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Introduction

The Buddha's Guide to Peace and Happiness
1. Basic Morality
2. Building and
    Managing Wealth
3. Protecting Assets
    and Wealth
4. False Friends
    and True Friends
5. Protecting
    Relationships
6. Qualities for
    Success

How to Accumulate Wealth
1. Material Wealth
    and Progress
2. Spiritual Wealth
    and Progress

How to Avoid Downfall
1. Material Downfall
2. Moral Downfall
3. Spiritual Downfall

A Life of Blessings
1. The Essential
    Blessings
2. The Supporting
    Blessings
3. The Personal
    Blessings
4. The Higher
    Blessings
5. The Supreme
    Blessings

Conclusion
   

The Buddha’s Guide to Peace and Happiness

The Sigalovada Sutta


The Buddha’s Guide to Peace and Happiness is based on the Sigalovada Sutta, one of his greatest and most valuable set of teachings.  It deals with basic morality, building and preserving wealth, friendships, the reciprocal responsibilities in social relationships, and the qualities of successful persons.  This teaching benefits both individuals and society as a whole too. 

The sutta is named after Sigala, a young man who lived during the time of the Buddha.  Sigala was headstrong, materialistic and stubborn and always had many excuses for not paying respects to the Buddha or even going to temples.  The parents of this young man were devotees of the Buddha but they could not make him follow their footsteps.  His father, a very wealthy man was worried that Sigala would go astray and fritter away the fortune that he stood to inherit.

After a major illness, the father called Sigala to his deathbed to convey his final wishes.  He requested that Sigala worship the six directions of the East, South, West, North, the Nadir and the Zenith every morning.  As this was a common religious practice in India at the time, Sigala agreed and was obedient enough to perform this ritual faithfully every morning.

As hoped for by his father, the Buddha came across Sigala one morning as he was worshipping the six directions.  The Buddha then asked Sigala why he was doing this and  Sigala replied that he was merely carrying out the dying wishes of his father.

The Buddha then proceeded to give a new and more meaningful explanation to this ritual.  The explanation formed the basis of the discourse that we now come to know as the Sigalovada Sutta.  At the end of the discourse, Sigala took refuge in the Buddha and became one of his devout followers.

 


 

1. Basic Morality

Four harmful actions to avoid

Avoid hurting and killing living beings [1]
By not hurting and killing,
This is how each individual protects others from suffering and harm,
And how the lives and safety of individuals are protected.

Avoid taking what is not given [2]
By not taking what is not given,
This is how each individual protects others from hardship and loss,
And how the possessions and livelihoods of individuals are protected.

Avoid sexual misconduct [3]
By not engaging in sexual misconduct,
This is how each individual protects other families from misery and anguish,
And how the unity and well-being of families are protected.

Avoid lying [4]
By not lying and using other forms of false speech,
This is how each individual protects society from mistrust and disorder,
And how the integrity and security of societies are protected.


Four reasons for committing these harmful actions
 

Desire
For example, because of desire for wrongful pleasure, 
one may engage in sexual misconduct. 

Anger
For example, because of anger that is not controlled, 
one may hurt another. 

Ignorance
For example, because of ignorance that it is wrong to purchase stolen, counterfeit or pirated material, one may take what is not given.
 

Fear
For example, because of fear of having a mistake or a misdeed discovered, 
one may lie.
 

A virtuous person will not be led astray by desire, anger, ignorance or fear.  
As such, he or she will avoid these four harmful actions.

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The Buddha starts by laying the foundation for basic morality which everyone, without exception, should make an effort to live by.  We should not cause suffering by hurting or killing, or by stealing or telling lies, or by adultery.  We do not wish suffering to come to us in these ways, and thus we should not be the cause of such suffering to others.

Anyone who habitually commits such acts will sooner or later get into trouble.  This is just common sense.  Avoiding these four actions, as well as avoiding the misuse of alcohol and drugs, comprise the Five Precepts which all practicing Buddhists try their best to observe.

On a broader level, each individual actually also helps to protect society by avoiding these negative actions.  And by individuals collectively avoiding these actions, each individual is thus protected by society too.  The Buddha therefore placed great importance on these foundations of morality, and here lies the basis of peace and happiness for both individuals and society.

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Notes

[1]  All living beings include animals and not just human beings.

[2]  This includes property that someone misplaced or left behind.  Where possible, an effort should be made to return such property to the rightful owner.  This also includes copyrights and intellectual property where counterfeiting and piracy cause loss to the actual owners.

[3]  This means adultery, being involved with the loved ones of others, and forcing oneself on someone unwilling.

[4]  This includes all forms of false speech and words which cause harm such as libel, slander, gossip and spreading rumours.

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