Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Buddha’s Guide to Peace and Happiness: The Singalovada Sutta

The Buddha’s Guide to Peace and Happiness is based on the Singalovada 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. Singala was headstrong, materialistic and stubborn and always had many excuses for not paying respects to the Buddha or even going to temple. 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 Singala would go astray and fritter away the fortune that he stood to inherit.

After a major illness, the father called Singala to his deathbed to convey his final wishes. He requested that Singala 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, Singala agreed and was obedient enough to perform this ritual faithfully every morning.
As hoped for by his father, the Buddha came across Singala one morning as he was worshipping the six directions. The Buddha then asked Singala why he was doing this and Singala 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 Singalovada Sutta. At the end of the discourse, Singala took refuge in the Buddha and become one of his devout followers.



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