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  • Communitarianism

    Dear Bhante,

    This semester I've been studying ethics. We were presented with the communitarian philosophy, which claims that we have certain duties and obligation towards out social communities: family, friends, city, country etc. We are bound to these obligations, without giving our consent, they are determined through our affiliation and history with the groups we belong to. I don't believe this approach to either be fully wrong or fully right.

    I think it is wrong not to take our communities in consideration when we choose our path of action, but then again we are individuals and we are practicing detachment, our thoughts and actions should not depend on others.

    My question is. As Buddhist practitioners, where do we draw the line between us and the people around us? We need to be considerate of others, but we also need to be autonomous.

    I don't know if there is a simple answer, but I would like your advice.


  • #2
    Dear Daniel,

    I think we need to find a balance. To help others as we help ourselves. In practice there will often be competing interests, personal and social. If we ignore the social then we lose the chance to make a lot of good kamma. As we develop good qualities between each other - trust, mutual affection, gratitude - those qualities remain in the mind when we are alone. The trust we build between us means we can trust ourselves. Spiritual friends guide one another, and as a community this guidence can be very powerful. As a group with high trust and a sense of giving we are much more powerful that we can be on our own.

    Does this help? I think the answer is more simple than you think. :-)

    With metta,



    • #3

      "When a higher duty (supreme enlightenment) conflicts with a lower duty (family), the former ceases to be a duty."
      This is a Hindu saying, that obviously the Buddha had in mind when he abandonned his family in the night without saying goodbye ...

      with greetings,


      • #4
        Thank you for your answer. I wish all my social groups were filled with spiritual friends. Sometimes competing interests can lead to frustrating situations. But I'm guessing that is part of life and that there is no better solution than treating others and myself with kindness through such endeavors.




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