by Nina van Gorkom | 1999 | 122,172 words

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Chapter 36 - Wholesome Deeds

As we have seen, nineteen sobhana cetasikas accompany each sobhana citta. In order to perform wholesome deeds the kusala citta needs the assistance of at least these nineteen cetasikas. It needs confidence in kusala, mindfulness which is non-forgetful of kusala, shame which shrinks from akusala and fear of blame which fears its consequences. Each kusala citta has to be rooted in the two beautiful roots, sobhana hetus, of non-attachment, alobha, and non-aversion, adosa. Moreover, there has to be equanimity or mental balance, there has to be calm of cetasikas and calm of citta.

There have to be the other "pairs" of mental lightness, pliancy, workableness, proficiency and uprightness, so that there is suppleness and proficiency in the performing of good deeds.[1]

In addition to the nineteen sobhana cetaikas which accompany each sobhana citta, there are, as we have seen, six other sobhana cetasikas which do not accompany each sobhana citta.

These are the three abstinences of right speech, right action and right livelihood, compassion, sympathetic joy and understanding. Thus, there are twenty-six sobhana cetasikas in all. The three abstinences, compassion and sympathetic joy arise when there is an opportunity for them. Understanding does not accompany each sobhana citta, but for mental development, which includes samatha and vipassana, understanding is indispensable. Each sobhana cetasika has its own function to perform while it assists the kusala citta. Learning about these sobhana cetasikas will help us to see that good qualifies do not belong to a self.

It is not "I" who is generous, who has kindness or compassion, they are sobhana cetasikas which assist the kusala citta.

We would like to have kusala citta more often but akusala cittas are bound to arise so long as the latent tendencies to akusala have not been eradicated. The eradication of defilements is the goal of the Buddha's teachings and this can be realized through the development of insight. Right understanding should be developed together with all other good qualities.

The Buddha, when he was still a Bodhisatta, developed right understanding together with all other kinds of wholesomeness, he developed the wholesome qualities which are the "perfections" (paramis)[2], during innumerable lives so that in his last life he could attain Buddhahood. This reminds us not to neglect the development of any kind of kusala for which there is an opportunity.

We have learnt about the twenty five sobhana cetasikas, but now we should apply our knowledge in daily life. when we learn more in detail about the opportunities for the performing of good deeds there are conditons for using such opportunities. Good deeds can be classified as generosity (dana, morality (sila) and mental development (bhavana). The Atthasalini (I, Book I, Part N, Chapter VIII, 157) gives, with regard to kusala cittas of the sense-sphere, maha-kusala-cittas, a tenfold classification of good deeds, namely as the "ten bases of meritorious deeds" (Punna-kiriya-vatthus).

Learning about these aspects is beneficial for the practice of kusala, we read in the Atthasalini about the following "bases of meritorious deeds":

  1. charity or generosity
  2. virtue or morality
  3. culture or mental development
  4. respect
  5. dutifulness or helpfulness
  6. sharing one's merit
  7. thanksgiving or appreciation of someone else's good deeds
  8. teaching Dhamma
  9. listening to Dhamma
  10. rectification of opinion (common of one's views)

As regards the first "base" or way of kusala, generosity, this is the giving away of useful things or things which give pleasure. True generosity is diffcult; while we are giving, there are not kusala cittas all the time, and our motives for giving may not all be pure. Akusala cittas tend to arise in between the kusala cittas, for example, when we wish for a pleasant result, such as a happy rebirth or a good name. we may give because we like to be popular, or we may give with attachment to the receiver. we may give out of fear, we are afraid of other people's opinion and hope to gain their favours by our gifts. Stinginess may arise, we regret getting rid of our money.

We understand that we cannot take out possessions with us when we die, but since we have accumulated stinginess it tends to arise, we should remember that life is short and that when there is an opportunity for giving we should use it in order to combat selfishness. In this way the inclination to generosity can be accumulated. We read in the Commentary to the "Cariyapitaka" (the Paramatthadipani VII)[3], which deals with the "perfections" the Bodhisatta accumulated, that the Bodhisatta considered the perfection of generosity as follows:

Surely, I have not been accustomed to giving in the past. therefore a desire to give does not arise now in my mind. So that my mind will delight in giving in the future, I will give a gift. With an eye for the future let me now relinquish what I have to those in need.

