10 July 2013

Lotus Sutra Study Questions 27

Chapter 27 of the Lotus Sutra describes the importance of family and family relations in Buddhist practice.  This is expressed in somewhat mythic terms in the sutra.  The most important point is to consider the ways in which familial relationships can become fundamental aspects of everyday Dharma practice:  how we relate to others is a fundamental aspect of how we conduct ourselves, and with whom do we interact more than our families and the members of our household?  Our parents, siblings, children, and extended family can encourage us in practice, and help us work through doubt and distraction--and we can do the same for them.

Family can also function as a metaphor for how members of a sangha can cooperate together on the basis of mutual respect and care.  The contemporary writer and practitioner Peter Hershock has an excellent essay on this topic at the Journal of Buddhist Ethics; while Hershock's language is a bit wonky, his ideas are very much worthy of careful reflection.

How does this chapter describe family relationships among Dharma practitioners?  Do you notice anything unusual or extraordinary about the particular family described in this chapter?  More generally, what does a healthy and supportive family look like?  What is the relationship between our conduct with each other and our practice of Dharma together?

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