Mangala Sutta: Review of more blessings and conclusion

Venue: Hokkien Cemetery pavilion

Today I shall continue with the review of the blessings of the Mangala Sutta.

Gratitude. When we receive help we should remember and be grateful for it, as remembering will benefit you. The next time you need help, it will come more readily than if you had not shown gratitude the first time you received help. Besides, it feels good to be thankful.

Timely listening to the Dhamma. There are two aspects of being timely. It is timely to listen to the Dhamma regularly. It is also timely, when one has a problem and one seeks advice from someone who is more familiar with the Dhamma. For example, someone’s business partner made money by dishonest means. This person asked me whether it is bad for him to make use of the money. It is also good to put forward questions to be answered during Dhamma talks. Just write them on a piece of paper and hand it to us.

Patience. It is an essential quality in both our everyday life and in meditation practice. When we are faced with problems at work, it is a kind of suffering. If we do not exercise patience then we add another kind of suffering — mental suffering. During meditation, patience is a must. As it is said, patience leads to Nibbana.

Being receptive to others’ words (obedience). Normally, people are not easily receptive of others’ words. The Buddha said it is difficult to find people who are ordained at an old age and receptive. Yet, it is a great blessing for anyone to be humble and open to good advice. By abandoning our obstinate nature, much benefit can be obtained and much suffering can be averted.

Meeting holy people. Well-practised monks, by nature of their lifestyle, tend to have clearer minds. Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw is one such monk and it is said that even sitting in the same room as him has a calming effect on one. Furthermore, monks who have been practising for a long time can see things more clearly and thus are in a better position to give good advice. Therefore, it is a blessing to meet them.

Timely discussion of the Dhamma. There are times when listening to Dhamma talks is not enough to meet your needs. Discussion, on the other hand, may touch on topics that fulfil your needs. Through discussion, one can straighten one’s views.

Spiritual striving. This means to cultivate the mind, which entails burning up mental defilements of greed, anger and delusion. The less a person possesses of these three unwholesome states, the clearer his mind is and the happier he is. Ultimately, it leads to the end of all striving.

Brahmacariya. At the most basic level, this refers to celibacy observed by renunciants. Celibates are generally healthier, look younger and live longer, even if they are lay people. At a higher level, it refers to the practice of the Buddha’s teachings, the Four Noble Truths, leading to the end of suffering.

Seeing the Four Noble Truths. As one cultivates oneself, burning up the defilements, it leads one to perceive the noble truths of suffering, its cause, its end and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to its end. Then, one can no longer have any doubts about it — ever. This also means one is bound for Nibbana.

Having a mind unshakeable by worldly conditions. Joy and sorrow, profit and loss, blame and praise, fame and disrepute — these are part of life’s experiences and no one is free from them. What’s important is how one reacts when one is in contact with any one of them. One’s mind should not swing up and down in tandem with these experiences, but rather maintain equanimity. Ultimately, this refers to the mind of an Arahant, one who has reached the end of the Path. With an utterly pure mind, he is naturally no longer affected by worldly conditions.

Let me end by repeating the final verse:

Having performed such things as these,
Wherever they go,
they go undefeated and safe.
That is the highest blessing for them.

May we all help ourselves to these great blessings!

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