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In the Buddhas Words

An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon


Translated and Edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi

MABAs Buddhist Study Group

Notes for Chapter 4: The Happiness Visible in this Present Life


(June 26th July 17th)

Lesson 1 - Upholding the Dhamma in Society (June 26

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Text 1 - The King of the Dhamma [AN 3:14] Key Concepts: Both the Wheel-turning Monarch and the Buddha rule and abide by the Dhamma only, therefore the Dhamma rules. Questions for Text 1: 1. How does the Wheel-turning Monarch rule his country and his people? 2. Since both the Buddha and the Wheel-turning Monarch abide by the Dhamma, how do the wheel-turning Monarch and the Buddha differ from each other? 3. How does the Buddha provide lawful protection, shelter, safety in regard to action by body speech and mind? What is his basis for this protection? Text 2 - Worshipping the Six Directions [DN 31: Sigalaka Sutta] Key Concepts: The Buddha teaches a young householders son the proper way to worship the six directions is not in worshiping the east, south, west, etc., but in performing ones duties in relationships. Notes: The Buddha teaches worshiping in the six directions to mean nurturing six sets of relationships: 1. Between Parents and Children as the east. 2. Between Teachers and Students as the south. 3. Between Husbands and Wives as the west. 4. Among Friends as the north. 5. Between Employers and Employees as the nadir (downward direction). 6. Between laypersons or followers and ministers or religious leaders as the zenith (upward direction). Questions for Text 2: 1. What would be the modern equivalent to the six directions? Are these still relevant and current? 2. What do the words making [the direction] at peace and free from fear mean for our relationships? 3. Can we relate the Six Directions to the Six Paramitas?

Lesson 2 The Family (July 3

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Texts 1 and 2 Parents and Children [AN 4:63 and AN 2, iv.2] Key Concept: The proper and only way to repay ones parents. Notes:
MABA Sunday Study Group Chapter 4 Course Notes Page 1 of 6

A house dwells with Brahma, ancient teachers, ancient deities, and holy ones when the children respect their parents. Children cannot repay the kindness and help given by their parents through material means. Instead, by helping establish them in faith, virtue, and wisdom can one only repay their kindness and help. Questions for Texts 1 and 2: 1. How does helping establish ones parents in faith, virtue, and wisdom repay ones parents? a. What would this actually look like in modern terms? b. What if they dont consider it repayment? 2. What is the role of a parent for their children in showing them the world in a Buddhist context? Texts 3-5 Husbands and Wives [AN 4:53, 4:55, 7:59] Key Concepts: The four kinds of marriages; how to be united in future lives; and the seven kinds of wives. Notes: Text 3: Four kinds of marriages: a wretch with a wretch; a wretch with a goddess; a god with a wretch; and a god with a goddess. Text 4: To maintain the relationship in this life and to continue it in a future life, a wife and husband should be united in faith, morality, generosity, and wisdom. Text 5: The seven kinds of wives: slayer, thief, tyrant, mother, sister, friend, handmaid. Questions for Texts 3-5: 1. What is required for a wife and husband to be united in faith, morality, generosity and wisdom? Is this something worth striving for, or more of an added bonus in a relationship? 2. How does Bodhisattva practice fit in with the Buddhas teachings on the different kinds of marriages, wives, and husbands (by extension)? i.e.: How long should a goddess stay with a wretch, etc.? 3. Why does the Buddha seemingly narrow and limit the types of wives (and husbands)? What is the purpose of these lists?

Lesson 3 Welfare and Right Livelihood (July 10

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Text 1 Present Welfare, Future Welfare [AN 8:54] Key Concepts: Four things that lead to welfare and happiness in the present life; four things that lead to welfare and happiness in the future life for laypeople. Notes: Four things that lead to welfare in this present life for a layperson: Accomplishment of persistent effort, accomplishment of protection, good friendship, and balanced living. Four things that lead to welfare and happiness in the future life:

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Accomplishment in faith, moral discipline, generosity, and wisdom. Questions for Text 1 1. Why is good friendship important for welfare and happiness in this present life? See, for comparison, SN 45:2. 2. The Buddha does not mention meditation as something that leads to present or future life welfare/happiness. Why not? And why, then, do we meditate? 3. What is the primary difference between the four things related to this life and the four things related to the future life that are conducive to happiness? Texts 2 - 4 Right Livelihood [AN 4:62] Key Concepts: Five kinds of wrong livelihood; four worthy ways of using ones wealth; four kinds of happiness which may be achieved by a layperson. Notes: Text 2: Five kinds of wrong livelihood: Trading in weapons, living beings, meat, intoxicants, or poison. Text 3: Four worthy ways of using ones wealth: Using it to please oneself/parents/wife/children/workers, and properly maintain oneself/parents/wife/children/workers in happiness. Text 4: Four kinds of happiness which may be achieved by a layperson: Happiness of possession, happiness of enjoyment, happiness of freedom from debt, happiness of blamelessness. Questions for Texts 2 - 4 1. The Buddha speaks of wrong livelihood. What, then, is Right Livelihood? 2. What does the Buddha mean when he says we should properly maintain happiness in our families and ourselves? How does this relate to his teaching that any other use of ones wealth than the four worthy ways is wasting ones wealth, using it frivolously? 3. What do the four kinds of happiness achieved by a layperson have in common? What is the basis for their resultant happiness? What about spiritual happiness for a lay person? Text 5 A Woman of the Home [AN 8:49] Key Concepts: A woman in possession of four qualities that will destine her for victory in the present world; four additional qualities that will provide her victory in the next world. Notes: The Buddha gives this teaching to Visakha, Migaras Mother. For the story of Visakha, you can read it here. Four qualities that destine her for victory in the present world: She is capable at her work, manages her domestic help, behaves in a way that is agreeable to her husband, and she safeguards his (and her) earnings.

