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24 03 2012 LESSON 560 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITY And BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org Dhammapada Verse 112 Sappadasatthera Vatthu The Person Of Effort Is Worthy
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24 03 2012 LESSON 560 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And  Practice UNIVERSITY And  BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org Dhammapada Verse 112 Sappadasatthera Vatthu The Person Of Effort Is Worthy

THE BUDDHIST ON LINE GOOD NEWS LETTER

COURSE PROGRAM
 LESSONS 560

Practice a Sutta a Day Keeps Dukkha Away

EDUCATE (BUDDHA)!            MEDITATE (DHAMMA)!      ORGANISE (SANGHA)!

FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And  Practice UNIVERSITY And  BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org

84000 Khandas divided into 275250 as to the
stanzas of the original text and into 361550
divided  into 2547 banawaras containing 737000 stanzas and 29368000
separate letters

Awakeness Practices

All 84,000 Khandas As Found in the Pali Suttas

Traditionally
the are 84,000 Dharma Doors - 84,000 ways to get Awakeness. Maybe so;
certainly the Buddha taught a large number of practices that lead to
Awakeness. This web page attempts to catalogue those found in the Pali Suttas
(DN, MN, SN, AN, Ud & Sn 
1). There are 3 sections:

The discourses of Buddha
are divided into 84,000, as to separate addresses. The division includes all
that was spoken by Buddha.”I received from Buddha,” said Ananda, “82,000
Khandas, and  from the priests 2000; these are 84,000 Khandas maintained
by me.” They are divided into 275,250, as to the stanzas of the original text,
and into 361,550, as to the stanzas of the commentary. All the discourses
including both those of Buddha and those of the commentator, are divided 
into 2,547 banawaras, containing 737,000 stanzas, and 29,368,000 separate
letters.

WISDOM IS POWER

Awakened One Shows the Path to Attain Ultimate Bliss

Anyone Can Attain Ultimate Bliss Just Visit:

http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org

COMPUTER IS AN ENTERTAINMENT INSTRUMENT!

INTERNET!

IS

ENTERTAINMENT
NET!

TOBE MOST APPROPRIATE!

Using such an instrument

The FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And  Practice UNIVERSITY has been re-organized to function through the following
Schools of Learning :

Buddha Taught his Dhamma Free of cost, hence the Free- e-Nālandā
follows suit

As the Original Nālandā University did not offer any Degree, so also the Free  e-Nālandā
University.

Main Course Programs:

I.
KAMMA

REBIRTH

AWAKEN-NESS 

BUDDHA

THUS COME ONE

DHAMMA

II.
ARHAT

FOUR HOLY TRUTHS

EIGHTFOLD PATH

TWELVEFOLD CONDITIONED ARISING

BODHISATTVA

PARAMITA

SIX PARAMITAS

III.

SIX SPIRITUAL POWERS

SIX PATHS OF REBIRTH

TEN DHARMA REALMS

FIVE SKANDHAS

EIGHTEEN REALMS

FIVE MORAL PRECEPTS

IV.

MEDITATION

MINDFULNESS

FOUR APPLICATIONS OF MINDFULNESS

LOTUS POSTURE

SAMADHI

CHAN SCHOOL

FOUR DHYANAS

FOUR FORMLESS REALMS

V.

FIVE TYPES OF BUDDHIST STUDY AND PRACTICE

MAHAYANA AND HINAYANA COMPARED

PURE LAND

BUDDHA RECITATION

EIGHT CONSCIOUSNESSES

ONE HUNDRED DHARMAS

EMPTINESS

VI.

DEMON

LINEAGE

with

Level I: Introduction to Buddhism

Level II: Buddhist Studies

TO ATTAIN

Level III: Stream-Enterer

Level IV: Once - Returner

Level
V: Non-Returner

Level VI: Arhat

Jambudvipa,
i.e, PraBuddha Bharath scientific thought in

mathematics,

astronomy,

alchemy,

and

anatomy

Philosophy and Comparative Religions;

Historical Studies;

International Relations and Peace Studies;

Business Management in relation to Public Policy and Development Studies;

Languages and Literature;

and Ecology and Environmental Studies

Verse
112. The Person Of Effort Is Worthy

Though one should live a hundred years
lazy, of little effort,
yet better is life for a single day
strongly making effort.

Explanation:  A single day’s life of a wise person who is
capable of strenuous effort, is nobler than even a hundred years of life of an
individual who is lazy, incapable of making an effort and is wanting in
initiative.

The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories

Dhammapada
Verse 112
Sappadasatthera Vatthu

Yo ca vassasatam jive
kusito1 hinaviriyo
ekaham jivitam seyyo
viriyamarabhato dalham.

Verse 112: Better than a hundred years in the life of a person
who is idle and inactive, is a day in the life of one who makes a zealous and
strenuous effort (in Tranquillity and Insight Development Practice).


1. kusito: an idle person; according to the Commentary,
an idle person is one who passes his time only in evil thoughts.


The Story of Thera Sappadasa

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered
Verse (112) of this book, with reference to Thera Sappadasa.

Once a bhikkhu was not feeling happy with the life of a bhikkhu;
at the same time he felt that it would be improper and humiliating for him to
return to the life of a householder. So he thought it would be better to die.
So thinking, on one occasion, he put his hand into a pot where there was a
snake but the snake did not bite him. This was because in a past existence the
snake was a slave and the bhikkhu was his master. Because of this incident the
bhikkhu was known as Thera Sappadasa. On another occasion, Thera Sappadasa took
a razor to cut his throat; but as he placed the razor on his throat he
reflected on the purity of his morality practice throughout his life as a
bhikkhu and his whole body was suffused with delightful satisfaction (piti)
and bliss (sukha). Then detaching himself from piti, he directed his
mind to the development of Insight Knowledge and soon attained arahatship, and
he returned to the monastery.

On arrival at the monastery, other bhikkhus asked him where he
had been and why he took the knife along with him. When he told them about his
intention to take his life, they asked him why he did not do so. He answered,
“I originally intended to cut my throat with this knife, but I have now
cut off all moral defilements with the knife of Insight Knowledge.” The
bhikkhus did not believe him; so they went to the Buddha and asked.
“Venerable Sir, this bhikkhu claims, that he has attained arahatship as he
was putting the knife to his throat to kill himself. Is it possible to attain
Arahatta Magga within such a short time?” To them the Buddha said, “Bhikkhus!
Yes, it is possible; for one who is zealous and strenuous in the practice of
Tranquillity and Insight Development, arahatship can be gained in an instant.
As the bhikkhu walks in meditation, he can attain arahatship even before his
raised foot touches the ground.”

