In ancient times, ordained people led a simple life with one meal a day. They received food donated by people in the village, rested under the trees at night and cultivated constantly. So, the way place was more like a school to educate the local community in Buddhism. Learned and far-sighted people built them with the financial support from those who were wealthy and held high status in the community. Then well-known and respected monks were invited to cultivate and conduct the teachings.
Way places were Buddhist educational institutions where everyone shared equally. If this principle were to be applied to society there would be no psychological imbalance and hence no social disturbances. At way places, none of the Six Harmonies can be neglected or else there will not be a true Sangha. As the Chinese say, “harmony in the family is the basis for any undertaking.” Similarly, if a country is united, it will not be easy for another power to dominate it, because the power of unity is inconceivable. Consequently, if a family, company, social group or a country can practice three of the six harmonies of sharing the same viewpoints or goals, observing the same precepts, and sharing benefits equally, they will become prosperous.
We find an example in the business world where Japanese business developed dramatically after World War II. It has only been half a century, but these businesses were among the most successful in the world. Why? They have practiced these three harmonies. By sharing the same viewpoints and goals, the sangha can reach common understanding. By abiding by the same precepts, all abide by the laws. By sharing all benefits equally, everyone is assured that there will be fairness in all things.
The importance of harmony also hold for the family. As the Chinese say, “Harmony in the family is the basis for any undertaking.” Therefore, a happy family life is built upon the basis of the Six Harmonies. If we do not understand this, it will be difficult for us to have a happy and enjoyable family.