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Buddhadharma : Fall 2008
63 fall 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly you include a little cultivation of wis- dom and compassion, these two tradi- tions seem to have remarkably similar moral frameworks. Most writers on North American Bud- dhism are quick to note that the Western development of Buddhism, while not ig- noring the monastic tradition, is almost exclusively a lay organization. Some American Buddhists have tried to syn- thesize these two lifestyles by following a path that offers the full religious prac- tice of a monastic while still maintain- ing traditional jobs in the workforce and having families. In fact, a recent interna- tional conference on Shin Buddhism, held at the University of Calgary, reflected this synthesizing approach in its theme “Nei- ther Monk nor Layman.” This echoes similar statements made by Shunryu Su- zuki Roshi during his tenure as abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. Similarly, the Mormon Church has no clergy; it is exclusively a lay organization. On the local level, all interactions are between fellow members, not unlike a Buddhist lay sangha. I find many more similarities be- tween the Buddhist sangha and the LDS Church than most of my buddhological colleagues would be comfortable ac- knowledging. Throughout my writings, I have always placed a great emphasis on the role of the sangha in the devel- opment of a distinctly “American” form of Buddhism. We place too much emphasis on what specific meditation practice members of the convert com- munity pursue, while ignoring a more important emphasis on “precepts as practice,” as Stephen Batchelor has so deftly suggested. In a recent interview with Tricycle, Robert Sharf, the director of the Buddhist studies program at the University of California at Berkeley, was asked, “What gets lost when primacy is given to individual spiritual experi- ence?” His immediate response: “The sangha gets lost. The community gets lost.” My experience in exploring Bud- dhist communities in Utah—in Mormon Land—is that the sangha is thriving here and enjoying a profound mutual respect with its LDS neighbors. Ligmincha Institute Charlottesville,Va. email@example.com /434.977.6161 / www.ligminchastore .org www.ligmincha.org October8–12: DreamYoga ThePractice of LucidDreaming as aPathtoEnlightenment Dec. 27–Jan.1: Ngondro TheFoundationofDzogchenPractice 2008 Fall andWinterRetreatsWith GesheTenzinWangyal Rinpoche ligmincha SSUN sept 08:ligmincha BD mar_07 5/21/08 2:41 PM Page 1