Yesterday, 6 of us went to the Buddhist Center of San Francisco to attend their weekly Sangha (spiritual community) Night. This Center is part of the Triratna Buddhist Order, which was started by Sangharakshita (an Englishman) in the 1960s.
As soon as we entered the Center, we were welcomed by an extremely kind lady who told us about her personal experiences with Buddhism and showed us around. In order to satisfy our curiosity, we asked multiple members some of the pressing questions we had about Buddhism and their experience with it. They were extremely patient and gracious with us, since this was the first time that any of us had ever attended a Buddhist event.
The first exercise that we had to do was face the Buddha and engage in a sort of “call and response” with the ordained member who was leading the session. This made me feel a little uncomfortable because it was reminiscent of participating in a standard church service, which I try to avoid. Afterwards, we focused on meditation and deliberating the prompts that the ordained member delivered to us. I had some trouble keeping my thoughts focused during the meditation, but it was still very enjoyable because it was very quiet and serene in the shrine.
After the break (with cookies and tea!), we did an exercise that involved thinking of ourselves as being fallible beings that are prone to making mistakes. We were invited to think of a situation where we had made a mistake (knowingly or unknowingly) that had caused some sort of cognitive dissonance. Through reflection, we realized that we could have acted differently in that situation by pausing, listening closely to the other person/opinion and perhaps learning something new. We also learned about the 2% rule, which is something that I could definitely apply more in daily life.
All in all, I would say that I definitely enjoyed the 2 hours that I spent at the Buddhist Center because they helped me relax and put things into perspective a little better. Out of all the religions in the world, Buddhism is probably my favorite because I feel like it is more of a philosophy than a religion. I don’t know if I will continue attending these weekly Sangha Nights, but I will surely consider it.