Center for Faith and Vocation

Friends of Awakening Sangha

Faz Garden

(317) 291-1776
4370 Cooper Rd.
Indianapolis, Ind. 46228
www.friendsofawakening.net
Email the Friends of Awakening Sangha

Institutional History/Information

The Friends of Awakening Sangha is a group of Buddhist practitioners that come together to grow and learn from and with one another through silent meditation, thoughtful meditation, walking meditation, dharma teachings, inquiries, and discussion. The community was established in 1999 after three Buddhist followers of the Indianapolis-area went to a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat in Vermont. The retreat focused on the Sangha as a means for maintaining meditation practices. As a result of the retreat, the Friends of Awakening Sangha was born, emphasizing the Mahayana Buddhism tradition in a modernized, American way with a spiritual focus on personal betterment. Since the birth of the community, the group has grown considerably with a regular community of more the twenty people and frequent visitors. Because of the large size of the community, not everyone fits into the meditation room, and the additional members sit in the altar room. However, this separation of rooms does not make one feel absent from the community; everyone is equally important in the Sangha, and this is evident in the book discussions and candle lighting.

Demographics

The majority of those who attend are middle-aged Euro-Americans. Yet one can see that the community is very open to people all nationalities, socioeconomic status, and religious background. This provides a place for people who have not necessarily been raised in a Buddhist setting to come to learn more about the religion's teachings. The community is subject to change over time. This community is based on the philosophy that one will come and go on one's own path. Therefore, attendance is not required every week. However, the congregation has seen several hundred people pass in and out over the years. The informal atmosphere and philosophy welcomes one into the community with open arms.

Service Style

Faz Centerpiece

Located in the private home of one of the founders, the Friends of Awakening Sangha service is held in regular room which has been transformed into a meditation room. Attendees arrange their cushions in a circle around the room. In the center of the room, there is a small Buddha statue, eight candles, and a box of matches. The service begins with a thirty-minute silent sitting meditation. Immediately following, everyone goes outside to the Zen garden to partake in a thirty-minute walking meditation. The sounding of a bell indicates the changing of activities. Afterwards, everyone goes back inside to mindfully eat a small snack while discussing the reading for the current week. The discussion includes personal interpretations and anecdotes. A short mediation to think about what was said in the reading and how it could apply to one's life ends the book discussion. Then, members can ask questions or share insightful bits of information in a short dharma inquiry. After the inquiry, members of the community light a candle to symbolize a private joy or concern. Finally, quick announcements are made, and the final bell resonates, concluding the service. The first Sunday of each month a vegetarian lunch is held after the service. Newcomers are not required to bring a dish. Regardless, they are welcome to share the meal.

What To Expect

Newcomers of The Friends of Awakening Sangha may want to call before attending a service in order to inform the Sangha of the planned visit. This is not required, but it helps them adequately welcome visitors. Casual dress is appropriate for the service, since it consists mainly of sitting meditation. One should be prepared to sit still for approximately thirty minutes at a time. Also, even in cold weather, the Friends of Awakening Sangha include the walking meditation in the service. Therefore, during the winter, dress warmly! The Friends of Awakening Sangha serves a light vegetarian snack and warm green tea after walking meditation. This snack should be eaten slowly and quietly so as to experience the different flavors in the food and to allow the body to feel what the difference in temperature is telling one's body and mind. The Friends of Awakening Sangha are very focused on the community and the affects of the community on the individual. For that reason, one should be open to listening to different people's ideas and stories or even sharing one's own. Be mindful about what you are doing and how you feel within the community because that is important to ones personal growth as a Buddhist.