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:


Verse
112: Better than a hundred years in the life of a person who is idle and
inactive, is a day in the life of one who makes a zealous and strenuous
effort (in Tranquillity and Insight Development Practice).

5.
The Kamma that Ends Kamma

5

The Kamma
that Ends Kamma

In the last part of Chapter 1, four
different kinds of kamma were mentioned, classified according to their
relationships with their respective results:

1. Black kamma, black result.
2. White kamma, white result.
3. Kamma both black and white, result both black and white.
4. Kamma neither black nor white, result neither black nor white, this being
the kamma that ends kamma.[32]

    All of the varieties of
kamma-results so far described have been limited to the first three categories,
white kamma, black kamma, and both white and black kamma, or good kamma and bad
kamma. The fourth kind of kamma remains to be explained. Because this fourth
kind of kamma has an entirely different result from the first three, it has
been given its own separate chapter.

    For most people,
including Buddhists, any interest in kamma tends to be centered around the
first three kinds of kamma, completely disregarding the fourth kind, even
though this last kind of kamma is one of the pivotal teachings of Buddhism, and
leads to its ultimate goal.

    Black, white and
black-and-white kamma are generally described as the numerous kinds of action
included within the ten bases of unskillful action, such as killing living
beings, infringing on the property of others, sexual misconduct, and bad or
malicious speech, with their respective opposites as skillful actions. These
kinds of kamma are determinants for various kinds of good and bad life
experiences, as has been explained above. The events of life in turn activate
more good and bad kamma, thus spinning the wheel of samsara round and round
endlessly.

    The fourth kind of kamma
results in exactly the opposite way. Rather than causing the accumulation of
more kamma, it leads to the cessation of kamma. In effect this refers to the
practices which lead to the highest goal of Buddhism, Enlightenment, such as the
Noble Eightfold Path, also known as the Threefold Training (Moral Discipline,
Mental Discipline and Wisdom), or the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Sometimes
this fourth kind of kamma is spoken of as the intention, based on non-greed,
non-hatred and non-delusion, to abandon the other three kinds of kamma.

    No discussion of kamma
should fail to mention happiness and suffering. Kamma is the cause which
results in happiness and suffering, and as long as there is kamma, there will
be fluctuation between these two states. In aspiring to the highest good which
is devoid of every flaw, however, any condition tainted with either happiness
or suffering, being subject to fluctuation, is inadequate. All worldly kamma is
still tainted with suffering, and is a cause of suffering.

    However, this is valid
only for the first three kinds of kamma. The fourth kind of kamma is exempt,
because it leads to the cessation of kamma, and thus to the complete cessation
of suffering. Although good kamma results in happiness, such happiness is
tainted with suffering and can be a cause for suffering in the future. But this
fourth kind of kamma, in addition to being in itself free of suffering, also
gives rise to the untainted and total freedom from suffering. It is thus the purest
kind of happiness.

    The cessation or
quenching of kamma was taught in a number of different religions in the
Buddha’s time, notably the Nigantha (Jain) Sect. The Niganthas taught the
principle of old kamma, the cessation of kamma, and the mortification of the
body in order to “wear out” old kamma. If these three principles are
not clearly distinguished from the Buddha’s teaching they can easily be
confused with it. Conversely, distinguishing them clearly from the principles
of Buddhism can help to further clarify the Buddha’s message. The Niganthas
taught:

“All happiness, suffering and neutral
feeling are entirely caused by previous kamma. For this reason, when old kamma
is done away with by practicing austerities, and no new kamma is created, there
will no longer be the influence of kamma-results. With no influence of
kamma-results, kamma is done away with. Kamma being done away with, suffering
is done away with. When suffering is done away with, feeling is done away with.
With no more feeling, all suffering is completely quelled.”[33]

The Niganthas believed that everything is
caused by old kamma. To be free of suffering it is necessary to abandon old
kamma and, by practicing austerities, not accumulate new kamma. But Buddhism
states that old kamma is merely one of the factors in the whole cause and
effect process. This is an important point.

    Kamma can lead to the
transcendence of suffering, but it must be the right kind of kamma, the kamma
which prevents the arising of more kamma and thus leads to its cessation.
Therefore, in order to nullify kamma, instead of merely stopping still or doing
nothing, the practicing Buddhist must apply himself to a practice based on
right understanding. Correct practice induces independence, clarity and freedom
from the directives of desire as it, in hand with ignorance, entangles beings
in the search for attainments.

    In order to clarify this
fourth kind of kamma, its general features may be briefly summarized thus:

    (a) It is the path of
practice which leads to the cessation of kamma. At the same time, it is in
itself a kind of kamma.

    (b) It is known as
“the kamma which is neither black nor white, having results which are
neither black nor white, and which leads to the cessation of kamma.”

    (c) Non-greed, non-hatred
and non-delusion are its root causes.

    (d) It is based on wisdom
and understanding of the advantages and the inadequacies of things as they
really are. It is an impeccable kind of action, action that is truly
worthwhile, based on sound reason, and conducive to a healthy life.

    (e) Because this kind of
action is not directed by desire, whether in the form of selfish exploitation,
or inaction based on fear of personal loss, it is the surest kind of altruistic
effort, guided and supported by mindfulness and wisdom.

    (f) It is kusala kamma,
skillful action, on the level known as Transcendent Skillful Action.

    (g) In terms of practice,
it can be called the Eightfold Path to the cessation of suffering, the Fourth
of the Four Noble Truths, the Seven Factors of Awakenment with Awareness, or the Threefold
Training, depending on the context; it is also referred to in a general sense
as the intention to abandon the first three kinds of kamma.

    In regard to point (e)
above, it is noteworthy that tanha, or desire, is seen by most people as the
force which motivates action. As far as most people are concerned, the more
desire there is, the more intense and competitive is the resultant action; they
see that without desire there is no incentive to act, and the result could only
be inertia and laziness. This kind of understanding comes from looking at human
nature only partially. If used as a guideline for practice, it can cause
problems on both the individual and social levels.

