Contentment (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2021-07-28

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The commentary only commented it with the monastic life. Even though lay people are living a lifestyle very different from the monks, it can be beneficial by knowing the contentment of monk life taught by the Buddha. They are many things and dhammas in them which can develop our mind in accordance with the wholesome dhammas.

We have already seen it in the Gavesi Sutta—he was a lay disciple of the Buddha Kassapa. He and his followers were competing each other in dhamma challenges—sīla, samādhi and paññā—their spiritual level developed up to the highest level of arahantship. In today's Buddhist countries, there are still some upāsakas living a lifestyle that is very close to the monks and developing their minds. By studying and observing the monks, we can adjust the Dhamma accordingly to our daily lifestyle. (e.g., how the monks relate to nature is interesting. It is animate or inanimate things—always with harmlessness, care and consideration. These qualities and behaviours are urgently need and very important for today human race.

If the world—earth is becoming inhabitable, it is not the fault of the monks. It is totally the faults of stupid, foolish, ignorant and greedy people who are only thinking about themselves). Therefore, here, we can see the important wholesome Dhamma of contentment.

Here the commentary referred to contentment with requisites of any kind. Nowadays there are many things which are really unnecessary and mostly like rubbish. With the human’s extravagance of uncountable things, how to solve the waste matters is really a very head-ache with great problems. The commentary explained the monk’s four requisites with contentment; i.e., robes, foods, dwellings and medicines.

The commentary divided each requisite into three types and with the four requisites, it became 12-fold.

These three types were:

  1. Contentment according to one’s gain,
  2. according to one’s ability and
  3. according to suitability.

On robes:

  1. A monk receives a robe, and it can be good or bad quality. He has to keep with it and not desire for another one. He does not accept another one even has the chance to get another. This is contentment according to one’s gain.
  2. Receiving a heavy robe which is made with thick cloth. By wearing it has difficulty and discomfort because of the heavy robe. So, he exchanges with another monk with his lighter robe. This is contentment with one’s ability.
  3. Receiving an expensive good quality of robe and the monk thinks that the robe is suitable for elders long gone forth, virtuous, and highly learned, etc.

So, he offers to them and looks for a cheaper robe. This is contentment according to suitability.

The other requisites of alms food, dwelling (lodging) and medicines are also understood in these ways as mentioned above. The contentment with the four requisites in these ways is a blessing for a monk because it can abandon bad qualities of excessive desire evil desire, etc. The practice of contentment leads to good rebirth and development of the holy life.

Here I want to extract the teaching on contentment by Sayadaw Dr. Nandamalar-bhivamsa for contemplation. He had given two talks on it. The first one explained about contentment and discontent, the second on contentment in general.

In English dictionary, contentment is a feeling of quiet happiness and satisfaction, discontent is the feeling of being not satisfied with one’s situation.

There are two questions arising: “where should one have contentment?” and “where should one have discontent?”. Contentment is one of the characteristics of a true yogi.

Contentment with everything is not good. It has related to possession of material things. It does not mean possession of material things is bad, or you should not search for them.

We should control greediness or over greediness searching for things in wholesome and lawful ways are good. Whoever has very greedy nature, the monk or layman, he will be disgusted and blamed by others. The Buddha compared a greedy person with examples of a big fire and ocean.

A big fire will burn everything whatever put into it, and never stop burning.

Fire as a simile for greediness is not only burning the mind but also the physical world. The dangers coming from global warming are describing the over greediness or discontent of nowadays human beings.) Whatever water flows into the ocean from the land will never overflow. Human’s desire or greediness is never enough and it will always: “I want more! I want more!” (Human’s over exploitation of the earth resources has not finished yet and even now they are planning to outer space for the same purpose.) Someone has discontent and too choosy even their parents cannot bear it.

Discontent with wholesome dhammas (i.e., merits) is good indeed. (i.e., merits related to sīla, samādhi and paññā). Searching, learning and studying on knowledge and wisdom should not have contentment. (These include worldly knowledge, but it should be wholesome and using them wisely and properly. If not it will destroy or harm humans.) Then all these become wrong knowledges. With more knowledge and education is better.

