What Is Sangha?
Sangha is a Sanskrit and Pali term frequently used in the West to refer to a Buddhist community. A sangha is a community of sentient beings practicing the dharma together in order to develop and maintain mindfulness, and ultimately to cultivate insight and wisdom. The essence of a sangha is understanding, acceptance, support, and kindness. When you find these elements in a community, you know that you have found a jewel.
The Buddha’s original sangha was a monastic community comprised of monks, and later, monks and nuns. As householders learned of the master’s teaching, they too wanted to study and practice the dharma with him. Over time, the fourfold sangha developed consisting of nuns, monks, laywomen, and laymen.
The Community Meditation Center is a secular, non-religious, non-dogmatic sangha of laypeople. While nuns and monks, to this day, commit to an extensive set of rules as found in the Vinaya (education, discipline) CMC teachers and board members commit to five basic precepts taught by the Buddha. All who attend CMC sessions are invited to consider these precepts as guides in daily life.
The Five Precepts
To Not Kill
Aware of the suffering caused by harming living beings, the planet, and the atmosphere, I am committed to protecting the lives of all beings and the environment. I am determined not to kill, to prevent others from killing, and not to support any act of killing, in my thinking, and in my way of life.
To Not Steal
Aware of the suffering caused by stealing, exploitation, and social injustice, I am committed to working for the benefit of all beings. I will practice generosity by sharing my time, talent, and financial resources with those who are in need, and those who will use them to benefit others. I am determined not to take what is not freely given, and what should belong to others.
To Not Abuse Sexual Energy
Aware of the suffering caused by the abuse of sexual energy, I am committed to respecting the integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without wisdom and careful consideration. I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything I can to protect children and other vulnerable beings from sexual abuse.
To Not Lie
Aware of the suffering caused by unskillful speech and the inability to listen, I am committed to cultivating skillful speech and skillful listening. I will speak truthfully, with words that can inspire others, and bring joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be true, and will not criticize things of which I am not certain. I am determined to speak with wisdom and compassion and will avoid words that can cause divisiveness in the family or community. I will make efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
To Not Abuse Intoxicants
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am determined not to abuse alcohol, drugs, or any other intoxicant, or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I will work to transform greed, hatred, and delusion into generosity, compassion, and wisdom in myself and in society.
“This is a community of gracious and caring people who always make me feel welcome.”
“The teachings and practice have helped me immensely. Each week I sit in community with others and feel supported, grateful, even joyful. CMC has changed my life and my understanding of life.”