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The Happiness visible in this Present Life
By Bhikku Bodhi - Wisdom Publications 2005

As the king of the Dhamma, the Buddha takes up the task of promoting the true good, welfare, and happiness of the world. He does so by teaching the people of the world how to live in accordance with the Dhamma and behave in such a way that they can attain realization of the same liberating, Dhamma that he realized through his enlightenment. The Pāli commentaries demonstrate the broad scope of the Dhamma by distinguishing three types of benefit that the Buddha’s teaching is intended to promote, graded hierarchically according to their relative merit: Welfare and happiness directly visible in this present life (diṭṭha-dhamma-hitasukha), attained by fulfilling one’s moral commitments and social responsibilities; Welfare and happiness pertaining to the next life (samparāyika-hitasukha), attained by engaging in meritorious deeds; .  The ultimate good or supreme goal (paramattha), Nibbāna, final release from the cycle of rebirths, attained by developing the Noble Eightfold Path.


(1) The King of the Dhamma


The Blessed One said: “Monks, even a wheel-turning monarch, a just and righteous king, does not govern his realm without a co-regent.” 

When he had spoken, a certain monk addressed the Blessed One thus: “But who, venerable sir, is the co-regent of the wheel-turning monarch, the just and righteous king?”

“It is the Dhamma, the law of righteousness,  monk,” replied the Blessed One.

“In this case, the wheel-turning monarch, the just and righteous king, relying on the Dhamma, honoring the Dhamma, esteeming and respecting it, with the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and sovereign, provides lawful protection, shelter, and safety for his own dependents. He provides lawful protection, shelter, and safety for the khattiyas attending on him; for his army, for the brahmins and householders, for the inhabitants of town and countryside, for ascetics and brahmins, for the beasts and birds.

 “A wheel-turning monarch, a just and righteous king, who thus provides lawful protection, shelter, and safety for all, is the one who rules by Dhamma only. And that rule cannot be overthrown by any hostile human being. 

 “Even so, monk, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the just and righteous king of the Dhamma, relying on the Dhamma, honoring the Dhamma, esteeming and respecting it, with the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and sovereign, provides lawful protection, shelter, and safety in regard to action by body, speech, and mind. He teaches thus: ‘Such bodily action should be undertaken and such should not be undertaken. Such verbal action should be undertaken and such should not be undertaken. Such mental action should be undertaken and such should not be undertaken.’ 

 “The Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One, the just and righteous king of the Dhamma, who thus provides lawful protection, shelter, and safety in regard to action by body, speech, and mind, is the one who turns the incomparable wheel of the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma only. And that wheel of the Dhamma cannot be turned back by any ascetic or brahmin, by any deva or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.”


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(2) Worshipping the Six Directions

 

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha, at the Bamboo Grove, in the Squirrels’ Sanctuary. Then Sigālaka the householder’s son, having got up early and gone out of Rājagaha, was paying homage, with wet clothes and hair and with joined palms, to the different directions: to the east, the south, the west, the north, the nadir, and the zenith.

 And the Blessed One, having risen early and dressed, took his robe and bowl and went to Rājagaha for alms. And seeing Sigālaka paying homage to the different directions, he said: “Householder’s son, why have you got up early to pay homage to the different directions?” 

“Venerable sir, my father, when he was dying, told me to do so. And so, out of respect for my father’s words, which I revere, honor, and hold sacred, I have got up early to pay homage in this way to the six directions.”

 “But, householder’s son, that is not the right way to pay homage to the six directions according to the Noble One’s discipline.”

 “Well, venerable sir, how should one pay homage to the six directions according to the Noble One’s discipline? It would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the proper way to pay homage to the six directions according to the Noble One’s discipline.”

 “Then listen and attend carefully, householder’s son, I will speak.” 

“Yes, venerable sir,” Sigālaka said. The Blessed One said this: …

 “And how, householder’s son, does the noble disciple protect the six directions? These six things are to be regarded as the six directions. The east denotes mother and father. The south denotes teachers. The west denotes wife and children. The north denotes friends and companions. The nadir denotes servants, workers, and helpers. The zenith denotes ascetics and brahmins.

 “There are five ways in which a son should minister to his mother and father as the eastern direction. He should think: ‘Having been supported by them, I will support them. I will perform their duties for them. I will keep up the family tradition. I will be worthy of my heritage. After my parents’ deaths I will distribute gifts on their behalf.’ And there are five ways in which the parents, so ministered to by their son as the eastern direction, will reciprocate: they will restrain him from evil, support him in doing good, teach him some skill, find him a suitable wife, and, in due time, hand over his inheritance to him. In this way the eastern direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear 


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 “There are five ways in which pupils should minister to their teachers as the southern direction: by rising to greet them, by waiting on them, by being attentive, by serving them, by mastering the skills they teach. And there are five ways in which their teachers, thus ministered to by their pupils as the southern direction, will reciprocate: they will give thorough instruction, make sure they have grasped what they should have duly grasped, give them a thorough grounding in all skills, recommend them to their friends and colleagues, and provide them with security in all directions. In this way the southern direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear. 

 “There are five ways in which a husband should minister to his wife as the western direction: by honoring her, by not disparaging her, by not being unfaithful to her, by giving authority to her, by providing her with adornments. And there are five ways in which a wife, thus ministered to by her husband as the western direction, will reciprocate: by properly organizing her work, by being kind to the servants, by not being unfaithful, by protecting stores, and by being skillful and diligent in all she has to do. In this way the western direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

 “There are five ways in which a man should minister to his friends and companions as the northern direction: by gifts, by kindly words, by looking after their welfare, by treating them like himself, and by keeping his word. And there are five ways in which friends and companions, thus ministered to by a man as the northern direction, will reciprocate: by looking after him when he is inattentive, by looking after his property when he is inattentive, by being a refuge when he is afraid, by not deserting him when he is in trouble, and by showing concern for his children. In this way the northern direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

“There are five ways in which a master should minister to his servants and workers as the nadir: by arranging their work according to their strength, by supplying them with food and wages, by looking after them when they are ill, by sharing special delicacies with them, and by letting them off work at the right time. And there are five ways in which servants and workers, thus ministered to by their master as the nadir, will reciprocate: they will get up before him, go to bed after him, take only what they are given, do their work properly, and be bearers of his praise and good repute. In this way the nadir is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

   “There are five ways in which a man should minister to ascetics and brahmins as the zenith: by kindness in bodily deed, speech, and thought, by keeping open house for them, and by supplying their bodily needs. And the ascetics and brahmins, thus ministered to by him as the zenith, will reciprocate in five ways: they will restrain him from evil, encourage him to do good, be benevolently compassionate toward him, teach him what he has not heard, and point out to him the way to heaven. In this way the zenith is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.”


Excerpt from: (from DN 31: Sigālaka Sutta; III 180–81, 187–91) 

 In The Buddha’s Words An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon


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