Buddhist youth making offering of incense and flowers.
The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha – those are the three Jewels of Buddhism. For most people who just started discovering Buddhism, the Buddha and the Dharma immediately make sense. But what about the Sangha? That’s the community of practitioners, which was originally limited to the monastic order. Today, the term is used to reference a larger Buddhist community.
The sense of community is important for any spiritual practice. When you gather with other people to study and practice, you’re more likely to get the guidance and support you need. Sangha is the aspect that takes Buddhism from a philosophy to a practical spiritual tradition.
If you’re not ready or you don’t want to join a monastic order, you won’t need to give up on Sangha. Young people, in particular, can join various Buddhist organizations around the world.
We’ll list 14 of the best-known youth Buddhist societies.
[Editors Note: We do not vouch for any of these groups, you should research the groups on your own. This is just a good starting point, depending on what area you live. Links to their websites in the NOTES below to help begin your research. These societies are recommended by our volunteer contributor, and do not represent the opinions Buddha Weekly.]
14 Well-Known Youth Buddhist Societies
Youth Buddhist Society India
YBS India is a non-profit, governmental, volunteer movement founded on Engaged Buddhism. The members of this movement strive to apply Buddhist teachings to all social, environmental, political, and economic situations they face.
It’s a wonderful community where all races, castes, and religions are equally accepted.
World Youth Buddhist Society
Students, scholars, and researchers from all around the world are invited to join the World Youth Buddhist Society.
This category of people rarely engages in spiritual communities, mainly because they are too busy. But the World Youth Buddhist Society makes it easy for them to fit community activities in their free time. The WYBS conference is an annual event, so they can plan it in advance.
In addition, the culture research projects supported by the Society help students and researchers to make progress in their academic careers.
Jr. Young Buddhist Association (JYBA)
This is an affiliated community of the Sacramento Buddhist Church. High-school students participate in various events that help them learn about Buddhism while developing friendships. The volunteers take part in service activities for the Sacramento community, but they also connect with Buddhist from other districts.
The website of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento is quite informative. It’s a good starting point if you’re new to Buddhism and you’d like to learn more before joining a youth society. This community practices Shin Buddhism, which is known as the easy path.
Young Buddhist Association
This is a supplementary group of the Buddhist Churches of America, which is founded on Shin Buddhism. When it was founded in 1974, it only engaged young Japanese-American men in communal activities. Throughout its development, it grew into an association open for young teens of both genders, without limitations to ethnicity.
MITRA Youth Buddhist Network
MITRA is an Australian Buddhist organization for young people. The current members include the Buddhist societies from Macquarie University, Sydney University, and University of Technology, Sydney.
University students have a tough time handling all responsibilities and engaging in spiritual practices at the same time. The MITRA network helps them find their their life’s purpose and stay committed on their path to fulfillment.
Wat Ananda Youth
This society was founded in 1966 by the name Ananda Metyarama Buddhist Youth Circle, but changed its name in 2006. Wat Ananda Youth promotes spiritual friendship development through study, practice, and co-operation. Regular activities, such as the Sunday Morning Service and community service, help young people to develop strong bonds.
The activities take place in the Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple in Singapore.
National Network of Buddhist Youth
This organization is founded on the principle of mutual giving. The majority of members come from deprived communities, so the National Network of Buddhist Youth provides intellectual resources that help them grow. 500+ young people from various states of India participate in the network.
The organization is being run by young people. The managers are there just to encourage them.
The Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (YBAI)
As the name of organization says itself, it’s for young people from Indonesia. The mission of this association is to promote positive lifestyle based on compassion, wisdom, and gratitude. YBAI promotes Buddhism through welfare, education, culture, and leadership training, as well as through various publications.
The official website is not very detailed. However, you can easily contact the team to get more information if you’re interested to join.
Chanh Phap Buddhist Youth Association
This is a youth organization from Vietnam, with a mission to train young people to be true Buddhists and responsible citizens who make positive impact on society. The community advises all members to follow three main principles: compassion, wisdom, and bravery.
There’s a planned schedule at the website, so the members can easily plan to fit community activities in their lifestyle.
Triratna Buddhist Community
The Triratna Buddhism community is a global movement of Buddhists who come together to promote the ethical standards of the Dharma. At the centers all around the world, the members study the teachings, practice meditation, and support each other in all situations.
The Triratna Buddhist Community does not impose age limitations. Young people are welcome to join and become part of a versatile community that supports Buddhism practices. Young people can join a Facebook group – Young People in the Triratna Buddhist Community.
European Buddhist Union
EBU (European Buddhist Union) encompasses nearly 50 Buddhist organizations from various European countries. Representatives from all organizations gather for the annual general meeting each September.
The EBU Youth Day is an essential part of the annual conference. The Union invites young people from all member organizations to attend and start an active networking process.
Rushi Buddhist Youth Group
The Rushi Buddhist Youth Group is part of Adelaide University Union Clubs. It’s open for all students at the university, as long as they want to learn more about Buddhism and what being a Buddhist means. The group is not limited to Buddhists.
The community frequently gets together for volunteering, hiking, mediations, and other activities.
Soka Gakkai International – USA
SGI USA is an organization founded upon the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. It’s an international community, which currently includes members from 192 countries across the world. The main thing that brings the community together is the daily Buddhist practice. Through their individual practices, the SGI members connect.
In the USA, young people from the organization schedule local discussion meetings. During these events, they learn more about Buddhism and its daily practices.
Youth Buddhist Educational Foundation
This organization is situated in Augusta, Missouri, but it welcomes members from all around the USA, as well as from Asian countries. The purpose of the community is to give direction to Buddhist youth with thorough education on Buddhism in the American society.
Did You Find Your Community?
It’s not necessary for young Buddhists to join societies. There’s no such rule. Still, being part of such organization drives you towards greater commitment. You get to establish deep connections with people who share goals and interests with you. Your friends will give you encouragement and inspiration to stay committed on this journey.
The principle of Sangha means to trust other people and help them thrive. Most of all, it means practicing mindfulness together. Being part of a community where young people inspire each other will change your perspective on Buddhism.
Author Bio: Robert Everett: 10 years after he became a Buddhist, Robert Everett is still a beginner, discovering new depths of the philosophy every day. He finds various ways to implement Buddhist principles in his lifestyle and his work at Edubirdie. Robert always shares his own experience and educational tips. You can follow him on Twitter for daily inspiration and educational tips.
NOTES and Community Links