The Wisdom Blog: Classic & Contemporary Buddhism

The Teachings of the Buddha: The Happiness Visible in This Present Life and “Worthy Deeds”

by Bhikkhu Bodhi
October 18, 2013
Fri, 10/18/2013 - 10:30 -- bbodhi

In today’s selection The Buddha teaches that in seeking “the good visible in this present life,” the lay follower should consistently adhere to principles of right conduct, especially to the five precepts and the rules of right livelihood. Thus he stipulates that wealth must be “acquired by energetic striving …  righteous wealth righteously gained”. Again, he asks his lay followers to use the wealth they obtain not only to gratify themselves but also to benefit their dependents and others who live on charity, particularly virtuous ascetics and brahmins.

 With wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by the strength of his arms, earned by the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained, the noble disciple undertakes four worthy deeds. What four?

   (1) “Here, householder, with wealth acquired by energetic striving … righteously gained, the noble disciple makes himself happy and pleased and properly maintains himself in happiness; he makes his parents happy and pleased and properly maintains them in happiness; he makes his wife and children, his slaves, workers, and servants happy and pleased and properly maintains them in happiness; he makes his friends and companions happy and pleased and properly maintains them in happiness. This is the first case of wealth that has gone to good use, that has been properly utilized and used for a worthy cause.

   (2) “Again, with wealth acquired by energetic striving … righteously gained, the noble disciple makes provisions against the losses that might arise from fire, floods, kings, thieves, or displeasing heirs; he makes himself secure against them. This is the second case of wealth that has gone to good use ... for a worthy cause.

   (3) “Again, with wealth acquired by energetic striving … righteously gained, the noble disciple makes the five oblations: to relatives, guests, ancestors, the king, and the deities. This is the third case of wealth that has gone to good use ... for a worthy cause.

   (4) “Again, with wealth acquired by energetic striving … righteously gained, the noble disciple establishes an uplifting offering of alms—an offering that is heavenly, resulting in happiness, conducive to heaven—to those ascetics and brahmins who refrain from intoxication and heedlessness, who are settled in patience and mildness, who tame themselves, calm themselves, and train themselves for nibbāna. This is the fourth case of wealth that has gone to good use, that has been properly employed and used for a worthy cause.

AN 4:61; II 65–68

To continue reading “Worthy Deeds”, click here.

Categories and Tags