It can be used for the welfare and well-being of human race. Merits or wholesome Dhammas can be divided into different types, from the basic to higher levels. (e.g. sīla, samādhi and paññā). To develop merits is like a ladder going up higher and higher. (It does not mean that we should do it one by one. For example, giving dāna and at the same time observe sīla and doing meditation.)

Merits can be divided into three types according to their qualities; such as

① Sense sphere merits—kāmāvacara kusala
② Sublime merits—mahaggata kusala
③ Supramundane merit— lokuttara kusala (i.e., understand it like the neither black nor white kamma)

① For common and the majority of people, sense sphere merits are more important and easier to perform. To have better results understanding about them is necessary.

It can be divided into eight kinds depending on the following six factors:

⑴ associated with knowledge
⑵ dissociates from knowledge (with or without knowledge)
⑶ accompanied by joy
⑷ accompanied by equanimity (with or without joy)
⑸ prompted
⑹ unprompted

By combining, we get the eight kinds of consciousness related to merits (2*2=4*2=8) as follows:

1. With knowledge and joy, unprompted
2. With knowledge and joy, prompted
3. no knowledge, with joy, unprompted
4. no knowledge, with joy, prompted
5. with knowledge, no joy, unprompted
6. with knowledge, no joy, prompted
7. no knowledge, no joy, unprompted
8. no knowledge, no joy, prompted

Therefore, by performing merits with the best mental states is very important.

The first kind of merits with knowledge and joy, unprompted will get the best results.

The eighth kind of merits with no knowledge and no joy, prompted will get the inferior results. (Knowledge on Abhidhamma teaching is very important. It can let us understand the teaching of sutta more clearly and profoundly; so that we can use the teaching of sutta to have the better results in our future life.) Someone can do the merits skillfully is so important that even we can observe and see some of its good results in some animals. For example, the pets (dogs or cats) belong to very rich people (i.e. millionaire, billionaire).

Some years ago, there was an interesting news in the West. A very rich old lady had a pet cat and when she died leaning behind a lot of money for her beloved cat as an inheritance. I am quite sure this cat life was a lot better than most ordinary people. With excellent dāna and sīla, beings can take rebirths in heavenly realm. It can take rebirths as human beings with lesser qualities.

(At last Sayadaw talked about the merits of sublime (samatha) and supramundane up to the highest level—arahantship.) All these merits can be possible only with discontent. Therefore, we have to follow accordingly to the Buddha Dhamma. Greedy in material matters is not good. Merits (kusala dhamma) is good because it is non-greed (alobha). (Foolish people are discontent in unwholesomeness—akusala dhamma, but they have contentment in wholesomeness—kusala dhamma. Today world is similar to this situation.)

In the second talk on contentment in general was as follows. Contentment is a noble quality of a noble being so it can be called as a noble way or practice, which also mentioned by the Buddha. In the loving-kindness discourse the Buddha mentioned some qualities the yogi should have—one of them was contentment. This was not difficult to understand why a yogi who develops mettā should have contentment. Contentment is an antidote of greediness. How can a greedy person develop mettā? (The four divine-abiding: mettā, karuṇā, mudita and upekkhā are connecting dhamma) Contentment with one’s own things (especially the four requisites—necessities; robes, foods, dwellings and medicines) is the way of noble people. In all the human possessions, contentment was the best possession as the Buddha said. Contentment with one’s own thing, one do not want the things that belong to others and this is a peaceful way. People encounter suffering because of no contentment. No contentment with one’s property that he desires to own other’s property (e.g., in olden China, wealthy landowners using many dirty tricks to get poor farmer’s lands). With discontent, they expect other things which they do not have, because of that (desire and craving) encounter mental suffering. If wanting a happy and peaceful life have to follow the way of contentment. Humans have a lot of discontent that their minds become hotter with kilesa fire (This is one of the signs or causes for global warming coming from the over-greedy minds of human).

