Deeds That Are Blameless (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2020-09-06

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The commentary described blameless deeds as good conducts which related to body, speech and mind. It gave some examples as; undertaking the eight precepts, service to others, setting up parks, building bridges and could include many social services. Good conduct is caraṇa. So, it includes sīla and merits, all the wholesomeness.

In the Ovāda-pāṭimokkha (fundamental instructions to monks; it can also count the lay people in), the first group of Dhamma is: “Not to do evil, to cultivate merit and to purify one’s mind (Dhammapada verse 183). This is the Teaching of the Buddhas (all Buddhas)”. Here not to do evil and cultivate merit are blameless deeds. These are the foundations for highest mind.

There are quite a lot of blameless deeds, from smaller one to a great one. Therefore, it is a very wide subject to talk about. In general, any wholesome deed for the benefit and welfare of others can be counted here. Everyone can do it. It has to be started from the family life and then spreading to societies, country, and international levels respectively.

Every goodness has to be started from the family life when we are young. Therefore, family education is the foundation for all other goodness to develop and arise. All goodness is based on ethical and moral values and standards. Only wholesome causes have wholesome results. Human beings should never forget this natural law and always keep it in mind for our whole life. To have confidence/conviction in the laws of cause and effect is the basic principle to all human beings.

As a human being has to know what should be done and what should not be done. It seems very simple, but even still, many people do not believe in it or not take it very seriously. Blameless deeds can be included in caraṇa—good conduct. One of the nine attributes of the Blessed one (the Buddha) is Vijjā-caraṇa-sampanna—Consummate in knowledge and conduct.

This third attribute of the Buddha includes three types of dhamma: sīla, samādhi, and paññā. Sīla and samādhi are including in caraṇa—conduct and paññā in knowledge. To do things for the benefits and welfare of others include oneself. The Buddha as a bodhisatta for many lives was the best example of it. Someone believes in the law of kamma will keep the precepts—sīla and not harming others and oneself.

Without sīla cannot develop samādhi. Without sīla, beings are wandering or falling into painful existences. Conduct is two kinds; ordinary one and related to perfection (pāramī). Knowledge is also the same. Conducts included in pāramī are dāna, sīla and samādhi bhāvanā. Knowledge included in pāramī are: listening, studying, spreading suññatā Dharma—such as khandha, āyatana, dhātu, etc. Contemplating them with insight and teaching to others. In the past, people who met/encountered the Buddha’s Teachings had fulfilled these two perfections.

Therefore, when later they encountered the Buddha’s teachings again and realized the Path and Fruit; for examples, Ven. Sāriputta, Ven. Mahāmoggallāna, Khema Therī, Uppalavaṇṇā Therī; laymen Anāthapiṇḍika and Citta; lay women Visākhā and Uttara, etc. Someone only had the perfection of conduct and without knowledge, when later he encountered the Buddha’s teachings, even listened to his teachings very often did not realize the Path and Fruit (For examples, King Pasenadi of Kosala and his Queen Mallikā, etc.).

Someone only had the perfection of knowledge and not conduct, such as cāga, sīla, bhāvanā, etc.; e.g., the well-known scholar monk Kapila of the Buddha Kassapa’s time. After death, he fell into painful existence—the hell. In the Buddha Gautama’s time, he was born as an animal—the big golden fish with the stinky mouth. I have met this kind of lay Buddhists; they are not interested in conducts and only in meditation. In the beginning, they are serious, but with time going on their saddhā (faith) are going down. Like a straw fire burning very quickly and die out very quickly.

Nowadays very difficult to find someone who has both qualities, conduct, and knowledge. It seems to me more and more people lack both. People are more and more greedy and selfish; their six sense doors are occupying with polluted media. Saddhā is a very important factor for developing good conducts/deeds, which leads to fortunate rebirths and having good lives and fortunes. Caraṇa pāramī and saddhā give the results of high-class people, such as kings, leaders, rich people, etc. Paññā is a very important factor for developing knowledge—vijjā, which leads to understanding and has profound knowledge. It gives the results of becoming teachers, sages, and noble beings. Therefore, every Buddhists should develop both qualities.

