Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to be a RICH Buddhist (sutra)

Ven. Narada Thera (trans.) edited by Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly, Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutra, "Four Conditions of Worldly Welfare" (AN 8.54)
"Money, Money, Money," I've got my mind on my money and your money on my mind.

Paper chase: Benjamins, private federal notes, fiat money used to be gold certificates.

We're limousine liberals, right, Dick? - Shut up, Lisa. We're meditating. Let go of all that "Simpsons" TV money and fame. - That's easy for you to say, Dick, because you're a personal friend of the Dalai Lama and I'm Y.S. - Quiet, Lisa, noble silence! ("She of Little Faith").

Butler, bring me my cash on a silver platter.
Translator's note: In this sutra the Buddha instructs rich Buddhist householders on how they can preserve and increase their prosperity and avoid loss of wealth. Wealth does not complete a person, of course, nor make for a harmonious society. Instead, the possession of wealth all too often multiplies our desires so that we are ever in the pursuit of amassing more worldly power, wealth, pleasure. And unrestrained craving leaves us bitterly dissatisfied and stifles our inner growth for things and pleasures beyond this plane of existence.

Lucky Bodhisattva Budai/Hotei (iStockphoto)
It creates conflict and disharmony in society through the resentment of the underprivileged who did not get a fair opportunity to gain mass wealth and therefore feel themselves exploited by the effects of someone else's unrestrained craving. No one has greed, but everyone else has greed. That is, not me, I'm not greedy, but everyone else is.
So the Buddha follows up on the advice on gaining and holding material welfare with four essential conditions for spiritual welfare:
  1. confidence (in the fact that the Buddha was enlightened, that those who follow the path are enlightened, that the Dharma teaches the way to enlightenment, with this confidence being called saddha or "faith"),
  2. virtue (personal conduct),
  3. liberality (generosity),
  4. wisdom (learning and insight).
These four instill in a person a sense of higher values. So we will then not only pursue our personal riches, but also be aware of our duty toward society from which we got rich and future lives beyond this one. One implication is that a wisely and generously employed liberality reduces tensions and conflicts in society. Observing these conditions of material and spiritual welfare can make for an ideal citizen in an ideal society.
The Sutra
Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutra (AN 8.54) by Ven. Narada (trans.) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
Cash placed as an offering to the Buddha and/or Monastic Sangha, Ladakh (Aswin/flickr)
Thus have I heard. Once the [Buddha] was dwelling among the Koliyans,
  • NOTE: The Koliyans were the rivals of the Buddha's family clan, the Shakyans. Queen Maha Maya, the Buddha's biological mother, belonged to the Koliyan clan and his father, King Suddhodana, to the Shakyan clan.
in their market town Kakkarapatta. Then Dighajanu (literally, "long-kneed," a nickname or epithet), a Koliyan, approached the Exalted One, saluted him, and sat respectfully to one side. Seated, he addressed the Enlightened One as follows:

"Venerable sir, we are laypeople who enjoy worldly pleasures. We lead a life encumbered by spouse and children. We use sandalwood of Kasi [scented cosmetic from the ancient country with its capital at Varanasi]. We deck ourselves with garlands, perfume, and creams. We use gold and silver. To those like us, O venerable sir, let the Exalted One teach the Dharma, teach those things that lead to success and happiness in this life and to weal and happiness in future lives."

Four Conditions of Worldly Progress
Whoa, in the USA you get rich by forming a monopoly that bankrupts everyone else.
"Four conditions, Vyagghapajja ("Tiger's Path," Dighajanu's family name, so called because his ancestors were born on a forest path full with tigers), conduce to a householder's success and happiness in this very life. What are the four?
  1. "The accomplishment (-sampada, blessing) of persistent effort (utthana-),
  2. the accomplishment of watchfulness (arakkha-),
  3. good [noble, virtuous] friendship (kalyana-mittata), and
  4. balanced livelihood (samma-jivikata).
    Now I've only got 100 99 problems.
    "What is 'the accomplishment of persistent effort'?
    "Herein [within this Dharma (Teaching) and Discipline (Code or Path to Liberation)], Vyagghapajja, by whatever activity a householder earns a living -- whether by farming, trading, keeping cattle [for milk], archery, service to the [government], or by any other kind of craft -- at that one becomes skillful and energetic [not lazy and indolent].

