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The Harmonics of Sangha

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

There is a sequence to the Three Treasurers. First, Shakyamuni had to become awake (Buddha). Second, he had to teach (Dharma) and three, harmonious fellowship had to come into being (Sangha). Legend has it the World Honored One spent weeks determining how to use what he had uncovered. His two main teachers during his travels were the first option for talk and discussion but both had died. He then turned to the small group of five ascetics with whom he spend many months of his journey. This, was the First Turning of the Dharma Wheel and the awakening Koṇḍañña (Kaundinya) became the first arahant (liberated being) and the first Buddhist bhikkhu or monastic.

Sangha, which is essential to sharing the Dharma, was planted.

The World Honored One was a treasure of experience, led a life of virtue and was the power of example. By sharing the Dharma through talks, dharma stitched into sutras memorized and chanted. A pedagogy of teaching arose. It is said Ananda asked about the importance of sangha:

“…Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, ‘This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.’

“‘Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.”[ii]

The Sangha is a ground for being. Like-minded appreciation of the life experience and teachings of Buddha, the Dharma is shared within sangha. It is important to note that sangha can mean a small group or the the world population. How so? Here we shift from psychology to sociology structural formations as the sangha/group is complicated with many more moving parts, hence the emphasis on harmony.

Harmonics refers to the number of units exposed in a period of time and has philosophical and scientific implications related to frequency and cycles across the cosmos:

Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another. (Leibniz, 1670)

There are cycles in everything. There are cycles in the weather, the economy, the sun, wars, geological formations, atomic vibrations, climate, human moods, the motions of the planets, populations of animals, the occurrence of diseases, the prices of commodities and shares and the large scale structure of the universe. None of these are independent of each other. Research shows that very different disciplines often find the same cycle periods in their data. The inter-relatedness of all things is an idea whose time has come. The study of cycles is an excellent way to understand this because the periods of cycles are as easy to recognise as fingerprints or DNA sequences. (Ray Tomes)

The communication begins with the scientists converting the electronic sounds they received in alien transmissions into musical tones—D, E, C, C, G—and playing it back via synthesizer with assigned light and color patterns.

The five-tone phrase spells out directly:

  • Start with the tone. (Pinkish-red) - D

  • Up a full tone. (Orange) - E

  • Down a major third. (Purple) - C

  • Down an octave. (Yellow) - C (an octave lower)

  • Up a perfect fifth. (White) - G

This phrase transforms during the conversation, going through a number of variations, such as changing the register, octaves, and tone color. The scientists eventually realize that the ship is teaching them a basic tonal vocabulary. One of them concludes it might be an entrance exam of sorts, saying: “It’s the first day of school, fellas”.

If we take this symphony as metaphor for harmony we gain insight into all the conditions and variations that come into play. Being fully present, as we say is "one-with." As you may vish to watch the clip a few times, see the sangha (orchester) in its many lights and musical accord...what do you see, composer/conductor, musical score, and the collective effort of fellowship--one in harmonic accord .

There is an interesting article about this by Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

"Social harmony stems from handling relationships and communal living with skill, effort, and a spirit of cooperation. We can learn a lot about keeping peace in social living from the six points of reverent harmony that the monastic sangha observes. Sangha is a Sanskrit word, which can be interpreted on many different levels. In its widest interpretation, it refers to all those who have the common purpose of following the Dharma."

So, what notes or frequencies are harmonic for a sangha. The article continues with these suggestions:

  • Harmony of View

  • Harmony of Economics

  • Harmony of Morality

  • Harmony of Outlook

  • Harmony of Speech

  • Harmony of Deeds

Finally Winnie Nazarko in an article in Insight Journal suggests such sangha harmonics can also expand to social consciousness and action.

"If we’re looking in the direction of what the causes and conditions are for the creation of a harmonious society, we have to consider that the society both conditions the individual and the individual conditions the broader society. There is no separation. Thus the cultivation of personal morality, wisdom or compassion, the whole process of , is a very powerful tool in creating individuals who, because they are developed and are part of these larger social groups, have the potential to be skilled and forward-looking actors.

The Buddha understood that we can and should recognize the difference between what’s skillful and not skillful and deliberately choose to develop what is skillful and wholesome, thus developing our capacity to act with wisdom and compassion. Sama sampajañña– clear comprehension of the circumstances in their totality- speaks to ways that individual people can be empowered actors, and perhaps be actors in a different kind of way, with their own framework for acting that is outside of our current political polarization."

Dr. Martin Luther King's Beloved Community might be called Sangha at the social/community level. Using his view we see equanimity as balance. Then when seen through the points made by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, we see the Civil Rights Movement or any movement for that matter to lessen suffering in our selves and others. The expansive article by Winnie Nazarko, speaks to the harmonic possibilities...

What say you?

108 Bows,


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