Meththa's Questions - 1

How to win This world - Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera

Mettha, a young lady in Sri Lanka, born to an aristocratic family with mixed religious and cultural values, began to quench her thirst by searching for the truth of "True Values of a lay person."

One day she met an old-man who was studying the old scripts on early Buddhism.

‘Father!’ She spoke to him. "Please tell me how to win this world, as a lay person?"

"Listen, my loving daughter, I shall teach you what the Buddha taught us in this connection."

Two thousand five hundred years ago, when Gauthama Buddha was staying at Rajagaha, one of the major cities then in India, at the Squirrel’s Feeding Place, in one of the Bamboo Groves saw Sigalaka, a young boy paying homage to all directions early in the morning.

‘Son, why are you paying homage to the six directions this morning?’ the Buddha asked.

‘Venerable Sir, my father, when he was dying told me to do so and out of respect for my father’s words, which I honour and hold sacred, I have got up early this morning and pay homage to all six directions.’

Then the Buddha explained, ‘Son, that is not the right way to pay homage to the six directions according to the discipline of the Noble Disciplined People. Listen carefully Son, pay attention, and I shall teach you.’

‘Yes Venerable Sir’ said Sigalaka.

‘Son it is,

  • By abandoning the Four unwholesome actions,
  • By not doing evil from the Four causes,
  • By not following the Six ways of wasting one’s wealth,

through avoiding these fourteen evil ways one becomes a conqueror of both worlds, so that all will go well with him in this world and the next world and after death he will go to a good destiny, a heavenly world.

The four unwholesome actions are,

  • Destroying living beings,
  • Taking what is not given,
  • Indulging in sexual misconduct,
  • Lying speech

These are the four unwholesome actions that one should abandon.

‘Taking life and stealing, lying,
Adultery, the wise reprove.’

The four causes of evil are the causes by which one is taken through a wrong course of life. One should refrain from these. They are :

  • Evil action springs from attachment
  • Evil action springs from ill-will
  • Evil action springs from fear
  • Evil action springs from delusion

Son, the Buddha said, Noble Disciplined People’ do not act out of attachment, ill-will, fear or delusion. They will not do any evil from any one of the four causes.

"Desire and hatred, fear and folly,
He who breaks the law through these,
Loses all his fair repute,
Like the moon at waning-time
Desire and hatred, fear and folly,
He who never yields to these,
Grows in goodness and repute
Like the moon at waxing time."

‘Son! there are six ways of wasting one’s wealth’ the Buddha spoke again.

‘Yes Sir, please teach me’ Sigalaka showed his interest.

‘Listen Son, I shall teach you the six ways of wasting one’s wealth. The Disciplined People do not follow,

  • Addiction to strong drink and sloth producing drugs.
  • Haunting the streets at unfitting times.
  • Frequently attending fairs and festivals.
  • Being addicted to gambling.
  • Association with unwise people.
  • Habitual idleness.

There are six dangers attached to addiction to strong drink and sloth-producing drugs.

  • Destruction of one’s wealth
  • Involvement in increased quarrelling
  • Prone to various sicknesses
  • Subject to disgrace and loss of good name
  • Subject to indecent exposure of one’s person
  • Weakening of the intellect

There are six dangers attached to haunting and loitering the streets at unfitting times.

  • One becomes defenceless and without protection,
  • One’s wife and children too become defenceless and unprotected
  • One’s wealth and property becomes defenceless and unprotected
  • Likelyhood of one being suspected of criminal and unwholesome activity
  • Likelyhood of one being subject to false allegations
  • One is subjected to encounter various unpleasant incidents.

There are six dangers attached to frequenting fairs and festivals

One is constantly thinking as follows :

  • Where are the places for dancing ?
  • Where are the places for sing-song?
  • Where are the places of music?
  • Where are they reciting?
  • Where are the places of hand-clapping?
  • Where are drums being played?

There are six dangers attached to gambling.

  • The winner makes enemies
  • The loser laments over his loss
  • One experiences the destruction of his wealth
  • The word of a gambler is not trusted in society or in any assembly
  • The gambler is despised by his friends and companions
  • The gambler has no demand for marriage and people look down upon him saying ‘a gambler cannot afford to maintain a wife and children’

There are six dangers attached to associating the unwise.

  • Gamblers become friendly and keep company with him
  • Gluttons become friendly and keep company with him
  • Womanizers become friendly and keep company with him
  • Drunkards become friendly and keep company with him
  • Deceitful and disobedient people become friendly and keep company with him
  • Thieves and criminals become friendly and keep company with him

There are six dangers attached to idleness,

An idle person often thinks,

  • ‘It’s too cold’ and does not work
  • ‘It’s too hot’ and does not work
  • ‘It’s too early’ and does not work
  • ‘It’s too late’ and does not work
  • ‘I am too hungry’ and does not work
  • ‘I am too full’ and does not work

The Buddha having spoken, further added,

"Some are drinking-mates and some
Profess their friendship to your face,
But those who are your friends in need,
They alone are friends indeed.
Sleeping late, adultery,
Picking quarrels, doing harm,
Evil friends and stinginess,
These six things destroy a man.
He who goes with wicked friends
And spends his time in wicked deeds
In this world and the next
That man will come to suffer woe.
Dicing, wenching, drinking too,
Dancing singing, daylight sleep,
Untimely prowling, evil friends
And stinginess destroy a man
He plays with dice and drinks strong drinks
And goes with others’ well-loved wives.
He takes the lower, baser course,
And fades away like waning moon.
The drunkard broke and destitute,
Ever thirsting as he drinks
Like stone in water sinks in debt,
Soon bereft of all his kin.
He who spends his days in sleep,
And makes the night his waking time,
Ever drunk and lecherous,
Cannot keep a decent home.
Too cold! Too hot! Too late they cry,
Thus putting all their work aside
Till every chance they might have had
Of doing good has slipped away."