The Buddha said, that if people became happy with the possession of material things, then having contentment would bring happiness. (This is indeed true; the lives of monks and Bhutanese people are very good evidences. A simple lifestyle with enough of the four requisites is a true blessing.) Because of contentment do not want to own others’ properties (i.e., evil desire). Contentment with what one’s has that not desiring or craving for other things. The opposite of contentment is strong desire, strong craving and very greedy. This is the cause of suffering. (When will the present Covid-19 end? we still do not know; this incident is a very good evidence. Humans already have a lot of meat consumption for everyday by many types of meat production, they still discontent with it. Because of discontent in meat consuming, we kill wild animals from the forest, which bring this dangerous virus to human race. The African Ebola-virus also had the same problem. When will humans take a great lesson from it? All the grave and miserable consequence came or started from the non-contentment or discontent.) Therefore, contentment suppresses greed (lobha) and the blessed Dhamma.

(Sayadaw talked about the monk four requisites of robes, foods, dwellings and medicines). These four requisites are the minimum necessities for the survival of a monk life. This will also true for lay people. Robes or clothes for protecting the body from heat, cold, mosquitoes, gnats, other insects bite, wind and the sun and cover-up the naked body, etc. But it is not for beautifying the body. It is very important with the right and proper motivations for doing things. Otherwise, humans could create a lot of unwholesomeness. (for example, for beautifying, humans kill a lot of wild animals for their skins and furs; sometimes in a very cruel way of stripping off the skins and furs alive to get more money.)

The second requisite is on foods. It does not mention directly on drinks but milk includes in foods and there are some drinks including in medicines. Monks consume foods not with the intentions of sensual pleasure, for good-looking and complexion but for maintaining of the four elements in balance (i.e., health) and follow the holy life (study and practice), or with the purpose of survival of the body and practice, doing things. This is also true for lay people.

Nowadays what happen to humans? There are no restraints on food and drink anymore. They eat and drink a lot more than necessary, and to make foods and drinks more delicious better and better, they put all sorts of artificial stuffs in it. All these create health problems. Some people even go to extremes; he realized that eating those things is harmful to health, but still insists on the idea: let me die for delicious (such as diabetic patients). Making foods is becoming an art. It is not only for delicious but also being attractive to see, so that it can make your saliva drip. Why is so fussy about it? Any kind of foods; good or bad tasty or not tasty, good to look or ugly, etc., all come out from the bottom, becoming the same—smelly and disgusting. Even you don’t want to touch it. Even the excreta of animals are valuable. We can use it for fertilizer and energy (e.g., cow excreta used by Indian) and can be sold for money. Who wants to buy human excreta? Our mouths are wasting our money and energy day in day out non-stop. Because of the mouth and stomach, humans create a lot of human problems with it. For this small hole but an ocean-like stomach, humans pollute the food chains by pesticide and all sorts of harmful chemicals. Humans eat everything on Earth: animals swim in water, crawl on the ground, and fly in the air. Some of the epidemics and illness (diseases) come from the mouth craving for animal meat or discontent with foods (e.g., SARS, COVID-19, etc.). For this dangerous mouth, humans kill a lot of animals for foods, sometime in a very cruel way. With this mouth, humans create a lot of problems and suffering with speech (i.e., cheating, harsh-speech, back-biting, frivolous speech, etc.).

But if we can use this mouth properly and wisely, then it becomes a treasure (e.g., noble beings and Dhamma teachers, etc.) There was a very interesting sutta in the Dīgha Nikāya called—Aggañña Sutta (DN. 27). It mentioned the beginning of humans. When a new Earth was formed (by natural causes) there were no living beings on it, also no sun and moon have appeared yet. When the time came some beings from the higher realms (i.e., material jhānic plane) reborn on the Earth spontaneously (opapātika beings). These beings had their own body light and could move in the air. They could survive without eating solid foods—instead they lived with joy which was their nutriment. Later they found out that the Earth-crust had a nice smell taste. It had the color of fine ghee or butter and very sweet like pure wild honey. One of the beings who was a greedy nature and also out of curiosity tasted the savoury earth on its finger. It was quite delicious that craving (taṇhā) arose and continued to eat. The others also saw it and followed suit. So, humans problems started from craving for taste or foods. (Anyone who has interest should read the original sutta. It was not a mythology but more realistic than the Genesis and Evolution Theory. The three worlds—cosmos, living beings and the conditional phenomena—matter and mind world, come to existence according to nature and natural laws or Dhamma-niyama—natural procedure.)

