Meththa's Questions - 2

What are the factors that are conducive for one’s happiness [Mangala]? - Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera

He was seated on a rock looking at the flowing water of the river. Meththa ,the young girl approached him once again ,sat beside him and asked ‘ Father, what are you watching?’

'Daughter, I am looking at this water. See, how clear it is. We could see the shells, pebbles and the fish very clearly. It is because the water is clear and it is not dirty.’ The old man answered.

‘So! What ?’ Meththa asked.

We, too as human beings should be pure within us, like this water. We should not be dirty. Our Mind, Body and Speech should be pure. Then we will be happy, not soiled and will progress in life. ’ Said the old man.

‘No, I cannot understand you. How can we, as lay people be so pure and progressive’ cried Meththa.

‘Meththa’ The old man answered. 'It is a long lesson. We shall try to learn step by step. First, We should know the things that are conducive for our happiness.’

‘Oh! In other words, those things that are contributory for one’s welfare and advancement’ Meththa nodded.

‘Precisely!’ Old man’s face was brightened. ‘you know Meththa, Buddha used the term " Mangala" to mean what we discussed now.’

Once when Buddha was staying in Sawatthi, in the Jetha grove at the park of Anathapindika, a radiant deity approached Buddha during mid night, illuminating the entire area with bright light. Having worshiped ,the deity sat beside and spoke to Buddha in this manner.’

"Venerable Sir! Many gods and human beings are pondering about the factors that are contributory for the advancement of their day to day life. The factors that are contributory to achieving the worldly happiness, or what is auspicious for them. Sir, may you with compassion for them spell out these factors."

In response the Buddha set out the following:-

  • Not associating fools,
  • Associating the wise,
  • Respecting the respectable,
  • Living in a suitable environment, area, premises,
  • Having acquired merit in the past,
  • Establishing perfect self – discipline,
  • Having profound knowledge and being learned in their respective arts, crafts, trades or profession ,
  • Having, disciplined and well trained mind, body and speech.,
  • Having words which are well spoken.
  • Respectively attending on one’s mother and the father.
  • Affectionately looking after one’s wife and children.
  • Employment in blameless trades and businesses as a living,
  • Generosity and living a life with high morals,
  • Caring for one’s relatives,
  • Engaging in blameless activities,
  • Avoiding and abstaining from unwholesome acts bodily and by speech.
  • Abstaining from consuming intoxicants,
  • Being conscious of and having no delay in doing wholesome deeds.
  • Paying respect to those who are respectable and being humble,
  • Being contented with what one has and showing gratitude to whom it is due i.e. teachers, parents and elders etc,
  • Listening to the Doctrine of Buddha (Dhamma) at appropriate times,
  • Practising forbearance, patience and obedience,
  • The sight of recluses having wisdom and with no defilements.
  • Having discussions on the Doctrine of Buddha at appropriate times,
  • Abstaining from satisfying the senses in an immoral way and making an effort to live a moral life,
  • Seeing or realising the four Noble truths,
  • Realising Nibbana, attaining Arahath-hood,
  • When affected by worldly conditions, i.e. Profit and loss, praise and blame, fame and ill-repute etc if one’s mind ,
  • doesn’t get purterbed,
  • Is free from sorrow,
  • Is pure and free from lust, hatred and delusion,
  • is secure.

Then the Buddha said "having done what has been said before, wherever they go, in this world or the world beyond, they will be undefeated and be happy. These are the factors that contribute for one’s highest advancement or the Mangala factors for them"

"Interesting! Father does it mean that I have to run away from the fools hereafter" asked Mettha.

"No my dear daughter,some terms need little more clarification. Let me explain briefly some of the most important factors mentioned above."

  • ‘Not to associate fools’ means not to keep company with unintelligent, immoral people who could influence you to think wrongfully, commit unwholesome acts, and to use wrong speech. However you may assist or guide a fool with compassion but never seek his advice.
  • ‘Living in a suitable environment’ includes living in areas which does not habour immoral activities or where one could conveniently engage himself in wholesome activities and which are conducive to leading a life according to the teachings of Buddha.
  • ‘Disciplined’ means having a disciplined mind, body and speech.
  • Well spoken words means
    • Abstaining from lying.
    • Abstaining from harsh words.
    • Not to carry tales.
    • Abstaining from idle chatter and gossip.
  • ‘Looking after the mother and father’ means,
    • to provide food, cloths shelter, medicine and other means of living,
    • Pay more personal attention and support them when they are old.
    • Worshipping, paying homage and respecting them.
    • Living up to their expectations in protecting the family traditions and the inherited wealth.
    • Even after their death one should gift and share the merits gained by him through such gifting with the departed parents.
  • ‘Blameless trades’ means, abstaining from the 5 blameless trades. They are:
    • Selling human beings for slavery.
    • Selling or otherwise dealing in arms and war like materials.
    • Selling poison.
    • Rearing or selling animals for slaughter.
    • Selling intoxicants.
  • Living a moral and good life’ means leading a life with the following restraints.
    • That is abstaining from,

    - killing ,
    - Stealing,
    - indulging in extreme sense pleasures,
    - lying,
    - carrying tales
    - using harsh speech,
    - idle chatter,
    - embracing wrong faiths/views

    • control lust and greed,
    • Non hatred,

"Meththa!, do you remember what I have taught you in regard to the obligations of a husband to his wife and of a father to his children ?’

"Yes, of course!" She answered.

" that is what is meant by ‘Looking after the wife and children’ in this lesson."

"Excellent father, I now understand that it is not impossible for lay people like me to be pure and yet be happy in life.

Meththa knelt down and worshiped the old man and walked away.

Answered in accordance with

‘The way of life’
taught by Buddha.

Compiled by

Major General Ananda Weerasekera.
from Mangala Sutta – Digha Nikaya

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