religious practitioners; religious organizations

Chapter.  14278 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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