Dhamma for Everyone

Dhamma for Everyone

By Kingsley Heendeniya

The Buddha and his senior disciples such as Sariputta, Maha Moggallana, and Maha Kacchana taught Dhamma at the deep end mostly to sekhas, Bhikkhus under higher training. There are only a few Suttas where the Buddha taught exclusively mundane or lokiya Dhamma.

I have paraphrased below the Saleyyaka Sutta taught to the Brahmin householders of the Sala village when he was wandering in the Kosalan country with a large Sangha of Bhikkhus. They asked him two questions:

(a) Sir, what is the cause and condition why some beings, after death, reappear in states of unhappy deprivation, and

(b) Sir, why do some reappear in a happy destination?

Many readers will be interested to learn the answers that the Buddha gave since most want to know and understand the minimum of Dhamma and practice it without too much commitment but with confidence so that after death, there is a guarantee of a desired after-life. In this Sutta, the Buddha has left out difficult core teachings such as paticcasamuppada, aniccata and anatta.

He began the discourse thus. “Householders, it is by reason of conduct not in accordance with Dhamma, by reason of unrighteous conduct, that some beings, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in states of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. It is by reason of conduct in accordance with Dhamma…reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world”.

The Brahmins then said, “We do not understand the detailed meaning of Master Gotama’s utterance which he has spoken in brief without expounding the detailed meaning. It would be good if Master Gotama teach us so we can understand the detailed meaning.” “Then, householders’, the Buddha said “listen and attend closely to what I shall say”. The two essential modes for study and practice of Dhamma are wise attention [yoniso manasikara] and satisampajanna [mindfulness and awareness].

There are three kinds of bodily conduct, four kinds of verbal conduct and three kinds of mental conduct that are not in accordance with Dhamma. It is by reason of such unrighteous conduct that beings reappear in states of deprivation after death.

Conversely, there are three, four and three kinds of bodily, verbal and mental conduct respectively that conduce to a happy destination after death in accordance with Dhamma.

Unrighteous bodily conduct

  1. Here someone kills living beings; is murderous, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings.
  2. He takes what is not given; he takes by way of theft the property of others in the village or forest.
  3. He misconducts himself in sensual pleasures; he has intercourse with women who are protected by their mother, father, mother and father, brother, sister, or relatives, who have a husband, who are protected by law, and even with those who are garlanded in token of betrothal.

Righteous bodily conduct

  1. Here, someone, abandoning the killing of living beings, abstains from killing living beings; with rod and weapon laid aside, gentle and kindly, he abides compassionate to all living beings.
  2. Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he abstains from taking what is not given; he does not take by way of theft the wealth and property of others in the village or forest.
  3. Abandoning misconduct in sensual pleasures, he abstains from misconduct in sensual pleasure; he does not have intercourse with women who are protected by their mother, father, mother and father, brother, sister, or relatives, who have a husband, who are protected by law, and even with those who are garlanded in token of betrothal.

Unrighteous verbal conduct

1.Here someone speaks falsehood; when summoned to a court, or to a meeting, or to his relatives’ presence, or to his guild, or to the royal family’s presence and questioned as a witness: ‘So, good man, tell what you know’ not knowing, he says, ‘I know’ or knowing, he says, ‘I do not know’; not seeing, he says, ‘I see’, or seeing, he says, ‘I do not see’; in full awareness he speaks falsehood for his own ends, or for another’s ends, or for some trifling worldly end.

  1. He speaks maliciously; he repeats elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide from these, or he repeats to these people what he has heard elsewhere in order to divide from those; thus he is one who divides those who are united, a creator of divisions, who enjoys discord, rejoices in discord, delights in discord, a speaker of words that create discord.
  2. He speaks harshly; he utters words that are rough, hard, hurtful to others, offensive to others, bordering on anger, not conducive to concentration.
  3. He is a gossip; he speaks at the wrong time, speaks what is not fact, speaks what is useless, speaks contrary to the Dhamma and the Discipline; at the wrong time he speaks such words as are worthless, unreasonable, immoderate and unbeneficial.

Righteous verbal conduct

  1. Here someone, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech; when summoned to a court, or to a meeting, or to his relatives’ presence, or to his guild, or to the royal family’s presence and questioned as a witness: ‘So, good man, tell what you know’ not knowing, he says, ‘I do not know’ or knowing, he says, ‘I know’; not seeing, he says, ‘I do not see’, or seeing, he says, ‘I see’; he does not in full awareness speak falsehood for his own ends, or for another’s ends, or for some trifling worldly end.
  2. Abandoning malicious speech, he abstains from malicious speech; he does not repeat elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide from those, nor does he repeat to these people what he has heard elsewhere in order to divide from those; thus he is one who reunites those who are divided, a promoter of friendships, who enjoys concord, rejoices in concord, delights in concord, a speaker of words that promote concord.
  3. Abstaining from harsh speech; he abstains from harsh speech; he speaks such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and loveable, as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many and agreeable to many.
  4. Abandoning gossip, he abstains from gossip; he speaks at the right time, speaks what is the fact, speaks on what is good, speaks on Dhamma and the Discipline; at the right time he speaks such words as are worth recording, reasonable, moderate and beneficial.

Unrighteous mental conduct

  1. Here someone is covetous; he covets the wealth and property of others thus: ‘Oh, may what belongs to another be mine!’
  2. Or he has a mind of ill will and intentions of hate thus: ‘May these beings be slain and slaughtered, may they be cut off, perish, or be annihilated!
  3. Or he has wrong views, distorted vision, thus: ‘There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed; no fruit or result of good and bad actions; no this world, no other world, no mother, no father; no beings who are born spontaneously; no good and virtuous recluses and Brahmins in the world who have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.

Righteous mental conduct

  1. Here someone is not covetous; he does not covet the wealth and property of others thus: ‘Oh, may what belongs to another be mine!’
  2. His mind is without ill will and intentions free from hate thus: ‘May these beings be free from enmity, affliction and anxiety!
  3. He has right view, undistorted vision, thus: ‘There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world, there is mother and father; there are beings who are born spontaneously; there are good and virtuous recluses and Brahmins in the world who have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.

If, householders, one who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma should wish: Oh! that after death, I might appear in the company of well-to-do nobles, or Brahmins or householders, or in the company of gods of the heavens…gods of the base of neither-perception-nor-non perception! It is possible that after death, he will appear in their company. It is also possible, that by realizing for himself with direct knowledge, he will enter upon and abide in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that is taintless, with the destruction of the taints. [Arahata]

The Buddha did not refer to abstaining from alcohol may be because it was not relevant to the Brahmins of Sala. The theme is on cultivating, developing and maintaining in being bodily, verbal and mental secular ethical conduct.

Note that Nibbana is the End of Ethics.

 

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