Well Mastered Disciplines (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

Vinaya is disciplined and not only Buddhist Monks should have it. All human societies must have it. Only following and practicing it that human beings can have progress and development. For understanding and practicing has to be begun in family life and spreading into all parts of society. Starting from the family life have to teach and train the children. Laypeople disciplines are: to avoid the ten unwholesome courses of action; and to develop the ten wholesome courses of action.

The ten unwholesome courses of action:

(1) Destruction of life
(2) taking what belongs to others
(3) sexual misconduct
(4) lying
(5) malicious speech
(6) harsh language
(7) frivolous talk
(8) covetousness
(9) ill-will
(10) wrong view( Here not believe in the law of kamma)

[Note: Someone can ask, what about using intoxicants – i.e., drugs and alcohols? This is included in number (3)].

The ten wholesome courses of action:

(1) To avoid the destruction of life and be anxious for the welfare of all lives.
(2) To avoid taking what belongs to others.
(3) To avoid sexual misconduct.
(4) To avoid lying, knowingly speaking a lie for the sake of any advantage.
(5) To avoid malicious speech, to unite the discordant, to encourage the united, and to utter speech that makes for harmony.
(6) To avoid harsh language and speak gentle, courteous, and agreeable words.
(7) To avoid frivolous talk; to speak at the right time, by facts, what is useful, moderate, and full of sense.
(8) To be without covetousness.
(9) To be free from ill-will, thinking: “May these beings are free from hatred and ill-will and will lead a happy life free from trouble.” etc.
(10) To possess the right view, such as gifts and offerings are not fruitless, and there are results of wholesome and unwholesome actions. That is to believe in the cause and effect of the law of kamma.

When human beings are alive and living with three types of action (kamma); i.e., mental, verbal, and bodily actions; all are included in the ten unwholesome and ten wholesome actions. Therefore these are very important. We have to follow the disciplines if we want to live our lives free from the courses of ten unwholesome actions. The rules of law are also discipline.

So disciplines are a very wide range of subject. It includes worldly affairs to spiritual matters. Human degeneration and progress are connecting with disciplines. In the world, many problems and sufferings arise from humans without disciplines. Therefore disciplines are fundamentally important. We can justify a nation and people by its standards of discipline.

Why people have no discipline? Because some people do not have the proper education on moral disciplines and how to become a human. They did not bring up or grow up with disciplines. Usually, we overlook or even do not know the importance of how to bring up children with discipline. So every type of goodness must be trained and developed at an early age.

Without proper education and training on disciplines and grew up with bad habits and behaviors. And then becomes an immoral person. It is like a white sheet of canvas and a piece of soft clay. You can draw any picture and put other colors on it. You can model with the soft clay into any image, but with the hard and dry clay, it cannot be. Nowadays, people never take care or seriousness on disciplines and train children. Instead, they let all sorts of media to teach and train their children.

Therefore it at homes children are difficult to teach and at school so difficult to discipline them. There are also signs of disrespectful to parents and teachers by youngsters. If you look at the present-day human societies will see the signs of the decadence. With a proper comparison with the Chinese Virtue Standards – Di-Gi-Gui will see the negative sides of societies. When we were young never seen youngsters retorted to the parents and teachers when they taught them.

Nowadays we even heard the news of beating and killing them. We can get good children and citizens only by educating and training. We cannot let them go their ways without disciplines and moral standards of the period. Without these foundations, no family, society, and country will stable. We can justify this point with current situations around the world.

Nowadays, we heard a lot of very nice words on democracy, human right, equality, etc. Do we use them rightly and wisely? No, it is not. Mostly we use it as empty words and even create more problems and chaos. Without disciplines and moral standards not only become empty words but also create instability, chaos, problems, and violence, etc. in family, society, and the country.

We can see all these things going on in this 21st century around the world. For example, a rich superpower can have a weapon of mass destruction, but another small country cannot have it or keep it. This country can interfere and invade a small country. But if another country does the same thing is unacceptable. There are promoting and protecting sexual misconducts. Are these human rights? There are a lot have to say and contemplate on some of the modern-day philosophies.

The ways of correcting and the cure are not promoting and protecting unwholesome matters and also not by punishments. To educate and change people mind. Only with proper and right education can solve all these problems. Using these philosophies wrongly are not only create problems in politics, economics, media, etc. but it is also spreading into family life and schools. Therefore, nowadays, children and youngsters are cannot be taught, trained, and controlled them in the right directions. So these nice words are should only be used in good and wholesome matters.

It is the same as a nuclear power. You will help the human race in progress if you use it wisely. If you use it improperly and unwisely, it brings destruction to humans. It is also very important to take heed of someone's admonishing who has the knowledge, intelligence, wise and noble. (e.g., teachers and parents). There was a Jātaka story demonstrating this point. In one of his past lives, the Bodhisatta was a king. Later he had the sense of urgency (saṁvega) and renounced the world and became an ascetic.

Another king who was the past life of Ven. Ānanda heard this news and also became an ascetic. Later they met each other in the forest and stayed together. One day they went for alms round and took back their foods to the forest. Ānanda took out the salt bag which he has stored before and put it into his foods. The Bodhisatta saw it and admonished him. He said to him; “You have been renounced the kingship and the whole country. It's not proper and inappropriate for clinging to this salt. Ānanda retorted; “You also renounced your kingship and came here for practice. It's not good for you to admonish others.”

The Bodhisatta replied; “What I have reminded you is sensible. Therefore I am not wrong.” Ānanda remarked again; “If you say something people don't like, then it is wrong.” At last, the Bodhisatta explained to him that he had to say something beneficial and appropriate. If not, it was like a blind wild buffalo moving around blindly in the thick forest and encountered suffering. Then Ānanda became aware of his own mistake.

Therefore it is very important to take heed of admonitions from parents and teachers with eagerness, willingness, and compliance. Today in societies a lot of youngsters have problems in family life and schools is lacking in these qualities. Therefore well-mastered discipline is a blessing and protection.

revised on 2019-12-03; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36815#p36815 (posted on 2019-09-25)

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