Buddhism A–Z
What is Sangha in Buddhism?
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The sangha is the community of Buddhist practitioners. Along with the dharma—the teachings— and the Buddha—the teacher—sangha is one of the Three Jewels that together make up Buddhism and the Buddhist path.

Sangha (Pali and Sanskrit for “community” or “order”) traditionally refers to the community of Buddhist monastics, whom lay Buddhists support and take refuge in. Today, it is used in the West to refer more broadly to the community of Buddhist practitioners, both lay and monastic. It can also be used to refer to members of one’s own Buddhist community, as in “my sangha.”

As members of the Buddhist community, sangha members offer inspiration, support, and structure to fellow practitioners can deepen their understanding and practice of Buddhism. By living together in a monastic setting, monks and nuns are able to support each other in their spiritual practice, providing a conducive environment for intense meditation and study. Monastics can then offer spiritual guidance and support to lay practitioners. Lay practitioners may likewise support each other along the path, for example, by engaging in informal meditation groups together.

Related Reading

Sangha Is More than a Community

Thich Nhat Hanh explains that sangha is more than a community, it’s a deep spiritual practice.

Sangha Can Be the Next Buddha

Kenley Neufeld offers three ways we can rethink community and fulfill Thich Nhat Hanh’s aspiration for the Buddhist community.

The Fourfold Sangha Still Matters

The monastic path has failed to take hold in the West, says Tibetan Buddhist nun Ayya Yeshe. She argues that it’s time to renew the fourfold sangha.

Buddhism A–Z

Explore essential Buddhist terms, concepts, and traditions.