The meaning of a community life
A true community has faith and wisdom that illuminate it. It is a place where the people know and trust one another and where there is social harmony.
In fact, harmony is the life and real meaning of a true community or an organization.
The actual state of communities in this
Now, there are five evils in the world. First, there is cruelty; every creature, even insects, strives against one another. The strong attack the weak; the weak deceive the strong; everywhere there is fighting and cruelty.
Second, there is the lack of a clear demarcation between the rights of a father and a son; between an elder brother and a younger; between a husband and a wife; between a senior relative and a younger; on every occasion each one desires to be the highest and to profit off the others. They cheat each other, there is deception and a lack of sincerity.
Third, there is the lack of a clear demarcation as to the behavior between men and women. Everyone at times has impure and lascivious thoughts and desires that lead them into questionable acts and often into disputes, fighting, injustice and wickedness.
Fourth, there is the tendency for people to disrespect the rights of others, to exaggerate their own importance at the expense of others, to set bad examples of behavior and, being unjust in their speech, to deceive, slander and abuse others.
Fifth, there is the tendency for people to neglect their duties toward others. They think too much of their own comfort and their own desires; they forget the favors they have received and cause annoyance to others that often passes into great injustice.
Three kinds of organizations
Of organizations, there are three kinds. First, there are those that are organized on the basis of the power, wealth or authority of great leaders.
Second, there are those that are organized because of its convenience to the members, which will continue to exist as long as the members satisfy their conveniences and do not quarrel.
Third, there are those that are organized with some good teaching as its center and harmony as its very life.
Of course, the third or last of these is the only true organization, for in it the members live in one spirit, from which the unity of spirit and various kinds of virtue will arise. In such an organization there will prevail harmony, satisfaction and happiness.
The great light that illuminates
Let us imagine a desert country lying in absolute darkness with many living things swarming blindly about in it.
Naturally they will be frightened and as they run about without recognizing one another during the night, there will be frequent squirming and loneliness. This is indeed a pitiful sight.
Then let us imagine that suddenly a superior person with a torch appears and everything around becomes bright and clear.
The living beings in the dark solitude suddenly find a great relief as they look about to recognize one another and happily share their companionship.
By “a desert country” is meant a world of human life when it lies in the darkness of ignorance. Those who have no light of wisdom in their minds wander about in loneliness and fear. They were born alone and die alone; they do not know how to associate with their fellow human in peaceful harmony, and they are naturally despondent and fearful.
By “a superior person with torch” is meant Buddha assuming a human form, and by His wisdom and compassion He illumines the world.
In this light people find themselves as well as others and are glad to establish human fellowship and harmonious relations.
Harmony in human relations
The minds of these people mix like milk and water and finally organize into a harmonious Brotherhood.
Thus, the true teaching is the fundamental requirement of a perfect organization and, as mentioned above, it is the light which enables people to recognize one another, to become adjusted to one another and to smooth out the rough places in their thinking.
Things that will help lead a social
organization to harmony
There are six things that will help to lead a Samgha to harmony. They are: first, sincerity of speech; second, sincerity and kindness of action; third, sincerity and sympathy of spirit; fourth, equal sharing of common property; fifth, following the same pure precepts; and sixth, all having right views.
Among these things, the sixth or “all having right views” forms the nucleus, with the other five serving as wrappings for it.
The social ideal of the Buddhist followers
To be sure, when viewed from one angle, the world with all its greed and injustice and bloodshed appears as a devil’s world; but, as people come to believe in Buddha’s Enlightenment, blood will be turned into milk and greed into compassion, and then, the devil’s land becomes a Buddha Land of Purity.
It seems an impossible task to empty an ocean with a small ladle, but the determination to do it, even if it takes many, many lives, is the mind with which one should receive Buddha’s Enlightenment.
Those who are jealous and squabble with
others will come to ruin (Fable)
At one time the tail and the head of a snake quarreled as to which should be the front. The tail said to the head:– “You are always taking the lead; it is not fair, you ought to let me lead sometimes.” The head answered;– “It is the law of our nature that I should be the head; I can not change places with you.”
But the quarrel went on and one day the tail fastened itself to a tree and thus prevented the head from proceeding. When the head became tired with the struggle the tail had its own way, with the result that the snake fell into a pit of fire and perished.
In the world of nature there always exists an appropriate order and everything has its own function. If this order is disturbed, the functioning is interrupted and the whole order will go to ruin.
There was a man who was easily angered. One day two men were talking in front of the house about the man who lived there. One said to the other: – “He is a nice man but is very impatient; he has a hot temper and gets angry quickly.” The man overheard the remark, rushed out of the house and attacked the two men, striking and kicking and wounding them.
When a wise man is advised of his errors, he will reflect on them and improve his conduct. When his misconduct is pointed out, a foolish man will not only disregard the advice but rather repeat the same error.
Hold the aged in respect (Story)
Once upon a time there was a country which had the very peculiar custom of abandoning its aged people in remote and inaccessible mountains.
A certain minister of the State found it too difficult to follow this custom in the case of his own aged father, and so he built a secret underground cave where he hid his father and cared for him.
One day a god appeared before the king of that country and gave him a puzzling problem, saying that if he could not solve it satisfactorily, his country would be destroyed. The problem was: “Here are two serpents; tell me the sex of each.”
Neither the king nor anyone in the palace was able to solve the problem; so the king offered a great reward to anyone in his kingdom who could.
The minister went to his father’s hiding place and asked him for the answer to that problem. The old man said: “It is an easy solution. Place the two snakes on a soft carpet; the one that moves about is the male, and the other that keeps quiet is the female.” The minister carried the answer to the king and the problem was successfully solved.
