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Buddha’s Wisdom, Chapters 1-7
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Buddha’s Wisdom, Chapters 1-7.
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One should be Amenable to Admonition
Two Kings renounced the world and lived as ascetics. One day they fell into a quarrel about who should admonish the other.
This verse is a well-known summary of the teaching, given by all the Buddhas. In some of the Dispensations it replaced the more detailed teaching found in the Rules of Discipline (Vinaya).
The Six Gateways to Benefit
A son asked his Father, the Bodhisatta, for advice on the spiritual life. The Father explained these six gateways leading to great benefit in life.
Eight things Leading to Prosperity
A householder asks the Buddha for advice on how to live well in his present state.
Four Ways to spend One’s Wealth
The Buddha gives instructions to the young man Sigāla on the four kinds of friends, and then tells him how to keep them.
A Wise Man’s Duties
The Buddha explains the five duties which, when fulfilled, lead to prosperity and not to decline.
The Right Uses of Wealth
The Householder Anāthapiṇḍika receives instruction on the right ways to make use of the wealth that has been righteously obtained.
The Wise attain Fame
These are the Buddha’s words at the conclusion of the instruction given to the young man Sigāla.
Four Things not to be Done
The teaching to Sigāla on what increases and decreases fame and good fortune.
A god comes and asks the Buddha various questions, including one about how many faults there are.
The Buddha explains various dangerous courses of action to the young man Sigāla.
Ten Things that should be Done
The Bodhisatta, when he was King Janasandha, explained ten courses of action which, when not done, bring about regret in the future.
Four Things to Cultivate
The yakkha Ālavaka asked the Buddha various questions on the spiritual life, and this verse is part of the answer.
Four Well-Said Verses
Some verses that were taught to the Bodhisatta by a brahmin who had heard them from the Buddha Kassapa. He is rewarded with a thousand coins for each of the verses.
Merits follow one to the Next World
A rich merchant dies after living like a pauper. The Buddha explains that in a previous life he had given alms to a Paccekabuddha, and so in this life he became rich; however, he regretted it later, so he couldn’t enjoy it.
The Priority of Truth
The Bodhisatta’s teaching to the man-eating King, which eventually persuades him to give up his evil habit.
Truth and Untruth have Different Results
To protect their new-born son, the Bodhisatta, the King and Queen build an iron house and keep him in it. On coming of age, though, he realises he is not safe from old age and death and proclaims twenty-four verses which culimate in the following famous verses.
The Purification of Mortals
Anāthapiṇḍika is reborn as a god in Heaven. Later he comes to see the Buddha and utters these words.
The Path to Heaven
The Bodhisatta, reborn as the Lord of the Gods Sakka, explains the path to Heaven to his former wife.
Four Things leading to Success
A monkey-king outwits a crocodile who tries to eat him, and the crocodile acknowledges his escape with the following verse.
Three Things leading to Success
The Bodhisatta escapes from a man-eating ogre (rakkhasa) and the latter acknowledges his escape with the following verse.
The Bodhisatta uncovers a female monkey as the real thief of the King’s jewels, and the King praised him with the following verse.
The Gift of Fearlessness
The gods come to see the Buddha and praise various kinds of giving, including the gift of fearlessness.
The Provenance of the Buddhas
The Buddha taught this verse in answer to a question by Venerable Ānanda.
The Good Things in Life
The Buddha is reflecting on whether it is possible for Kings to rule the world with justice. Māra, finding this out, comes to the wrong conclusion, and tries to tempt him. The Buddha explains what is truly good.
The monks discuss what is the true good in the world, some say ruling, some say love, some say food. The Buddha explains what is truly good.
Renouncing the Lesser Good for the Greater
The Bodhisatta’s son meets some paccekabuddhas and attains Awakening and later dies. His father, when he finds out honours his grave. Afterwards when reborn the Bodhisatta attains Awakening and he is greatly honoured in a similar way.
The Greatest Things
King Pasenadi is always overeating and suffering for it. The Buddha has the King’s nephew learn and recite a verse which reminds the King to be moderate. Later the King is cured and tells him about his good fortune. The Buddha recites the following verse.
Four Great Things
A God comes to the Buddha and asks four questions to which these are the replies.
The Rare Things
A monk in the time of Buddha Kassapa dies and is reborn as a nāga. Eventually he hears that a new Buddha has arisen in the world, and goes and asks why he cannot attain rebirth as a human even after so long a time. This is the Buddha’s reply.
Four More Good Things
A God asks the Buddha four questions and gets the following replies.
Overcoming Defilements with their Opposites
A wife hires a courtesan to look after her husband’s needs, while she serves the Buddha and his monks. The courtesan gets angry and tries to burn her with boiling ghee, but the power of loving-kindness stops it burning.
The Dhamma Surpasses All
The Gods have four questions which none of them is able to answer, they therefore go to the Buddha with their questions and this is his reply.
Various Reciprical Duties
The Bodhisatta converts a man-eating King and brings him home, but the people do not feel safe. The Bodhisatta admonishes them with these verses.
The Great Defilements
While the Buddha is preaching the Dhamma, of five lay followers one falls asleep, another scratches the earth, one shakes a tree, another looks at the sky and only one listens attentively. The Buddha explains they were a snake, an earthworm, a monkey, an astrologer and a student of the Vedas in their previous births and behave accordingly now.