Further on we read in the same commentary:

When the Great Being is giving a gift, and he sees the loss of the object being given, he reflects thus: "This is the nature of material possessions, that they are subject to loss and to passing away. Moreover, it is because I did not give such gifts in the past that my possessions are now depleted. Let me then the whatever I have as a gift, whether it be limited or abundant. In that way I will, in the future, reach the peak in the perfection of of giving. "

The Atthasalini explains in the section on "charity", that there can be volition (kamma) which is kusala before the actual giving, namely when one produces the things to be given, at the time of making the gift, and afterwards when one recollects it 'With joyful heart'. Thus, giving can be an occasion for kusala cittas in three different periods: before, during and after the giving. It is useful to know that we can recollect our giving afterwards with kusala citta. However, we have to know the difference between kusala citta and akusala citta, otherwise we are likely to take attachment to our kusala or to the pleasant feeling which may arise for kusala. when we are honest with ourselves we, can notice that before, during and after the giving there are nor kusala cittas all the time, that there are also akusala cittas arising. Instead of being discouraged about akusala there can be mindfulness of it.

This is the way to know that it is only a conditioned reality, not self. Before the actual giving we may get tired when we have to buy or prepare the gift and then aversion is likely to arise. While we are giving the gift the receiver may be ungrateful and not respond to our gift in the way we expected and then we may be disappointed. However, when we have right Understanding of what kusala is we will be less inclined to mind the reactions of someone else. Kusala is kusala and nobody can change the kusala citta which arises. Before we learnt about the Buddha's teachings we did not consider generosity in this way. We used to pay attention merely to the outward appearance of deeds, we thought of people, of their reactions.

Through the Dhamma we learn to investigate the cittas which motivate our deeds, we learn to see realities as they are. Also the recollection of our generosity after the giving can be disturbed by the arising of defilements such as stinginess. Generosity can only become perfected through the development of right understanding of nama and rupa. The sotapanna (streamwinner) has eradicated the wrong view of self and also stinginess. Thus he has perfect generosity, stinginess cannot arise again.

When we perform acts of generosity, the objects which can be given are the objects which can be experienced through the six doors. The Atthasalini (I, Book I, Part II, 77) illustrates the giving of colour with a story about the treasurer of King Dutthagamani who presented a dress embroidered with gold at the great shrine, saying, "This dress is golden in appearance, the Supreme Buddha is also golden in appearance; the golden cloth suits the Golden One, and it will be our gift of colour. " With the intention to make an offering of sound one can offer a musical instrument such as a drum to the Triple Gem. With the intention to make a gift of flavour one may offer, for example, a root with a captivating flavour.

We read in the same section of the Atthasalini that, when someone makes the gift with his own hands it is an act through the body. When he tells his relatives or friends to present his offering it is an act of speech. When he is considering to make a gift it is an act of thought. Afterwards he will do what is necessary by act or speech in order to accomplish his intention.

The Atthasalini (in the same section, 77) explains that, when someone in giving gifts observes the tradition of his family or observes usage, the giving is accomplished by sila, morality. Observing rules of tradition which are the foundation of wholesome conduct is sila. Even when one does not have things to give there can still be accomplishment of generosity. Another one of the ten "bases" which is also a way of generosity is the "base of thanksgiving" or rejoicing in someone else's kusala. In order to be able to apply ourselves to this way of kusala we should understand the benefit of kusala. When we have confidence ourselves in generosity, in the observance of morality and in the development of insight, we can appreciate these ways of kusala in someone else.

We can appreciate the good qualities of someone else and express our appreciation in words so that others may also rejoice in such qualities. When we appreciate someone else's kusala there is generosity, envy does not arise at such moments. When we know about this way of generosity we may remember to speak with kusala citta about the good qualities of other people instead of saying unpleasant things about them.

