This section of 'Just Be Good' comprises of presentations and commentaries on four important and well-known teachings of the Buddha :
Modern and educated people are increasingly finding a need for spiritual teachings devoid of fanciful stories and myths, free from threats of punishments, and without beliefs which go against science and reason.
Simple faith and worship are no longer enough in this day and age. Buddhism with its practical and consistent teachings and its relevance to daily life, is able to satisfy intelligent and enquiring minds, and thus appeals very much to our present-day society.
The suttas presented here are all very good examples of such teachings.
They have been presented in a modern context using contemporary language and have also been divided into chapters, with headings, sub-sections and explanations inserted to make them easier to read.
is to promote a greater understanding of Buddhism by presenting these
essential teachings in a concise, uncomplicated and down-to-earth manner so
that they can be appreciated by more people.
The Sigalovada Sutta - The Buddha's Guide to Peace and Happiness
The Vyagghapajja Sutta - How to Accumulate Wealth
The Parabhava Sutta - How to Avoid Downfall
The Mangala Sutta - A Life of Blessings
Buddhism is usually seen
as a highly spiritual practice, with the lofty aim of saving all sentient
beings, or of attaining Nibbana. However,
it is often overlooked that the Buddha also gave many valuable teachings to
guide people in their everyday lives of raising their families, running
their businesses and interacting with society.
One of the major factors
for the rapid spread of Buddhism in ancient India was the Buddha’s great
skill as a teacher. He was
able to perceive the moral and spiritual maturity of his listeners.
For example, if he saw that his listeners were not ready to
understand the Four Noble Truths or the Noble Eight-Fold Path, he would
impart the more basic teachings which they would have found easier to grasp
To most ordinary folk, he
would explain the benefits of generosity and morality so that if they
accept and practice these teachings, they will have better lives in the
present, and also be able to have favourable, or even heavenly rebirths in
the future. By learning and practicing even these basic teachings, the
conditions are created for them to continue on the path towards full
enlightenment in their future lives.
The Buddha knew that it
would be pointless and unrealistic to try to explain the higher teachings
to those who were not ready. Doing
so would only confuse them or even worse, turn them away from the Dhamma.
Only when he saw that they were ready, would he then go on to the
Buddhism would have
failed if the Buddha did not adapt his teachings to suit the capacity of
his listeners. He was able to
vary the style, content and depth of his teachings so that his listeners
received the most benefit from them. This
flexibility also contributed to Buddhism’s survival, spread and success
through the ages.
Likewise, in our current age of rapid change and often excessive materialism, many people will be more interested in teachings that can have both a positive and immediate impact on their daily lives. Therefore, the practical and down-to-earth teachings of the Buddha as presented here will be of great value and a good starting point for many people. And if followed, these teachings will be the stepping stones towards higher ideals and spiritual advancement and more importantly, mark the beginning of the journey in Buddhism.
The Sigalovada Sutta
(Code of Ethics for Lay People), Vyagghapajja Sutta (Conditions of
Welfare), Parabhava Sutta (Causes of Downfall), and the Mangala Sutta
(Discourse on Blessings) are the teachings set forth in this section of
'Just Be Good'.
They are systematic and comprehensive sets of guidelines which apply
to daily life, social relationships, and even economics and politics, and
lead gradually to the deeper teachings of the Buddha.
However, it should be
emphasized that these teachings are not commandments from the Buddha. Buddhism does not have the concept of heavenly beings laying
down rules, which if broken, lead to eternal punishment in hell.
Buddhism is not based on rewards and threats, but on knowledge and
understanding. Only by
exploring, questioning and properly understanding the Buddha’s teachings,
can they be truly followed.
Blind faith and
unthinking worship are not prerequisites for being a Buddhist.
These are in fact negative qualities to be discouraged as they lead
to dogmatism, stubbornness and inflexibility.
In Buddhism, a receptive and enquiring mind is considered a worthy
quality and a sign of openness and intelligence.
There is nothing mystical
or even remotely mysterious here.
The Buddha never resorted to supernatural rituals or asked for logic
defying leaps of faith in any of his teachings.
Everything here is rational and sensible, relevant to the present
and very much down-to-earth. These
teachings are not difficult, and can be practiced by anyone, Buddhists and
Approach these teachings with an open mind. Make a sincere attempt to observe and practice them. The results will be immediate and beneficial, for this life and future lives to come.