Basically, the four requisites of human are for survival, and more than its necessity and purpose become discontent. The Buddha exhorted us to live a life without concern and a lot of expectation. Because of discontent that we have to work more and tired ourselves. At last, we leave everything behind and ending one’s life. We are busy and caught up in unwholesomeness, at last end up with dukkha. Not doing things for progress and development is not contentment. It is called laziness and foolishness. Some people think with the view of contentment there will be no progress (This is the outlook of greedy and unwise people and misinterprets the important quality of contentment.) Laziness and contentment are very different Dhammas—laziness leads to negative outcome and contentment leads to positive outcome. Discontent means dissatisfaction on things which one already has, and wanting more.

We can give a lot of true stories on the topic of discontent from the past and present. I will only mention a few in gist, so that we can understand the dangers of its results. The story of Cunda—the pork butcher.

There was a village not far from Veluvana monastery where the Buddha stayed. (This monastery was in Rājagaha.)

There lived a very cruel pork butcher by the name of Cunda. He did this cruel business for 55 years All these times he had not done a single meritorious deed, even though he lived very near the Buddha and the monks. (even he made lots of money; he must have greedy nature.) On the day before he died, he had been in the situation of great pain and agony behaving like a pig. He was grunting and squealing, kept on moving about on his hands and knees like a pig; it was happening for the seven whole days. After seven days, he died and reborn in avīci-hell. There is a small pig farm just a stone's throw away from where I live. The owner is rich because he has other businesses also. He had stopped this business very short period because his friend told him the outcome of wrong livelihood. After a short period, he continued his business again because of discontent with his income.

The story of a butcher

This happened when the Buddha stayed at Jetavana monastery. In Sāvatthī there was a butcher (not mentioned his name) who slaughtered cattle and sold the meat for 55 years He craved for meat and took it with rice every day. One day he left some meat for his family and went to a riverside to have his bath. Unluckily a friend of him came and bought the meat by force. When he came back and did not find the meat. He never took his meal without meat-curry. He went to the back yard where his cattle were kept. He cut off the tongue of an ox and roasted it over a fire.

During his meal, he made a bite on the tongue of the ox. As he did so, his own tongue also fell off into his plate. The butcher was in great pain and agony, he went on his knees with blood dripping profusely from the mouth. He died painfully and reborn in Hell.

Lost a wife for chillies

This sad story happened some time ago at May-myo area in Burma. There was a couple doing farm work. The husband had very strong craving for chillies like the butcher in Sāvatthī. He always had his meal with chillies. One day during the meal he asked his wife where the chillies dish was. On that day, she was too busy and forgot to prepare it. He was so angry and could not control his anger, unluckily he grabbed the fire wood near him and bit her on the head. It seemed to be a little over force that she died instantly on the spot.

Robbing a bank with a toy gun

This story came from China TV news. There was a young couple they were urgently in need for some money to do something. The wife asked him to look for the money, but he responded as he could not do other things. Then the wife said: “Can’t you rob the bank?”.

This foolish man took his wife's advice seriously and went to rob a back with a toy gun. He was arrested and did not know what happen to him again. In China robbing a bank can be a death penalty. Strong craving for something we do not have (i.e., discontent) and trying to get it will sometime lead to crimes (e.g., the monk Devadatta). Also, in China News: a bad guy had an intimacy with a young woman (but not fell in love with each other). Later he approached the parents and the young woman for marrying her. All of them rejected his proposal, so he killed all of them. (Therefore, young women should be very careful to become the prey of evil men.)

