‘The teacher, the teachings, and the community of practitioners are jewel-like in the sense of being valuable and magnetic sources of safety and support. They are jewel-like in that they refract the light of truth into a thousand colors. In buddha, we seek refuge from instability. In dharma, we seek refuge from ignorance. In sangha, we seek refuge from fear and loneliness; we discover that no matter who we are, no matter what we have done, we can find belonging.
Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, social scientists who do research on the psychology and behaviors of groups, have concluded that humans share a need to belong, “a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive, and impactful interpersonal relationships.” Put another way, we need one another in order to thrive and grow. We are safer and happier when we bond together.
It has even been demonstrated that when humans feel lonely, their brain circuits light up in the same regions that register physical pain. Loneliness literally hurts. Is it any wonder that many who end up at the doorway to community come to assuage the pain of loneliness? From our isolation, we are drawn to belong.’ (from Lion’s Roar)
This article goes on to highlight strengths and pitfalls of sanghas, and is well worth reading if you are part of one.