How to get along with each other

From AN 10:50, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

… Monks, it is not suitable for you clansmen who have gone forth out of faith from the household life into homelessness to take to arguing and quarreling and to fall into a dispute, stabbing each other with piercing words. 

There are monks, these ten principles of cordiality that create affection and respect and conduce to cohesiveness, to non-dispute, to concord, and to unity. What ten?

  1. Here a monk is virtuous..
  2. Again, a monk has learned much, remembers what he has learned, and accumulates what he has learned…
  3. Again, a monk has good friends, good companions, good comrades….
  4. Again, a monk is easy to correct and possesses qualities that make him easy to correct; he is patient and receives instruction respectfully….
  5. Again, a monk is skillful and diligent in attending to the diverse chores that are to be done for his fellow monks;….
  6. Again, a monk loves the Dhamma and is pleasing in his assertions, filled with a lofty joy pertaining to the Dhamma and discipline….
  7. Again, a monk has aroused energy for abandoning unwholesome qualities and acquiring wholesome qualities; he is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating wholesome qualities….
  8. Again, a monk is content with any kind of robe, almsfood, lodging, and medicines and provisions for the sick. [I.e., content with simple necessities]…
  9. Again, a monk is mindful, possessing supreme mindfulness and alertness, …
  10. Again, a monk is wise; he possesses the wisdom that discerns arising and passing away, which is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering….

This seems to me a comprehensive and useful list of qualities that would make members of a community get along with each other – or, if they hold the opposing views and behaviors, not.

A few adjustments to the language might be useful to encourage our use of these guidelines. We could substitute the word “practitioner” for monk, meaning simply an individual who is part of a community that intends to live in cooperation. “Loving the Dhamma” describes a dedication to shared goals.

Items 9 and 10 imply a mature wisdom, which takes time and dedication to embody, so we could use those as aspirations rather than berating ourself for failing to have extraordinary accomplishments.

In sum, these are the qualities we might look for, in ourselves and in others, as descriptors of good companions:

  1. Ethical behavior
  2. Learned
  3. Having wholesome associates
  4. Willing to learn/be taught
  5. Doesn’t shirk duties or one’s fair share of work
  6. Joyful
  7. Dedicated to refining one’s behavior
  8. Contented with little in the way of material goods
  9. Mindful
  10. Wise

Which of these qualities do we possess in better-than-average measure? Are there any that are conspicuously absent? As we think of our friends and associates, which of these qualities can we admire and be grateful for in them? Which missing items can we notice but decide to overlook or bring to their attention (at the right time)? Would we welcome shared reflections on these aspects of our own behavior?

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
This entry was posted in Causes and results, Compassion, Friendships, General, Mindfulness, Relationships. Bookmark the permalink.

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