What Is the Sangha?

The Nature of Spiritual Community

by Sangharakshita

The Sangha, the spiritual community, is traditionally one of the three highest ideals of Buddhism, alongside the Buddha and the Dharma. But why? Many Western Buddhists would question whether it has a role at all. Some feel that Dharma practice is about personal commitment, not about joining a group, while others identify the term “sangha” solely with the monastic community.

Here Sangharakshita presents the ideal Sangha as a free association between developing individuals. An exploration of the nature of spiritual community is balanced by reflections on individuality, on what it is to be truly human.

Sangha being all about relationships, the final part of this book considers the individual’s relationship to others — friends, family, fellow workers, and spiritual teachers — and the connections of the Buddhist community to the world as a whole.

Throughout the book Sangharakshita demonstrates his passionate commitment to the ideal of Sangha, in principle and in practice. How can we help each other, and the world towards a more enlightened way of living? How can we be good friends to one another? Sangharakshita’s vision shapes and enlivens this book, transforming Sangha from an idea to an inspiring and practical ideal.

Paperback, 288 pages
December 2001
List Price: $17.96

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Believe nothing merely because you have been told it… Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings — that doctrine believe and cling to and take it as your guide.
The Buddha

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