    "One is endowed with the power of wisdom (discernment) as to appropriate ways and means; one is able to carry out and allocate (duties). This is called the 'accomplishment of persistent effort.'
    "What is the 'accomplishment of watchfulness'?
    "Herein, Vyagghapajja, whatever wealth a householder is in possession of, obtained by dint of effort, collected by strength of arm, by sweat of brow, justly acquired by right means -- such wealth one cultivates well by guarding and watching it so that rulers do not seize it, thieves do not steal it, fire does not burn it, flood water does not carry it away, nor ill-disposed heirs remove it [as an early inheritance]. This is the accomplishment of watchfulness.
    Golden Buddhas in Theravada Thailand (Piyawit Kampput/p_kampput/FIVE S.P./flickr).
    "What is 'good friendship'?
    "Herein, Vyagghapajja, in whatever village or market town a householder dwells, one associates, converses, engages in discussions with householders or householders' children, whether young and cultured or old and highly cultured, full of confidence/faith (saddha),  
    • Confidence, conviction (saddha) never refers to blind faith but always to verifiable faith. It is confidence based on knowledge initiated by trust but fulfilled by eventual direct experience. Buddhism, therefore, is not a "faith" or "belief system" but a practice to be verified by personal experience and direct knowledge beyond all teachers or claims. Until one makes it one's own by direct verification, it is just confidence in the Buddha, the Dharma (Teachings), and the Noble Sangha -- the community of enlightened disciples (the arya, "noble ones," not simply anyone in a robe who are members of the Buddhist Monastic Order, which is also called the Sangha), the Three Jewels that propel one forward on the Path.
    full of virtue (sila), full of charity (caga) [dana], full of wisdom (pañña). One acts in accordance with the confidence of those with confident [those full of conviction, faith], with the virtue of the virtuous, with the charity of the charitable, with the wisdom of the wise. This is called 'good friendship.'
    "What is 'balanced livelihood'?
    "Herein, Vyagghapajja, a householder aware of income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus that income will remain in excess of expenses and not expenses in excess of income.
    • [Wisdom Quarterly note: "If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall."]
    Why trust in gold and paper when you can have bits and blips on a computer? [IP]
    "Just as the goldsmith (tuladharo, literally, "carrier of the scales") or goldsmith's apprentice know on holding up a balance that by so much it has dipped down, by so much it has tilted up, even so a householder, aware of income and expenses, leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that income will remain in excess of expenses and not expenses in excess of income.
    "If, Vyagghapajja, a householder with little income were to lead an extravagant life, there would be those who say:

    "'This [foolish] person enjoys personal property like one who eats wood-apple.'
    • Udumbarakhadaka: The Commentary explains that one who wants to eat wood-apple customarily shakes the tree go get fruit. But the result is that a large number of apples fall and go to waste while only a few are eaten.
    "If, Vyagghapajja, a householder with a sizable income were to lead a wretched life, there would be those who say, 'This [miserly] person will die like a starveling!'

    Ways Money is Lost
    "The wealth thus amassed, Vyagghapajja, has four sources of destruction:
    1. debauchery
    2. drunkenness
    3. gambling
    4. friendship, companionship, and intimacy with doers of harm.
    "Just as in the case of a great reservoir with four inlets and outlets, if a person should close the inlets and open the outlets and there should be inadequate rainfall, a decrease of water is to be expected in that reservoir and not an increase. Even so there are four sources for the destruction of amassed wealth: debauchery, drunkenness, gambling, and friendship, companionship and intimacy with doers of harm.

