Consorting with the Wise (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2020-03-24

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

Why did the Buddha encourage us to consort with the wise? It is in order to absorb and saturate wholesome energy or elements into our hearts. The Buddha said: living with fools is living with enemies; with the wise is living with family and relatives. The wise have three characteristics: having good, wholesome thoughts, speech, and actions. Practicing accordingly with wholesome education only can be a wise person.

Therefore, knowing and not practicing is not a wise man. The Chinese saying said; “Talking without doing is phant ren”. Phant ren means impostor. Are we in this class? It will become a wise man after knowing and practicing if not only an educated fool. With a lot of knowledge and could talk is still not wise. Live life without dangers and enemies, no suffering and fear, only can be called wise.

The Jātaka story about two parrots was a good example of the fool and the wise. Two parrot chicks were blown away by the wind; one of them landed at the place of a group of hermits and was looked after by them. It grew up and had the kind nature and good behavior like the group of hermits. The other chick landed at the place of bandits and was looked after by them. It grew up and had violent nature and bad behavior like the bandits. Therefore, making friends and association with people are a very important part of human life. And we should not take it lightly.

The commentary mentioned some benefits by association with the wise. They were like guards in the time of dangers, like a lamp for someone in the dark, like someone obtaining foods and drinks when he suffered hunger and thirst. The wise were able to dispel dangers, disasters, calamities, etc. of those who took their advice and suggestion.

The commentary mentioned the Buddha, ariyan disciples, bodhisattas, etc. as wise people. The benefits we can receive by associating with the wise are very clear if we read and study the stories in suttas (such as Dhammapada, Jātaka, etc.). We should contemplate the following question. “Are today human beings becoming wiser?” We will get the right answer with the knowledge of Buddha’s teachings and sages if we contemplate the current world situations.

In the past Sāriputta answered his former teacher Sañjaya as there were more fools than wise-man in the world. I don’t think today’s world is better than the time of Buddha, or even worse than ever. We have now reached the level of a breaking point because of misusing the material progress. We cannot assume that we are better than the ancients if we cannot deal with all the pollution and global warning problems properly. Whether we may survive or perish is in our own hands; if we want to correct ourselves, we have to follow and act accordingly with the wise teachings of the Buddha and ancient sages.

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

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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.

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