A Relational Dhamma Integrates the Arahat and Bodhisattva Visions of the Buddhist Path (and why this matters to our living Dhamma path)

It’s a simple question: Do you sense your own relatedness and does this feel like an important part of your life? The question is not whether your relatedness IS an important part of your life. This is, without question, true: biologically, psychologically, socially, practically, and existentially. But do you sense this? On  a day to day basis, do you notice how many of your thoughts are about other people, or what they think of you? Thoughts of social place, whether by race, gender, class, age, or belief? Moment by moment, do you notice the outbreaks of social glee or loneliness? Do you notice how social craving motivates action, forms personality? And how is this truth reflected in your meditation, your sense of the Dhamma, and what you believe is the nature and purpose of the path?

An individualistic view of the Dhamma and of meditation practice may leave these contributions to suffering and its cessation largely untouched. An all-beings focus of the Dharma, too, can easily skip over where we actually live: here on this planet, day by day, with other people and a relationally constructed sense of the world. Please think about, feel into, and deeply contemplate this question of your own relatedness. Perhaps we can find here a healing of early and later schools of Buddhist thought and practice, and arouse a curiosity that is strong enough to break the bonds of presently held views on the nature of the Path. Freedom can only be whole when it includes the personal cessation of craving and ignorance, the interpersonal experience of unconstructed intimacy, and the public and functioning manifestation of a just, humane, and flourishing society.