There is still another way of generosity and this is the "base" which is the "sharing of one's merit". We cannot transfer to others the kusala we perform nor the result it will produce; each person receives the results of his own good deeds. However, we can by performing good deeds be a condition for other people to have kusala cittas as well, namely, when they rejoice in our good deeds. In this way we can "share merit" with others, even with beings in other planes of existence, provided they are in planes where they are able to receive this benefit.

The commentary to the "Without the Walls" sutta (the "Illustrator of Ultimate Meaning", paramatthajotika, commentary to the "Minor Readings", Khuddakapatha) narrates that King Bimbisara offered a meal to the Buddha and omitted to dedicate his gift to other beings. Ghosts who were his relatives in a former life had hoped for this in vain and because of disappointment and despair they made a horrible screeching in the night. The Buddha explained why the ghosts had screeched. Then King Bimbisara made again an offering and did not omit to make the dedication, "Let this be for those relatives".

The ghosts benefited from his gifts immediately, they had kusala cittas and their suffering was allayed. Lotus-covered pools were generated for them in which they could bathe and drink, and they took on the colour of gold. Moreover, heavenly food, heavenly clothing and heavenly palaces were generated for them. This story illustrates that one can share one's merit with beings who are departed. If one's departed relatives are not able to receive this benefit other beings can. The sutta which has been explained in the commentary ends with the following words:

Give gifts then for departed ones,
Recalling what they used to do.
No weeping nor yet sorrowing,
Nor any Kind of mourning, aids
Departed Ones, whose kin remain '
(Unhelpful to them, acting) thus.
But when this offering is given
Well placed in the Community
For them, then it can serve them long ,
In future and at once as well.
The true Idea[4] for relatives has thus been shown,
And how high honour to deported ones is done,
And how the bhikkhus can be given strength as well,
And how great merit can be stored away by you.

It is understandable that we are sad when we lose beloved ones, but if we know how to develop what is wholesome it can be a great consolation. Instead of sadness and aversion there can be kusala citta when we dedicate our good deeds to all those who are able to rejoice in it. It can become our custom to share wholesomeness with others.

It is a Buddhist custom when a meal or robes are offered to the monks to pour water over one's hands while the monks recite words of blessing, in order to give expression to one's intention to dedicate this deed to other beings. The water is like a river which fills the ocean and even so a wholesome deed is so plentiful that it can be shared with others.

Some of the ten bases of meritorious deeds" are included in morality, sila. Abstinence from iII deeds is sila. There is abstinence from akusala kamma through the body and this is abstinence from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. There is abstinence from akusala kamma through speech and this is abstinence from lying, slandering, rude speech and idle talk. When we commit wrong deeds far the sake of our livelihood, there h wrong livelihood. When we abstain from wrong livelihood there is right livelihood. As we have seen (in chapter 32), the three sobhana cetasikas which are abstinence from wrong speech, abstinence from wrong action and abstinence from wrong livelihood perform their functions in assisting the kusala citta while there is an occasion for abstaining from evil conduct.

Sila is not only abstaining from what should not be done, it is also observing what should be done, we can observe moral precepts which are the foundation of wholesome conduct. A layman can make a resolution to observe them. He makes the resolution to undertake the rule of training to abstain from the following unwholesome deeds:

  1. killing living beings
  2. stealing
  3. sexual misbehaviour
  4. lying
  5. the taking of intoxcants such as alcoholic drinks

It is Buddhist custom for laypeople to recite the five precepts when they are assembled in a temple on specal occasions. When one recites them with a sincere inclination there is an opportunity for wholesomeness. Conditions are accumulated for wholesome conduct, for observing the precepts also when one is in difficult circumstances which make it hard to observe theft. Morality can be considered also under the aspect of generosity, as a form of giving, because when we give up defilements it is also for the benefit and happiness of other beings; we let them live in safety and in peace. When we abstain from killing we give the gift of life. When we see morality as a gift of kindness to others and as a way to have less selfishness we can be inspired to observe it.

