The second of the Five Guidelines, the Six Harmonies tell us how to get along in
groups, especially in a sangha, which is a group of four or more people who practice
together. As the Six Harmonies are the basic rules for group cultivation, a sangha,
whether lay or monastic, needs to strive to follow them. The Six Harmonies are:
Harmony in having the same viewpoints
Harmony in observing the same precepts
Harmony in living together
Harmony in speaking without conflict
Harmony in experiencing Dharma bliss
Harmony in sharing benefits
First is harmony in having the same viewpoints, which means establishing consensuses
in a group. The group members must hold the same opinions of the principles and methods
that they are studying and practicing to form the basis for harmonious group cultivation. If
we want our society to be stable, the prerequisite is that everyone can get along
with one another. Only harmony can gradually draw together and eventually minimize
the differences in our opinions, ideas, and ways of life. Then equality can be achieved,
and finally, happiness.
Second is harmony in observing the same precepts. When we live and practice together,
we need to have rules, or else there will be disorder. The rules should include the
fundamental precepts set by the Buddha, which vary depending on whether it is a lay
or a monastic sangha. The fundamental precepts are the five precepts for a lay sangha,
and the monk or nun precepts for a monastic sangha. In addition to the Buddhist precepts,
laws and local customs are also to be observed.
Third is harmony in living together as a group. The purpose of establishing a cultivation
center is to help every participant in group practice make achievements. Living together
in a group, practitioners can support each other in their practice.
Fourth is harmony in speaking without conflict. All the group members who live together
should not dispute in order to truly concentrate their efforts on cultivation. When
people are together, negative karma from speech is the easiest to incur. One, who
talks too much, easily gets into trouble. Sometimes misunderstandings arise because
the listener takes to heart a careless remark of the speaker. Thus, a careless speaker
unknowingly incurs many enmities, which give rise to future retaliation. This is
why ancient sages advised us, "Talk less; chant the Buddha’s name more." The less
we speak, the better it is, for we will have less trouble. It is best that we speak
only when necessary.
Fifth is harmony in experiencing the Dharma bliss. This is what we call "experiencing
joy in the Dharma." When we learn and practice a Dharma Door, the basic achievement
that we should attain is happiness. If we feel unhappy in our practice, then we have
encountered a serious problem, which does not lie in the Buddha’s teachings but in
the way we practice. We may either have done something that goes against the principles
of the teachings or have applied the principles in the wrong way. Otherwise, the
results should be evident—ending delusions and attaining enlightenment, and ending
suffering and attaining happiness. With each passing day, we should have fewer afflictions
while enjoying greater happiness and freedom. This is the evidence of success in
our practice. If we are not achieving this, we need to examine carefully and seriously,
find our mistakes, root causes, and then eliminate them. We can then thus truly benefit
from our practice.
Sixth is harmony in sharing benefits. This harmony means that everyone living in
a cultivation center shares the material goods equally.
The keeping of all these six
rules ensures that harmony will prevail.