Saraniya Dhammas: Harmonious Living

Ajahn Pasanno

Saraniya Dhammas: Harmonious Living

…the brahmaviharas are integrally related to a classification of the Buddha’s teachings called the saraniya dhammas, translated as “states of conciliation” or “the virtues necessary for fraternal living.” They are the dhammas or qualities necessary for human beings to get along with one another.

The first three are loving-kindness of bodily, verbal, and mental action. These are the actual foundations for these virtues.

The fourth is sadharanaboghi, the virtue of sharing with one’s friends and associates the results of one’s proper actions. When there is a sharing of the fruits of one’s actions, there would also tend to be a sharing of thoughts and feelings with others.

Silasamanyatta is the next virtue—keeping to standards of conduct with one’s associates. When this virtue is observed, there is a consistency and harmony because of the maintenance of the standards of conduct and virtue with those you associate with. Sometimes, there can be much pain and conflict if one is part of a unit, such as a family or work situation, and there is suspicion or very different standards of moral conduct.

Ditthisamanyatta is the last virtue in this group. It is the possessing of a similarity of views.

One of the reasons life in a monastery or a religious community is conducive to spiritual practice is the degree of trust that is engendered in keeping to the same or similar standards of conduct or virtue. Also, there generally is a similarity of views.

In living together, you may not actually like each other but at least you can trust each other. That is a big thing. In monasteries, you get disparate characters thrown together. One of the common personality traits is a certain stubbornness. You would not be in a monastery if you were not able to go against the expectations and wishes of family, society, and even at times your own personal preferences.

But the similarity of conduct and purpose is a foundation for conciliation and harmony. There is an evenness and consistency of conduct and commitment within the group, since common goals and a common integrity are present. It is not something forced but is a virtue that is encouraged in order to live together harmoniously.

So these saraniya dhammas are foundations for harmonious living whatever the size of the unit living together.

This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Broad View, Boundless Heart, (pdf) p.27.