A Mind Is Unshaken When Touched by the Ways of the World (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The beginning verse – a mind that, when touched by the ways of the world (i.e., the eight worldly dhammas – loka dhamma) is also related to 35, 36 & 37. First, we have to know what are the ways of the world.

There are eight numbers; as pair with positive & negative nature become four pairs. These eight loka dhamma are gain and loss, status and disgrace, praise and censure, pleasure & pain. They are called the failings of the world or 8 worldly conditions (loka dhammas). These worldly failings are more common in human beings than in other beings, & also a very interesting subject for contemplation.

No one can escape from these eight worldly conditions. So, everyone will encounter them. Not affect the mind by them are only the arahant. But with practice, wise reflection & contemplation, we can overcome them without shaking. Most people will think only encounter with the negative things such as loss, disgrace, censure & pain are as failings.

The positive things lead to pleasure & the negative to displeasure (i.e., like & dislike). The positive things are also the same because they have the nature of imperfection & change. Positive things can lead to negative things. E.g., with wealth & power, people can do evil & unwholesome things. The Buddha taught the ways of dealing with them. These were:

(1) Acceptance as these failings of the world cannot be escaped.
(2) Acceptance as these failings of the world are the results of one’s actions (kamma)
(3) To understand these worldly conditions & their nature with contemplation to overcome them. This 3rd point is more profound & important.

  1. Acceptance of the loka dhamma as part of human society & inescapable

There is a lot of this dhamma in human life & their differences are only in many forms & magnitude (great or small). These always exist in the world, as parts of human nature like birth, old age, sickness & death, & inescapable.

In the second discourse of the Loka-dhamma Sutta (Aṅguttara Nikāya), the Buddha said; “These are the eight worldly conditions that spin after the world (i.e., human beings), & the world spins after these eight worldly conditions.”

It was like the law of kamma; the past life kammas (actions) had been done following with living beings & they were also always doing the actions. They are doing these things for the future to come. So, they are cause & effect relationship.

So, living beings cannot separate themselves from kamma that cannot free from the worldly dhamma. Even the Buddha & some of his chief & great disciples could not shun away from them. Once the time the Buddha & monks could not get any food that they had to eat some very coarse foods which were fed for horses. Ciñcamānavikā, who was a devoted pupil of other faith, accused the Buddha of having an affair with her.

Even the Buddha sometimes had sickness with pains. Ven. Mahā-moggallāna, the chief disciple of the Buddha, had been killed by the assassins was also connecting with this worldly dhamma. Once, the Nigantha ascetic planned to kill him. Because they thought the diminishing of their fame & fortune was related to him. So they hired some assassins to kill him. At last Ven. The assassins caught Mahā-moggallāna & he was beaten up until all his bones were broken.

Nobody frees or escapes from censure. How to deal with censure is also very important? We do not need to pay much attention to the fools who censure us. But we need to listen & pay attention to the wise & noble people for their censure. After that, we have to correct & improve ourselves. We need to live a life of blamelessness & praise by them.

This exhortation came from the Buddha regarding a layman Atula upasaka. One time he & some followers went to see Ven. Revata who was usually enjoying with his meditation attainments. So he did not give any talk to them. They went to see Ven. Sariputta & told about Ven. Revata. Therefore Ven. Sariputta gave a long talk to them. They also displeased with it.

And then they went to see Ven. Ānanda & reported him the account with Ven. Sariputta. Therefore Ven. Ānanda gave them a short talk. Still, they were displeased with the short talk.

At last they went to see the Buddha. After hearing their report, the Buddha said as followed. Censure & praise were not existing only now. Whether keeping silence or talking a lot or talking with consideration still could not free or escape from censure.

At last the Buddha said that even he was not immune from it. Another story was, because of the Buddha’s excellent teachings & well practice of the Sangha & had a lot of support from people. This made other faiths censured them out of jealousy.

So the Buddha taught the monks that whether living alone or with others in the world would encounter pain & pleasure. This was the way of the world. The important cause was not by others nor oneself, but the outcome of receiving the burdened khandhas (This point is important for contemplation).

  1. Acceptance the loka-dhamma as the results of one’s kamma (actions)

Usually, people blame others for their sufferings, pain & displeasure. Here, we have 2 points to contemplate the outcomes of kamma. These are the results of the kamma & the existence of the khandhas. The results of kamma are quite an extensive subject.

Beings are always creating many different kinds of kamma by bodily, speech & mind. Therefore, the results of them are also many varieties. These are related to the worldly dhammas. If we experience misfortunes, it is better not to blame others or find faults with others. So, one has the responsibility for them.

If we react with anger or ill-will, our situations become worse. With unwise attention (ayoniso), we cannot solve or overcome the problem or situation. We have to contemplate wisely or dealing with them skilfully and then correct oneself. With the unskilful or unwholesome causes will encounter the negative things. And then, if we respond unskilfully, it will never become better.

  1. To understand the worldly dhammas & its nature with contemplation

This point is more important than others. This contemplation came from the 2nd sutta on worldly dhamma in Aṅguttara Nikāya. The gist of it as follows:

The Failings of the World: These & worldly conditions; i.e. gain/loss; status/disgrace; censure/praise; & pleasure/pain spin after the world, & the world spins after these & worldly conditions. For an ordinary uninstructed person (asutava putthujano), there arise these eight worldly dhammas. For a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones (i.e., sutava ariya savako) there also arise these eight dhammas. So what are the differences between them?

The differences are:
When gain arises for an ordinary uninstructed person, and he doesn’t reflect; “Gain has arisen for me. It’s inconstancy (anicca), stressful (dukkha) & subject to change (viparinama).” He doesn’t discern it as it is. (The other dhammas – loss, status….pain also in this way) His mind remains consumed with the gain, loss….etc.

He welcomes the arisen gain & rebels against the arisen loss. (The other pairs – status/disgrace, etc...in this way) As he is thus engaged in welcoming & rebelling, he is not released from birth, aging or death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, or despairs.

Now, gain arises for a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones. He reflects; “Gain has arisen for me. It’s anicca, dukkha & viparinama.” He discerns it as it is. His mind doesn’t remain consumed with the gain. (The other dhammas – loss, status, etc.… are also in this way.) He doesn’t welcome the arisen gain or rebel against the arisen loss. (The other pairs, status/disgrace, etc.… also in this way.)

As he thus abandons welcoming & rebelling, he is released from birth, aging & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses & despairs. He is released from suffering (dukkha). So, following with the Buddha’s instruction, when we encounter the eight worldly dhamma: gain/loss, status/disgrace, censure/praise & pleasure/pain.

We should contemplate them as: these conditions among human beings are impermanent, suffering & subject to change. People do not know the Buddha’s teachings & without practice, the worldly dhamma overwhelms them.

With the positive ones (such as gain), lust (raga), craving (tanhā), attachment (upādāna) overrun their minds. With the negative ones (such as loss), anger (dosa), ill-will, etc. overrun their minds. They cannot free or escape from problems & sufferings.

For someone who knows the Buddha’s teachings by practicing it, will see things & react in different ways. He understands the differences between positive & negative worldly dhammas (e.g., gain & loss). He also sees their common nature (i.e., anicca, dukkha & viparinama). It is the same in vipassanā.

Mind & body have a particular nature (visesa lakkhana) & common nature (samaña lakkhana). The 34th blessing is unshaken, 35th is sorrowless, 36th is dustless & 37th is secure. These qualities & blessings are referred to someone beyond training (asekha - i.e., an arahant). But others also can overcome them temporarily by practice & contemplation.

cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36997#p36997 (posted on 2019-11-22)

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