Son! the Buddha spoke again.

There are four types of people who are foes in friendly guise:

  • A man who is "all take"
  • A man who is a "great talker"
  • A man who is a "flatterer"
  • A man who aids in unwholesome activities.

A man who is ‘all take’ is a false-friend for four reasons :

  • Always this false-friend intends taking something or the other from the friend
  • He gives very little and expects a lot from the friend
  • He works for the friend only when he is in fear or when he is in trouble
  • He continues his friendship only to seek his own ends.

A great talker is a false friend for four reasons :

  • He talks of favours in the past
  • He talks of favours that he intends doing in the future
  • He utters empty phrases of goodwill
  • When something needs to be done in the present, he pleads inability attributing it to some disaster or calamity.

A flatterer is a false friend for four reasons :

  • He approves the unwholesome actions of the friend
  • He also approves wholesome actions
  • He praises you to your face
  • He disparages you behind your back.

A person who aids in unwholesome activities is a false friend for four reasons;

  • He is a companion when you indulge in strong drink,
  • He keeps company when you haunt the streets at unfitting times
  • He becomes friendly when you want to visit fairs and drama and for song and dance
  • He keeps company when you indulge in gambling

The Buddha further added :
"The friend who seeks what he can get,
The friend who talks but empty words,
The friend who merely flatters you,
The friend who is a ‘good for nothing person’
These four are really foes, NOT friends,
The wise man, recognizing this,
Should hold himself aloof from them
As from some path of panic fear"

"Are you following, my loving daughter Mettha?" the old man asked.

"Of course father!" she replied.

So then the Buddha spoke again,

"Son, there are four types of loyal friends:

  • The friend who is a helper
  • The friend who remains the same, both during happy and unhappy times
  • The friend who points out both what is good and bad for you
  • The friend who is sympathetic towards you

A ‘Helpful-friend’ can be identified as a loyal friend in four ways :

  • He looks after you when you are intoxicated or inattentive
  • He looks after your possessions when you are inattentive
  • He is a refuge when you are in fear
  • When some requirement arises he lets you have twice as what you ask for

A friend who remains the same in happy and unhappy times can be identified as a loyal friend in four ways :

  • He tells you his secrets
  • He guards your secrets
  • He does not let you down in misfortune
  • He would even sacrifice his life for you

A friend who points out what is good and bad for you can be identified as a loyal friend in four ways :

  • He prevents you from wrong doing
  • He supports you in doing good
  • He informs you of what you did not know
  • He points out the path to a happy existence

A sympathetic friend can be identified as a loyal friend in four ways :

  • He does not rejoice at your misfortune
  • He rejoices at your good fortune
  • He stops those who speak ill of you or talks against you
  • He commends those who speak in praise of you

Having said the above, the Buddha further added as follows :

"The friend who is a helper and
The friend in times both good and bad
The friend who shows the way that’s right
The friend who’s full of sympathy
These four kinds of friends the wise
Should know at their true worth, and he
Should cherish them with care, just like
A mother with her dearest child..
The wise man trained and disciplined
Shines out like a beacon – fire
He gathers wealth as the bee
Gathers honey, and it grows
Like an ant-hill higher yet
With wealth so gained the layman
Devote it to his people’s good
He should divide his wealth in four
(This will most advantage bring)
One part he will enjoy at will,
Two parts he should put to work,
The fourth part he should set aside
As reserve in times of need."

"Listen my Son!" the Buddha spoke again "Do you know how a true disciple of Dhamma protects the six directions?"

The Six Directions can be regarded as follows :

  • East denotes the Mother and Father
  • South denotes the Teachers
  • West denotes the Wife and Children
  • North denotes the Friends and Companions.
  • Downward direction denotes the servants, subordinates and employees
  • Upward direction denotes the Monks and Ascetics.

There are five ways in which a son should minister or attend to his mother and father :

He should think,

  • Having been supported and brought up by them, I will look after and support them in their old age
  • I will perform their duties for them
  • I will keep up the family tradition and shall not destroy but protect the inherited wealth
  • I will be worthy of my heritage
  • After the death of my parents, I will gift and share the merits gained by me through such gifting (gift of material things, gift of life and gift of Dhamma) with my departed parents.

There are five ways in which the Parents should fulfill their obligations to their children which should be done with compassion :

  • They should restrain the children from doing evil
  • They should encourage the children to do good
  • They should find suitable partners for their children and give them in marriage at an appropriate age
  • They should hand over their inheritance to the children at the proper time

In this way the Eastern Direction is covered.