As regards abstinence from slandering, rude speech and idle talk, these are not among the five precepts for laypeople. However, engaging in these kinds of speech is akusala whereas abstaining from them is kusala kamma, we are inclined to be heedless with regard to abstinence from wrong speech. When others speak in an unpleasant way about people we may find it hard not to join in the conversation. Or we may find abstinence of useless, idle talk a way of morality which h hard to observe, so long as one is not an arahat there are still opportunities for speaking with akusala citta. In the development of wholesomeness one has to be farsighted. we should realize that what we accumulate today wholesotmeness or unwholesomeness, can have its effects in the future, even in future lives.

We can become more clever in evaluating the circumstances we are in, and the friends we have we will be able to judge whether surroundings and friends are favourable for the development of wholesomeness or not. We will know what kind of speech should be avoided, what kind of speech is helpful. since we will be engaged h1 conversation with others anyway we should learn how we can rum the conversation into an opportunity for wholesomeness. We may remember the way of generosity which is appreciation of other people's kusala while we speak. or when the conversation tends to be idle talk about pleasant objects, such as good food, nice weather or journeys, there is an opportunity for sympathetic joy.

We can rejoice in other people's good fortune of receiving pleasant objects. We should, however, know when the citta is kusala circa and when akusala citta. otherwise we may erroneously think that there is the sobhana cetasika of sympathetic joy when there is actually attachment.

The Visuddhimagga (Chapter I) dealt with many aspects of sila. For the monks there is the observance of the rules of the order of monks (Patimokkha). It is difficult to observe morality perfectly for a layman; he may find himself in circumstances where it is hard not to neglect morality. He may be tempted to kill insects in house and garden, to evade taxes or to accept bribes. The person who has accumulated inclinations for the monkhood leaves his home for the homeless life h order to observe morality perfectly and to lead a life of non-violence and of contentment with little. The monk should not delight in gain and honour.

He should not give hints nor use other means of scheming in order to obtain the requisites of robes, food, dwelling and medicines, and this is training in livelihood purification, which is an aspect of sila mentioned in the Visuddhimagga. Another aspect of sila is reflecting wisely on the use of the requisites.

The monk should train himself not to be attached to the requisites but he should know that they are not for pleasure, that they are to be used for his health and comfort. Thus he can dedicate himself to the study and teaching of Dhamma and the development of right understanding. Also laypeople can reflect wisely, for example, on food, while they are eating. Food is most of the time an object of attachment and it can also be an object of aversion. There may be moments that we reflect wisely, with kusala circa, on the use of food: food can be considered as a medicine for the body. Then we will be less inclined to indulge in food.

Overeating leads to laziness. Another aspect of sila mentioned by the Visuddhimagga[5] is 'virtue of restraint of the sense faculties". We read in this section a quotation from the "MiddIe Length sayings" 1, 27, the "Lesser Discourse on the simile of the Elephant's Footprint". The text states:

... On seeing a visible object with the eye, he apprehends neither the signs nor the particulars through which, if he left the eye faculty unguarded, evil and unprofitable states of covetousness and grief might invade him. he enters upon the way of its restraint, he guards the eye faculty, undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty...

The same is said of the other five doors. When there is mindfuIness of one reality at a time as it presents itself through one of the six doors, there is the observance of sila, good moral conduct. Moreover, the understanding is being developed which can eradicate defilements, lf one separates the observance of sila from the development of insight sila cannot become enduring. If one does not develop insight defilements can be temporarily subdued but not eradicated.

Through the development of right understanding sila can become more perfected. As we have seen, the three cetasikas which are the "abstinences" arise only one at a time when they accompany kusala circa which is not lokuttara but lokiya, "mundane". When enlightenment is attained all three of them accompany the lokuttara circa. At the moment of the path-consciousness, magga-citta, there is "abstinence by way of eradication"; that is the function of the three factors of right speech, right action and right livelihood of the eightfold Path which is lokuttara. Tendencies to evil conduct are eradicated at the subsequent stages of enlightenment, until they are all eradicated at the attainment of arahatship.

The paying of respect to those who deserve respect is another one of the "bases of meritorious deeds" and this is included in sila. Respect is due to monks, novices, parents, teachers and elderly people. We can express respect and politeness through our conduct in body and speech. We may have selfish motives when we are polite, for example when we wish for a good reputation or when we want to obtain favours. That is not the way of kusala which is respect.