Three Roots of Evil
King Pasenadi asks what things when they arise are unbeneficial, unsatisfactory and uncomfortable.
The Long Journey in Saṁsāra
King Pasenadi is overcome with desire for another man’s wife and seeks to have him killed. During the night he wakes to the sound of four people screaming. The Buddha explains they were adulterers in their previous lives and did no good deeds.
Profiting in Neither Way
A wealthy youth takes to drink and squanders both his own and his wife’s money and ends up a beggar. The Buddha explains that if he had applied himself as a layman he would have been amongst the chief treasurers; and if he had become a monk he would have attained the paths and fruits.
A crocodile, wishing to get a monkey’s heart for his wife, entices a monkey onto his back, but at the critical time, the monkey persuades him that he left his heart in a tree and escapes when land is approached. A crocodile, wishing to get a monkey’s heart for his wife, entices a monkey onto his back, but at the critical time, the monkey persuades him that he left his heart in a tree and escapes when land is approached.
Not all Growth is Advantageous
A goose warns a tree-god that a banyan sapling that was taking hold in its home would eventually destroy it. The warning was ignored and the tree succumbed.
A Cheat is Cheated in Return
Someone stole some ploughshares and when questioned said that mice had taken them away; in return his accusor carried off the thief’s son and said a hawk had done it. This is the Bodhisatta’s comment and solution to the problem.
A merchant used to dress his donkey up like a lion to scare away the villagers while it was eating, until one time the donkey gave the game away.
More than Gentle Persuasion is Sometimes Necessary
A goat tries with kind words to persuade a panther not to attack and eat her; the panther however didn’t listen and got his prey.
A Limit to One’s Duties
A queen is neglected by the King who lets her starve. To chastise the King the Bodhisatta spoke these verses, which led to the King repenting.
The Necessity for Effort
The Bodhisatta is nearly lost at sea, but through his courageous and determined effort makes it to land again. Later he reflects on his success.
When Faculties Wane
A vulture who had been stealing things in the city is captured and brought before the King, and the following dialogue takes place.
Craving brings Suffering
The story is of Suppavāsā who carried her child for seven years and took seven days to bear him. Still she desired more children.
Through a stratagem a sneeze wins a bride and a kingdom for a prince, but a brahmin who sneezes loses his nose.
A Name is Just a Name
In the story a man called Wicked hates his name so he is advised to search for a new one. He comes across Life who had just died, Wealthy who was poor, and Guide who was lost in a forest. Then he realised a name is just a name, nothing more.
The Impermanence of Desire
A negligent queen gets reborn as a worm, and is made by the Bodhisatta to speak to her grieving King, who when he hears about her love for her new husband abandons his grief.
Lack of Insight
The Buddha describes the loathsomeness of the body and concludes the discourse with these verses.
Comparing Oneself with Others
The group of six monks chase off the group of seventeen monks and take their rooms. The Buddha lays down a rule and speaks the following verse.
The Desire for Happiness
As the Buddha goes on his alms-round he sees a group of boys tormenting a snake for fun. He admonishes them with this verse.
Virtue and Learning
The Bodhisatta wishes to find out which is more important, virtue or learning, and takes a coin a day from the King until on the third day he is arrested. He then understands which is most valued in the world.
Loyalty gets its Reward
A King of the geese is caught by a fowler, but his Commander-in-Chief refuses to leave him. The fowler takes them to the King of Men who, impressed by their virtue, sets them free.
Friendship knows no Boundaries
The Bodhisatta was one time born as a lowly god in a sacred reed (Kusanāḷi). Nevertheless he was able to save the home of a god who lived in a tree, who then spoke this verse.
Gratefulness to Friends
A jackal, who saved a lion when he was in peril of losing his life, is recommended by the lion to his jealous mate.
The True Friend
People objected to someone because he was called Black-Ear; however he turned out to be a true friend. Names are not important, they are but sounds.
The 16 Qualities of Foes and Friends
The Bodhisatta explains to King Brahmadatta the sixteen qualities of a foe, and the sixteen qualities of a friend.
Friends, Bad and Good
The Buddha explains to the young man Sigāla how to distinguish bad friends and good friends.
The True Friend
The Buddha explains the seven things by which one can recognise a true friend.
Seven more things by which one can know a true friend.
Four True Friends
A god approaches and asks four questions regarding friends and this is the Buddha’s reply.
Gratefulness and Moderation
The god of a Banyan tree gives presents to merchants, who out of greed decide to cut down the tree. Their chief protests with this verse, and is the only one spared retribution.
Gratefulness and Moderation
A man lost in a forest is saved by a monkey, the Bodhisatta, who, tired out, lies down to rest. The man, who is hungry, tries to kill him with a rock but fails. He is struck with leprosy, dies and is reborn in hell.
Not Deceiving One’s Friends
The King sends his charioteer to kill and bury his son, the Bodhisatta, whom he believes to be disabled and unlucky. The Bodhisatta appeals to the charioteer thus.
Prudence in Giving
A royalist treats with kindness a great horseman who has been defeated in battle, not knowing it is the King himself. The great horseman tells him if he comes to the city he will receive his reward. One day the man comes and the King gives him half his kingdom.
Overstaying One’s Welcome
The Bodhisatta is an ascetic who is invited by the King to stay in his park. After some time the King plots to kill him, and he decides to leave.
Text by Ānanadajoti, Photos by Andreas Dīpaloka
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