Community Living

If I want to work less so I have more time to meditate and connect with loved ones, I’m going to have much less money. Can I make this work to my advantage? The biggest expense we all have is housing. In August I moved into my own place for the first time ever and it’s expensive. I could live for about 40% less if I had a roommate, but with my strict precepts and meditation practice I decided that I wanted to control the environment I lived in.

This is the same progression that most people choose as they advance in their careers. We start out with 4 roommates in a tiny place. Even though some of these roommates have become our closest friends, other roommates drive us crazy or become our biggest enemies. Sometimes we’re stuck with roommates that are so different from us that we don’t even know how to relate and we accidentally do things to drive each other nuts. Sometimes roommates become enemies, and like family, these people know how to push our buttons. When given the choice between living with a new roommate that might become a best friend or an arch-enemy and living alone, most people choose the single. As we grow up and make more money we buy bigger houses with bigger lawns and higher fences. We like our privacy and it costs us.

So what if we changed the social construct and realized that life got a whole lot easier when a group of people lived cordially together. Bills, furniture, cooking, food shopping, babysitting, gardening, lawn mowing, carpooling, and cleaning responsibilities could all be shared. What would it take to avoid the “tragedy of the commons” we’ve all seen in shared living situations?

I wonder what it would be like to live in a multifamily house with a bunch of meditators who are following their 5 precepts and meditating daily. Would the dynamic be much different from a random collection of people? The biggest challenge in shared living situations is the ability to trust that everyone will do their part. The more people who are involved, the easier it is for individuals to take advantage of the group. Could a bunch of meditators all be trusted to pull their weight and as a result make everyone’s life easier and happier?

If this worked, it could completely change the construct of how people choose to live. Instead of working hard to be able to live independently, the highest quality of life would be obtained by living in a large group of mutually supporting individuals and families. I know from my time serving at a meditation center that I was impressed how hard and together people worked as volunteers. I would love to put this system to the test in the real world. They say that a household that meditates together can easily work through disputes. What about for a multifamily household? Who wants to live with me and try this out? Let’s go meditate together.

4 thoughts on “Community Living

  1. Anonymous

    I love this idea of community living. It has been part of the world for thousands of years and works. Next to living expenses is health care. Our nation must have clinics that help people in different crisis. Time to meditate.

  2. Branden M

    Having been introduced to Vipassana by a village of meditators, I know first-hand how quality of life is enhanced with fellow communards. Of course, collectivism has many labels but one within which Vipassana is the highest practice is nothing short of a Sanga.

    I remember how the mentality of each individual working for oneself and for others became the saving grace for the intense moments. Dialogues and open forums became refuges where honesty and understanding prevailed. Certainly there will be challenge – interpersonal dynamics to embrace and unzip. What better way to face them than with someone else who can understand their own angle?

    When individuals assume different roles in a mutually-supportive environment, their aspirations are enhanced by the interaction. Vipassana must be central.

    Nice exposition and a very mindful idea has come to you. Even The Enlightened One benefited from and shared in the wealth of community.

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