We can pay respect with kusala circa, and then respect is sincere. We should pay respect to the monks because they have left their homes for the homeless life in order to strive after the virtues of the ariyans. The goal of monkhood is arahatship and thus the monks can remind us of the virtues of the ariyan Sangha, even if they are not arahats. Laypeople can pay respect to monks by clasping their hands and bowing their head, or by prostrating the body and touching the floor with the forehead, the forearms and knees. When one shows one's respect in this way one should do it thoughtfully and sincerely, remembering that this is another opportunity for kusala citta.

We may pay respect to the Triple Gem in prostrating before a Buddha statue and reciting words of praise while we think of the excellent qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. However, there are not kusala cittas all the time. When we experience some bodily discomfort akusala cittas with aversion tend to ante. Or we may think of other things with attachment or aversion, we should know the difference between kusala citta and akusala citta, they arise because of their own conditions and they are not self. While we are reciting words of praise to the Triple Gem there can be mindfulness of realities which appear, even if these are akusala dhammas.

Mindfulness of whatever reality appears is the best way of respect we can give to the Buddha since we then follow what he taught. we read in the Dhammapada (verse 109)[6] about the fruits of Paying respect :

  • He of respectful nature who
  • Gives the elders honouring,
  • Four qualifies for him increase:
  • Long-life and beauty, happiness and strength.

The "base of meritorious action" which is dutifulness or helpfulness is also an aspect of sila. When there are opportunities for helping others we tend to be lazy and forgetful, we are slow in our reactions instead of responding quickly to the needs of someone else. For example, when we are reading an interesting book we may not be inclined to get up and help someone who needs help. If we remember that these are many ways of helping others, that even helping in small matters is beneficial, there will be conditions to use such opportunities for kusala. we may, for example, show someone who got lost the right way, we may help someone in handing him a cup or a dish he needs, or we may help in listening to someone's problems and giving him advice.

Another one of the bases of meritorious deeds is listening to Dhamma and this is included in mental development. When we listen to the Dhamma and study it we learn what is kusala and what akusala, we learn about kamma and vipaka and the way how to develop kusala. Development of calm and of insight starts with listening; there could not be any mental development if one does not know how to apply oneself to it. Listetting to the Dhamma or reading the scriptures and considering what we learnt are conditions for the arising of mindfulness of nama and rupa Although we know that listening to the Dhamma and studying it is beneficial we may be inclined to put it off. we believe that we have too many duties to perform or we are distracted by the enjoyment of pleasant objects. When we really see the usefulness of the study of the Dhamma we can accumulate the inclination to listen to the Dharnma or to read the scriptures. Reading even a few lines at a time can be most beneficial.

Teaching or explaining the Dhamma is another one of the ten "bases of meritorious deeds". Both the person who explains the Dhamma and the listener can benefit, since both are reminded of the truth of Dhamma and of the need to apply the Dhamma. Teaching Dhamma is not easy, one should consider the capacity of the listener to receive the Dhamma. One can start with subject which are more easily understandable such as generosity, and later on explain about the development of understanding which eradicates defilements. It is essential to learn about the ways of developing generosity and to apply them, because if one cannot give up things one possesses how could one give up clinging to self and other defilements.

The Buddha preached to general Siha a graduated discourse on almsgiving, the precepts and on heaven (Gradual Sayings, Book of the Eights, Chapter 2, 2). When the Buddha saw that Siha was ready to receive the teaching of the four noble Truths he taught these to him. The teaching of Dhama should be gradual; in the beginning one does not see the disadvantages of clinging. When one understands the dangers of defilements one wants to learn to develop the way leading to the eradication of defilements.

The gift of Dhamma is the highest gift because through learning the Dhamma one can develop the understanding which eradicates defilements and leads to the end of dukkha. Thus the teaching of Dhamma can also be considered as an aspect of generosity, dana.

Both the development of calm and the development of insight are ways of mental development, the tenth "base of meritorious deeds". As regards calm, this can be developed for the purpose of temporarily subduing defilements. The Visuddhimagga (chapter III-XI) explains how calm can be developed even to the degree of jhana by means of a meditation subject. It is extremely difficult to develop calm to the stage of jhana, but some of the meditation subjects which are dealt with in the visuddhimagga can also be used as recollections in daily life and then they can condition maha-kusala cittas.