There are five ways in which the students should minister or serve their teachers :

  • By rising from their seats in respect to greet them
  • By waiting in attendance on them
  • By being obediently attentive to what they teach.
  • By serving them.
  • By properly learning what they teach and mastering the skills they teach.

There are five ways in which the Teachers should fulfill their obligations towards their students with compassion :

  • They should give thorough instructions
  • They should make sure that the students have grasped what they should have duly grasped
  • They should give them a thorough grounding in all skills
  • They should introduce and recommend the students to their friends and colleagues
  • They should provide security for their students wherever they are.

In this way Southern Direction is covered.

There are five ways in which a husband should minister or look after his wife :

  • By honouring her
  • By not disparaging her and not using words of insult at her
  • Not being unfaithful, by not going to wives of others
  • By giving her the authority in administering the affairs at home
  • By providing her with clothes and other items to maintain her beauty.

There are five ways in which a wife should fulfill her obligations towards her husband which should be done with compassion.

  • She will reciprocate by properly planning, organizing and attending to all the work at home
  • She will be kind to the servants and look after their needs
  • She will not be unfaithful to her husband
  • She will protect the wealth and property which the husband has earned
  • She will be skilful, hard working and prompt in attending to all the work she has to do.

In this way the Western Direction is covered.

There are five ways in which a noble person should look after or minister his friends and companions :

  • By providing food and other requisites
  • By addressing them with kind words
  • By seeing to their welfare
  • By looking after them, the same way as he would look after himself
  • By not deceiving them

There are five ways in which the friends and companions should fulfill their obligations towards their friendly man which should be done with compassion

  • By looking after and protecting his friend when he is under intoxication and inattentive
  • By looking after his wealth and property when he is under intoxication and inattentive
  • By assisting and helping him when he is in fear
  • By not deserting him when he is in trouble
  • By showing personal concern and affection to his family members

In this way the Northern Direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

"Son" the Buddha spoke again, "There are five ways in which a Master should look after his staff, servants and labourers :

  • By systematically arranging the work according to their strengths and capabilities.
  • By supplying them with food and paying their wages.
  • By providing medical attention and looking after them when they are ill
  • By sharing delicacies with them, when ever you have them
  • By releasing them from work and granting leave at the right time.

There are five ways in which the staff, servants and the labourers should fulfill their obligations to their master:

  • They will wake up earlier than the master
  • They will go to bed after the master
  • They only take what they are given by the master and not steal anything of the master
  • They do their work properly with dedication
  • They praise him and spread the good reputation of their master in society

In this way the direction below is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

There are five ways in which a lay person should look after and pay homage to monks and ascetics :

  • By extending deeds physically with kindness.
  • By addressing with kind speech
  • By extending kind thoughts
  • By keeping an open house for them
  • By supplying food, drinks and other bodily needs.

There are six ways in which the monks and ascetics should fulfill their obligations to the lay people:

  • They will discourage him from doing evil
  • They will encourage him to do good
  • They will be benevolently compassionate towards him
  • They will teach the Dhamma which he has not heard before
  • They will clear the doubts in the Dhamma which he has already heard and make it pure
  • They will show him the way to heaven

In this way the upward direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

The Buddha further added,
"Mother, father are the East,
Teachers are the Southward point,
Wife and Children are the West,
Friends and Colleagues are the North.
Servants and Workers are below,
Ascetics and monks are above.
These directions all should be
Honoured by a clansman true
He who’s wise and disciplined,
Kind and intelligent,
Humble, free from pride,
Such a one may honour gain
Early rising, scorning sloth,
Unshaken by adversity,
Of faultless conduct, ready wit,
Such a one may honour gain.
Making friends and keeping them,
Welcoming, no stingy host,
A guide, philosopher and friend,
Such a one may honour gain
Giving gifts and kind speech,
A life well-spent for other’s good,
Even-handed in all things,
Impartial as each case demands:
These things make the world go round
Like the chariot’s axle-pin.
If such things did not exist,
No mother from her son would get
Any honour and respect,
Nor father either, as their due.
But since these qualities are held
By the wise in high esteem,
They are given prominence
And are rightly praised by all."

"Mettha! My dear daughter", the old man said. "This is how the Buddha advised and guided the young Sigalaka.

He was so happy and said ‘Excellent, Reverent, Gothama, excellent.

You explained so clearly, as if someone

were to set up what has been knocked down. It was as if pointing out the correct way to a person who has lost his way. You explained so well as if a lighting oil-lamp was brought into a dark place, so that one could see clearly what was in there.’

"My dear daughter, Mettha, finally Sigalaka became a lay-follower of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and learnt the art of conquering this world as well as the next world"

"Thank you my loving father." said Mettha.

***********************************
METTHA’S QUESTIONS – 1

Answered in accordance with ‘The Way of Life’ taught by BUDDHA
[ Compiled by Major General Ananda Weerasekera from Sigalaka Sutta, Digha Nikaya and the translations of Maurice Walshe- ‘Thus have I heard’]

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