What about ordinary good conduct? These are also very important for a human being. For the human race to have happiness, peace, and harmony, every man has to follow, practice, and develop good conduct. This is to be started from the family level, societies to international levels. To be fulfilled this inspiration and purpose, humans have to lay down the basic causes for it. These basic causes are moral value, standard, and education. If we observe and study present societies and international situations around the world, only we understand and see these basic causes as very important and unavoidable.

I had seen a documentary film on human problems in societies, environmental pollution, and some natural disasters caused by human deeds and actions. I will mention them in general only. There was a scene both a father and son liked playing a funny game (i.e., in the father’s view). They slapped each other face in turn. The son might be four or five years old. This small boy was using force and sometimes seeing the father rubbing his face, but he was still laughing. Was this the way a father teaching his son becoming a good person? Now he was slapping you only with hands, but in the future will stab you with a knife.

People are nowadays instead of teaching children respect and gratitude to their parents, teaching them in opposite ways. Around the world, some are shouting for democracy, equality, and human right. Are human beings using it rightly, properly, and wisely? All their good qualities have to be used in the right place in wholesome matters. If using them, wrongly and improperly democracy becomes demo-crazy; equality and human right become licentious matters (current situations around the world become like these).

If not societies and the world will be in chaos. There was another scene in China. A father was filming with a video camera to his two children; a five years old boy and ten years old girl. What was he filming about? He was urging, encouraging, and cheering them to fight each other. Both children were quite different in body size and strength. Every time he was beaten and fallen on to the ground, and then she kicked and stamped on his body by force.

After sometimes the man’s aunt came out to the compound to see what happened. This elderly woman did not say anything and went back inside the house. The father asked the boy to get up and fight. Every time the boy was beaten and cried; the father was laughing. By looking into the girl’s eyes and face, and we can know that she had cruel nature (without the wholesome education, her future will be hopeless).

Where this video came from? It was sure that the father put it on the internet. It was also broadcasted in the TV news in China. Did he want to train his children to become criminals and terrorists? Why there are many violence, terrorist activities, and wars around the world? Even men are very cruel and violent to men. So, it is no need to mention how humans treat animals, can be even worse. Some video clips were showing how humans treated animals.

Some human cruelty on animals is shocking and unbelievable, similar to hell scenes. Men kill animals for meat, skins, and furs to satisfy their sensual pleasure. Sometimes the killings are like torturing animals in hell scenes, as example—stripping off the skin furs of animals alive, etc. Even it is unpleasant to talk about these things. Some of the human activities to animals can be seen in shark fins, dolphin and whale meats industries, etc. The sea water is covered with red blood.

These business people and their workers are creating hell on Earth for their future births in hells. Some humans, for money they can do any evil thing you cannot imagine. For a momentary, fleeting pleasure they are harming others and themselves, really stupid and foolish. Also, men cannot escape the dangers made by men, such as air, water, earth and foods poisonings and many other kinds of pollution. All these things create health problems, life-threatening, and surviving problems.

There are also sex problems in societies. We heard about as young as ten years old pregnant girls in the news. Homosexuality among young boys and girls, even no need to mention about youth and grown-up people. Why these kinds of sexual abnormality becoming more and more in humans? Because we do not see it as abnormal and immoral. Therefore, we encourage, promote, and protect these things to happen. Sexual misconducts create these results of abnormality. That is, people are born in these ways because of their past sexual misconducts (i.e., kammic results).

There are also some causes of this present life. These are unwholesome educations and polluted media. If sexual abnormality becomes out of control and become the more serious one—unlawful sex (adhamma-rāga), sexual practices between family members. For money or ill-will, make their things happen. The only solution is not by punishments, but with educations—on virtue, morality, and ethics; the results of its values, standards, and benefits. All worldly and spiritual developments always based on these qualities. Without these qualities even cannot be called a human being.

Another human problem is ignorance and delusion. Why are human beings becoming more and more ignorant and deluded? In short, their views and knowledge are wrong. Because of misguided opinions and attitudes come from media are wrong. Some of these media are promoting and spreading polluted things—can be called unwholesome educations to the public.

Therefore, we can see more and more smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts and their ages are younger and younger. Even some governments make illegal drugs become legal drugs. That is encouraging their citizens becoming drug addicts and ignoramuses, deluded citizens. What a pity? The ways of solving problems are wrong.

