Sigālaka Sutta

Sigālaka Sutta: To Sigālaka
Advice to Lay People

1. Thus have I heard. Once the Lord was staying at Rājagaha, at the Squirrels’ Feeding Place in the Bamboo Grove. And at that time 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.

2. And the Lord, 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?’ ‘Lord, my father, when he was dying, told me to do so. And so, Lord, out of respect for my father’s words, which I revere, honour and hold sacred, I have got up thus 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 Ariyan discipline.’ ‘Well, Lord, how should one pay homage to the six directions according to the Ariyan discipline? It would be good if the Blessed Lord were to teach me the proper way to pay homage to the six directions according to the Ariyan discipline.’ ‘Then listen carefully, pay attention, and I will speak.’ ‘Yes, Lord’, said Sigālaka, and the Lord said:

3. ‘Young householder, it is by abandoning the four defilements of action, by not doing evil from the four causes, by not following the six ways of wasting one’s substance—through avoiding these fourteen evil ways—that the Ariyan disciple covers the six directions, and by such practice becomes a conqueror of both worlds, so that all will go well with him in this world and the next, and at the breaking-up of the body after death he will go to a good destiny, a heavenly world.

‘What are the four defilements of action that are abandoned? Taking life is one, taking what is not given is one, sexual misconduct is one, lying speech is one. These are the four defilements of action that he abandons.’ Thus the Lord spoke.

4. And the Well-Farer having spoken, the Teacher added:

‘Taking life and stealing, lying,
Adultery, the wise reprove.

5. ‘What are the four causes of evil from which he refrains? Evil action springs from attachment, it springs from ill-will, it springs from folly, it springs from fear. If the Ariyan disciple does not act out of attachment, ill-will, folly or fear, he will not do evil from any one of the four causes.’ Thus the Lord spoke.

6. And the Well-Farer having spoken, the Teacher added:

‘Desire and hatred, fear and folly:
He who breaks the law through these,
Loses all his fair repute
Like the moon at waning-time.

Desire and hatred, fear and folly,
He who never yields to these
Grows in goodness and repute
Like the moon at waxing-time.

7. ‘And which are the six ways of wasting one’s substance that he does not follow? Addiction to strong drink and sloth-producing drugs is one way of wasting one’s substance, haunting the streets at unfitting times is one, attending fairs is one, being addicted to gambling is one, keeping bad company is one, habitual idleness is one.

8. ‘There are these six dangers attached to addiction to strong drink and sloth-producing drugs: present waste of money, increased quarrelling, liability to sickness, loss of good name, indecent exposure of one’s person, and weakening of the intellect.

9. ‘There are these six dangers attached to haunting the streets at unfitting times: one is defenceless and without protection, and so are one’s wife and children, and so is one’s property; one is suspected of crimes, and false reports are pinned on one, and one encounters all sorts of unpleasantness.

10. ‘There are these six dangers attached to frequenting fairs: [One is always thinking:] “Where is there dancing? Where is there singing? Where are they playing music? Where are they reciting? Where is there hand-clapping? Where are the drums?”

11. ‘There are these six dangers attached to gambling: the winner makes enemies, the loser bewails his loss, one wastes one’s present wealth, one’s word is not trusted in the assembly, one is despised by one’s friends and companions, one is not in demand for marriage, because a gambler cannot afford to maintain a wife.

12. ‘There are these six dangers attached to keeping bad company: any gambler, any glutton, any drunkard, any cheat, any trickster, any bully is his friend, his companion.

13. ‘There are these six dangers attached to idleness: Thinking: “It’s too cold”, one does not work; thinking: “It’s too hot”, one does not work; thinking: “It’s too early”, one does not work; thinking: “It’s too late”, one does not work; thinking: “I’m too hungry”, one does not work; thinking: '”I’m too full”, one does not work.’ Thus the Lord spoke.

14. And the Well-Farer having spoken, the Teacher added:

‘Some are drinking-mates, and some
Profess their friendship to your face,
But those who are your friends in need,
They alone are friends indeed.

Sleeping late, adultery,
Picking quarrels, doing harm,
Evil friends and stinginess,
These six things destroy a man.

He who goes with wicked friends
And spends his time in wicked deeds,
In this world and the next as well
That man will come to suffer woe.

Dicing, wenching, drinking too,
Dancing, singing, daylight sleep,
Untimely prowling, evil friends
And stinginess destroy a man.

He plays with dice and drinks strong drink
And goes with others’ well-loved wives.
He takes the lower, baser course,
And fades away like waning moon.

The drunkard, broke and destitute,
Ever thirsting as he drinks,
Like stone in water sinks in debt,
Soon bereft of all his kin.

He who spends his days in sleep,
And makes the night his waking-time,
Ever drunk and lecherous,
Cannot keep a decent home.

“Too cold! Too hot! Too late!” they cry,
Thus pushing all their work aside,
Till every chance they might have had
Of doing good has slipped away.

But he who reckons cold and heat
As less than straws, and like a man
Undertakes the task in hand,
His joy will never grow the less.