    In fact, desire is an
impetus for both action and inaction. When it is searching for objects with
which to feed itself, desire is an impetus for action. This kind of action
tends to generate exploitation and contention. However, at a time when good and
altruistic actions are called for, desire will become an incentive to inaction,
binding the self to personal comfort, even if only attachment to sleep. Thus,
it becomes an encumbrance or stumbling block to performing good deeds. If
ignorance is still strong, that is, there is no understanding of the value of
good actions, desire will encourage inertia and negligence. For this reason,
desire may be an incentive for either an exploitative kind of activity, or a
lethargic kind of inactivity, depending on the context.

    The practice which
supports a healthy life and is truly beneficial is completely different from
this pandering to selfish desires, and in many cases calls for a relinquishment
of personal comforts and pleasures. This kind of practice cannot be achieved
through desire (except if we first qualify our terms), but must be achieved
through an understanding and appreciation of the advantage of such practice as
it really is.

    This appreciation, or
aspiration, is called in Pali chanda
(known in full as kusalachanda
or dhammachanda). Chanda, or
zeal, is the real incentive for any truly constructive actions. However, zeal
may be impeded by desire and its attachments to laziness, lethargy, or personal
comfort. In this case, desire will stain any attempts to perform good actions
with suffering, by resisting the practice through these negative states. If
there is clear understanding of the advantage of those actions and sufficient
appreciation (chanda) of them, enabling the burdening effect of desire to be
overcome, chanda becomes, in addition to an impetus for action, a cause for
happiness.

    This kind of happiness
differs from the happiness resulting from desire — it is light and untroubled
rather than constrictive and heavy, and conducive to creative actions free of
suffering. In this case, samadhi,
the firmly established mind, comprising effort, mindfulness and understanding,
will develop within and directly support such undertakings. This kind of
practice is known as “the kamma that ends kamma.”

    By practicing according
to the Noble Eightfold Path, desire has no channel through which to function,
and is eliminated. Greed, hatred and delusion do not arise. With no desire,
greed, hatred or delusion, there is no kamma. With no kamma there are no
kamma-results to bind the mind. With no kamma to bind the mind, there emerges a
state of clarity which transcends suffering. The mind which was once a slave of
desire becomes one that is guided by wisdom, directing actions independently of
desire’s influence.

 

Here follow some of the Buddha’s words
dealing with the kamma that ends kamma.

 

“Bhikkhus, know kamma, know the cause
of kamma, know the variations of kamma, know the results of kamma, know the
cessation of kamma and know the way leading to the cessation of kamma …
Bhikkhus, intention, I say, is kamma. A person intends before acting through
body, speech or mind. What is the cause of kamma? Sense contact is the cause of
kamma. What are the variations of kamma? They are, the kamma which results in
birth in hell, the kamma which results in birth in the animal world, the kamma
which results in birth in the realm of hungry ghosts, the kamma which results
in birth in the human realm, and the kamma which results in birth in the heaven
realms. These are known as the variations of kamma. What are the results of kamma?
I teach three kinds of kamma-result. They are, results in the present time,
results in the next life, or results in a future life. These I call the results
of kamma. What is the cessation of kamma? With the cessation of contact, kamma
ceases. This very Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of
kamma. That is, Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right
Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right concentration.”[34]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, when a noble disciple thus
clearly understands kamma, the cause of kamma, the variations of kamma, the
results of kamma, the cessation of kamma and the way leading to the cessation
of kamma, he then clearly knows the Higher Life comprising keen wisdom, which
is the cessation of this kamma.”[34]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, I will expound new kamma,
old kamma, the cessation of kamma and the way leading to the cessation of kamma
… What is old kamma? Eye … ear … nose … tongue … body … mind should
be understood as old kamma, these being formed from conditions, born of
volition, and the base of feeling. This is called ‘old kamma.’

“Bhikkhus, what is ‘new kamma’? Actions
created through body, speech and mind in the present moment, these are called
‘new kamma.’

“Bhikkhus, what is the cessation of
kamma? The experience of liberation arising from the cessation of bodily kamma,
verbal kamma and mental kamma, is called the cessation of kamma.

“Bhikkhus, what is the way leading to
the cessation of kamma? This is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, Right View
… Right Concentration. This is called the way leading to the cessation of
kamma.”[35]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, this body does not belong to
you, nor does it belong to another. You should see it as old kamma, formed by
conditions, born of volition, a base of feeling.”[36]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, these three kamma-origins,
greed, hatred and delusion, are causes of kamma. Whatever kamma is performed on
account of greed, is born from greed, has greed as origin, and is formed from
greed, results in rebirth. Wherever his kamma ripens, there the doer must
experience the fruits of his kamma, be it in the present life, in the next life
or in a future life. Kamma performed on account of hatred … kamma performed
on account of delusion … (the same as for greed)

“Bhikkhus, these three kamma-origins,
non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, are causes of kamma. Whatever kamma is
performed on account of non-greed, is born from non-greed, has non-greed as
origin, and is formed from non-greed, is devoid of greed, that kamma is given
up, cut off at the root, made like a palm tree stump, completely cut off with
no possibility of arising again. Whatever kamma is performed on account of
non-hatred … on account of non-delusion …”[37]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, these three kamma-origins,
greed, hatred and delusion, are causes of kamma. Whatever kamma is performed on
account of greed, is born from greed, has greed as origin, is formed from
greed, that kamma is unskillful … is harmful … has suffering as a result.
That kamma exists for the arising of more kamma, not for the cessation of
kamma. Whatever kamma is done on account of hatred … on account of delusion

“Bhikkhus, these three kamma-origins,
non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, are causes of kamma. Whatever kamma is
done on account of non-greed, is born of non-greed, has non-greed as origin, is
formed from non-greed, that kamma is skillful … not harmful … has happiness
as a result. That kamma leads to the cessation of kamma, not to the arising of
kamma. Whatever kamma is done on account of non-hatred … on account of
non-delusion …”[38]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, killing of living beings, I
say, is of three kinds. That is, with greed as motive, with hatred as motive
and with delusion as motive. Stealing … sexual misconduct … lying …
malicious tale-bearing … abusive speech … frivolous speech … covetousness
… resentment … wrong view, I say, are of three kinds. They are, with greed
as motive, with hatred as motive and with delusion as motive. Thus, greed is a
cause for kamma, hatred is a cause for kamma, delusion is a cause for kamma.
With the cessation of greed, there is the cessation of a cause of kamma. With the
cessation of hatred, there is the cessation of a cause of kamma. With the
cessation of delusion, there is the cessation of a cause of kamma.”[39]

*  *  *

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds
of kamma … What is black kamma, black result? Some people in this world are
given to killing, given to stealing, given to sexual infidelity, given to
lying, given to drinking intoxicants which lead to heedlessness. This is called
black kamma, black result.

