Friendship and Community
by Venerable Thubten Chodron©
at Omega Institute, Rhineback NY
27-29 April 2007

[in mp3 format]

Session 1

Part 1: An Overview [22 min] : Download

Part 2: Friendship and Community [36 min] : Download

  • We’re always living in community and we’re always related to everybody.


Session 2

Part 1: Attachment [34 min] : Download

  • What is attachment?
  • Disadvantages of attachment.
  • Attachment to people. The difference between love and attachment.

Part 2: Q&A [19 min] : Download


  • Does the word ‘mine’ that is used in our language reinforce our concept of possession and if so, should we stop using that word?
  • I project an image on somebody of what they could be. Though there’re many indications that they’re not that and they probably have no intention of becoming that, I ignore these signs because I’m very attached to it. How do I get out of that?
  • How do I discern if a community is good for me to be a part of or if a friendship is right for me?


Session 3: Friendship and Emotions [43 min] : Download

  • The Purpose of Friendships
  • Attachment and Friendships
  • Anger and what it does to friendships and community. How to work with anger in relationships.
  • Question from audience: What about anger towards injustice? How can their perspective be justified?
  • Relationship between attachment and anger.

More Questions:

  • How do we relate what you said about attachment and anger to our family?
  • I don’t necessarily look at anger as bad, because anger to me can be a call for action, to do something about a situation. What is your view about this?


Session 4

Part 1: False friends and good friends as set out in the Sigalovada Sutra [48 min] : Download

Part 2: Q&A [17 min] : Download


  • I’m sometimes caught in situations where my friend is lying to a third party or doing something that would endanger a third party. If I do nothing, the third party will get harmed. But if I say something, I'm endangering my friendship with this person. What do I do?

  • When I'm with somebody who is a good friend and they start telling me more details about the past or the future than I really need to know and it gets tiresome for me, what do I do?

  • A family member is doing something that is not so wise but I feel like if I said something about it they would distance themselves from me and I don’t want to do that because it’s an important relationship to me. What do I do?


Session 5

Part 1: Equanimity and Loving Kindness [32 min] : Download

  • Developing Equanimity. Checking up what reasons our mind gives for seeing somebody as a friend, an enemy or a stranger.
  • Developing Loving-Kindness, including contemplating the kindness of our parents instead of blaming them. ~ Developing loving-kindness starts with having kindness for ourselves but some people find that it is more difficult to have kindness for themselves than for others. ~ We can be very self-indulgent on the one hand and very self-judgmental on the other. How do we cultivate a balanced way of relating to ourselves?

Part 2: Q&A [24 min] : Download


  • Because of our intelligence as human beings, we could do a lot more good but we could also do a lot more bad. That in a way gives us more responsibility than other life forms who don’t have these higher mental functions. But taking up that responsibility involves a certain amount of pain because then we can’t ignore or run away from things as it means opening our eyes to the situations of the world and it also means dealing with ourselves and being honest with ourselves. What do you think?

  • When we look and see the suffering there is in the world and see how good we have it here, we feel a little bit guilty and feel that we should do more. But we see that people who are doing a lot are exhausted and their work is not necessarily useful. We’re also not sure that we can actually save the world, so what do we do?

  • In the West, though basic needs have been met, people still experience much suffering. It seems that the more conveniences people have, the more isolated people get. - Ven. Chodron commented on the use of technology in response to this.


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