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Gentle Hugs (that don't cause pain),
This put me on the direction of Buddhism and I like to call myself Buddhist. I have taken classes at a Zen center in the nearest big city and I attend a recently created Dharma Punx sangha there as well. In doing this I have been struggling with what feels very natural to me…that being a solitary practitioner…and a sangha member. One the one hand sangha feels like a natural extension and component of the practice (and sanghas will certainly agree to that), yet on the other hand, (and the stronger feeling I have) practice is something to be integrated into my daily life from the largest things (dealing with death, skillfully handing being single and dating/sex, caring for family, etc) to the littlest things (how I brush my teeth, stirring my coffee, talking to friends, etc).
Ultimately I feel that there is a balance between the two but I have no idea where that balance lies for me. I have a feeling that the strongest component will always be my personal day to day practice that grows and evolves organically as it always has. I find the Buddhist teachings and practices (I focus mainly on Soto Zen as a core) builds the most complete and solid foundation I have ever found to date whether a sangha has been present in it or not.
What I’m organically coming to understand is that sangha is a verb. It is an activity I engage in and that includes interacting with people (Buddhist and non Buddhist), reading books, listening to dharma talks, sitting zazen twice a day (minimum), extending myself to help others (thru physical and non physical presence such as my blog www.zenfant.wordpress.com ), and following the mindfulness trainings/precepts.
As I’m writing this, I feel very good about being “unaffiliated” because right now it feels as if being unaffiliated with one sangha or tradition, means I am affiliated with the universe…and that’s a cool feeling