Having Skills (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The Pāli – sippa is handicrafts. The Burmese word sippan (It seemed to come from this Pāli word) is sciences. Therefore it includes all worldly skills. It will be a very wide subject in today world. It is important for material progress and development. If harmful to humans and environments and become useless and no blessings. It must benefit to humans and nature. So any skill in arts and sciences (with technology) must support the happiness and welfare of human beings. If not, it will have detrimental consequences.

In the Khuddaka Nikāya, Peta Vatthu – ghost stories, there was an interesting story that supports this point. In Baranasi City, there was a man who had the skill of throwing stones. He could make many different types of the picture by throwing stones on tree leaves. He made his living in this way. One day the king of Baranasi came to this place and saw his skill. He invited this man into his palace. The king had a brahmin teacher who was very talkative. Therefore he wanted to teach him a lesson. The king and the stone thrower arranged for it. He was hiding inside the curtain behind the king. The king summoned the brahmin teacher, and he was talking non-stop.

So the stone thrower threw a pallet of goat shit as soon as the brahmin opened his mouth to talk. It went straight into his mouth every time he tried to speak. In this way, the brahmin teacher corrected his talkativeness. The King gave 14 villages to the stone thrower as prize money. This man taught his skill to others. One of his servants learned this skill from him. After the man mastered it, he wanted to test his skill and went to the Ganges River.

A Pacceka-buddha named Sumitta was staying near the river. At that time he was in meditation. This foolish man out of delusion decided to test his skill on the Pacceka-buddha. He threw a stone at his right ear, and it went through and came out from the left ear. With the injury, the Pacceka-buddha passed away. When people knew what was happening and became very angry and killed this man. After he died and was born in hell. After he released from hell and at the time of Buddha, Gautama became a ghost near Rājagaha. Because of the result of his heavy kamma, this ghost’s head was struck with many iron hammers at the same time.

After he fell to the ground and the hammers disappeared. As soon as he got up again, the hammers appeared and struck his head again. And this way the ghost suffered continuously. The result and power of kamma were unthinkable. Therefore anyone should not use his or her skills to harm people or nature, and the outcome of suffering is unthinkable.

Here skills mean all kinds of skill, including in politics, economics, any types of arts and sciences, and technologies, etc. If for power and money only, it is like licking the honey on the tip of the razor blade.

revised on 2019-12-03; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36814#p36814 (posted on 2019-09-25)

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