Consistency in One's Work (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2021-03-16

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

People translated the Pāli verse – Anākulā ca kammantā as differently; such as consistency in one’s working an honest occupation and peaceful occupation. None of the meanings cover all the meanings as explained by the commentary. Peaceful or honest occupation as agriculture, cattle-rearing (for what purpose?), business, etc., were examples given by commentary. It mentioned how to carry out them; the ways were in a timely and suitable manners, with diligence, vigor, energy and harmlessness.

The opposites were: doing things with faults as untimeliness, unsuitable, inertia, laziness, slackness, etc. This blessing is connected with the above two blessing of supporting parents and assisting to wife and children. Progress and prosperity in the family business or works can be carried out successfully from the other blessings.

The Buddha compared two kinds of persons, someone doing his task properly and someone not. The improper person was sleeping in day time and waking at night time. He was an alcoholic and a womanizer and could not keep a decent home. He wasted his time by complaining as it was too cold, too hot, or too late, etc. In this way he postponed his task or job by giving many reasons. By neglecting the task or work, he did not get any benefit. Those who was active, energetic and persistent in whatever he was doing had prosperity and happiness.

Here the commentary did not mention about spiritual matter concerning with this blessing. Someone with these qualifies of ethical and moral standards (also mentioned in the Chinese tradition) surely will develop in his spiritual endeavour with the same as consistency in one’s work or practice. People who have these qualities will success in worldly and spiritual matters. This is the true blessing as a human.

At doing one's task, we should not waste time and do it later. We should be active, energetic, and persistent in whatever we are doing. Do only the kinds of task or job which should be done. This is not harming to oneself and others; whereas it benefit oneself and others. There are some ignorant and deluded people doing silly and foolish things just for money and fame, even give up their lives for it. We should do things which only have values; not trivial, meaningless, frivolous, silly, and inferior.

Nowadays, human beings are doing all these meaningless things than before. Do human beings become wiser than before? Do they progress or regression? If we observe the societies and environments, all kinds of internal and external pollution is going on. Why is that? Anthropologists say: Human beings are developing from a type of ape. If it is true, then human beings should become wiser and intelligent. This is Evolution. But if we observe and contemplate about human beings, they are closer to ape than human.

The human mind is becoming more and more like a monkey. Is it human becoming in de-evolution? Evolution and de-evolution are in our mind. If someone behaves like an animal, then he is in de-evolution. You cannot measure progress or Evolution with power, money, fame, and the amount of sensual pleasure. These are the ways to downfall. It is nothing to do with the external matters but the internal ones. So, each human creates hell, animal, ghost, heaven, etc. for himself on Earth. This also his future destiny after he dies.

Man on the highest level of evolution can become a Buddha, and to the lowest level of de-evolution becomes a hell being. All the levels are in each one of us. One early morning in June, there was a pink lotus flower opened its beautiful and fragrant petals in a small pond. It decorated the Earth with its beauty and purity. After sometimes the sun was rising higher, and then the weather became very hot. The lotus closed its petals and protected itself from the strong heat. It would be quite stupid and foolish for today's human beings to still continue to do all the foolish things although they know all the dangers come out from pollution.

Could human beings have a future? Yes, they have. Only they behave like a human; not like an animal, ghost, and hell-being is. They should only do things which have values and for the welfare of the human race and nature. If we practice samatha and vipassanā regularly with consistency is a great blessing and protection. Consistency in one's work is very important whatever task we are doing, whether it is worldly or spiritual matters. We should not spoil it by laziness, carelessness with wasting, and postponing of time.

During the time of the Buddha, there was a good story on these points. Three friends became monks. Two of them learned meditation and instruction from the Buddha. After that, they went to a secluded place, practiced diligently, and realized the Dhamma. They came back and went to see the Buddha. The Buddha was praising of them. The third one who was lazy and wasting time in the monastery heard about it. He also wanted to be praised by the Buddha in front of the others. Therefore, he was practicing hard in the monastery. Because of his restlessness and carelessness in the practice and fell seriously and broke his hip. So his two friends had to take care of him and could not leave the place. The Buddha knew about this and told them about their past lives.

In one of their past lives; these monks were the students of the Bodhisatta – who was a teacher. One day the teacher asked the students to collect fire woods in the forest for the next morning meal because they had to go to a distant place in the early morning for an invitation. All the students went to the forest and did their duties properly. But the lazy student (the 3rd injured monk) not did his job properly. Instead, he chose a big tree, lied down and slept, thinking that near the time of leaving he could go up and break the branches for fire woods. At the time of going back; he quickly got up, climbed the tree, and broke some of the branches.

He had done it in a rush and carelessness that the tip of a branch hit one of his eyes. He was suffered in pain and came down quickly, took the wet branches of the fire woods, and followed behind the others. His wet fire woods were mixed with the dry ones. The servant did not know it and picked up the wet ones to cook for the gruel. At last the students missed the chance to the invitation.

This story taught us a good lesson. We should not do things with disinterest, wasting time, in a rush, improperly, disarray and confused. What about today, human beings are doing things? Are they better than this monk or student? By studying, observing, and contemplating today human and society will know that it is not better. Some politicians, business people (including economists), scientists, technologist, artists, etc. are viewing and doing things with greed, hatred, and delusion for power, wealth and fame. They are not only harming themselves (they have to pay for their kammic consequences) but also to the human race.

The reasons are not difficult to see; severe climate changes and all sorts of pollution, both internal and external ones and leaving a dangerous Earth for the future generation. Human beings, however crazy and craving for power, wealth and fame, at near death they cannot take anything with them. Even the clothes they wear on, their power, wealth and fame cannot do anything when a very severe drought comes.

As a Buddhist, the best protection and blessing is consistency in one's work to end dukkha. This is the most important task for all: i.e., the Noble Eightfold Path – sīla, samādhi, and paññā. Therefore, we should not waste time by doing many meaningless and useless things. It will be in a miserable situation (miserable deaths and rebirths) at near death if we miss this chance.

revised on 2021-03-16; cited from (posted on 2019-10-14)

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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.

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。