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Four additional qualities that will provide her victory in the next world: Accomplishment in faith, moral discipline, generosity, and wisdom. These are the same qualities mentioned in Text 1 in this Lesson 3. Questions for Text 5 Why do you think the Buddha singled out this teaching for a woman of the home? Would there be a more modern version of this teaching?

Lesson 4 The Community (July 17

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Texts 1 and 2 The Six Roots of Dispute; the Six Principles of Cordiality [MN 104] Key Concepts: Six roots of dispute and the six principles of cordiality. Notes: The Six Roots of Dispute (creating discord and strife): A monk (a person) is: 1. Angry and resentful; 2. Contemptuous and insolent; 3. Envious and miserly; 4. Deceitful and fraudulent; 5. Has evil wishes and wrong view; 6. Adheres to his own views (strongly). The Six Principles of Cordiality, which are conducive to love, respect, cohesion, nondispute, concord, and unity: A monk (person): 1. Maintains bodily acts of loving-kindness, both in public and private, toward his/her companions. 2. Maintains verbal acts of loving-kindness, both in public and private, toward his/her companions. 3. Maintains mental acts of loving-kindness, both in public and private, toward his/her companions. 4. Enjoys things in common with his/her companions, without reservation. 5. Possesses in common with his/her companions unbroken virtues, both in public and private. 6. Possesses in common with his/her companions Right and Noble View, both in public and private. Questions for Texts 1 and 2 1. Though this is directed towards a monastic community, can these Roots and Principles be adapted toward the family, workplace, and local community? Which of them, and in what ways, would need to be revised/updated?

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Text 3 Purification is for All Four Castes [MN 93] Key Concepts: It is ones deeds that determine ones virtue, purification, and standing in the world, not the conditions of his or her birth. Notes: The Buddha uses inference and deductive reasoning to refute a young Brahmans claim that the Brahmin class is the highest and purist of human beings. He does this by showing that what applies to other castes applies to the Brahmin class, and vice versa. He also shows how it is ones actions and their result that determine ones standing in the world (as well as the place of birth). Questions for Text 3 1. What do you think purification means? What are we purifying? 2. Can you explain one or two of the Buddhas arguments in more detail? 3. How does this teaching relate to our own position and status in our family and society? Text 4 Seven Principles of Social Stability [DN 16] Key Concepts: Seven principles for community welfare and stability; and seven principles for the welfare and stability of the monastic Sangha. Notes: The Buddha instructs an emissary of a local king about the seven principles that will keep a community from declining. They are: 1. To hold regular meetings. 2. To meet, break up, and carry on their business in harmony. 3. To proceed according to what has been authorized by their laws and tradition. 4. To honor, respect, revere, and salute their elders. 5. To respect the women and wives of their community. 6. To respect and salute the local shrines. 7. To prepare for and maintain the safety of Arahants. He then instructs the monks about the seven principles that will keep the community of monks from declining: 1. To hold regular meetings. 2. To meet, break up, and carry on their business in harmony. 3. To proceed according to what has been authorized by the laws and rules of training of the Sangha. 4. To honor, respect, revere, and salute their elders, according to ordination years. 5. Do not fall prey to the craving that arises and leads to rebirth. 6. To be devoted to forest-lodgings [i.e. solitude and meditation]. 7. To preserve ones mindfulness of the body. Questions for Text 4 Are there additional principles that come to mind, maybe that have been mentioned in other contexts in this Chapter?

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Texts 5 and 6 Wheel Turning Monarch and Bringing Tranquility to the Land [DN 26 and DN 5] Key Concepts: Text 5 describes the attributes and creation of a Wheel-Turning Monarch, one that relies upon the Dhamma to rule. Text 6 shows how a ruler can truly bring peace, tranquility, and prosperity to the land. Notes: Text 5 tells us how the son and heir to the throne of a Wheel-turning Monarch has to turn himself into a Wheel-turning Monarch by relying upon the Dhamma to rule. Acknowledging the Dhamma as your masterlet know crime prevail in your kingdom, and to those who are in need, give wealth. Text 6 shows that, in benefiting those who are dependent upon us, we make a great sacrifice that would be to [our] benefit and happiness for a long time. The Buddha uses a story of a King who benefits his subjects according to their needs, and how his land prospers as a result. Questions for Texts 5 and 6 1. Regardless of the factual possibilities of a Wheel-turning Monarch, what lessons can we gain from the qualities of such a leader? Review Lesson 1 at this point as well. 2. What does Text 6 say about our modern economic and political situation? Or is it too simplistic to be relevant?

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Chapter 4 Course Notes

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