“Bhikkhus, what is white kamma, white
result? Some people in this world dwell aloof from killing, aloof from
stealing, aloof from sexual infidelity, aloof from lying, aloof from the
drinking of intoxicants which lead to heedlessness. This is called white kamma,
white result.

“Bhikkhus, what is kamma both back and
white with result both black and white? Some people in this world create
actions through body … speech … mind which are both harmful and not
harmful. This is called ‘kamma both black and white with result both black and
white.’

“Bhikkhus, what is kamma neither black
nor white, with result neither black nor white, which leads to the cessation of
kamma? Within those three kinds of kamma, the intention to abandon (those kinds
of kamma), this is called the kamma which is neither black nor white, with
result neither black nor white, which leads to the ending of kamma.”[40]

*  *  *

“Listen, Udayi. A bhikkhu in this
Teaching and Discipline cultivates the Mindfulness Enlightenment Factor … the
Equanimity
Awakenment with Awareness Factor, which tend to seclusion, tend to dispassion,
tend to cessation, which are well developed, which are boundless, void of
irritation. Having cultivated the Mindfulness
Awakenment with Awareness Factor … the
Equanimity
Awakenment with AwarenessFactor … craving is discarded. With the discarding
of craving, kamma is discarded. With the discarding of kamma, suffering is
discarded. Thus, with the ending of craving there is the ending of kamma; with
the ending of kamma there is the ending of suffering.”[41]

24 03 2012


24 03 2012

Chapter Five
   
Teachings on Economics from the Buddhist Scriptures
   
The Monastic Order
   
Householders
   
Government
   
The Inner Perspective
   
Seeking and Protecting Wealth
   
The
Happiness of a Householder

   
The Benefits of Wealth
   
Wealth and Spiritual Development

Chapter Five

Teachings on Economics from
the Buddhist Scriptures

The Buddhist teachings on economics are
scattered throughout the Scriptures among teachings on other subjects. A
teaching on mental training, for example, may include guidelines for economic
activity, because in real life these things are all interconnected. Thus, if we
want to find the Buddhist teachings on economics, we must extract them from
teachings on other subjects.

    Although the Buddha never
specifically taught about the subject of economics, teachings about the four
requisites — food, clothing, shelter and medicine — occur throughout the Pali
Canon. In essence, all of the tea
chings concerning the four requisites are
teachings on economics.

The Monastic Order

The Books of Discipline for the Monastic
Order stipulate the attitude and conduct Buddhist monks and nuns are to adopt
toward the four requisites. As mendicants, monks and nuns depend entirely on
donations for their material needs. The Discipline lays down guidelines for a
blameless life that is worthy of the support of the laity. A life dedicated to
Dhamma study, meditation and teaching is Right Livelihood for monks and nuns.

    The Discipline also
contains standards and regulations for ensuring that the four requisites, once
supplied to the Order, will be consumed in peace and harmony rather than
contention and strife. Buddhist monks are forbidden from demanding special food
or requisites. A monk must be content with little. In this passage, the Buddha
instructs monks on the proper attitudes toward the four requisites.

A monk in this Teaching and Discipline is
one content with whatever robes he is given and praises contentment with
whatever robes are given. He does not greedily seek robes in unscrupulous ways.
If he does not obtain a robe, he is not vexed; if he obtains a robe, he is not
attached, not enamored of it and not pleased over it. He uses that robe with
full awareness of its benefits and its dangers. He has wisdom which frees him
from attachment. Moreover, he does not exalt himself or disparage others on
account of his contentment with whatever robes are offered. Any monk who is
diligent, ardent, not given to laziness, who is fully aware and recollected in
contentment with robes, is said to be stationed in the time-honored lineage.

Moreover, a monk is content with whatever
alms food he is given …

Moreover, a monk is content with whatever
dwellings he is given …

Moreover, a monk is one who delights in
developing skillful qualities and praises their development; he delights in
abandoning unskillful qualities and praises their abandoning; he does not exalt
himself nor disparage others on account of his delighting in skillful qualities
and praising their development, nor on account of his abandoning of unskillful
qualities and praising their abandoning. A monk who is diligent, ardent, not
given to laziness, but fully aware and recollected in such development (bhavana) and abandoning (pahana) is said to be stationed in the
time-honored lineage. [A.II.27]

    This passage shows the
relationship between contentment with material possessions and effort –
material requisites are used as foundation for human development.

    The monastic discipline
exemplifies a life-style which makes use of the least possible amount of
material goods. This is partly for practical reasons, to enable the Order to
live in a way that does not overtax the community, and partly so that the monks
can devote as much of their time and energy as possible in the study, practice
and teaching of the Dhamma. It also enables them to live a live that is as
independent of the social mainstream as possible, so that their livelihood is not
all geared to any socially valued gain. All Buddhist monks, be they Arahants (completely enlightened
beings) or newly ordained monks, live their lives according to this same basic
principle of a minimal amount of material possessions and an optimum of devotion
to Dhamma practice.

    To live happily without
an abundance of material possession, monks rely on sila, morality or good conduct. Note that each of the four
types of good conduct mentioned below [Vism.16; Comp.212] calls upon another
spiritual quality to perfect it:

Restraint of behavior (patimokkha samvara sila) means to live
within the restraint of the Monastic Code of Discipline (Patimokkha); to refrain from that which
is forbidden, and to practice according to that which is specified, to diligently
follow in all the training rules. This kind of sila is perfected through saddha, faith.

Restraint of the senses (indriya samvara sila) is accomplished
by guarding over the mind so as not to let unskillful conditions, such as like,
dislike, attachment or aversion, overwhelm it when experiencing any of the six
kinds of sense impressions: sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation in the body
or thought in the mind. This kind of sila
is perfected through sati,
mindfulness or recollection.

Purity of livelihood (ajiva parisuddhi sila) demands that one
conduct one’s livelihood honestly, avoiding ways of livelihood that are wrong.
For a monk, this includes not bragging about superhuman attainments, such as
meditation accomplishments or stages of enlightenment, or asking for special
food when one is not sick; refraining from extortion, such as putting on a
display of austerity to impress people into giving offerings; not fawning or
sweet talking supporters; not hinting or making signs to get householders to
make offerings; not threatening them or bullying them into making offerings;
and not bartering with them, such as in giving something little and expecting
much in exchange. This kind of sila,
or purity, is perfected through viriya,
effort.

