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Online Sangha Pros and Cons

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Rising Lotus Sangha is an online Soto-Zen sangha based in the US. We are an online sangha by choice. After being ordained in October of 2019, two people (from different countries) asked if they could sit and study with me. A sangha was born. It happened that the Pandemic was born too. During that time we, like most zen centers practiced online via Zoom. We still do. Our little sangha has grown from 2 to over 20 from the US, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand. We have remained and will remain an online sangha.

There are many benefits to practicing online with a sangha:

1. Sustainability - saving on gas. travel time, no extra rent or utilities

2. Accessibility - people of all abilities practice together in the comfort of their own homes

3. Reach - coming together from different places and cultures adds dimension and richness to our sangha.

4. Got kids? Got pets? No problem. Put yourself on mute and let your kiddos come and go as they need. Same for pets.

Some people with social anxiety and those who live with depression have appreciated the ease of participating with an online sangha. Honestly, some people just live busy lives with work, children, and outside commitments. Coming to an online sangha takes a stressor off their plates.

Rising Lotus Sangha provides multiple opportunities for coming together each week. We offer online sitting groups, two online study groups, online retreats, and workshops. We have both public and private groups on Facebook and a budding YouTube Channel. There’s a lot going on and many ways to participate with us.

One member says:

“For years I sought a spiritual path in which I was healthily challenged. During The Lockdown, a dear friend invited me to this sangha, where a “Zen 101” group was forming. I approached cautiously and was full of questions. When I sat with the group, all of us on Zoom, something just clicked. I have continually felt supported in this sangha. The study, discussion, and guidance offered by Kyoji have set me on a path I wouldn’t have imagined three or four years ago.”

Another member says:

“ I can’t think of a drawback. I’ve met many people from different places and feel connected to this sangha in ways I didn’t think possible. I like the opportunities to sit and study. I like that I can come home from work and turn on my computer and everyone is there. I feel safe asking questions.”

I understand that there are people who prefer being in the same physical space with others, and many many Zen centers still operate at bricks and mortar locations.

One of the reasons I wanted to form an online sangha is that I am visually impaired and cannot drive. I found it difficult if not impossible to practice in my area. I was very fortunate to find a Zen priest to take me on as an online student way back in 2004.

I want to give that opportunity to others. So people with disabilities should feel very comfortable here. From accessibility and flexibility to being able to practice with and get to know people from around the world, online sangha has many positives and very few drawbacks. In fact, the one drawback I feel is that sometimes time zones prove tricky. We find this happens especially with our folks Down Under. We're working with it!

If you want to hear more, head on over to our YouTube channel, where we recently had a live discussion about online sanghas.

You can find us here: (links)


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