Honoring the Six Directions: Buddhist Teachings on Relationship and Community

with Dr. Sean Feit Oakes

Sun, December 15, 2019 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PST

In a beautiful and famous discourse, the Sigālaka Sutta, the Buddha taught a framework for lay people (non-monastics) to build and sustain healthy communities. He used the model of the Six Directions, where the practitioner thinks of themself in a web of relationships: with their parents (east), teachers (south), partner and family (west), friends and colleagues (north), employees and dependents (below), and with religious renunciates and charities (above). Because very few people have intact relationships in all of these “directions,” the practice becomes a framework for healing, and processing the wounds we bear as members of families and communities of many kinds.

The model can help us feel into the gifts and support we receive from, and give to, people in all these different relationships to us. It becomes a reflection on ethics, wise action, social engagement, and the sustaining of beloved community by learning to honor the distinct gifts and challenges of each type of relationship. We will explore ways to care for and heal the harm and trauma that has come through many of these relationships through compassion and forgiveness practices. And cultivate the beautiful qualities of gratitude and generosity that are the glue that holds the whole web together.

We will explore this beautiful model through reflection, writing, discussion, meditation, and a group ritual to honor the maṇḍala of the Six Directions and the web of interdependence that is all of life.