Morality connected with requisites (paccaya sannisita sila) means using the
four requisites with circumspection, with an awareness of their true use and
value, rather than using them out of desire. At meal time, this means eating
food for the sake of good health, so that one is able to live comfortably
enough to practice the Dhamma conveniently, not eating to indulge in the
sensual pleasure of eating. This kind of
sila
is perfected through pañña,
wisdom.

Householders

While much of the Buddha’s teachings were
directed towards monks, there is no indication anywhere in the Scriptures that
the Buddha wanted householders to live like monks. Nor is there any indication
that the Buddha wanted everybody to become monks and nuns. In establishing the
order of monks and nuns, the Buddha created an independent community as an
example of righteousness, and community that could nourish society with the
Dhamma and provide a refuge for those who wished to live a life dedicated to
Dhamma study.

    Within this community
there are both formal members and true members. The formal members are those
who are ordained into the Buddhist Order as monks and nuns and who live
super-imposed, as it were, onto normal “householder society.” The
truly free members, however, are those of Noble Order, both ordained and
householders, who have experienced transcendent insight and are scattered
throughout the regular society of unawakened beings.

    While the teachings in
the Books of Discipline can be applied to the lives of householders, they are
more directly related to monks. The monastic life is designed to be comfortable
even when the four requisites are in low supply. In this regard, monks and nuns
serve as living examples that life can be happy and fulfilling even when the
four requisites are not plentiful.

    Most lay people, however,
see the four requisites as basis on which to build more wealth and comfort.
While householders may seem to require more material goods than monks and nuns
because of their demanding responsibilities, such as raising children and
running a business, the fact remains that all of life’s basic needs can be met
by the four requisites.

    Practical teachings on
economic matters for householders are contained in the Books of Discourses, or
Suttas. The Suttas recount the advice the Buddha gave to various people in
various stations throughout his life. In the Suttas, the Buddha stresses four
areas in which householders may relate skillfully to wealth [D.III.188;
A.V.176-182]:

    Acquisition — Wealth
should not be acquired by exploitation, but through effort and intelligent
action; it should be acquired in a morally sound way.

    Safekeeping — Wealth
should be saved and protected as an investment for the further development of
livelihood and as an insurance against future adversity. When accumulated
wealth exceeds these two needs, it may be used for creating social benefit by
supporting community works.

    Use — Wealth should be
put to the following uses: (1) to support oneself and one’s family; (2) to
support the interests of fellowship and social harmony, such as in receiving
guests, or in activities of one’s friends or relatives; (3) to support good
works, such as community welfare projects.

    Mental attitude — Wealth
should not become an obsession, a cause for worry and anxiety. It should rather
be related to with an understanding of its true benefits and limitations, and
dealt with in a way that leads to personal development.

    The Buddha praised only
those wealthy people who have obtained their wealth through their own honest
labor and used it wisely, to beneficial ends. That is, the Buddha praised the
quality of goodness and benefit more than wealth itself. The common tendency
(in Thailand) to praise people simply because they are rich, based on the
belief that their riches are a result of accumulated merit from previous lives,
without due consideration of the factors from the present life, contradicts the
teachings of Buddhism on two counts: Firstly, it does not exemplify the
Buddha’s example of praising goodness above wealth; secondly it does not make
use of reasoned consideration of the entire range of factors involved.

    The present life is much
more immediate and as such must be afforded more importance. Previous kamma determines the conditions of
one’s birth, including physical attributes, talents, intelligence and certain
personality traits. While it is said to be a determining factor for people who
are born into wealthy families, the Buddha did not consider birth into a
wealthy family as such to be worthy of praise, and Buddhism does not place much
importance on birth station. The Buddha might praise the good kamma which enabled a person to attain
such a favorable birth, but since their birth into a wealthy station is the
fruition of good past kamma,
such people have been duly rewarded and it is not necessary to praise them
further.

    A favorable birth is said
to be a good capital foundation which affords some people better opportunities
than others. As for the unfolding of the present life, the results of previous kamma stop at birth, and a new
beginning is made. A good “capital foundation” can easily degenerate.
If it is used with care and intelligence it will lead to benefit for all
concerned, but if one is deluded by one’s capital foundation, or favorable situation,
one will use it in a way that not only wastes one’s valuable opportunities, but
leads to harm for all concerned. The important question for Buddhism is how
people use their initial capital. The Buddha did not praise or criticize
wealth; he was concerned with actions.

    According to the Buddhist
teachings, wealth should be used for the purpose of helping others; it should
support a life of good conduct and human development. According to this
principle, when wealth arises for one person, the whole of society benefits,
and although it belongs to one person, it is just as if it belonged to the
whole community. A wealthy person who uses wealth in this manner is likened to
a fertile field in which rice grows abundantly for the benefit of all. Such people
generate great benefit for those around them. Without them, the wealth they
create would not come to be, and neither would the benefit resulting from it.
Guided by generosity, these people feel moved to represent the whole of
society, and in return they gain the respect and trust of the community to use
their wealth for beneficial purposes. The Buddha taught that a householder who
shares his wealth with others is following the path of the Noble Ones:

“If you have little, give little; if
you own a middling amount, give a middling amount; if you have much, give much.
It is not fitting not to give at all. Kosiya, I say to you, ‘Share your wealth,
use it. Tread the path of the noble ones. One who eats alone eats not
happily.” [J.V.382]

    Some people adhere to the
daily practice of not eating until they have given something to others. This
practice was adopted by a reformed miser in the time of the Buddha, who said,
“As long as I have not first given to others each day, I will not even
drink water.” [J.V.393-411]

    When the wealth of a
virtuous person grows, other people stand to gain. But the wealth of a mean
person grows at the expense of misery for those around him. People who get
richer and richer while society degenerates and poverty spreads are using their
wealth wrongly. Such wealth does not fulfill its true function. It is only a
matter of time before something breaks down — either the rich, or the society,
or both, must go. The community may strip the wealthy of their privileges and
redistribute the wealth in the hands of new “stewards,” for better or
for worse. If people use wealth wrongly, it ceases to be a benefit and becomes
a bane, destroying human dignity, individual welfare and the community.

    Buddhism stress that our
relationship with wealth be guided by wisdom and a clear understanding of its
true value and limitations. We should not be burdened or enslaved by it.
Rather, we should be masters of our wealth and use it in ways that are
beneficial to others. Wealth should be used to create benefit in society,
rather than contention and strife. It should be spent in ways that relieve
problems and lead to happiness rather than to tension, suffering and mental
disorder.