The Buddha commented on discontent (non-contentment) as; dissatisfaction with one's own possessions and wanting to get others things belong to others. Someone can think the things belong to others is better than one's own. Sayadaw gave an incident which happened before in Sri Lanka. There was a nunnery with thirty bhikkhunīs. The head nun had the nature of discontent, One time a lay supporter offered thirty cakes to them, all were the same.

She was too choosy (discontent) that asked the second nun on the line to change with her. It was going down the line in this way to the last nun. Only that she had satisfaction. Nowadays humans are worse than this old nun. Their discontent is so extreme that they are exploiting the earth resources for sensual pleasure in all possible ways by neglecting their physical and mental well-being. One of the western philosophies is “Enjoy yourself—Life is short”. I want to add a little more to it. Enjoy yourself—Life is short, and then go to apāya happily. We can justify human great discontent by observing all sorts of pollution internal and external, severe weather, climate changes, global warming, natural disasters, etc. Human discontent is so extreme that one Earth is not enough. They need multiple Earths, so they are starting in competition in space exploration for other planets. Even the Buddha mentioned foolish people as follows; human beings were still in discontent if raining with treasures from the sky by gods. Therefore, contentment is non-greed that suppressing greed which is the cause of suffering.

There was a lot to talk about contentment because it is related to discontent—greed which is about human beings. Therefore, I want to add one more story for contemplation. This was an Arabic tale. There were five Arab merchants travelling in a desert with their camels and goods together. Mostly afternoon they rested at shady places and continued their journey at night. One full-moon night they travelled on the journey and passing near a pit. One of them locked into the pit and saw some glittering objects at the base (because of the full-moon, but the objects were not clear). He told the others to stop and look into it. At last, they made a conclusion that it might be some treasures. So, they decided to let one of them down and checked for it. The greediest one volunteered to go down first. They took off their white long outer clothes, connecting each end to make a rope. As soon as the man’s foot touched the base, he immediately saw the object clearly. No, these were not treasure but poisonous cobras and vipers; because the moonlight made the eyes shine. He was so frightened and shocked and shouted at the others above to pull him up quickly because these were snakes. The others did not believe what he said, so they thought he was a greedy person and wanted to trick them. Instead of pulling him up, they sent another man to go down again. For the second man, as soon as his feet touched the ground, he knew what happened down there. So, he shouted back the men up there as these were only snakes, but they did not believe him and thought both of them were plotting to lie them. In this way all of them lost their lives by going down there because no trust on each other. This was the outcome of over greed and selfishness.

The five Security Council members of the UN were like these five Arab merchants. The five members are also no trust in others by solving world problems. They follow their own desire and opportunity by vetoes on the UN decisions. Instead of solving all the human problems sometime it made them worse (e.g., Syrian Civil War). They oppose and fight each other for their own benefits out of greed, hatred and delusion. The Security Council becomes Insecurity Council and United Nations become Disunited Nations and the problems would never be solved. What’s a shame! The fools will never know and appreciate the excellence quality of contentment, but the wise and noble beings understand quite clearly. This is also their precious way of life.

This quality of contentment is a very important one for today world. Both for layman and ordained monk. It has a profound meaning and message within it. We can only discover them by using the Buddha’s Teachings with contemplation. It can also be a great wide subject to think about in today human societies. In the English dictionary; contentment is a feeling of quiet happiness and satisfaction.

So, it has a connection with non-greed (alobha). The opposite of discontentment is a connection with greed (lobha). Therefore, contentment leads to true happiness and peace. Discontentment leads to unhappiness and suffering. The quality of contentment is easy to understand and accept by the noble beings, the sages and the wise. But not by common people or mostly not by power and money mongers, business men and greedy people (i.e., some politicians and some economists).

Even we can say today, many world problems have a connection with discontentment or lacking contentment. We are craving for more than we need. Therefore, we are wasting the natural resources, in extravagance, and overindulgence in sensual pleasures. The United States of America is a very good example. They are in great debts to other countries. Not because they are very poor like some African countries, Latin Americans and Asians. But still, many people want to imitate them.

