PEOPLE AND LIFE
8. THE CONFIDENT ONE
(A life that is perfect)
Through conducting his life impeccably and reaping the most benefit out of
birth into this world, a person can attain such confidence in his life that
he fears nothing, not even death. This is living victoriously, making a
success of life. Such a person is one who has attained the objective of
living and leads his life according to the following principles:
Steering one's life to its objectives: he conducts his life toward the realization of the three benefits
which are the objectives of life known as the three attha:
Ditthadhammikattha: the temporal objective or present benefit, the
important kinds being:
good health, a strong body, freedom from disease, pleasant appearance and
b) Having work and income, wealth derived from honest livelihood; being
c) Having good status, having rank, honor, friendship and social acceptance.
d) Having a happy family, making one's family worthy of respect.
All of the
above should be righteously obtained and used or treated so as to produce
rightful benefit and happiness both for oneself and for others.
Samparayikattha: the spiritual objective or further benefit that gives
value and meaning to life, and which leads to the profound inner happiness,
deep appreciation and happiness through faith; having an ideal.
b) Pride in having a clean life, in having done only good and virtuous
c) Gratification in a worthwhile life, in having made sacrifices and
performed beneficial actions.
d) Courage and confidence in having wisdom to deal with problems and guide
e) Security and freedom from worry in having performed good kamma, having a
guarantee for the future life.
Paramattha, the highest objective or greatest benefit; having insight
into the truth, having penetrated to the nature of life and the world,
thereby rendering the mind free, [as a result of which]:
a) One is
not shaken or overwhelmed by vicissitudes and changes.
b) One is not disappointed, downhearted or distressed on account of
attachment to things.
c) One is secure, calm, clear, cheerful and buoyant at all times.
d) One lives and acts with wisdom, which looks at causes and conditions.
levels of attha can be attained on three fronts, as follows:
Attattha: the objective for oneself or one's own benefit; i.e.,
the three levels of benefit explained above, which one should establish
within oneself, or develop one's life toward.
Parattha: the objective for others, or other people's benefit;
i.e., the three levels of benefit explained above, which one should help
other people successively achieve by inducing and encouraging them to
develop their lives.
Ubhayattha: the mutual objective or benefit to both parties;
i.e., the collective benefit, happiness and virtue of the community or
society, including environmental conditions and factors, both concrete, such
as forests, rivers and roads, and abstract, such as morality and culture. We
should contribute to the creation and conservation of these in order to help
both ourselves and others advance to the three levels of objectives
mentioned above, at the very least not allowing our own pursuit of benefit
to adversely affect the benefit and well-being of the community. For
example, in keeping the discipline a monk helps foster the harmony of the
monastic community, which is an atmosphere that helps the monks living
together all live in comfort and grow in their practice toward attaining the
highest benefit (paramattha).
Maintaining inner strength:
he has the strength that arises from the moral qualities or practices that
are life's assurances-known as the four powers (bala)-which instill such
self-confidence into him that he fears no peril, namely:
Panna-bala: the power of wisdom; he is learned; he has proper and
clear knowledge and understanding of all matters and tasks he must deal
with, and ultimately the true nature of life and the world; he does things
with understanding of their reasons and their real nature.
Viriya-bala: the power of effort; he always applies himself to
his tasks and duties with effort and perseverance; he does not give up,
slacken or become discouraged.
Anavajja-bala: the power of integrity or the power of purity; his
conduct and work are honest, faultless, clean, pure and uncensurable.
Sangaha-bala: the power of benefaction; he helps and supports
others and makes himself useful to his fellow man; he is a benefactor of the
government official, for example, might bear in mind these four brief
injunctions: "Know your work well, perform your duty faultlessly, be honest
and do not neglect human relations."