    Here is a passage from
the Scriptures illustrating the proper Buddhist attitude to wealth:

“Bhikkhus, there are these three groups
of people in this world. What are the three? They are the blind, the one-eyed,
and the two-eyed.

“Who is the blind person? There are
some in this world who do not have the vision which leads to acquisition of
wealth or to the increase of wealth already gained. Moreover, they do not have
the vision which enables them to know what is skillful and what is unskillful
… what is blameworthy and what is not … what is coarse and what is refined
… good and evil. This is what I mean by one who is blind.

“And who is the one-eyed person? Some
people in this world have the vision which leads to the acquisition of wealth,
or to the increase of wealth already obtained, but they do not have the vision
that enables them to know what is skillful and what is not … what is
blameworthy and what is not … what is coarse and what is refined … good and
evil. This I call a one-eyed person.

“And who is the two-eyed person? Some
people in this world possess both the vision that enables them to acquire
wealth and to capitalize on it, and the vision that enables them to know what
is skillful and what is not … what is blameworthy and what is not … what is
coarse and what is refined … good and evil. This I call one with two eyes …

“One who is blind is hounded by
misfortune on two counts: he has no wealth, and he performs no good works. The
second kind of the person, the one-eyed, looks about for wealth irrespective of
whether it is right or wrong. It may be obtained through theft, cheating, or
fraud. He enjoys pleasures of the sense obtained from his ability to acquire
wealth, but as a result he goes to hell. The one eyed person suffers according
to his deeds.

“The two eyed person is a fine human
being, one who shares out a portion of the wealth obtained through his diligent
labor. He has noble thoughts, a resolute mind, and attains to a good bourn,
free of suffering. Avoid the blind and the one-eyed, and associate with the
two-eyed.” [A.I.128]

Government

The Buddha said “poverty is suffering
in this world.” Here he speaks to the use of wealthy by governments.
Poverty and want, like greed (to which they are closely related) contribute to
crime and social discontent. [D.III.65, 70] Buddhism maintains that it is the
duty of the government or the administrators of a country to see to the needs
of those who are in want and to strive to banish poverty from the land. At the
very least, honest work should be available to all people, trade and commerce
should be encouraged, capital should be organized and industries monitored to
guard against dishonest or exploitive practices. By this criteria, the absence
of poverty is a better gauge of government’s success than the presence of
millionaires.

    It is often asked which
economic or political system is most compatible with Buddhism. Buddhism does
not answer such a question directly. One might say Buddhism would endorse
whatever system is most compatible with it, but economic and political systems
are a question of method, and methods, according to Buddhism, should be attuned
to time and place.

    What is the purpose of a
government’s wealth? Essentially, a government’s wealth is for the purpose of
supporting and organizing its citizens’ lives in the most efficient and
beneficial way possible. Wealth enables us to practice and to attain
progressively higher levels of well-being. Wealth should support the community
in such a way that people who live in it conduct good lives and are motivated
to a higher good.

    A political or economic
system that uses wealth to these ends is compatible with Buddhism (subject to
the stipulation that it is a voluntary or free system rather than an
authoritarian one). Specific systems are simply methods dependent on time and
place, and can vary accordingly. For example, when the Buddha established the
Order of monks as a specialized community, he set up rules limiting a monk’s
personal possessions. Most requisites were to be regarded as communal property
of the Order.

    The Buddha gave different
teachings regarding wealth for householders or worldly society. In his day,
there were two main political systems in India: some parts of the country were
ruled by absolute monarchies, others were ruled by republican states. The
Buddha gave separate teachings for each. This is characteristic of his
teachings. Buddhism is not a religion of ideals and philosophy, but a religion
of practice. The Buddha made his teaching applicable to the real life of the
people in the society of the time.

    If the Buddha had waited
until he had designed a perfect society before he taught, he would have fallen
into idealism and romanticism. Since the perfect society will always be a
“hoped-for” society, the Buddha gave teachings that could be put to
effect in the present time, or, in his words, “those truths which are
truly useful.”

    For the monarchies, the
Buddha taught the duties of a Wheel-Turning Emperor, exhorting rulers to use
their absolute power as a tool for generating benefit in the community rather
than a tool for seeking personal happiness. For the republican states, he
taught the aparihaniyadhamma[6]
– principles and methods for encouraging social harmony and preventing
decline. In their separate ways, both these teaching show how a people can live
happily under different political systems.

    When the absolute
monarchy reached its highest perfection in India, the Emperor Ashoka used these
Buddhist principles to govern his empire. He wrote in the Edicts, “His
Highness, Priyadassi, loved by the devas, does not see rank or glory as being
of much merit, except if that rank or glory is used to realize the following
aim: ‘Both now and in the future, may the people listen to my teaching and
practice according to the principles of Dhamma.’” [Ashokan Edict No.10]

    The ideal society is not
one in which all people occupy the same station; such a society is in fact not
possible. The ideal society is one in which human beings, training themselves
in mind and intellect, although possessing differences, are nevertheless
striving for the same objectives. Even though they are different they live
together harmoniously. At the same time, it is a society which has a noble
choice, a noble way out, for those so inclined, in the form of a religious
life. (Even in the society of the future Buddha, Sri Ariya Metteyya, where
everyone is said to be equal, there is still to be found the division of monks
and laypeople.)

    While absolute equality
is impossible, governments should ensure that the four requisites are
distributed so all citizens have enough to live on comfortably and can find
honest work. Moreover, the economic system in general should lead to a
harmonious community rather than to contention and strife, and material possessions
used as a base for beneficial human development rather than as an end in
themselves.

    In one
Sutta, the Buddha admonishes the Universal Emperor to apportion some of his
wealth to the poor. The emperor is told to watch over his subjects and prevent
abject poverty from arising.[7]
Here we see that ethical economic management for a ruler or governor is
determined by the absence of poverty in his domain, rather than by a surplus of
wealth in his coffers or in the hands of a select portion of the population.
When this basic standard is met, the teachings do not prohibit the accumulation
of wealth or stipulate that it should be distributed equally.

    With an understanding of the Buddhist perspective on
social practice, those involved in such matters can debate which system is not
compatible with Buddhism. Or they may opt to devise a new, more effective
system. This might be the best alternative. However, it is a matter of
practical application which is beyond the scope of this book.