Most worldly people overlook the importance of contentment and discontentment, which affect the families, societies and international levels. Contentment leads to happiness, peace and harmony. Discontentment leads to unhappiness, disharmony and suffering. For examples, in a documentary film, a Chinese bank made a lawsuit to a young man who could not repay his credit card debts and ended up in jail.

This happened for the second time. The first time his father paid for his debts and this time not taking the responsibility. He blamed the bank for knowing his son situation and still loaned him money. In this case, we can see the connection between discontentment and greed. Worse than this case was a university student in China used his credit cards to borrow money from many different banks.

Now, this is a very big problem in the Banking System of China which came from BBC News. These were very similar to the US Government and its citizens consumed things which more than they needed and created a lot of debts. There was also a very sad story about 15 years or 16 years old youth wanted to possess a smartphone killed his grandma, who had deposited some money in the post office.

Then he took her deposited account book, and took the money out to buy the phone. Some young women, including university students, are selling their bodies to some rich people for money to satisfy their discontentment. There is a lot to talk about family and society problems and suffering which connection with discontentment.

Its connection with international levels is more on a grand scale, which harmfulness brings to the human race. In some countries, the political leaders were still clinging to their powers when the time came for them to let go of it. If they let it go and went back to normal life still could enjoy their high living standards.

But most of them did not and just followed behind their master Discontentment like slaves And then what happened? Some countries had civil wars and the whole country in chaotic situations, harming, torturing, killing, famine, diseases, war refugees crises around the world, etc.

If these people had contentment all the small problems in their countries would be solved. Big problems always start with small problems. A forest fire starts from a spark, e.g., a burning cigarette butt. Some superpowers came in and interfered between the conflicts that even became more harmful to the people (e.g., the Syrian Civil War).

For clinging to lowly sensual pleasures and created evil deeds are not worthy of it. The kammic debts have to be repaid very seriously. In economic levels discontentment creates mind and body pollution, and natural pollution. What are the mind and body pollution? Human beings become more selfish, greedy, cruel, violent, extravagant, indulgence in sensual pleasures, etc. and the mind become defiled.

To fulfill our greed and make more money with the help of science and technology, we polluted our foods with all sorts of chemicals. What are natural pollution? There are the pollution of earth, water and air—and all sorts of waste materials, such as industrial waste, consumers’ rubbish, etc. With more worldly knowledge and contemplation, the matters and problems from the outcomes of discontentment will never end.

But whatever it is; discontentment never brings true happiness and peace to anyone and society. For a human being to be survived, he only needs the basic four requisites: clothes, foods, dwelling and medicine. So, all the other things are extras for him. Even the Buddha taught the monks to have contentment in these four requisites. To have a simple lifestyle, unburdened to the mind and body, just as a bird whenever it goes, flies its wings as its only burden. So, too is a monk has contentment with a set of robes ( three sets of robes), an alms bowl and foods to provide for hunger (one meal a day).

Wherever he goes takes only his barest necessities along (the only barest necessities are—a water strainer, a razor for shaving, and a string girdle to fasten the lower robe at the waist as a belt). A great disciple of the Buddha, Ven. Mahākassapa was an example for contentment; he had mastered left-over scrape for food, smelly urine for medicine, the foot of a tree for dwelling, cast-off rags for robes.

Why the Buddha always praised contentment with little and encouraged monks to have this quality? Because it leads to happiness and peace, easy to develop the practice and realization. People have contentment easier to have patience and endurance in difficult times and situations. Intelligent and wise people will appreciate the quality of contentment. Spiritual people, sages and noble beings know it very well by direct experience on contentment. It develops joy, happiness and peace.

The forest monks live a simple lifestyle in a forest (pristine forests) also experience it very well. (I have mentioned about this in the Introduction of Dtow Dum forest at the border area between Thailand and Burma). Lay people also if they live a simple life with contentment sure to have joy, happiness and peace compare to discontent people, who have more problems and suffering in life.