Establishing oneself on a firm foundation from which to grasp the highest success aspired to without causing
self-delusion, creating opportunities for error and blemish or leading to
the accumulation of defilements. This can be achieved by practicing
according to the principles known as the four inner strongholds (adhitthana):
using wisdom; he lives his life with wisdom and acts with reason; he
does not react impulsively or emotionally to the incidents he encounters or
get carried away by temptation; he studies things to know them clearly and
penetrate to their raison d'etre; he understands things as they really are,
ultimately attaining the truth.
upholding truth; he establishes and maintains himself firmly in the
truth that he has clearly known and seen with wisdom. Sacca ranges from
being truthful in speech, being true to principles and having integrity in
deeds, to [realizing] the highest truth.
fostering relinquishment; he fosters or increases his relinquishment to
ever greater heights to prevent or restrain himself from becoming enslaved
by any fame, fortune or success, for example, that he may acquire, which
keep luring him into attachment, pride and delusion; he can relinquish
whatever he has previously been attached to-ranging from material
possessions to mental defilements-that is mistaken, false or wrong.
calming the mind; he knows how to find peace in his mind; he trains to
be able to overcome mental defilements and remove the frustration and
confusion resulting from them; he makes his mind calm and clear so that it
can experience the taste of peace; having known the taste of happiness that
arises from the calmed mind, he is not easily infatuated with material
possessions, status, or fame.
9. THE SUCCESSFUL ONE
(A life that advances and succeeds)
desires progress and success in life, be it in the field of education,
occupation or livelihood, is advised to abide by the following principles:
principles of growth:
to practice according to the teachings that guide life to prosperity and
eminence known as the four cakka (the conditions likened to the four wheels
that carry a vehicle to its destination):
Patirupadesavasa: choosing a suitable environment; to choose a
suitable location in which to live, study or work, where there are people
and an environment conducive to learning and betterment in life, to the
pursuit of the truth, virtue and knowledge, and the generation of goodness
Sappurisupassaya: associating with good people; to seek
association or alliance with people who are learned and virtuous and who
will support one's pursuit of the truth, virtue and knowledge, and one's
advancement and growth in a rightful way.
Attasammapanidhi: establishing oneself rightly; to establish
oneself firmly in virtue and a right way of life; to establish a clear and
virtuous goal for one's life and work, and set oneself resolutely and firmly
on the right path to that goal, not wavering or being negligent.
Pubbekatapunnata: having a good "capital foundation"; one portion
of this capital foundation comprises innate qualities such as intelligence,
aptitude and a healthy body; the other is, on the basis of that foundation,
knowing how to rectify or improve oneself, to seek further knowledge, to
strengthen good qualities and to train oneself in preparation for when these
qualities are needed, to be ready to welcome success, to bring about welfare
and happiness and to advance to even greater heights.
principles of success:
practicing according to the four conditions that lead to the success of any
undertaking, known as the iddhipada (pathways to success):
having a heart of zeal; to be keen to do something, and to do it for the
love of it; to wish to bring an activity or task to its optimum fruition,
not simply doing it to get it out of the way or merely for reward or
doing with effort; to be diligent and apply oneself to a task with
effort, fortitude, patience and perseverance, not abandoning it or becoming
discouraged, but striving ever onward until success is attained.
committing oneself to the task; to establish one's attention on the task
in hand and do it thoughtfully, not allowing the mind to wander; to apply
one's thought to the matter regularly and consistently and do the task or
using wise investigation; to diligently apply wise reflection to examine
cause and effect within what one is doing and to reflect on, for example,
its pros and cons, gains and shortcomings or obstructions. This can be
achieved by experimenting, planning and evaluating results, and devising
solutions and improvements in order to manage and carry out the activity in
hand so as to achieve better results.
applied to the work situation, for example, these four conditions may, in
short, be remembered as love of work, tenacity, dedication and
conditions effectuating enlightenment: to follow the Buddha's example by conducting oneself in accordance
with the two qualities that enabled the Buddha to attain his own
enlightenment (sambodhi), known as the virtues which the Buddha
himself practiced and saw the benefit of (upannata-dhamma):
Asantutthita kusalesu dhammesu:
non-contentment with wholesome qualities; knowing no satiation, never
having enough, of generating virtue and performing good works.
Appativanita ca padhanasmim:
unrelenting effort; striving forward constantly, not retreating;
refusing to give in or become discouraged in the face of obstacles,
weariness and difficulties.