The Inner Perspective

The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the Buddha’s more
esoteric teaching. While the Abhidhamma does not directly address economics, it
does have a strong indirect connection because it analyses the mind and its
constituents in minute detail. These mental factors are the root of all human
behavior, including, of course, economic activity. Negative mental constituents
such as greed, aversion, delusion (wrong belief) and pride motivate economic
activity as do the positive constituents such as non-greed, non-aversion and
non-delusion, faith, generosity, and goodwill. In this respect, the Abhidhamma
is a study of economics on its most fundamental level.

    In a similar connection, the
more esoteric practices of Buddhism, meditation in particular, relate
indirectly but fundamentally to economics. Through meditation and mental
training, we come to witness the stream of causes and conditions that begin as
mental conditions and lead to economic activity. With this insight, we can
investigate our mental process and make sound ethical judgments. Meditation
helps us to see how ethical and unethical behavior are the natural consequence
of the mental conditions which motivate them. Individual people, classes, races
and nationalities are neither intrinsically good nor evil. It is rather our
mental qualities that guide our behavior toward the ethical and the unethical.
Greed, hatred and delusion (wrong belief) drive us to unethical acts. Wisdom
and a desire for true well-being guide us to ethical behavior and a good life.

    With meditation, we gain
perspective on our motivations: we sharpen our awareness and strengthen free
will. Thus, when it comes to making economic decisions, decision about our
livelihood and consumption, we can better resist compulsions driven by fear,
craving, and pride and choose instead a moral course that aims at true
well-being. In this way, we begin to see how mental factors form the basis of
all economic matters, and we realize that the development of this kind of
mental discernment leads the way to true economic and human development.

    Perhaps more importantly, through meditation training it is
possible to realize a higher kind of happiness — inner peace, the independent
kind of happiness. When we have the ability to find peace within ourselves we
can use wealth, which is no longer necessary for our own happiness, freely for
the social good.

Seeking
and Protecting Wealth

The
following Sutta offers teachings on livelihood for a householder with an
emphasis on the benefits that arise from right livelihood.

   
At one time, the brahmin Ujjaya went to visit the Buddha to ask his advice on
how to gain prosperity through right livelihood. The Buddha answered by
explaining the conditions that would lead to happiness in the present and in
the future:

“Brahmin,
these four conditions lead to happiness and benefit in the present. They are,
industriousness, watchfulness, good company and balanced livelihood.

“And
what is the endowment of industriousness (utthanasampada)?
A son of good family supports himself through diligent effort. Be it through
farming, commerce, raising livestock, a military career, or the arts, he is
diligent, he applies himself, and he is skilled. He is not lazy in his work,
but clever, interested. He knows how to manage his work, he is able and
responsible: this is called endowment of industriousness.

“And
what is the endowment of watchfulness (arakkhasampada)?
A son of good family has wealth, the fruit of his own sweat and labor, rightly
obtained by him. He applies himself to protecting that wealth, thinking, ‘How
can I prevent this wealth from being confiscated by the King, stolen by
thieves, burnt from fire, swept away from floods or appropriated by unfavored
relatives?’ This is called the endowment of watchfulness.

“And
what is good company (kalyanamittata)?
Herein, a son of good family, residing in a town or village, befriends, has
discourse with, and seek advice from, those householders, sons of householders,
young people who are mature and older people who are venerable, who are
possessed of faith, morality, generosity, and wisdom. He studies and emulates
the faith of those with faith; he studies and emulates the morality of those
with morality; he studies and emulates the generosity of those who are
generous; he studies and emulates the wisdom of those who are wise. This is to
have good company.

“And
what is balanced livelihood (samajivita)?
A son of good family supports himself in moderation, neither extravagantly nor
stintingly. He knows the causes of increase and decrease of wealth, he knows
which undertakings will yield an income higher than the expenditure rather than
the expenditure exceeding the income. Like a person weighing things on a scale,
he knows the balance either way … If this young man had only a small income
but lived extravagantly, it could be said of him that he consumed his wealth as
if it were peanuts. If he had a large income but used it stintingly, it could
be said of him that he will die like a pauper. But because he supports himself
in moderation, it is said that he has balanced livelihood.

“Brahmin,
the wealth rightly gained in this way has four pathways of decline. They are to
be given to debauchery, drink, gambling, and association with evil friends. It
is like a large reservoir with four channels going into it and four channels
going out opened up, and the rain does not fall in due season, that large
reservoir can be expected only to decrease, not to increase …

“Brahmin,
wealth so gained rightly has four pathways of prosperity. They are to refrain
from debauchery, drink and gambling, and to associate with good friends, to be
drawn to good people. It is like a large reservoir with four channels leading
into it and four channels leading out. If the channels leading into it are
opened up, and the channels leading out are closed off, and rain falls in due
season, it can be expected that for this reservoir there will be only increase,
not decrease … Brahmin, these four conditions are for the happiness and
benefit of a young man in the present moment.” [A.IV.241]

   
The Buddha then went on to describe four conditions which lead to happiness and
benefit in the future. In short, they are to possess the spiritual qualities of
faith, morality, generosity and wisdom.

The Happiness of a Householder

The following teaching was given to the
merchant Anathapindika. It is known simply as the four kinds of happiness for a
householder:

“Herein, householder, these four kinds
of happiness are appropriate for one who leads the household life and enjoys
the pleasures of the senses. They are the happiness of ownership, the happiness
of enjoyment, the happiness of freedom from debt, and the happiness of
blamelessness.

“What is the happiness of ownership (atthisukha)? A son of good family
possesses wealth that has been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired
through the strength of his own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly
acquired, rightly gained. He experiences pleasure, he experiences happiness,
thinking, ‘I possess this wealth that has been obtained by my own diligent
labor, acquired through the strength of my own arms and the sweat of my own
brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained.’ This is the happiness of ownership.

“And what is the happiness of enjoyment
(bhogasukha)? Herein, a son
of good family consumes, puts to use, and derives benefit from the wealth that
has been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of
his own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained.
He experiences pleasure, he experiences happiness, thinking, ‘Through this
wealth that has been obtained by my own diligent labor, acquired through the
strength of my own arms and the sweat of my own brow, rightly acquired, rightly
gained, I have derived benefit and performed good works.’ This is called the
happiness of enjoyment.

“And what is the happiness of freedom from
debt (ananasukha)? Herein, a
son of good family owes no debt, be it great or small, to anyone at all. He
experiences pleasure and happiness, reflecting. ‘I owe no debts, be they great
or small, to anyone at all.’ This is called the happiness of freedom from debt.

