2011 WBMG Community in the Suttas

The Blessed One’s Gift of Community

Note:

Please do not share the link to this page. It is only intended for participants in the WBMG.

Most of the translations read in the presentation were translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Anguttara Nikaya suttas being from the soon to be published manuscript. And effort has been made below to include links to translations on accesstoinsight.org where they exist. Otherwise we can expect the AN to be published in the fall of 2012. For a few selections I have included just one or two sentences.

The bold text are the notes I worked from during the presentation. Some citations are included here although I did not have time to discuss them. This is still a very rough document and I would prefer that it only be used privately.

A word doc version can be found here and a pdf here.

For the abbreviations and bibliographic information, see the following documents:

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When the Blessed One gave us this gift of community, he gave us the manual as well.

The purification of mind connected with nibbana is the same as the purification of mind needed for a healthy community. The defilements of the mind that prevent final liberation are not something different from the defilements of the mind that cause disharmony in community

For this reason it is not easy to draw a line around those teachings that deal with community. Rather they are completely integrated with the entire path. Particularly with right intention and right speech.

There are several things that stand out as unambiguous when we read the suttas:

  • Association with good people is essential as is staying away from bad people.
  • Harmony is always praised, disharmony is always condemned
  • Disputes in community is ancient and not something unique to today
  • Association with good people is a key ingredient in the ability to practice seclusion
  • Not all community is beneficial, some groups are bad and should be avoided

Skillful means as a concept is not really found in the suttas, but a system for evaluating actions is.

1. A. Why we have community and B. how we find it

Two related concepts: Sappurisa and Kalyāṇamitta

For specifics on sappurisa, see MN110 MCūḷapuṇṇama Sutta and MN 113 Sappurisa Sutta (these are only two of many places in the suttas where this is discussed)

SN55.056 Phala Sutta 2: The Fruit of Once-Returning

This and the three suttas that follow state that the same factors lead all the way to becoming an arahant. The factors can also be found in SN 55.5:

Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.

[Translated by Ajahn Thanissaro]

AN 4.242 Sappurisānisaṃsa Sutta: Benefits of a Good Person

SN 45.49 Good Friend

Simile of the rising sun being the precursor of dawn, just as good friendship is the precursor to the noble eightfold path.

SN46.12 The Simile of the Sun

Same simile as above but in regards to the factors of enlightenment.

AN 8:54 Dīghajāṇu

Definition of good friendship

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.054.than.html

Thig10.01 Kisāgotamī Therīgāthā

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/thig.10.01.than.html

The Sage has emphasized and praised
Noble friendship for the world.
If one stays with a Noble Friend,
even a fool will become a wise person.
Stay with them of good heart
for the wisdom of those who stay with them grows.
And while one is staying with them,
from every kind of dukkha one is freed.

[Ajahn Ṭhanissaro trans.]

From Ven. Sariputta’s verses: (Thag 993 & 994.)

They are also found as the first two verses from the Dhammapada selection below:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.06.budd.html

76. Should one find a man who points out faults and who reproves, let him follow such a wise and sagacious person as one would a guide to hidden treasure. It is always better, and never worse, to cultivate such an association.

77. Let him admonish, instruct and shield one from wrong; he, indeed, is dear to the good and detestable to the evil.

78. Do not associate with evil companions; do not seek the fellowship of the vile. Associate with the good friends; seek the fellowship of noble men.

B. How we find it

AN05.146 Mitta Sutta: Friend

Five qualites of someone not to take as a friend (starting with a person who instigates work projects) and their opposites.

AN07.036 Mitta Sutta: A Friend

Seven qualites of someone to be associated with.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an07/an07.035.than.html

AN3.26 (6) To Be Associated With

AN 3.27 (7) Disgust

Both describe who should be associated with. Includes two feces similies.

2. A. Why we need harmony and B. how we maintain it

A. Why we need harmony

AN 3.124 Bhaṇḍana Sutta: Arguments

“Bhikkhus, wherever bhikkhus take to arguing and quarreling and fall into a dispute, stabbing each other with piercing words, I am uneasy even about directing my attention there, let alone about going there. I conclude about them: ‘Surely, those venerable ones have abandoned three things and cultivated three [other] things.”
[Bhikkhu Bodhi Translation PRE PUBLICATION]

From AN 5.54 Samaya Sutta: Occasions

The final suitable condition for striving is when the sangha is living in harmony

Fom Itv 19 Saṅghasāmaggī Suttaṃ

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/iti/iti.1.001-027.than.html#iti-019

“One thing, when arising in the world, arises for the welfare of many, for the happiness of many, for the welfare & happiness of many beings, both human & divine. Which one thing? Concord in the Sangha. When the Sangha is in concord, there are no arguments with one another, no abuse of one another, no ganging up on one another, no abandoning of one another. Then those with little confidence [in the teaching] become confident, while those already confident become even more so.”
[Ajahn Ṭhanissaro trans.]

AN 3.95 Parisā Sutta: Assemblies

Three kinds of assemblies: The assembly of the foremost, the divided assembly, and the harmonious assembly. Includes the chain of conditions that starts with harmony, and leads to mudita, rapture, tranquility, pleasure and concentration.

B. how we maintain it

MN 27 Cūḷahatipadopama Sutta §13 “…Abandoning malicious speech, he abstains from malicious speech; he does not repeat elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide [those people] from these, nor does he repeat to these people what he has heard elsewhere in order to divide [these people] from those; thus he is one who reunites those who are divided, a promoter of friendships, who enjoys concord, rejoices in concord, delights in concord, a speaker of words that promote concord….”

