The Practice of Sangha
A Sangha is 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 you do not see these in a community, it is not a true Sangha, and you should have the courage to say so. But when you find these elements are present in a community, you know that you have the happiness and fortune of being in a real Sangha. - Thich Nhat Hanh, Friends on the Path
The Florida Community of Mindfulness offers sanghas, or practice communities, in support of one another's mindfulness and meditation practice. Sangha is one of the Three Gems of Buddhist practice - the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha - in which we take refuge. The sangha has existed in an unbroken line since the time of the Buddha as the living embodiment of Buddhist teachings.
In the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition, great importance is placed on the practice of sangha. Thich Nhat Hanh has said that spiritual friends are the most essential element of our practice - that it is difficult or even impossible to practice without a sangha. The sangha surrounds us with a group of friends who are motivated by the same ideal and aspirations; they keep us grounded in the practice in the face of the material success, achievement, and busyness that our society values. Thich Nhat Hahn has called the sangha a “community of resistance” resisting the speed, violence, and consumerism that are so prevalent in our society.
When we are part of a sangha we are practicing not for ourselves alone, we are practicing for the whole sangha. The sangha is a true community of spiritual friends who together create a place of acceptance, trust, love, and support in which transformation and healing of our fear, our suffering, and our feelings of isolation and separation can occur. We become “bells of mindfulness” for each other as we practice to create peace, joy, solidity, and freedom in ourselves, in our sangha, and in our society.
Our sanghas offer weekly meditation practice and Dharma teachings from our teacher, Fred Eppsteiner, through local sangha gatherings in Naples, Tampa, and other Florida locations. Through FCM, our sanghas also participate in shared days of mindfulness, retreats, intensive practice periods, and other opportunities to deepen our practice as described in practice opportunities on this website.