How to find a Zen/Dharma-Center-Sangha Club?

800px-Koshoji

Mine doesn't look like this....at all.

For additional online resources for Buddhist or Zen practice check this past post of mine.

This post was inspired by a question from a fellow practitioner in the Twangha (Twangha = Twitter + sangha, in case you were wondering) on “how to find a zen center”.  It was a Direct Message that I recieved so I am assuming that the questioner doesn’t want to identified (No, it wasn’t Brad Warner!).

Anyway, I live in a very rural area and most practitioners are underground.  No large temple, meditation hall, Dharma discussion group or zendo within a seven hour drive in every direction so it took some searching to find like-minded individual home-practitioners in my area.

Where to look to find hidden Buddhists is a massive task (somewhat like a game of “Whack-A-Mole) when someone is limited by family, economy, location or other constraints in their ability to travel far or spend lots for a practice.  For my own search, it took a year of seeking and talking to people to find a group.  So here are  a few modest tips and resources to help ya get started:

  • The Pluralism Project at Harvard University – Its Harvard, right?  They’ve got enough brainpower to move an elephant by just thinking it.  I don’t know what the deal is with this project but they have a nice listing of local resources and sanghas (including my own).
  • The World Buddhist Directory from BuddhaNet – BuddhaNet has got everything you need to get started in a home-practice including a way to get your practice out of your home.  That’s fine, BuddhaNet, whatever…I don’t care.  The resource is MASSIVE and will hopefully get you what you need.
  • Go Sit – Sure! Why not! If it is meditation you are looking for and not other practice then try it out.
  • DharmaNet – Like BuddhaNet, this one has plenty of resources to start a home practice and practice with those pesky “real-life” people.  What is next? SanghaNet?  hmmmmm…
  • Sweeping Zen – Don’t know much about this one and I think it is rather new but it seems like BuddhaNet’s younger but hipper brother.  And I love the name.  Dirty thieves.
  • American Zen Teachers Association via digitalZENDO blog – I think this one is definitely slated towards Zen and “authentic” Zen at that but it also has a resource for searching for a center.  Again, this one is new and I never really used it but Jaye at digitalZENDO is amazing with his dharma so I assume this to be worthy of a shot.
  • DharmaWeb – Nice wiki of free readings, news and Dharma-Center database.  Worth a look.

So those are the big ones that I know of.  You can also try Tricycle Magazine, Buddhadharma: the practitioners quarterly or Shambhala Sun.  I am sure they have resources as well, but you may have to pay to get in the door…

A few other things that I tried:

  • Check local paper – I found my group by a write-up the Rapid City Journal did on Buddhism in Rapid City.
  • Yoga Studios – Well, yeah.  If it is kung-fu, prenatal yoga or meditation, you will probably find it at a local yoga studio (also where my group practices)
  • Larger Centers – If a center is like 6 hours away then take a weekend to check them out and find out if they affiliate with any smaller groups in your area or meet some folks there.  They may be from your town.  Again, my small group affiliates loosely with a larger zen center.

Most importantly, take the time to make the connections with people in your area and online.  They may know of something that will get you started.  If I didn’t grab my Hotei’s sack and call some random people from the paper I would not of found any Rapid City Buddhists.  Also do some twitter searches (Advanced Search for Buddism and location may pull up a few hits, who knows?)

Cheers,

John

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Samsara Toddler says "Do your research, stupid Buddhist"!

If you have anymore please throw them in the comments and I will include them in the list.

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5 thoughts on “How to find a Zen/Dharma-Center-Sangha Club?

    • Geez, Ma! If I start sending stuff to you then everyone is going to ask for pictures. I still can’t believe my post generated no comments other than how cute my daughter is. Ah, well!

      I’ll email you some pix!

      Love,

      John

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