    Ways Money is Built Up
    "There are four sources for the increase of amassed wealth:
    1. abstinence from debauchery,
    2. abstinence from drunkenness,
    3. non-indulgence in gambling,
    4. friendship, companionship, and intimacy with the good.
    Himalayan Crows Lake in north Sikkim, India (Carsten.nebel/en.wikipedia.org)
    "Just as in the case of a great reservoir with four inlets and four outlets, if a person were to open the inlets and close the outlets, and there should also be adequate rainfall, an increase in water is certainly to be expected in that reservoir and not a decrease. Even so these four conditions are the sources of increase of amassed wealth.
    "These four conditions, Vyagghapajja, are conducive to a householder's success and happiness in this very life [and future lives as well].

    Conditions of Spiritual Progress
    Beyond selfish pursuits, there are thoughts of others and all that made my riches possible. There is also the thought of my welfare beyond this world. So if I help others, I fulfill my duty to myself and to others. But if greed overtakes me, it will be to my ruin and the harm of others. Maybe I don't owe anyone a d*mn thing, but it sure is wise to provide for others and my (future) self/selves, because life (samsara) is much longer than this (WQ/occupy.com).
    "Four conditions, Vyagghapajja, conduce to a householder's success and happiness in future lives. What are the four?
    1. "The accomplishment (-sampada) of confidence (saddha-),
    2. the accomplishment of virtue (sila-),
    3. the accomplishment of charity (caga-), and
    4. the accomplishment of wisdom (pañña-).
    "What is the 'accomplishment of confidence'?
    Wisdom is the greatest good. (Nadeemmazhar)
    "Herein a householder is possessed of confidence, is confident in the enlightenment of the Perfected One (the Tathagata, the supremely enlightened Buddha): Thus, indeed, is that Blessed One: the purified one, fully enlightened, endowed with [liberating] knowledge and conduct, well-gone, the knower of worlds, the incomparable leader of humans to be tamed, the teacher of devas and humans, all-knowing, and blessed. This is called the 'accomplishment of confidence.'
    "What is the 'accomplishment of virtue'?
    "Herein a householder abstains from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, perjury [false speech], and from intoxicants that occasion heedlessness. This is called the 'accomplishment of virtue.'
    "What is the 'accomplishment of charity'?
    "Herein a householder dwells at home with a heart free from the stain of avarice [greed], devoted to charity, open-handed, delighting in generosity, attending to the needy, delighting in the distribution of alms. This is called the 'accomplishment of charity.'
    "What is the 'accomplishment of wisdom'?
    "Herein a householder is wise: endowed with wisdom that understands the arising and cessation (of the Five Aggregates of Clinging); one is possessed of the noble [enlightened at least to the first stage, which is called stream entry] penetrating insight that leads to the destruction of disappointment/suffering. This is called the 'accomplishment of wisdom.'
    "These four conditions, Vyagghapajja, conduce to a householder's success and happiness in future lives."
    Energetic and heedful in duties,
    Wisely administering wealth,
    One lives a balanced life,
    Protecting what has been amassed.
    Endowed with confidence* and virtue, too,
    • *Confidence is perfected by stream entry, moving from verifiable faith to confirmed certainty, conviction, having directly experienced the truth of the Buddha's teachings, the path, knowing-and-seeing and therefore no longer relying on any teacher.
    Generous one is and free from avarice;
    One ever works to clear the path
    That leads to weal in future lives.
    Thus to the layperson full of confidence,
    By one, rightly called 'enlightened,'
    These eight conditions have been told,
    Which now and after lead to bliss. More

    Think you'll grow rich, but your boss, bank, and government will grow far richer. Why? White collar crime is treated lightly even as it harms everyone. HSBC Bank colludes with UK gov't and media (occupy.com). Don't worry; you won't notice as you chase that paper.

    Real "welfare queens" own banks and realty.
    ©1985 Buddhist Publication Society (BPS.lk). Copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium if you: (1) make such copies and so on available free of charge and, in the case of reprinting, only print in quantities of no more than 50 copies; (2) clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. From Everyman's Ethics: Four Discourses by the Buddha (Wheel 14), translated by Narada Thera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1985). Copyright © 1985 Buddhist Publication Society. "Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutta: Conditions of Welfare" (AN 8.54), translated from the Pali by Narada Thera based on Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), Nov. 30, 2013. Revised, edited, and expanded by Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal, Feb. 24, 2015.

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