Broad Knowledge (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The Buddha continued to talk about broad knowledge as a blessing after on “directing oneself rightly”. Therefore without broad knowledge cannot directing oneself rightly. Broad knowledge is also vast learning. Here the most important knowledge is the Dhamma knowledge of the Buddha. This can be come from study and research the Dhamma Discourses, listening to the talks of the scholar monks and practicing, monks, etc. listening of Dhamma is one of the seven noble treasures (the other 6 are: conviction, virtue, conscience, concern, generosity, and discernment).

Other groups of Dhamma for noble growth are conviction, virtue, learning, generosity, and discernment. Here include sutta-learning. Therefore the Buddha emphasized learning as progress in worldly and spiritual matters. Paññā-knowledge as worldly has two kinds: arts and sciences which worldlings develop in many different ways. Some of them are harmful, and some are beneficial. It will never end if we talk about them. The most important point for all worldly knowledge, i.e., arts and sciences are not too harmful and always beneficial to the human race and nature.

According to Ta-bye-kan Sayadaw; had broad knowledge was a skill in literature. It includes arts, sciences, and spiritual literature. We have to study, learn, research on broad knowledge which is useful, beneficial to oneself and others. Why are human and other living beings quite different from each other? Their three types of kamma are quite different, so their results are. The three types of kammic differences come from different views and knowledge. Human beings are creating kammas with their views and knowledge.

(This subject is very wide and profound and has a lot to say. This point also supports the importance of moral education and the law of kamma.)

Therefore broad knowledge of the Buddha Dhamma is very important. Knowledge cannot steal by others like other things. It will never be used up by giving. The Buddha Dhamma is priceless. With practice, only broad knowledge and learning are useful and beneficial. If not, it becomes useless. A person has broad knowledge, but no moral value and virtues are without blessings.

For this point, there was a story in the Dhammapada on Tanhā Vagga-Chapter on craving. This was about Kapila, the fish. In the Buddha Kassapa’s time, Kapila the monk was very learned in the Teachings. Because of his great learning, he gained fame and fortune. And then became very conceited and was full of contempt for other monks. When others pointed out his mistakes and never accepted. In the course of time, all good monks shunned him, and only the bad ones gathered around him. He also disregarded the Monk Discipline and abused other monks. He was reborn in hell for these evil deeds. He became a golden fish with a stinking mouth during the Buddha Gotama’s time.

By the Buddha; studying and learning for knowledge should have right intention and purpose. Using it also had to be right.

There are three kinds of study:

(1) Studying for preservation, e.g., Ven. Ānanda.
(2) Studying for transcending dukkha, i.e., study and practice.
(3) The wrong study; it is like catching a poisonous snake in the wrong way, e.g., Kapila monk, Arittha monk.

There are four ways people can increase in defilements (kilesa). These are:

(1) With broad knowledge
(2) With old age, increase in sensual pleasure with age
(3) With fame, e.g., actors and actresses
(4) With increasing in wealth,

This is quite clear. Most rich people do not know how to use them properly. Power-mongers of politicians want to become rich. Wealth-mongers of businessmen want power. They are supporting each other. Today some of the human problems and environmental problems were made by them.

Therefore broad knowledge is not always good. It depends on what kinds of knowledge and how we use it. The Buddha’s right knowledge (sammā-ñāṇa) is always overcoming our defilements, our real enemies-greed, hatred, and delusion, etc. and benefit to the human race and protect nature. Except that all are harming to the human race and nature is wrong knowledge (micchā-ñāṇa).

Why today is the human mind so polluted and harmful? The modern day the human mind is a lot of influence by media, books, TV, internet, video games, movies, music, etc. There is a lot of stuff connection with sex, violence, distraction, etc. which are unhealthy to the mind. If we do not use the six sense-doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind) mindfully, wisely, properly, then the sense objects-media are poison for our minds.

Most people think school educating as earning a living and professions are only educations. How to use the six sense doors is also educating, even we know it or not. All of our knowledge comes in from these sense doors. This is the most important and fundamental education. Every human being comes into this world; there are two ways to go, down-fall-downward way, and progress-upward way. A man without a moral foundation or morality and virtues, then his life is going downward. He will reap the negative results and no benefits for himself and others.

Progress-upward way is the opposite, with positive results and benefit for himself and others. No-one wants a bad, evil person, a criminal in one’s own family, in society and a country. But everyone wants a good, wise, sagely and a noble person in one’s family, etc. These need a wholesome education. The best sources can be from the Buddha’s teachings and the teachings of the ancient Chinese sages and teachers. For the Buddha; it is unquestionable because he was the teacher of gods and humans. Ancient Chinese sages had a history of over 5000 years. It had rich experiences and systems.

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

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According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.