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Over the past 40 years or so, many people attending Triratna Buddhist Centres have chosen to live together in residential spiritual communities. Buddhists around the world have set up a wide range of communal living situations with the aims of living simply, developing friendships with like-minded people, and supporting and encouraging each others’ attempts to practise the Dharma.
These Buddhist communities vary from a few friends informally sharing a house or apartment to larger or more intensive situations with regular periods of meditation, study, ritual, and community meetings. Community life is a practice in itself – learning to share, tolerating other people’s habits and communicating honestly to resolve differences. It helps people to develop loving-kindness, loosen the divide between self and other, and gradually to realize the interconnected nature of life.
There is also an environmental benefit because communal life is generally cheaper; people can live more frugally, split bills, and need, say, only one fridge, washing machine and so on, shared between half a dozen or a dozen people.
Buddhist communities usually consist of individuals rather than couples. Many are in partnerships but choose to live with friends. In the early days of the Triratna Buddhist Community, communities were sometimes mixed and sometimes single sex; over time it emerged that the single-sex situations were more stable and satisfying. Currently some people are again experimenting in various ways with mixed and family communities. The experiment continues!
Listen to people engaged with the idea of living together communally.
Read Living Together by Sanghadevi.