There are a number of texts explaining how to live in a community, what rules to follow, what activities, etc. For instance, the classical Vinaya texts, or the "Standards and Rules of Purity" genre in China and Japan (ex.: Chanyuan qinggui, Dogen's Ehei Shingi, etc).

However, I am looking for traditional texts that explain why to live in a community. It could be aimed at monks, lay people, or both. The denomination does not matter much.

I'm looking for commentaries or treatises rather than sutras. It is to use the material as a basis for giving lectures.


Namo Buddhaya.I assume you mean Sangha by community. One should live in a Sangha for the welfare and good will of the humans and devas. Sangha i.e. community ,exists out of compassion for the people. I am quoting a sutta which tells why there should be unity in Sangha? This can be very well answer your question why to live in the Sangha?

This was said by the Lord…

“There is one thing, bhikkhus, which, when it appears in the world, appears for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. What is that one thing? It is unity in the Sangha. When the Sangha is united there are no mutual quarrels, mutual recriminations, mutual denigrations, and mutual expulsions. In this situation those who are unsympathetic are converted and those who are sympathetic increase in faith.”

Pleasant is unity in the Sangha. One who helps those in unity, Who delights in unity and is righteous, Is not deprived of security from bondage. By making the Sangha united He rejoices in heaven for an aeon.


There is some overlap here with ChrisW's answer. The point I would like to emphasize is that for both monks and lay persons, there are benefits of admirable friendship.

Admirable friendship is important for both monks and lay persons, so that they may be positively influenced by the wholesome and skillful qualities of their admirable companions.

With admirable friendship, a lay person could progress on the right path according to AN 8.54:

[The Blessed One said:] "There are these four qualities, TigerPaw, that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in this life. Which four? Being consummate in initiative, being consummate in vigilance, admirable friendship, and maintaining one's livelihood in tune.

"And what is meant by admirable friendship? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called admirable friendship.

Meanwhile, SN 45.2 speaks of the importance of admirable friendship for a monk:

"And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops right resolve... right speech... right action... right livelihood... right effort... right mindfulness... right concentration dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develops & pursues the noble eightfold path.

Sutta Nipata 1.3 below states that it's better to wander alone as a monk, if one does not have admirable companions. Of course, having admirable companions is the best option.

If you gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler,
right-living & wise,
overcoming all dangers go with him,
gratified, mindful.

If you don't gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler,
right-living & wise,
wander alone
like a king renouncing his kingdom,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
his herd.

We praise companionship — yes!
Those on a par, or better,
should be chosen as friends.
If they're not to be found,
living faultlessly,
wander alone like a rhinoceros.


the question is why to live in community. a little effort to answer has arisen out by a slight thought giving and personal experience. we are very unfortunate not having buddha among us . if he would have been then without asking whether it is need to live in community or not , we would have gone with him .thanks to his magnetism and charisma. then how we would go to live in community?. buddha has said that his teachings will be the guide/lighthouse in place of him after his mahaparinirvana. so we have now option of understanding/studying/practicing his teachings. even though we are kicked by life so many times we dont understand its futility. we think everything as permanent . . with this understanding if we go to any commune, we will play there also with all our weapons i.e greed,anger,hatred etc. so as per my experience it is worthy to be in community membered by like minded members only after having experiential understanding of anitya /impermanence by practising the teaching of buddha . otherwise the community becomes a sort of resort with some sort of resort having some sorts of disciplines of getting up from bed, eating timings etc etc.

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