10. THE SHREWD BREADWINNER
(A life that is well founded)
abiding by the following principles, a person can be said to know how to
acquire and use wealth (i.e., to be money wise), to be a good breadwinner,
and to have established himself and used his wealth beneficially-he is one
who performs his economic duties properly:
the level of seeking and safeguarding wealth: practicing according to the principles that
lead to immediate benefit, or that aid in the attainment of basic benefit,
known as the four ditthadhammikattha-samvattanika-dhamma:
Utthana-sampada: endowment of industry; he is energetic and
applies himself to his duties and making an honest living; he trains so that
he acquires skills and true knowledge; he wisely scrutinizes [his
undertakings] and seeks skillful means to manage and conduct his work for
Arakkha-sampada: endowment of protection; he knows how to protect
from risk and loss the wealth and fruits of his labor, gained through his
own honest efforts.
Kalyanamittata: association with good friends; he discerns which
people are worth associating with and which not, and does not associate with
or emulate those who would lead him downward, but associates with, studies
and emulates people who are learned, worthy, capable, honorable and endowed
with qualities that are helpful to his livelihood.
Samajivita: balanced life-style; he keeps track of his income and
expenditure and lives within his means so that he is neither deprived nor
extravagant, and has income left over for saving.
the level of allotting wealth:
having acquired wealth, he knows how to allot it into four portions,
according to the principles for dividing wealth known as the four
bhoge bhunjeyya: one portion to be used for supporting himself and his
dependents and for good causes.
kammam payojaye: two portions to be used for investment.
Catutthanca nidhapeyya: another portion to be put aside for future
the level of using wealth:
it should always be borne in mind that the acquisition, protection and
possession of wealth are for the purpose of creating benefit for both
oneself and others. If wealth is not used to create benefit, its acquisition
and possession are of no value or meaning. Thus, when one owns or acquires
wealth, one should use the first portion as given in B. above in accordance
with the five benefits to be derived from wealth, or reasons a noble
disciple should hold to for acquiring and possessing wealth (bhogadiya),
as described in the Buddha's words:
acquired wealth through the sweat of his own brow and the strength of his
own arms, honestly and rightfully, a noble disciple:
himself, his parents, children, wife and dependents and sees to their
his friends and associates and sees to their comfort.
- Uses it
to safeguard his well-being and to make himself secure and free from
sacrifice; that is, he gives offerings as support and oblations, in the
Nati-bali: supporting relatives.
(2) Atithi-bali: receiving guests.
(3) Pubbapeta-bali: making merit or offerings in dedication to
(4) Raja-bali: supporting the government through taxes, etc.
(5) Devata-bali: making offerings to the deities; that is,
contributions made in accordance with his faith.
those monks and priests who are virtuous and free of heedlessness and
wealth in this way, even if it has been exhausted he can still rest assured
that the wealth has been rightfully used for beneficial purposes, while if
it increases he can also feel at ease; thus he is free of remorse in either
of wealth through these five channels is mentioned with a view to
enumerating the ways in which wealth should be spent so that one learns how
to use it. It is not implied that an equal portion of wealth should be
assigned to each. Moreover, this teaching points specifically to expenditure
on a regular basis; those who are able should create further benefit in
accordance, for example, with the principles for helpful integration (sangaha-vatthu)
given in Chapter 4.
11. THE IDEAL HOUSEHOLDER
(A perfect home life)
A person who
can be said to have achieved success in domestic life as a good householder,
who is worthy of respect and emulation, can be measured by the following
Possessing the four kinds of happiness: these are the four kinds of happiness that are fitting for a
householder, or that lay people should always make efforts to attain. They
are briefly known as the four kinds of happiness for a householder (kamabhogi-sukha):
Atthi-sukha: the happiness of possessing wealth; the pride,
satisfaction and security of having wealth, rightfully acquired through the
sweat of his own brow and the strength of his own arms.
Bhoga-sukha: the happiness of spending wealth; the pride and
satisfaction of knowing that he has used his wealth, rightfully gained, for
the support of himself, his family and his dependents and for good causes.
Anana-sukha: the happiness of freedom from debt; the pride and
satisfaction of knowing that he is free, not indebted to anybody.
Anavajja-sukha: the happiness of blameless conduct; the pride and
satisfaction of knowing that he has acted honestly, faultlessly and
blamelessly in body, speech and mind.
these four kinds of happiness, the last is the most valuable.