Then the god asked other difficult questions which the king and his retainers were unable to answer, but which the minister, after consulting his aged father, could always solve.
Here are some of the questions and their answers. “Who is the one who, being asleep, is called the awakened one, and, being awake, is called the sleeping one?” The answer is this: - It is the one who is under training for Enlightenment. He is awake when compared with those who are not interested in Enlightenment; he is asleep when compared with those who have already attained Enlightenment.
“How can you weigh a large elephant?” “Load it on a boat and draw a line to mark how deep the boat sinks into the water. Then take out the elephant and load the boat with stones until it sinks to the same depth, and then weigh the stones.”
What is the meaning of the saying, “A cupful of water is more than the water of an ocean?” This is the answer: “A cupful of water given in a pure and compassionate spirit to one’s parents or to a sick person has an eternal merit, but the water of an ocean will some day come to an end.”
Next the god made a starving man, reduced to skin and bones, complain, “Is there anyone in this world more hungry than I?” “The man who is so selfish and greedy that he does not believe in the Three Treasures of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Samgha, and who does not make offerings to his parents and teachers, is not only more hungry but he will fall into the world of hungry demons and there he will suffer from hunger forever.”
“Here is a plank of Chandana wood; which end was the bottom of the tree?” “Float the plank in water; the end that sinks a little deeper was the end nearest the root.”
“Here are two horses apparently of the same size and form; how can you tell the mother from the son?” “Feed them some hay; the mother horse will push the hay toward her son.”
Every answer to these difficult questions pleased the god as well as the king. The king was grateful to find out that the answers had come from the aged father whom the minister had hidden in the cave, and he withdrew the law of abandoning aged people in the mountains and ordered that they were to be treated kindly.
How the student should act toward his
teacher, and vice versa
Next, as for the way of the teacher and student in the southern direction, the student should stand when the teacher approaches, attend to the teacher’s needs closely, should listen earnestly to the teacher, not neglect offerings for the teacher, and receive his teachings with
In return the teacher should guide the student by conducting oneself properly, correctly pass on everything that the teacher has learned, have the student not forget what he has learned, and prepare the way for the student to receive honors as well as benefits and respect anywhere. Thus, the way of the teacher and student in the southern direction will be peaceful and without sorrow.
The rules for friendship
Next, as for the way of friends in the northern direction, one should provide them with what one’s friends lack, speak to them with kindness, work for their benefits, always be thoughtful, and treat them with honesty.
always be thoughtful, and treat them with honesty. One should make effort to prevent one’s friends from falling into wrong ways, protect their property in the event they lose their way, listen to their concerns when they have problems, lend them a helping hand in times of trouble, and support their family when necessary. Thus, the way of friends in the northern direction will be one of peace without sorrow.
How to choose good friends
A person should recognize among one’s acquaintances those with whom one should associate and those with whom one should not.
The ones with whom a person should not associate are those who are greedy, clever talkers, flatterers or wasters.
The ones with whom a person should associate are those who are helpful, who are willing to share happinesses as well as sufferings, who give good advice and who have a sympathetic heart.
A true friend, the one with whom a person may safely associate, will always stick closely to the right way, will worry secretly about one’s friend’s welfare, will console the friend in misfortune, will offer him a helping hand when he needs it, will keep his secrets, and will always give him good advice.
It is very difficult to find a friend like this, and, therefore, one should try very hard to be a friend like this. As the sun warms the fruitful earth, so a good friend shines in society because of one’s good deeds.
How a master and his servants should
behave toward each other
Next, as for the way of the master and servant in the lower direction, one should observe the following five points in dealing with his servants. Make the servants work in accordance with their ability, provide good meals and ample compensation, care for them with kindness when they are sick, share with them any delicious food, and have them rest at appropriate times.
In turn, a servant should serve one’s master with the following points in mind. One should get up in the morning before the master, go to sleep after the master, be honest at all times, be proficient in one’s work, and not bring disgrace to the master’s good name. Thus, the way of the master and servant in the lower direction will be one of peace without sorrow.
Things to be concerned about by those
who wish to teach the Dharma
Those who wish to teach the Buddha’s teaching acceptably must be concerned about four things: first, they must be concerned about their own behavior; second, they must be concerned about their choice of words when they approach and teach people; third, they must be concerned about their motive for teaching and the end they wish to accomplish; and fourth, they must be concerned about the great compassion.
Firstly, to be a good teacher of the Dharma, then, a renunciant must first of all have his feet well set on the ground of endurance; he must be modest; he must not be extreme or desire publicity; he must constantly think of the emptiness of things; and he must not become attached to anything. If he is thus concerned he will be capable of right conduct.
Secondly, he must exercise caution in approaching people and situations. He must avoid people who are living evil lives or people of authority; he must avoid opposite sex. Then he must approach people in a friendly way; he must always remember that things rise from a combination of causes and conditions, and, standing at that point, he must not blame or abuse them, or speak of their mistakes, or hold them in light esteem.
Thirdly, he must keep his mind peaceful, considering Buddha as his spiritual father, considering other renunciants who are training for Enlightenment as his teachers, and looking upon everyone with great compassion. Then he must teach all equally.
Fourthly, he must let his spirit of compassion display itself, even as Buddha did, to the utmost degree. Especially he should let his spirit of compassion flow out to those who do not know enough to seek Enlightenment. He should wish that they might seek Enlightenment, and then he should follow his wishes with unselfish effort to awaken their interest.