Why is that? Strong desire or greed (lobha) is the opposite of contentment. The Buddha mentioned in the four Noble Truths, the main cause of suffering was strong desire (taṇhā). One of the meanings of dukkha is unsatisfactoriness, which equals to discontentment. The Buddha also said that someone had contentment would be happy. It is a noble quality which all noble beings have it. You cannot see it with the eyes. Contentment is a kind of fulfillment, an inner one. It is nothing to do with outside things, such as wealth, money, or sensual objects.

Happiness comes from wealth and sensual pleasures are not true happiness. There are some very wealthy people without happiness. If someone cannot use the wealth properly will harmful to oneself. Even the Buddha said that for a fool without any wealth was better than he had it. It was like an evil person who lived a shorter life was better than a longer life.

It is also very important not to misinterpret contentment wrongly. It is nothing to do with laziness or non-action. Only the fool, greedy and selfish people interpret in this way. Contentment relates to wholesome dhamma. Discontentment relates to unwholesome dhamma. For searching, knowledge and wisdom should not have contentment.

Have contentment in knowledge and wisdom is not contentment, only laziness and dullness, or a lazy guy and a dullard. So, we should not misinterpret or misunderstand the Buddha Teaching wrongly. Interpret and contemplate according to its context. There was a very good jātaka story for contemplation on discontentment, which leads to negative nature and result. If we observe and study today world situations will see all these points.

The Hansa Jātaka (Jāt. 136, Suvaṇṇahaṃsa Jātaka)

One time the bodhisatta was born as a human being and had a family with two daughters. After he passed away and born as a hansa (or hamsa) bird—a type of water bird which had beautiful color feathers and could fly. It remembered its past life and had compassion on the family of his past. He had golden feathers and every one or two months went there and gave them a golden feather. So, their lives were improved.

After sometimes what happened was his former wife became discontent and very greedy to get more instantly. The last time when the bird came and she arrested him and plucked all the feathers out. It was cruel and without any consent from the bird that all the golden feathers changed into ordinary ones. Therefore, the evil wife kept the naked bird in a trap and waiting for its golden feathers for growing back.

As soon as the feathers were growing back, the golden hansa bird flew away and never came back again. Discontentment or greedy leads to the ending of everything good, and becomes zero. Someone becomes very greedy could do all sorts of evil deeds. His bodily action, speech and mind become unwholesome. These people could do heavy kammas such as patricide, matricide, tried to kill the Buddha, split the monastic saṅgha, etc.

We can see these things happened even in the Buddha’s time. For example, the Buddha’s cousin Devadatta tried to kill him for power. King Ajātasattu’s killing his father King Bimbisāra was also for power. Nowadays, these things are even worse, in family matters, societies, politics, economics, etc. For power and money, people can do all sorts of harmful things. Worshipping money is the most popular religion in the world.

Human beings (mostly politicians, economists, business-people) measure human development with how much money we make, how much sensual pleasures we can enjoy, etc. People and all the media never emphasis or talk about moral issue, virtue and ethic. Therefore, Human thinking and actions are mostly connection with greed, hatred and delusion. The media are also educating people in this direction.

There is a country that measures its progress and development with happiness—this is Bhutan. This is a country in the Himalayas in Southern Asia with beautiful nature of mountains and forest. Their lifestyle is very simple and close to nature and follow the teachings of the Buddha. By seeing the beautiful nature is make your mind becomes joyful and peaceful. Bhutanese are right, the real progress and development is happiness and peace—this comes from a simple lifestyle, close to nature and contentment with life.

Spiritual people, ancient sages and noble beings—mostly forest monks knew the happiness and peace of contentment with direct experiences. With discontentment and greed, human beings create human problems, suffering and natural disasters which all of it we can see in today world. Therefore, the Buddha with great compassion taught us that: Contentment was the highest protection with a blessing.

revised on 2021-07-28; cited from (posted on 2019-11-20)

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  • 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。