Being a model householder:
people who live the household life can be divided into several groups and
classified into various levels. There are both bad and good, and the good
can in turn be divided into several levels. The ideal householder, who is
truly worthy of respect, is the tenth of the following ten kinds of
group: acquiring wealth through wrongful means [a minus]:
acquired wealth, they do not use it to support themselves in comfort [a
minus], and they do not share it with others or use it for good causes [a
minus] (bad on all three counts).
acquired wealth, they use it to support themselves in comfort [a plus], but
they do not share it with others or use it for good causes [a minus] (bad on
two counts, good on one).
acquired wealth, they use it to support themselves in comfort [a plus], and
they share it with others and use it for good causes [a plus] (bad on one
count, good on two).
group: acquiring wealth both rightfully [a plus] and wrongfully [a
acquired wealth, they deal with it as in point 1 (bad on three counts, good
acquired wealth, they deal with it as in point 2 (bad on two counts, good on
acquired wealth, they deal with it as in point 3 (bad on one count, good on
group: acquiring wealth rightfully [a plus]:
acquired wealth, they deal with it as in point 1 (bad on two counts, good on
acquired wealth, they deal with it as in point 2 (bad on one count, good on
acquired wealth, they deal with it as in point 3. However, they are still
attached to, infatuated and obsessed with wealth, using it without full
awareness of its drawbacks, and they lack the wisdom that leads to
independence from and mastery over wealth [a minus] (bad on one count, good
group: one who acquires wealth rightfully and uses it mindfully and
comprehendingly, with a mind that is detached, has the following
acquired wealth rightfully [a plus], he supports himself comfortably [a
plus], shares it with others and uses it for good causes [a plus]. Moreover,
he is not obsessed or infatuated with wealth, but uses it with full
knowledge and awareness of its benefits and faults, its merits and demerits;
he has the wisdom that frees him, making him master of his wealth [a plus].
tenth kind of householder was commended by the Buddha as the most excellent
kind of person, praiseworthy on all four counts, a model householder.
Governing life with four qualities:
he practices according to the four qualities for leading the household life,
known as the gharavasadhamma:
he adheres to truth, integrity, honesty, sincerity; he is as good as his
word; he ensures that his actions are trustworthy and reliable.
training; he disciplines and restrains himself; he adjusts himself to
conditions and corrects and improves himself so as to be constantly
endurance; he applies himself to doing his work with diligence and
effort; he is tenacious and endures without wavering; he is firm in his aim
and does not become discouraged.
sacrifice; he is thoughtful and generous; he helps others and performs
good works; he relinquishes greed and pride and is able to work with others
without being narrow-minded, selfish, or insisting on having things his own
Accepting responsibility for one's dependents: he has good and harmonious relations within
the family, among relatives, friends, work associates and all of his
dependents, by not only seeing to their material needs but also bringing
mental benefit into their lives, by being an example to them and encouraging
them in growth with the virtues known as the five qualities leading to noble
in faith: encouraging them to have firm belief and faith in the Triple
Gem [Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha; the Teacher, the Teaching and the Community
of Noble Disciples] and in performing good deeds, to have a solid object of
faith in their hearts.
in morality: encouraging them to have good conduct, to be honest and
maintain good livelihood and to be disciplined and well-mannered.
in learning: encouraging them to acquire knowledge through learning and
hearing, by advising them or encouraging them to learn those things that
will revive and improve their lives and minds.
in giving: encouraging them to be generous, to be thoughtful to one
another and to derive satisfaction in helping their fellow man.
in wisdom: encouraging them to be reflective, to understand reason, to
know good from evil, benefit from harm, what is useful from what is not; to
see things as they really are; to be judicious, and to use their wisdom to
investigate causes and conditions, solve problems and perform and carry out
their tasks effectively.
Conducting oneself as a good citizen: leading oneself and one's family to prosperity and happiness, and
being a constructive member of the society, by practicing the following:
sadharanadarassa: not being promiscuous or preoccupied with sex.
bhunje sadhumekako: not selfishly taking all the tasty morsels for
seve lokayatikam: not wasting time arguing about worthless things.
Silava: having good conduct and discipline; being established in the
Vattasampanno: performing one's duties regularly and completely.
Appamatto: not being heedless, but energetic at all times.
Vicakkhano: being judicious, doing things with wisdom.