It was the same as solving sexual misconducts and sexual abnormality, not by encouraging and promoting, but with wholesome education. Dealing with violence, terrorism, and wars are also in the wrong ways. It should be with love, compassion, forgiveness, and wholesome education. With tit-for-tat, it will never end, and become more serious. It was like the polluted Earth, with more and more pollution (internal and external) more and more natural dangers and disasters will arise.

Human beings should check and contemplate/reflect their thinking/views and behaviors to find the solution for living beings and the Earth. Within a half-century (estimation only) human beings with the development of sciences and technology and unsustainable economic views and policies were making the Earth became situations today. We are nourishing the three unwholesome roots of sufferings—greed, hatred, and delusion for overindulgence of sensual pleasure. And we are never thinking about the outcomes it brings to the human race and the Earth.

We are nourishing and making friends with our real enemies—so the outcomes are dangers, disasters, and sufferings. We cannot become sages and noble beings instantly but at least can become virtuous, moral, and ethical persons. To achieve this inspiration, we must reduce the forces of greed, hatred, and delusion which influence us. This is the way of wholesome education—starting from family life to societies and international level. At least our deeds will become blameless and will have the blessing of happiness, peace, and harmony among us and in nature.

There was an interesting story about Magha—The past life of Sakka—The king of devas. This story represented blameless deeds. Magha was a young man of Macala village. He had a good heart and was repairing damaged roads and planting trees. In the beginning, he was doing alone and then later increasing to 33 men and their wives. Therefore, their projects of social works and social welfare increased in many ways. The head-man of these groups of villages was becoming displeasure with their activities of social welfare. Because he was making great fortunes with his promoting of wrong livelihoods, such as gambling, liquors, etc.

More and more people became good and ethical persons, and he made less and less money. So, he planned to get rid of them. He informed the king that Magha and his group were planning to revolt him. At last, the king believed in him and arrested Magha and his men and condemned them to death. The executioners buried their bodies in the ground with the heads above and stamped them with elephants.

They had already prepared for it. Magha asked his men not to have ill-will and hatred to the king, the executioners, and the elephants. Instead, they were spreading love and good-will to all of them. Because of the power of mettā and many of their wholesome merits for the welfare of others, the elephants could not stamp on their heads. The executioners tried with the elephants three times, and all were failed.

At last, the king asked Magha did they have any mantra-sacred syllables to stop the elephants from harming them. Magha answered to the king that they had it, and these were goodwill (mettā) and social welfare services to others. The king got rid of the evil head-man of the villages and replaced him with Magha. Magha was not an ordinary man. Because of his many past deeds after death and born as the king of 33 devas of Tāvatiṁsa Heaven. Later he met the Buddha, listened to one of his talks and became a stream-winner (sotāpanna).

His life taught us a very valuable lesson what to do as a human being. The Buddha taught that human birth was difficult to attain. It is not the direct meaning of difficult to born as a human being. The birth of a brahma-god was more difficult than human birth. Because one has to practice jhānas. But as a human who has many chances to do wholesome deeds and merits. Other higher births do not have these chances. They only enjoy their merits and jhānic pleasure. The human world is like a treasure island.

There are seven kinds of treasure hidden on the earth. These treasures are:

(1) The treasure of conviction (saddhā)
(2) The treasure of virtue (sīla)
(3) The treasure of conscience (hirī)
(4) The treasure of concern (ottappa)
(5) The treasure of listening (Dhammasavaṇa)
(6) The treasure of generosity (cāga)
(7) The treasure of discernment (paññā)

What happens to nowadays human being? Do they know about the hidden treasures and find it? Even most human beings do not know that these things exist. They do not have the treasure’s map. Therefore, most of them behave like rats, cockroaches, and flies. They do not behave like bees, which are selfless creatures and doing their duties for the welfare of others. If someone behaves like rat, cockroach and fly and becomes a nuisance to society, their future births will be very painful.

Now someone is power-monger (politicians, leaders), war-monger, money-monger, etc. because of their misdeeds and next time, they will be a servant cleaning toilet. And a rich person will be a beggar and begging for foods. These seven kinds of treasures are called noble treasures can be found only in the Buddha’s Teachings. Everyone can attain it by noble deeds or deeds that are blameless. Therefore, every Buddhist should cultivate these blameless deeds and attaining the highest blessing in this life—i.e., Nibbāna.

revised on 2020-09-06; cited from (posted on 2019-11-19)

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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。