Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Communal Living and the Sangha

I've been half thinking of renting a room at a house where a few other Buddhist practitioners live.  Their suggestion was that communal living can help deepen one's Buddhist practice.  At first I thought that sounded a little creepy and cult-like, but I thought about it and am now considering the possibilities.

When I look at my friends who are deeply committed to something, they live it almost 24/7.  A real commitment means all the time, not just when you feel like it or only on good days or whatever.  Although I feel very strongly about my Buddhist beliefs, I have not been 100% committed to daily Buddhist practice.  I do not meditate every day and infrequently attend meditations and dharma talks at the local Buddhist center.  I also have a real problem with anger management that I need to address.  I realize that I could meditate daily anywhere, not only at a Buddhist center or at a house with other Buddhist practitioners  However, I think that living with like-minded individuals probably couldn't hurt.  They would probably encourage and support me as I seek enlightenment and try to escape samsara and suffering.

I've only been seriously thinking about moving into a Buddhist house since I realized how stressful it is since both of my parents moved in with me.  I really need to use this opportunity of living with them to practice patience and compassion, but sometimes I just dream of escaping.  I keep telling myself that I should not move just to avoid the situation with my parents.  The illusion of happiness that I could have living with other Buddhists is only an illusion.  There is suffering everywhere, everyone is subject to samsara, and I need to remember that even if I live anywhere else in the world or continue living here, there will still be suffering.

Do any of you have experience with community living in a Buddhist house, Buddhist monastery or religious setting?  What was it like, and what advice can you give me?