The Buddhology Blog

Why Harmonious Living?

ashley davis buddhology harmonious living Dec 31, 2023

One sutta (Buddha’s teaching) that deeply resonated with me is the 'Honey-Cake Discourse' (Madhupiṇḑika-sutta) from Majjhima-Nikāya (MN 18). In this discourse, when a man with a staff approached and asked Buddha what he teaches. Buddha responded that he teaches how to live without fighting with anyone, regardless of their class, beliefs, or whether they are human or non-human. 

Upon hearing Buddha’s reply, this man simply shook his head and departed, seemingly finding this teaching to be insignificant. This seemed less valuable than the flashy spiritual feats promoted by other gurus during that era, such as miracle powers and communion with divine deities.

It's the same today. We crave extraordinary things — eternal youth, immense wealth, and fame with tons of followers. We rarely think about the importance of being in harmony with others. We don't consider it to be something to seriously study, practice, and work toward. Instead, we hope to get lucky and stumble upon it. But even though it sounds simple, we've never really achieved lasting harmony throughout history. 

Recent research from UC Riverside highlights that happiness is strongly tied to interpersonal harmony. Just think about it — if we could be in harmony with others at work, at home, and in our local and global communities, wouldn't that make us happy? And if I'm in harmony with my own thoughts, memories, and views, wouldn't that bring happiness too?

When Buddha returned to his disciples, he described the interaction he’d had with the man with the staff. Buddha explained how we attack each other with theories, concepts, and definitions. And how we identify ourselves with these theories and ideas. 

Buddhology is a system of personal and social psychology that leads to happiness and harmony, and away from suffering and conflict. Is there any more beneficial teaching and practice we could follow in this world?


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