Nivatavutti atthaddho: being polite, not stubborn or arrogant; being
open to the opinions of others.
Surato: being modest; possessing a love of refinement, cleanliness
Sakhilo mudu: having pleasant speech; being gentle in both deeds and
Sangaheta ca mittanam: being kind and generous to one's friends.
Samvibhagi: sharing with and helping people in general.
Vidhanava: managing one's duties efficiently and effectively.
Tappeyya: supporting the learned and virtuous monks.
Dhammakamo: loving truth; esteeming virtue.
Sutadharo: having read and heard much; thoroughly knowing one's
Paripucchako: possessing an inquiring mind, seeking ever more
person who is not heedless or so enraptured by life and the world that he is
enslaved by them-"deceived by the world, drunk on life," as it were-is one
who is mindful, who knows how to look and investigate, and knows the right
attitude to adopt to the truths that exist inherently in life and this world
as the natural course of things, as follows:
A. Knowing the ways of the world: he reflects on, understands and establishes mindfulness properly in
relation to the ever-changing conditions in life within the world known as
the eight loka-dhamma (norms of the world, or normal conditions which
repeatedly visit worldly beings, and by which worldly beings are constantly
being spun around):
These eight worldly conditions are divided into two sides, those that are
pleasant, desirable and generally aspired to, known as ittharammana,
and those that are distressing, undesirable, and generally abhorred, known
as anittharammana. Regardless of whether they are liked or not, these
eight worldly conditions can arise for everyone, be they unlearned and
unenlightened or learned and enlightened, the only difference lying in the
way each person responds to and acts on them. That is to say:
unenlightened beings do not know or understand the true nature of worldly
conditions and so they mindlessly rejoice and lament over them: whenever
they win they become indulgent and vainglorious, and whenever they lose they
become sad and despondent, or even deranged. They let worldly conditions
control their lives and overwhelm their minds, so that they are forever
experiencing ups and downs and do not transcend sorrow.
noble disciples know how to reflect on worldly conditions and see their true
nature: that all things that arise, whatever they may be, are without
exception unstable, impermanent, imperfect and naturally subject to change.
Thus they do not mindlessly indulge in pleasant experiences (ittharammana)
or become saddened or depressed on account of unpleasant experiences (anittharammana);
they abide with mindfulness and equilibrium, neither indulging in happiness
nor being overwhelmed by suffering.
noble disciple may make use of worldly conditions. For example, he may use
undesirable experiences as lessons, tests or exercises for training in his
own self-development, or use desirable experiences as opportunities or tools
for constructive action and the furtherance of beneficial activities.
Ignoring no divine messengers:
he reflects on the states that always arise among humankind, which are
reminders of the natural course of life, something not to be heedlessly
indulged in. These states are known as the five deva-duta (the
harbingers or heralds of the Lord of Death):
newborn baby: [reminds us] that when we are born this is all we are.
- An old
person: [reminds us] that all people, if they live long enough, will
have to experience this.
- A sick
or injured person: [reminds us] that this condition may arise for any of
prisoner: [reminds us] that bad deeds cause misery and suffering even in
this very life, let alone after death.
- A dead
person: [reminds us] that death awaits all of us; no one can escape it,
and no one knows for certain where and when it will happen.
see these phenomena-as when we enter a cemetery, a prison or a hospital-we
should not become depressed over or afraid of them, but establish
mindfulness, and reflect on them with wisdom so that we are roused to bring
forth wholesome actions and lead lives that are free of intoxication and
Reflecting on the formula of life:
even when he does not see the "divine messengers," he should constantly
reflect according to the five subjects that all people, male or female, lay
followers or monastics, should constantly bear in mind (abhinha-paccavekkhana):
Jaradhammata: we are subject to aging and cannot escape it.
Byadhidhammata: we are subject to pain and illness and cannot escape
Maranadhammata: we are subject to death and cannot escape it.
Piyavinabhavata: we must inevitably be separated from all people and
things that we love.
Kammassakata: we have kamma as our own; whatever deeds we do, be they
good or evil, of those we will surely be the heirs.
reflecting in this way helps to prevent infatuation with youth, possessions
and life, alleviating heedlessness and attachment, preventing evil actions
and inspiring us to quickly work for goodness and benefit.
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