This post is part of a series on Jesus’ Teaching in Buddhist Terminology.
Sangha is a Sanskrit word for a group or association with a common purpose for gathering. That’s it. In the past, this Sanskrit word has been used more commonly in Buddhist circles. It connotes a supportive gathering of a group on a spiritual path together. The JesusSanghasm was envisioned as a way to encourage people who might otherwise be alienated from a traditional church setting to embrace Jesus. It arose as a direct response to an outcry by some youth who were attending a demonstration in Seattle, Washington. Although alienated from the church community, they were still open to the message of Jesus. We thought, why not offer Jesus’ teachings in Buddhist terminology, and perhaps open up a new path to Jesus to those who might otherwise turn away? For five years, the concept was contained on a standalone site before we began adding the offerings. The meditations that were offered on the standalone site will be brought current, re-recorded, and added here. Meanwhile, if you are looking for meditation resources, we suggest you visit the website of Brother Camillus Chavez, FSC.
Well run, a JesusSangha could offer refuge from the ‘slings and arrows’ of the suffering that we all can sometimes feel from life. The group could be comprised of any like-minded band of friends or neighbors. It could form under the auspices of a local civic center, recreation center or even some forward thinking church, or as an outreach project by a youth minister. A sangha would probably even work in a virtual reality community, although as far as we know it hasn’t been tried there yet. JesusSangha groups can come in many different shapes and sizes, but will always include the following attributes: community, study, and practice. It is our hope that those who choose to explore the JesusSangha for a time will find it a deeply nourishing, authentic path.
Anyone can start a sangha, of course. But to be a JesusSangha, one must abide by a Code of Conduct, with an understanding that the requirements in the Code of Conduct may be modified, as the need arises. If you agree to the Code of Conduct below and would like permission to make use of our JesusSangha resources and logo, just contact us. The Code of Conduct for the JesusSangha is shaped after the prophet Mica’s admonition to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God. This Code of Conduct has evolved from its original form and will continue to evolve, in the coming years.
Code of Conduct for the JesusSangha
- Jesus… at the center of the JesusSangha is Jesus. The JesusSangha will gather in Jesus’ name, and will study Jesus’ teachings. In any decisions or actions, the JesusSangha will stick to the red letters and Gospels – what Jesus actually said and did – as its guide.
- Sangha… A JesusSangha exists to uplift its members, providing a safe and supportive community environment in which to grow and learn together. A JesusSangha will not charge for membership except to cover direct rent expenses for the meeting place. Although in the case of a church-sponsored JesusSangha there may be a youth minister assigned as a group leader, no other hierarchy shall be imposed, nor shall any one member promote him/herself above the group or receive a salary from group members. An environment of open, honest discourse and healthy questioning, as well as transparency of operations, shall be encouraged. A JesusSangha exists to help members grow with God, and so when members feel drawn to grow away from the JesusSangha they are to be celebrated and never shunned. A JesusSangha membership should not be considered as a lengthy commitment. No demands of loyalty – subtle or overt – shall be made. All members shall be forever free to leave the sangha for any reason, at any time, without guilt or pressure.
- Seek Justice – A JesusSangha will recognize that the best way to seek one’s own happiness, follow Jesus’ admonitions, show love for God and neighbor, and grow in relationship with God is to engage in works with the intention of lifting up others.
- Love Kindness – Mindful of the effects of our thoughts, words, and deeds, the JesusSangha and its participants will actively seek to love, uplift and heal, to the best of their abilities. Kindness starts at home, so participants shall practice loving-kindness towards each other in their interactions.
- Walk Humbly – Knowing that only one “who is without sin” should cast stones, the JesusSangha will not stand in judgment of others. Following the lead of the humble Franciscans, the JesusSangha refrain from proselytizing activities, but rather “preach always, use words only when necessary.”
Before starting any group, it’s important to consider the W5, the who, what, where, when and why. Who will participate? What will the activities be? Where will they take place, and when? And why these particular activities? That is, what is my motivation for this group, and what do I want to accomplish? The experience of community can be enough of a reason to join together, but it’s important to think it through. Answering these questions early will help any group endeavor be more successful, and every moment taken thinking these questions through first will save time in debate later. The following hypothetical examples are offered to help with envisioning the possibilities for a JesusSangha.
- First Northern Seattle Gratitude CoffeeSangha Meeting times: every Tuesday at 7am. § Location: The coffeehouse at the fish market. § Members: Organizer works as an architect in downtown Seattle. The other members found out about the sangha from a flier. § Size: Agreed maximum size of 8 – 9 before group will split into two. § The usual fare: informal greeting from 6:45, everyone gathers in Jesus’ name, saying “Jesus, thank you for being here with us as we gather together to learn and grow.” Gratitude sharing. Weekly book discussion (two readings – one from the Bible, one from a current or historic author), members share their thoughts. Closing prayer. Once in a while people have dinner at various member homes. Special passages are also celebrated.
- The BayBasement Teen ShabbatSangha Meeting times: every Friday before sundown. § Location: The rec-room of the downtown SF church. § Members: Led by the youth minister and open to all comers under the age of 21. § Size: Open. § The usual fare: a candle blessing, bread and wine blessing, and scripture reading in the traditional of a Shabbat. High Holy Days are celebrated.
- The Rec Center Mothers Club Sangha Meeting times: every Saturday at 10:30. § Location: The local rec-center. § Members: This sangha is lead by a local mothers club mom. § Size: Open to all who register through the rec-center. § The usual fare: many parenting issues come up, and this sangha has a particular emphasis on the practice known as “metta,” or the cultivation of loving-kindness, in parenting. The group closes with this sending-forth prayer: “Thank you, Jesus, for your gifts, for your love, and for this gathering. Until we meet again, help us to feel your presence and to follow you more nearly, so someday our every waking breath will be a living prayer of love.”
Keep in Touch
Your feedback matters. We have brought this content here from its original standalone website partly as a response to visitor feedback. We learned that our site, while “providing excellent content for reflection,” looked as if it had been developed for teens. It had, and that narrow focus was limiting the potential audience. We hope that by placing the content here, we have addressed that concern. If you’ve set up a group and would like to use our logo and resources, or if you’re just using the concept in your own way, please send us a note. We’d love to hear how it’s working for you!