“If wanderers who are members of other sects should ask you, ‘What, friend, are the prerequisites for the development of the wings to self-awakening?’ you should answer, ‘There is the case where a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues. This is the first prerequisite for the development of the wings to self-awakening.'”
~Anguttara Nikaya 9.1: Sambodhi Sutta
The Buddha spoke throughout the suttas on the importance of “admirable friendship” on the path to awakening. He knew that humans are social beings who are influenced by their companions so that if our intention is movement towards awakening, we had best “keep the company of the wise.”
Most of us need the support of a sangha and fortunately, in most areas of the country now, there are sitting groups and retreat opportunities available. Insight Chicago offers six peer led sanghas throughout the city. Many Buddhist publications, such as Inquiring Mind, provide lists of sitting groups around the country.