“And what is the happiness of
blamelessness (anavajjasukha)?
Herein, a noble disciple is possessed of blameless bodily actions, blameless
speech, and blameless thoughts. He experiences pleasure and happiness,
thinking, ‘I am possessed of blameless bodily actions, blameless speech, and
blameless thoughts.’ This is called the happiness of blamelessness.

“When he realizes the happiness of
being free from debt, he is in a position to appreciate the happiness of owning
possessions. As he uses his possessions, he experiences the happiness of
enjoyment. Clearly seeing this, the wise man, comparing the first three kinds
of happiness with the last, sees that they are not worth a sixteenth part of
the happiness that arises from blameless behavior.” [A.II.69]

The Benefits of Wealth

In this passage, the Buddha explains to the
merchant Anathapindika some of the benefits that can arise from wealth. Since
the teachings are specific to an earlier time, the reader is advised to glean
the gist of them and apply it to the modern day:

“Herein, householder, there are five
uses to which wealth can be put. They are:

“With the wealth that has been obtained
by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and
the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the noble disciple
supports himself comfortably, sufficiently, he applies himself to seeing to his
own happiness in rightful ways. He supports his father and mother … wife and
children, servants and workers comfortably, to a sufficiency, applying himself
to their needs and their happiness as is proper. This is the first benefit to
obtained from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has
been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his
own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the
noble disciple supports his friends and associates comfortably, to a
sufficiency, taking an interest in their happiness as is proper. This is the
second benefit to be derived from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has
been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his
own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the
noble disciple protects his wealth from the dangers of confiscation by kings,
theft, fire, flood, and appropriation by unfavored relatives. He sees to his
own security. This is the third benefit to be derived from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has
been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his
own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the
noble disciple makes the five kinds of sacrifice. They are: to relatives
(supporting relatives); to visitors (receiving guests); to ancestors (offerings
made in the name of ancestors); to the king (for taxes and public works); and
to the gods (that is, he supports religion). This is another benefit to be
derived from wealth.

“Moreover, with the wealth that has
been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his
own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, the
noble disciple makes offerings which are of the highest merit, which are
conducive to mental well-being, happiness and heaven, to religious mendicants,
those who live devoted to heedfulness, are established in patience and
gentleness, are trained, calmed, and cooled of defilements. This is the fifth
benefit to be obtained from wealth.

“Householder, there are these five
benefits to be obtained from wealth. If wealth is used by a noble disciple in
such a way that these five benefits are fulfilled, and if it should then become
spent, that noble disciple can reflect thus: ‘Whatever benefit is to be
obtained from wealth, I have obtained. Now my wealth is spent.’ That noble
disciple experiences no distress on that account. And if, after that noble
disciple has used his wealth to provide these five benefits, that wealth should
increase, that noble disciple reflects thus: ‘Whatever benefit is to be
obtained from my wealth I have already obtained. And now my wealth has
increased.’ That noble disciple is also not distressed on that account; he is
distressed in neither case.” [A.III.45]

Wealth and Spiritual Development

The Buddha taught that basic material needs
must be met before spiritual development can begin. The following story
[Dh.A.III.262] illustrates how hunger is both a cause of physical suffering and
an obstacle to spiritual progress:

    One morning while the
Buddha was residing in the Jetavana monastery near the city of Savatthi, he
sensed with his psychic powers that the spiritual faculties of a certain poor
peasant living near the city of Alavi were mature enough for him to understand
the teaching, and that he was ripe for awakenment with awareness. So, later
that morning, the Buddha set off walking to Alavi, some 30 yojanas (about 48 km) away.

    The inhabitants of Alavi
held the Buddha in great respect, and on his arrival warmly welcomed him.
Eventually a place was prepared for everyone to gather together and listen to a
discourse. However, as the Buddha’s particular purpose in going to Alavi was to
awaken with awareness this one poor peasant, he waited for him to arrive before
starting to talk.

    The peasant heard the
news of the Buddha’s visit and, since he had been interested in the Buddha’s
teaching for some time, he decided to go to listen to the discourse. But it so
happened that one of his cows had just disappeared and he wondered whether he
should go and listen to the Buddha first and look for his cow afterwards, or to
look for the cow first. He decided that he should look for the cow first and
quickly set off into the forest to search for it. Eventually the peasant found
his cow and drove it back to the herd, but by the time everything was as it
should be, he was very tired. The peasant thought to himself, “Time is
getting on, if I go back home first it will take up even more time. I’ll just
go straight into the city to listen to the Buddha’s discourse.” Having
made up his mind, the poor peasant started walking into Alavi. By the time he
arrived at the place set up for the talk, he was exhausted and very hungry.

    When the Buddha saw the
peasant’s condition, he asked the city elders to arrange some food for the poor
man, and only when the peasant had eaten his fill and was refreshed did the
Buddha start to teach. While listening to the discourse the peasant realized
the fruit of ‘Stream Entry,’ the first stage of awakenenment with awareness.
The Buddha had fulfilled his purpose in traveling to Alavi.

    After the talk was over,
the Buddha bade farewell to the people of Alavi and set off back to the
Jetavana monastery. During the walk back, the monks who were accompanying him
started to discuss the day’s events: “What was that all about? The Lord
didn’t quite seem himself today. I wonder why he got them to arrange food for
the peasant like that, before he would agree to give his discourse.”

    The Buddha, knowing the
subject of the monks’ discussion, turned back towards them and started to
explain his reason, saying, “When people are overwhelmed and in pain
through suffering, they are incapable of understanding religious
teaching.” The Buddha went on to state that hunger is the most severe of
all illnesses and that conditioned phenomena provide the basis for the most
ingrained suffering. Only when one understands these truths will one realize
the supreme happiness of Nibbana.

    Buddhism considers
economics to be of great significance — this is demonstrated by the Buddha
having the peasant eat something before teaching him. Economists might differ
as to whether the Buddha’s investment of a 45 kilometer walk was worth the awakenment
with awareness of one single person, but the point is that not only is Right
Livelihood one of the factors of the Eightfold Path, but that hungry people
cannot appreciate the Dhamma. Although consumption and economic wealth are
important, they are not goals in themselves, but are merely the foundations for
human development and the enhancement of the quality of life. They allow us to
realize the profound: after eating, the peasant listened to Dhamma and became
awakened with awareness. Buddhist economics ensures that the creation of wealth
leads to a life in which people can develop their potentials and increase in
goodness. Quality of life, rather than wealth for its own sake, is the goal.

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