The Four Bases of Community

While recently reading a certain Japanese-language introduction on the Soto school of Zen (the same book where I learned about the Shushōgi), I came across another teaching I wanted to share called the Four Bases of Community, also called the Four Grounds for Fellowship, and so on. This term is called shishōbō (四摂法) in Japanese Zen, but the term goes much further back, all the way to the Pāli Canon as cattāri saṅgahavatthūni,1 where it is the subject of a sutra called the Sangaha Sutta (AN 4.32).

But what are the Four Bases/Grounds for/of Community/Fellowship (of the Ring)?

The Soto Zen book lists them as (with my rough translations):

  • 布施 (fuse) – offerings, generosity
  • 愛護 (aigo) – kind words
  • 利行 (rigyō) – empathy
  • 同事 (dōji) – cooperation

A number of helpful articles in Japanese and English all point to the same thing: even small efforts toward kind words, empathy or generosity toward others have a knock-on effect that leads to both to own’s one happiness, but also happiness of others who are not directly involved. Six degrees of separation and all that.

Given how people are agitated and tense in the current climate, it may be a good opportunity to put the Four Grounds of Fellowship into practice as they may have effects that one can’t expect.

1 Sometimes seems to be abbreviated to saṅgaha-vatthu for you Pali nerds out there.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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