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Speaking of which…

by Denis Wallez (@DenisWallez)
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Relationships are at the heart of Buddhism. And such a statement is true in many senses!


First, Buddhism very much looks into how we relate to phenomena.

The analysis starts by questioning 5 aggregates: our senses (and their limitations), our emotional tones upon perceiving something, our perceptions or pattern matchings, our conceptualizations / projections / expectations / intentions, and our (conscious or subconscious) reactivity.

But the analysis also looks at how any response establishes a relationship… by discerning / projecting actor, action and object. And as the response might be biased (be it by unexamined impulses or by constructive, wholesome mental cultivation!) then specific types of response might be studied as such. Hence, e.g. in Mahāyāna Buddhism, one might consider three levels of “compassionate response”: conventional1, ultimate2 and objectless / unconditioned3.

Fundamentally, that's what life is about: relationships (to every experience coming our way), and how to cultivate constructive ones. Interestingly, the goal of holy life might be to cease the entanglements, the knots, and the drama… but that's not the same as ceasing all relationships!


Second, be it addressed to lay people or to monastics, Buddhism provides pragmatic, practical advice on relationships. In a sense, it acknowledges that we're social animals, and even the recluse or the hermit sets a standard or acts as a role model for others. So Buddhism has some advice to share on setting up growth-supportive conditions through relationships. It looks at familial relationships, business relationships, friends, foes, who one associate with, etc.


Speaking of which… was founded on the idea of mutual support between Buddhist practitioners (of various seniority).

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