15. ‘Householder’s son, there are these four types who can be seen as foes in friendly guise: the man who is all take is one, the great talker is one, the flatterer is one, and the fellow-spendthrift is one.

16. ‘The man who is all take can be seen to be a false friend for four reasons: he takes everything, he wants a lot for very little, what he must do he does out of fear, and he seeks his own ends.

17. ‘The great talker can be seen to be a false friend for four reasons: he talks of favours in the past, and in the future, he mouths empty phrases of goodwill, and when something needs to be done in the present, he pleads inability owing to some disaster.

18. ‘The flatterer can be seen to be a false friend for four reasons: he assents to bad actions, he dissents from good actions, he praises you to your face, and he disparages you behind your back.

19. ‘The fellow-spendthrift can be seen to be a false friend for four reasons: he is a companion when you indulge in strong drink, when you haunt the streets at unfitting times, when you frequent fairs, and when you indulge in gambling.’ Thus the Lord spoke.

20. And the Well-Farer having spoken, the Teacher added:

‘The friend who seeks what he can get,
The friend who talks but empty words,
The friend who merely flatters you,
The friend who is a fellow-wastrel:
These four are really foes, not friends.
The wise man, recognising this,
Should hold himself aloof from them
As from some path of panic fear.

21. ‘Householder’s son, there are these four types who can be seen to be loyal friends: the friend who is a helper is one, the friend who is the same in happy and unhappy times is one, the friend who points out what is good for you is one, and the friend who is sympathetic is one.

22. ‘The helpful friend can be seen to be a loyal friend in four ways: he looks after you when you are inattentive, he looks after your possessions when you are inattentive, he is a refuge when you are afraid, and when some business is to be done he lets you have twice what you ask for.

23. ‘The friend who is the same in happy and unhappy times can be seen to be a loyal friend in four ways: he tells you his secrets, he guards your secrets, he does not let you down in misfortune, he would even sacrifice his life for you.

24. ‘The friend who points out what is good for you can be seen to be a loyal friend in four ways: he keeps you from wrongdoing, he supports you in doing good, he informs you of what you did not know, and he points out the path to heaven.

25. ‘The sympathetic friend can be seen to be a loyal friend in four ways: he does not rejoice at your misfortune, he rejoices at your good fortune, he stops others who speak against you, and he commends others who speak in praise of you.’ Thus the Lord spoke.

26. And the Well-Farer having spoken thus, the Teacher added:

‘The friend who is a helper and
The friend in times both good and bad,
The friend who shows the way that’s right,
The friend who's full of sympathy:
These four kinds of friends the wise
Should know at their true worth, and he
Should cherish them with care, just like
A mother with her dearest child.

The wise man trained and disciplined
Shines out like a beacon-fire.
He gathers wealth just as the bee
Gathers honey, and it grows
Like an ant-hill higher yet.
With wealth so gained the layman can
Devote it to his people’s good.

He should divide his wealth in four
(This will most advantage bring).
One part he may enjoy at will,
Two parts he should put to work,
The fourth part he should set aside
As reserve in times of need.

27. ‘And how, householder’s son, does the Ariyan 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.

28. ‘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.

29. ‘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.

30. ‘There are five ways in which a husband should minister to his wife as the western direction: by honouring 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 organising 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.

31. ‘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.

32. There are five ways in which a master should minister to his servants and workpeople 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 workpeople, 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.

33. ‘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, by supplying their bodily needs. And the ascetics and Brahmins, thus ministered to by him as the zenith, will reciprocate in six ways: they will restrain him from evil, encourage him to do good, be benevolently compassionate towards him, teach him what he has not heard, clarify what he has 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.’ Thus the Lord spoke.

34. And the Well-Farer having spoken, the Teacher added:

‘Mother, father are the east,
Teachers are the southward point,
Wife and children are the west,
Friends and colleagues are the north.
Servants and workers are below,
Ascetics, Brahmins are above.
These directions all should be
Honoured by a clansman true.
He who’s wise and disciplined,
Kindly and intelligent,
Humble, free from pride,
Such a one may honour gain.
Early rising, scorning sloth,
Unshaken by adversity,
Of faultless conduct, ready wit,
Such a one may honour gain.
Making friends, and keeping them,
Welcoming, no stingy host,
A guide, philosopher and friend,
Such a one may honour gain.
Giving gifts and kindly speech,
A life well-spent for others’ good,
Even-handed in all things,
Impartial as each case demands:
These things make the world go round
Like the chariot’s axle-pin.
If such things did not exist,
No mother from her son would get
Any honour and respect,
Nor father either, as their due.
But since these qualities are held
By the wise in high esteem,
They are given prominence
And are rightly praised by all.’

35. At these words Sigālaka said to the Lord: ‘Excellent, Reverend Gotama, excellent! It is as if someone were to set up what had been knocked down, or to point out the way to one who had got lost, or to bring an oil-lamp into a dark place, so that those with eyes could see what was there. Just so the Reverend Gotama has expounded the Dhamma in various ways, May the Reverend Gotama accept me as a lay-follower from this day forth as long as life shall last!’

 

How to cite this document:
© Maurice Walshe, The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

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