The "ten bases of meritorious deeds" are objects of maha-kusala cittas, kusala cittas of the sense-sphere, and, therefore, calm to the degree of jhana is not dealt with in this context by the Atthasalini. Those who have accumulated conditions for the attainment of jhana have first to develop, by means of a meditation subject, calm which accompanies maha-kusala citta. ln order to develop calm we should know when the citta is akusala citta and when kusala citta.

When we have studied the akusala cetasikas and sobhana cetasikas we know in. theory what is akusala citta and what is kusala citta, but we may not be able yet to apply out knowledge in daffy life. We may not know what type of cittta arises at the present moment. There are innumerable moments of clinging after seeing, hearing and the other sense-cognitions, but we do not notice them. When clinging is not as coarse as greed or lust it may pass unnoticed. When we make plans what to do next, when we go somewhere, when we want to get something or when we want a rest in the afternoon there are likely to be countless moments of clinging.

We have learnt that the development of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity in daily life can condition moments of calm, but it is difficult to recognize the characteristic of calm. We may erroneously believe that the citta is kusala citta with calm when it is accompanied by indifferent feeling. However, kusala citta as well as akusala citta can be accompanied by indifferent feeling. It is essential to learn more about our different rinds and this is mental development. When we know the characteristics of true calm which arises with kusala citta, calm can be developed.

As regards vipassana, insight, this is the understanding of realities which can eradicate the latent tendencies of defilements so that they cannot arise again. If we develop good qualities without developing right understanding of realities defilements cannot be eradicated. Akusala cittas are bound to arise time and again, even in between the moments we are performing good deeds. The eradication of defilements is the goal of the Buddha's teachings. For mindfulness of citta and rupa there b an opportunity at any time, but when mindfulness has not been accumulated it does not often arise.

We may become impatient and have aversion when there is lack of mindfulness, but then we should remember tha the moments of awareness and also the moments of forgetfulness arise because of conditions, that they are not self. Moments of ignorance of realities are real, thus, they can also be object of awareness.

One of the "Perfections", the wholesome qualities the Bodhisatta developed, was determination, the resolution to continue developing understanding in whatever situation he was. We read in the commentary to the "Cariyapitaka" (the Paramatthadipani VII).[7]

... For when the Great Man, straining and striving for the fulfilement of the requisites of enlightenment, encounters troubles difficult to endure, depriving him of happiness and his means of support, or when he encounters injuries imposed by beings and formations- difficult to overcome, violent, sapping the vitality- then, since he has surrendered himself the Buddhas, he reflects: "I have relinquished my very Self the Buddhas. Whatever comes, let it come." For this reason he does not waver, does not quake, does not undergo the least vacillation, but remains absolutely unshaken in his determinition to undertake the goad.

When we are in very unpleasant circumstances we find it difficult to be mindful of realities. We lack determination. We want to control the experience of sense objects, we want objects to be pleasant. We forget that the experience of sense objects such as seeing or hearing is vipaka, conditioned by kamma. The realities which appear have been conditioned already and if we learn to be mindful of them there will be less inclination to try to exert control over them. Then there will be more patience and more determination to continue developing right understanding in whatever situation.

The tenth "base of meritorious deeds" is "rectification of view". There are many degrees of this way of wholesomeness. Before we studied the Dhamma we may have considered the enjoyment of pleasant sense objects to be the goal of our life. As we gradually come to see that selfishness leads to unhappiness and that kusala is beneficial bath for ourselves and for others we start to correct our wrong ideas. We may, for example, be absorbed in the enjoyment of something pleasant such as listening to music, but then, when someone else suddenly needs our help, we may realize that it is more beneficial to help someone than to continue being selfish. However, each situation is conditioned and there is no self who can choose what action he will perform in a given situation.

