Having Skills (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2020-03-24

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The commentary did not mention much about Having skill or on crafts. It separated into two groups, for a layperson and a monk. It mentioned for a layperson as any trades did not cause harm to others and without unwholesomeness. For a monk there are not many things to do, but in a large community there are many things. He can give a hand depending in his skills (e.g., teaching Dhamma making robes, dyeing robes, repair buildings. Etc.) Having skill is also a big and wide subject which needs to talk and contemplate. It is also very important because it can have great effect on human beings and nature (human societies and mother Earth). It has connection to knowledge and educations. Human life styles and skills are variegated because of the broad knowledge. Wrong knowledge and skill make a man a bad and inferior person. Right knowledge and skill make a man a good and noble person. Therefore, knowledge and skill have great impact and effect in human societies and nature. So we should not treat it lightly and take it seriously with care.

Livelihoods are also based in skills. So people use their skills for making money. Most human livelihoods are blameless and some are not. Some livelihoods and skills are very bad and blameworthy that it can create a lot of harm and destruction to human beings; such as liquor, cigarettes, drugs, chemical weapon poison, nuclear arsenals, etc.

Nowadays the worshipping of money is so strong that most good livelihoods also become harmful to human beings. For making more and more money and in indulgence in sensual pleasures, for short termed benefits these people using all sorts of way to increase their wealth. In agriculture sectors they use pesticides and chemicals to poison the food chains and making the soils unusable in the future.

Politics itself is not dirty but the persons who play with it are. The essence of politics is for the well-being and welfare of the citizens and countries and in the wider sense forwards the whole world – i.e., global politics. A good leader or leaders and governments are very important for their own countries and towards the world. They are few privileged people who govern their countries and their own citizens.

If these people are selfish, corrupted and immoral, it is not only harmful to their citizens and countries but also strongly impact in nature. Immorality of human beings led to wars, famines, diseases and natural disasters of fire, heavy rains and typhoons to arise. All these were mentioned by the Buddha who knew these things very clear, and mentioned them in some suttas. Even nowadays we were seeing these things happened around the world (refer to the Discourse of Unrighteous by the Buddha, in the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Book of the Fours, AN.4.70 Adhammikasuttaṃ).

It is very difficult to get good leader and government by votes because you do not know these people nature, characters and moral integrity. Good leaders will not fight and compete for power or craving and clinging to power. Nowadays there are more corrupted leaders and governments than before because of money and power politics which the Buddha already predicted before in the 16 dreams of King Pasenadi, Kosala (Mahāsupina Jātaka, Jāt. 77; J. i 334-45).

What about economics and world economy? There are a lot of competitions going on with money, business and trades. Out of jealousy and envy there are trade wars between and among countries. They are (the leaders and politicians) harming the citizens of other countries. There are also a very big gap between super rich and common or poor people. These millionaire and billionaire are very few and easily counted.

How do they use their wealth? Still there are a lot of poor countries in the world. Nowadays there are more natural disasters than before because of pollution.

Do they use their wealth to help these people and countries? Do they share their wealth with needy people and countries? So using money is more Important than making money. By only counting the money and at last buried by them and cannot get anything with them. Nowadays human economy is over production and over indulgence.

In the world there are still many people not enough to eat and have a proper life. But some rich and develop countries are just wasting them.

The most stupid and foolish thing human being can do is arms race between two western supper-power. They developed and possessed a lot of weapons of mass destruction which will never bring peace and stability in the world. The money they spent in arms race are just wasting and no benefits for both sides. These money can be fed the whole world. The arms races and weapons of mass destruction are the outcomes of misusing politics, science and technology. Therefore, the knowledge and skills of worldlings are some good and some very bad that even can bring human beings to destruction.

The Buddhist monks’ skills are always in the wholesome ways for maintaining the Buddha Dhamma and teaching (educate) lay people. These are study, practice and teaching. Skill in Dhamma is the best and the highest. It leads beings in the direction of well-being, harmony, peace, happiness and transcending of sufferings. The Buddha himself was the best example.

Some of the Buddha chief and great disciples were also had the skills in teaching Dhamma; e.g., Ven. Sāriputta, Ven. Puṇṇa-mantāniputta, Mahākaccāyana, Kumāra Kassapa, Ānanda, etc. The Buddha praised the Dhamma as the best (greater) gift, the best tast (rasa) and the best delight (rati)

Therefore, the best service to human beings is with the knowledge of learning and skill in Dhamma. Other worldly knowledge, learning and skill can be beneficial or may be detrimental consequences which we can see in societies, environments and nature.

One of the best contributions to human race is wholesome, moral education which better than any other worldly services. Because it can change people life from bad to good and then become better. The other things are only solving the problems in short terms and never cure the persons and problems involved.

By observing and contemplating today world affairs and situations we know very clear why many human problems and natural problems are never solve and even becoming worse. Without a proper education and most of us are worshipping the trinity Gods-greed, hatred and delusion, taking refuge in them and become their faithful followers. So all the problems arise.

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. [DhA. ii, 71f; Pv. iv. 16; PvA. 283f (Peta-Vatthu Commentary, iv. 16: 282-286. Text: N ii. 68-73.)] In Bārāṇasī City, there was a man who had the skill of throwing stones. He could make many different types of picture by throwing stones on tree leaves. He made his living in this way. One day the king of Bārāṇasī came to this place and saw his skill. He invited this man to 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 in 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 Sunetta 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 Gotama he 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 in 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 2020-03-24; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36814#p36814 (posted on 2019-09-25)

  • Content of "Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing"

  • Content of Publications of Ven. Uttamo

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.

據英譯者—鄔達摩比丘交待,此譯文僅能免費與大眾結緣,作為法的禮物(Dhamma Dāna)。你可以在任何媒體上重新編製、重印、翻譯和重新發布這部作品。