Residing in a Suitable Place (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2020-03-24

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

To reside in a suitable locality or good places.

Scholars translate paṭirūpa-desa as civilized land or suitable place. How do we decide a land or place as civilized or suitable? There can be two major groups existed on this subject. These are: the worldling and noble beings. Worldling is called because of being full of defilement (kilesa). Therefore, this worldling group is more extensive or variegated according to their views, characters, habits, etc. Majority of worldlings will decide a suitable place as where a lot of material progress and conveniences. These increase their defilement like a super-glue. So, a lot of competitions and indulgence in sensual pleasures are going on and on, always in the state of discontentment. Therefore, some world super-powers created a lot of problems around the world to increase their powers and wealth. It created instability in many countries. But they themselves are also not happy if we observe their society problems. There are a lot of unwholesomeness going on. They forget or do not know the basic point for happiness, peace and welfare. This is mental well-being. Material progress can be detrimental without basic mental well-beings. In the same way, we cannot success in reducing the global warming without solving the internal cause (the mind) if only dealing with the outer problems; even we can success, it does not last long.

For noble beings, sages and the wise, the suitable place is for mental well-being where we can develop our sīla, samādhi and paññā. It does not mean that the Buddha had neglected of material well-being. By studying the Pāli Texts, we know that the Buddha taught nearly everything which had connection with human beings. Therefore, material well-being is subordinate to mental well-beings. We can know this point very clear by observing today world situations.

The Buddha mentioned the importance of locality or places for the development and progress in worldly and spiritual matters. What are the things to choose for a suitable locality? We should consider on education, economy, health, spiritual, etc. We will have no progress for our whole life if living at wherever we are in. It is the best place to reside where there is the chance to realize the path and fruit of the Buddha dhamma; a place where we can fulfill the perfection (pāramīs) of the Buddha's teachings.

We should reside in countries where there is the Buddha sāsana. In general, a place where can support us for making merits; obtain wealth, education, and health. We can also distinguish a place with three periods of human life span: when young a suitable place for education, during the middle period for wealth and the last period for spiritual progress.

There are six unsurpassed things – anuttariya dhamma. A place where we can fulfill these six noble dhammas is a blessing place. We must live in a suitable and good place to obtain them.

The six noble dhammas are:

  1. the unsurpassed sight
  2. the unsurpassed hearing
  3. the unsurpassed gain
  4. the unsurpassed training
  5. the unsurpassed service
  6. the unsurpassed recollection.

The unsurpassed sight is seeing the Buddha and Saṅgha. The unsurpassed gain is faith – saddhā; having faith in the triple gems (Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha) and the law of kamma.

For ordinary worldly people, there are a lot of sights, hearing, and gains for worldly matters which will never end. Some are quite harmful and polluting our hearts. To get the unsurpassed training is sīla, samādhi, and paññā. The unsurpassed service is serving the Buddha, Dhamma, Saṅgha, and to the parents. Serving the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha is very important for every Buddhist. Mostly we do not become aware or not knowing it profoundly. This is a very rare chance and opportunity. Why?

Because only a Buddha appeared that the triple gems came to existence. Even a Buddha appeared living beings must have had human births and also encountered them. Having a human birth is even quite difficult. In the whole of saṁsāra, we were slaves of our bodies and family members only.

Ledi Sayadaw was always looking for chances to serve the saṅgha. But the saṅgha stopped him from doing the services for them. What he had said or responded to them was very remarkable. He said; in the whole of saṁsāra, his hands were like the slave for the wives and children only. Therefore, he requested them to allow him for serving them. It is true; if we were doing a lot of services for the Triple Gems in saṁsāra and would not be here anymore.

Now, Buddhists should not miss this chance and opportunity. It is very rare to come by. Looking after the parents is also very important in human society. The Chinese filial piety – shao tao is very well known. This education and practices were handed down for many centuries, maybe more than over 5,000 years. Without love, kindness, and filial piety to one's parents, there is no future for someone.

The unsurpassed recollection is the qualities of Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha-Guṇas. There are a lot of worldly recollections to ordinary worldlings. It is good to have the recollection of one's parent kindness, love, and gratitude. And then, repay to them.

(Someone who can fulfill the six unsurpassed things has the seven benefits as mentioned in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta: purification of beings, surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, the disappearance of dukkha and discontent, acquiring the true method and realization of Nibbāna)

There was a good story of a sutta representing the anuttariya dhamma. One time the Buddha was going for alms-round and met a group of people. He asked their names and livelihoods. One of them was the fisherman, and his name was Ariya – Mr. Noble. But his actions were ignoble. So the Buddha gave him talk on what was noble, and at the end, he entered the stream (became a sotāpanna). From an ignoble person and became a noble person (ariya). This was also he was living in a suitable place for his spiritual progress. (i.e., a place had the chance to meet the Buddha and listened to his talk).

Here also we can see the inconceivable of the function of kamma. Even though Mr. Ariya had the potentiality of enlightenment his past kamma sent him to the family of wrong livelihood – taking other lives. So saṁsāra is not a Heaven for some Buddhists who want to come and go.

Even if it is a suitable place for most people if someone is very bad and does not make any difference to this person (as, e.g., Devadatta and his followers), even can commit unwholesome actions. So it depends on each person. Therefore, wholesome education is very important. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Buddha taught about the eight unsuitable places and states or situations – Akkhaṇa Sutta (AN.8.29/ 9. Akkhaṇasuttaṃ).

These are: ① hells, ② animals, ③ ghosts-realms; ④ Brahma gods with only mind and only physical body; ⑤ a man or woman with unwholesome roots; ⑥ areas or countries the Buddha Dhamma cannot reach; ⑦ people have wrong views and ⑧ the time when no Buddha arose.

revised on 2020-03-24; cited from (posted on 2019-09-12)

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