The Six Concords in Buddhism

--By Dharma Master Huyen-Vi, Ph.D., Nalanda Pali Institute, India

In this article I propose to show that the observance of the Six Concords1 of Buddhism can promote peace and harmony among Buddhists and the people of the world. Furthermore, non-observance of these Six Concords is the root of all evils found among men.

In every day life, there is nothing more dangerous than discord. It is the poison that separates people from one another. In a family, if brothers are not living harmoniously, the relationship among them is broken. If husband and wife are not living in harmony, the conjugal relation becomes sad. Their children suffer because if they stay with their father, they have to be away from their mother, and if they stay with their mother, they must take leave of their father. Neighbors who are not on good terms with one another always find discontentment and harm one another. Nations which do not peacefully co-exist involve themselves in wars and as a result, people undergo unbearable pain. Human beings who have no unity reap the consequences of wars. They destroy and ruin themselves.

Having seen the dangers of discord, we must look at the necessity of concord for living in peace and unity.

We often hear the Chinese adage: "Concord is the Noblest Virtue."2 This simple sentence is wonderfully useful. These who put it into practice succeed in all their small and big enterprises. On the contrary, those who neglect it fail.

Confucius said; "Good weather is less important than good geographical position; good geographical position is less important than mental unity of the people"3. The element of concord is the most important in all affairs and organizations. A united family gives blessings to all its members; citizens of a harmonious nation enjoy a peaceful life. If human beings live in harmony, the world enjoys peace, for the world is no more than the vast body of countless human beings.

Sakyamuni Buddha preached the Six Concords to humanity and showed their importance in day to day life.

The Six Concords are the six methods for the peaceful co-existence for all people, both materially and spiritually, both in bodily and in verbal action. If a man actively practices concord, he achieves the way of emancipation, which is the noblest, and the most perfect. A man living in passive discord accepting both wrong and right does not achieve it. Concord rises above the personal and the impersonal, not allowing us to think in terms of "I" and "others."

What are the Six Concords?

1. The Concord 21 the Body.4 We should live harmoniously in all circumstances, at work, when studying, walking and so on, without using force or maltreating one another. Just as brothers, wives, husbands, children live in a family, so we must live in concord, respecting one another.

We must give the first place to concord and in no case should we cause our own ruin by dividing ourselves, fighting and killing one another. In Vietnam we have a folk song which goes, "Oh calabash, you must love the squash, although you are of different kinds, you grow on the same trellis."

In the same way, though human beings on this earth are of different colors, black, white, yellow, and red, we are all brothers. It is sheer nonsense to fight amongst ourselves, for in the last analysis it means "ourselves fighting with ourselves."

To conclude, since we live in the same big family on this earth, we should always live peacefully.

2. The Concord of Speech.5 In order that we are always friendly with our neighbors, we must speak an even and pleasing language in all circumstances and should not quarrel with one another.

Some practice bodily concord but do not do so with respect to their speech. Others defeat one another verbally, find occasions to ridicule one another, tease one another, and criticize one another, all of which result in fighting. A bitter word can wreck the conjugal life between husband and wife. Brothers, fathers, and sons become strangers in their own houses if they do not live in concord. In a society too, a bad word can cause conflict, which might involve all.

      Therefore the Buddha said that bodily concord alone is not enough; but verbal concord is also necessary. This means that we must speak gently and sweetly; we must not quarrel with one another. If we want to discuss problems, we should use polite language, because harsh language will produce bad results.                            see page 39

to be continued