[Ven. Nanamoli trans.]

MN 48 Kosambiya Sutta Six principles of Cordiality

Recollection of kalyānamittas

From: AN 11.13 Nandiya Sutta

“Again, Nandiya, you should recollect good friends thus: ‘It is truly my good fortune and gain that I have good friends who take compassion on me, who desire my good, who exhort and instruct me.’ Thus you should establish mindfulness internally based on good friends. ”

[Bhikkhu Bodhi Translation PRE PUBLICATION]

Thag 18: Mahā Kassapa

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.18.00.than.html

One with no respect
for his fellows in the holy life,
is as far
from the true Dhamma
as the earth
is from the sky.

[Ajahn Ṭhanissaro trans.]

  • One of the main advantages of community life is that there are people to point out our faults. In this area we get clear guidelines from the Buddha.
  • overarching principle: If speech is not beneficial, we should not use it.
  • If speech will be beneficial but it is not welcome, then we have to know the right time to use this speech. MN 58 Abhayarājakumara Sutta
  • Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said. Divisive speech can be 100% true and 100% destructive.
  • We need to look at the level of saddha in the recipient and protect it. MN 65 Bhaddāli Sutta

AN 4.183 Heard

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.183.than.html

Just because you’ve heard it, doesn’t mean you should say it.

AN 4.100 Potaliya

“For what reason? Because what excels, Potaliya, is knowledge of the proper time to speak in any particular case.”

[Bhikkhu Bodhi Translation PRE PUBLICATION]

MN103 Kinti Sutta §15 Resolving conflict

The Buddha WANTS us to resolve conflict

MN128 Upskkilesa Sutta

  • §§1-6 disputing monks and admonishment
  • §7 solitary monk
  • §§8-14 theory and practice of harmony

3. Separation from community, A. voluntary and B. involuntary

Seclusion
Voluntary and involuntary
Involuntary
Three kinds of punishment: Confession, Forfeiture and confession, and ostracization.
AN 4.111 Kesi the horse trainer

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.111.than.html

Difference between socializing and kalyanamitta
Voluntary
leaving a bad place vs. supported seclusion

In MN17 Vanapattha Sutta we get instructions on whether to stay in a place or leave. We leave a place where wholesome qualities are not increasing and unwholesome qualities are not decreasing whether or not we are getting the requisites.

23. “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives in dependence upon a certain person. While he is living there his unestablished mindfulness does not become established, his unconcentrated mind does not become concentrated, his undestroyed taints do not come to destruction, he does not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage; and also the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth – robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites – are hard to come by. The bhikkhu [1051 should consider thus: ‘I am living in this jungle thicket. While I am living here my unestablished mindfulness does not become established … I do not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage; and also the requisites of life … are hard to come by.’ That bhikkhu should depart from that person without taking leave; he should not continue following him.

24. “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives in dependence upon a certain person. While he is living there his unestablished mindfulness does not become established, his unconcentrated mind does not become concentrated, his undestroyed taints do not come to destruction, he does not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage; yet the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth … are easy to come by. The bhikkhu should consider thus: ‘I am living in this jungle thicket. While I am living here my unestablished mindfulness does not become established … I do not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage; yet the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth … are easy to come by. However, I did not go forth from the home life into homelessness for the sake of robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites. Moreover, while I am living here my unestablished mindfulness does not become established … I do not attain the unattained supreme security from bondage.’ Having reflected thus, that bhikkhu should depart from that person after taking leave; he should not continue following him.

25. “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives in dependence upon a certain person. While he is living there his unestablished mindfulness becomes established, his unconcentrated mind becomes concentrated, his undestroyed taints come to destruction, he attains the unattained supreme security from bondage; yet the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth … are hard to come by. The bhikkhu should consider thus: [106] ‘I am living in this jungle thicket. While I am living here my unestablished mindfulness has become established … I have attained the unattained supreme security from bondage; yet the requisites of life … are hard to come by. However, I did not go forth from the home life into homelessness for the sake of robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites. Moreover, while I am living here my unestablished mindfulness has become established … I have attained the unattained supreme security from bondage.’ Having reflected thus, that bhikkhu should continue following that person; he should not depart from him.
26. “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives in dependence upon a certain person. While he is living there his unestablished mindfulness becomes established, his unconcentrated mind becomes concentrated, his undestroyed taints come to destruction, he attains the unattained supreme security from bondage; and also the requisites of life that should be obtained by one gone forth – robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites – are easy to come by. The bhikkhu should consider thus: ‘I am living in this jungle thicket. While I am living here my unestablished mindfulness has become established … I have attained the unattained supreme security from bondage; and also the requisites of life … are easy to come by.’ That bhikkhu should continue following that person as long as life lasts; he should not depart from him even if told to go away.”

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

[Ven. Ñāṇamoli Translation]

Rather than seeing seclusion being in opposition to healthy community life, seclusion is something that is made possible through the association with good people.

AN 9.3 Meghiya Sutta (also Ud 4.1)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.4.01.than.html

Bodily seclusion vs mental seclusion

Snp 1.3 Khaggavisāna Sutta: A Rhinoceros

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html

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All translations by Ajahn Thanissaro: Provenance:© Thanissaro Bhikkhu.Transcribed from a file provided by the translator.Terms of use: You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of charge; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. For additional information about this license, see the FAQ.

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