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When originally compiled and printed in 1976, this book was entitled Koo Mue Damnern Cheewit (A Handbook for Living). For the fourth printing in January 1979, I made some revisions to the text and changed the title to Thammanoon Cheewit. In April 1980 I again revised the text to make it easier to read and remember, and in that form, up until 1990, the book went through more than a hundred impressions. Before long, publication statistics ceased to be updated as it was difficult to keep up with all the impressions being made.

In 1995 Bruce Evans of the Buddhadhamma Foundation translated Thammanoon Cheewit into English as A Constitution for Living. After the translation was checked, the book was published both in English and in a bilingual version for the first time in February 1996.

For this new edition (1997), A Constitution for Living has undergone two important changes: some revisions and additions to the Thai version with further checking and editing of the English translation of both the original portion and the new additions; and the incorporation of The Buddhist's Life Standards as an introductory piece. The reasons for these changes are as follows:

  1. In 1997 Mr. Evans felt that since the book was now being printed in a bilingual version, and the original translation was more or less "paraphrastic," a more accurate and complete rendition was called for. As a result, he retranslated the book in full.

While waiting for the opportunity to check the translation before it went to press, I considered the time appropriate to include a number of additions I had been wanting to implement in order to make the book as complete as possible, and to this end I added an important teaching known as the "heralds of the arising of the path" as a new first chapter under the title of "Man: The Noble Being." The title of the original Introduction was changed from "The Consummate Human Being" to "Human Beings and Being Human." In addition, in Section Two ("People and Life"), I moved the original Chapter 8 ("The Unbeguiled One") to the end of the section, making it its last chapter (Chapter 12). I also made a number of insertions and adjustments in other sections of the text to make the book more complete in terms of the teaching and also more beneficial to the reader.

  1. When the revision of A Constitution for Living was completed and the book was waiting to go to press, it happened that I had just finished a booklet entitled The Buddhist's Life Standards.

The Buddhist's Life Standards [Matrathan Cheewit Khong Chao Phut] was originally a summary given as the appendix to the book of the same title. That book was taken from a discourse and blessing given on the occasion of leaving the monkhood of a monk who had been ordained temporarily according to Thai tradition. Some faithful Buddhists asked to print the discourse and blessing as a gift of Dhamma for the New Year of 1994.

When the Director-General of the Department of Local Administration, Ministry of the Interior, asked to print that summary as a gift of Dhamma for the New Year of 1998, I carried out some improvements in terms of content and style, making it more concise, easier to read and more complete by bringing it more into line with the newly revised A Constitution for Living. I then asked Mr. Evans to translate it into English so that it could be of a set with A Constitution for Living, with both the Thai and an English translation.

The Buddhist's Life Standards arose in response to a wish to stress the importance of Buddhists having some principles to adhere to and earnestly practice by. This is to be achieved through reviving and advocating the principles of practice described by the Buddha in the Singalaka Sutta (D.III.180-193) as regulations which Buddhists may hold to and practice as general standards for conducting their lives and by which they may together contribute to a good, happy and prosperous society. This would be in conformity with the original acknowledgement, recorded in the Commentary, of the Singalaka Sutta as the "layman's code of discipline" (gihi-vinaya), or the model for a householder's conduct (DA.3/134, 151), to go alongside the "monk's code of discipline" (bhikkhu-vinaya).

The whole content of The Buddhist's Life Standards is to be found within A Constitution for Living. The former can be taken as the Buddhist's minimal standards for conducting his life, while the latter is a compilation of general Dhamma principles for leading a virtuous life and may be regarded as an extension of the former. A practicing Buddhist may use The Buddhist's Life Standards as preliminary standards for leading his life, and then proceed to the qualities and practices given in A Constitution for Living to bring his life to greater virtue, success, benefit, and eventually perfection.

As regards the translation, Mr. Evans has applied himself to this work with zeal and effort and, thanks to his translation skills, brought the work to completion. During the checking of the translation, also, he constantly adjusted and polished the wording and style of the translation in an effort to make this edition of A Constitution for Living as correct, accurate, and readable as possible, and I here express my appreciation for his work.

During the checking of the translation, a time in which I had many projects unfinished and in which I was often ill, Dr. Somseen Chanawangsa, an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University Language Institute, by courtesy of the Office of the National Culture Commission and with the approval of Chulalongkorn University, relieved me of some of my academic responsibilities by kindly assisting in the work. His checking and the numerous suggestions he made were of great help in this work, and I am thankful for his generosity and support.

The prepress work for publication, especially of the bilingual Thai-English version, was carried out by Phrakhrupalat Pidokwat (Insorn Cintapanno), to whom I also express my appreciation.  

Phra Dhammapitaka (P. A. Payutto)
December 25, 1997

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