top of page

Sangha and keeping a heart practice

I hope you entered 2024 with some peace and ease in your heart. At Newburgh Yoga Shala we began the year looking at the deeper meaning of Sangha. Thich Nhat Hanh defines 'sangha' as "a community of friends practicing the dharma together in order to bring about and to maintain awareness. The essence of a sangha is awareness, understanding, acceptance, harmony and love". When we see a group of people living mindfully, with a sense of humor about their practice and loving to each other and the world we gain confidence in our future as a world wide community.


In the Buddha's words:

"I have shown you the methods leading to liberation, but you know that liberation only depends on yourself". It is our personal duty as practitioners to show up with certain qualities to our practice and to our life. Patanjali lays the foundation of this in chapter one and the Yoga Sutras.

Yoga Sutra 1.20:

Shraddha Virya Smriti Samadhi Prajna Purvaka Itaresam

"Yogins obtain Upaya Pratyaya Asamprajnata Samadhi by means of self-confidence, self-discipline, self-security, tremendous enthusiasm and energy, constant attentivenes and vigilance, regular practice of samadhi – concentration, contemplation, and meditation – and by Self-analysis and Self-knowledge. Faith must be there – or at least courage.You must be strong, and you should have a good memory of all the mistakes you have made and the lessons you've learned so as not to fall back into the worldly rut again." -- Sri Swami Satchidananda

Yoga Sutra 1:33:

Maitri Karuna Muditopeksanam Sukha Duhka Punyapunya Visayanam Bhavantas Citta Prasadanam.

“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” — Sri Swami Satchidananda

Thich Nhat Hanh explains that sangha is more than a community, it’s a deep spiritual practice. Sangha arises out of the efforts of each individual in the community to being a dedicated practitioner. The intensity of the dedication each applies creates a strong place for practice. That deep dedication is what holds the sangha together, it is its essence and it requires regular attending to.

Thich Nhat Hanh describes the Sangha as “a community of friends practicing the dharma together in order to bring about and to maintain awareness”. According to Patanjali the four keys to peace are: maitri (friendliness or loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (delight), and upeksha (disregard or equanimity). These are essential qualities we cultivate and share with each other. When we look at each other, we feel confident, because everyone is sharing the the fire of the effort and contributing to the quality of the Sangha. So we hold each other on the path of practice. “The trees, water, air, birds, and so on can all be members of our sangha. A beautiful walking path may be part of our sangha. A good cushion can be also. We can make many things into supportive elements of our sangha.You don’t sit for yourself alone, you sit for the whole sangha—not only the sangha, but also for the people in your city, because when one person in the city is less angry, is smiling more, the whole city profits.If we see a group of people living mindfully, capable of smiling, of loving, we gain confidence in our future” Thich Nhat Hanh.

The Guru - the dispeller of darkness, that which breaks the darkness - of our generation is the Sangha, that is why it is so important we are here together in practice. It is of outmost importance that we hold each other, call upon each other, seek each other, invite each other into the circle of Sangha. One person at a time the Sangha will expand and trickle out, the roots will spread deep into the womb of the earth and many Boddhicittas will be rebirthed until the earth is healed. Only through Sangha can we heal the wound of the human kind and reach enlightenment as a Sangha. This is a journey we take together, it is important work. Ram Ram

Join Bibi in practice at her home Shala in Newburgh, NY; on retreat; on to deepen your studies in her Teacher Trainings and immersions.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
bottom of page