We correct our views when we come to understand that wholesome deeds are kusala kamma which will produce kusala vipaka. We should not cling to pleasant results, that is akusala. Kamma will produce its result, no matter whether we think of it or not. While we are performing good deeds there can be understanding of cause and effect without clinging. We correct our views most of all by developing right understanding of realities. In that way the clinging to the concept of self will decrease, we will be less inclined to take akusala or kusala for self. The "rectification of view" can go together with the other nine "bases of meritorious deeds", thus, with any kind of wholesome action.

The ten "bases of meritorious deeds" are included in generosity, sila and mental development. The Buddha, when he was a Bodhisatta, developed with perseverance all kinds of wholesomeness together with right understanding. He had no selfish purposes but he was truly intent on the happiness of an beings. We read in the Dialogues of the Buddha (III, no. 30, "The Marks of the Superman)" about the good deeds he performed during the lives he was a Bodhisatta, about the results produced by his good deeds, and about the special bodily features which are the "marks" of a Buddha and which are conditioned by these good deeds.

I shall quote some passages which deal with his generosity, his purity of conduct and his wisdom:

... Whereas in whatsoever former birth, former state of becoming, former sojourning, monks, the Tathagata, then being human, took or mighty enterprise in all good things, tack or unfaltering enterprise in all good things, took or unfaltering enterprise in seemly course of deed and word and thought,in dispensing gifts, in virtuous undertakings, in keeping of festivals, in filial dudes to mother and father, in pious duties to recluse and brahmin, in honour of the head of the house and in other such things of lofty merit... (I45)

... Whereas in whatsoever firmer births... the Tathagata, then being human, lived fir the weal of the great multitudes, dispeller of dread and panic, purveyor of just protection and wardenship and giver of supplies... (I48)

... Whereas in farmer birth... the Tathagata, then being human, putting away the taking of like, refrained thereflom and laying the scourge and sword aside, dwelt gentle and compassionate, merciful and friendly to all living creatures... (I49)

... Whereas in whatsoever former birth... the Tathagata. Then being human, drew near and questioned recluse or brahmin, saying: What sir, is good? What is bad What is right, what wrong? What ought I to do, or not to do? What when I have done it will long be for my unhappiness... or for my happiness?... ( I57)

... Whereas in whatsoever former birth... the Tathagata, then being human, lived without wrath, full of serenity, and even when much had been said, fell not foul of anyone, was neither angry, nor malign. nor enraged, manifesting neither anger nor hate nor melancholy, but was a flyer of fine aria sari coverlets. and cloaks, and fine linen, fine cotton, fine silken, fine woollen stuff... (159)

... Whereas in whatsoever former birth... the Tathagata, then being human, grew desirous for the good of the many, for their welfare. their comfort. their safety, considering how they might increase in confidence, in morality. in education, in charity, in righteousness, and in wisdom, might increase in money and corn, in land, in animals two footed and four footed, in wife and children, in servants and slaves, in kinsfolk and fiends and connections.. (I64)

... Whereas in whatsoever former birth... the Tathagata, then being human, put away abusive speech, revolted against abusive Speech, what he heard here not repeating elsewhere, to raise a quarrel against people here: and what he heard elsewhere not repeating here. to raise a quarrel against people there:- thus becoming a binder together of those who are divided, or fostering those who are friends, a peacemaker. lover of concord. impassioned for peace, a speaker of words that make for peace... (I71, I72)

This sutta can encourage us to apply the Buddha's teachings. The Bodhisatta gave us an example to always be eager to listen and to learn to develop all kinds of good qualities and above all to develop understanding of realities, when we read about all to virtues the Bodhisatta accumulated in his farm fives, we can be reminded that the effect of the development of understanding will eventually be to have less defilements, to become less selfish and more generous, to have more genuine concern other people

July 1, 2001

Footnotes and references:


For the "Six Pairs" see Chapter 31


The perfections of generosity, sila, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving kindness and equanimity.


Translated by Ven. Bodhi, included in The All-embracing Net of Views, the Brahmajala Sutta and its commentaries, B.P.S. Kandy, p. 322.


The Dhamma


42 B


I am using the translation by Ven. Khantipalo, in the Buddhist Monk's Discipline, wheel no. 130/131, B.P.s. Kandy


Translated by Ven. Bodhi, included in The All-embracing Net of Views, p. 323.

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