Sangha Hopping

Vision of a Modern-Day Pilgrimage

By Natascha Bruckner

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Brother Phap Dung has a vision of a modern-day pilgrimage. He calls it Sangha Hopping. “Two practitioners travel together, visiting Sanghas,” he explained recently at Deer Park Monastery. “It would be planned in advance, like a balloon trip around the world.”

The travel buddies could schedule visits with Sanghas all over America, and Sangha members in different cities could log on to a web page and volunteer to host the travelers. The pilgrims would not only practice with each sponsoring Sangha for a week, but would also act as social scientists by interviewing Sangha members about their community and documenting their stories and customs. Best of all, they’d blog about their adventures to connect all the hosting communities with the global Sangha.

“They could find a way to do it environmentally. Partners who are cyclists would be perfect, so they’re not using fuel,” the Deer Park abbot said. “The Buddha was a wanderer, a homeless beggar. He relied on the fourfold Sangha, and that took humility and obedience. Bringing those qualities alive now, we could learn about a cross-section of American Sanghas, reflect on how our tradition has grown in this culture, and help people see what’s rich in the Sangha. It’s a modern twist to the hippie ethic of everyone belonging to the same family.”

“I’m planting the seed of an idea,” he smiled. “Maybe somehow it will take root and grow.”

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