Building a sangha is like planting a sunflower. We need to be aware of which conditions will support the flower’s growth and which conditions will obstruct its growth. We need healthy seeds, skilled gardeners, and plenty of sunshine and room to grow. When we engage in sangha building, the most important thing to remember is that we are doing it together. The more we embrace the sangha, the more we can let go of the feeling of a separate self. We can relax into the collective wisdom and insights of the sangha. We can see clearly that the sangha eyes and hands and heart are greater than those of any individual member of the sangha.
By participating in sangha activities and contributing our energy and insights, we have the opportunity to help build our sangha in every moment. To sustain our own practice when we leave the practice center, we need to be active in establishing connections with those around us by sharing our practice as well as seeking the support and guidance of our fellow practitioners. Thay instructs us to be energetic in the practice of mindfulness. The past is finished and the future is uncertain; only in the present can we discover the miracle of life. Living in this spirit, we are already valuable members of our sangha. We will know how to engage in the continuous process of building a refuge for many beings.
Thay encourages us all to be sangha builders, following in the footsteps of the Buddha, who was a great sangha builder. When we are able to live and practice in harmony in a small community, we can then share this harmony with the larger sangha, our family and friends, our co-workers, and our co-practitioners. When there is joy in the practice of sangha building, then we know that we doing it correctly.
Please use The New Sangha Handbook to learn more about facilitating a sangha gathering, guiding sangha activities, reciting texts, and coordinating practices. You may also wish to contact the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation about receiving the Sangha in a Box startup kit for sangha building.