Then the householder Anāthapiṇḍika approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him:
“Householder, there are these five things that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and rarely gained in the world. What five? Long life, householder, is wished for, desired, agreeable, and rarely gained in the world. Beauty … Happiness … Fame … The heavens are wished for, desired, agreeable, and rarely gained in the world. These are the five things that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and rarely gained in the world.
“These five things, householder, that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and rarely gained in the world, I say, are not obtained by means of prayers or aspirations. If these five things that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and rarely gained in the world could be obtained by means of prayers or aspirations, who here would be lacking in anything?
(1) “Householder, the noble disciple who desires long life ought not to pray for long life or delight in it or passively yearn for it. A noble disciple who desires long life should practice the way conducive to long life. For when he practices the way conducive to long life, it leads to obtaining long life, and he gains long life either celestial or human.
(2) “Householder, the noble disciple who desires beauty … (3) … who desires happiness … (4) … who desires fame ought not to pray for fame or delight in it or passively yearn for it. A noble disciple who desires fame should practice the way conducive to fame. For when he practices the way conducive to fame, it leads to obtaining fame, and he gains fame either celestial or human.
(5) “Householder, the noble disciple who desires the heavens ought not to pray for the heavens or delight in them or passively yearn for them. A noble disciple who desires the heavens should practice the way conducive to heaven. For when he practices the way conducive to heaven, it leads to obtaining the heavens, and he gains the heavens.”
For one desiring long life, beauty, fame, acclaim, heaven, high families, and lofty delights following in succession, the wise praise heedfulness in doing deeds of merit.
Being heedful, the wise person secures both kinds of good: the good in this life, and the good of the future life. By attaining the good, the steadfast one is called one of wisdom.
“Mendicants, there are five times that are not good for meditation. What five?
Firstly, a mendicant is old, overcome with old age. This is the first time that’s not good for meditation.
Furthermore, a mendicant is sick, overcome by sickness. This is the second time that’s not good for meditation.
Furthermore, there’s a famine, a bad harvest, so it’s hard to get almsfood, and not easy to keep going by collecting alms. This is the third time that’s not good for meditation.
Furthermore, there’s peril from wild savages, and the countryfolk mount their vehicles and flee everywhere. This is the fourth time that’s not good for meditation.
Furthermore, there’s a schism in the Saṅgha. When the Saṅgha is split, they abuse, insult, block, and reject each other. This doesn’t inspire confidence in those without it, and it causes some with confidence to change their minds. This is the fifth time that’s not good for meditation.
These are the five times that are not good for meditation.
There are five times that are good for meditation. What five?
Firstly, a mendicant is a youth, young, black-haired, blessed with youth, in the prime of life. This is the first time that’s good for meditation.
Furthermore, they are rarely ill or unwell. Their stomach digests well, being neither too hot nor too cold, but just right, and fit for meditation. This is the second time that’s good for meditation.
Furthermore, there’s plenty of food, a good harvest, so it’s easy to get almsfood, and easy to keep going by collecting alms. This is the third time that’s good for meditation.
Furthermore, people live in harmony, appreciating each other, without quarreling, blending like milk and water, and regarding each other with kindly eyes. This is the fourth time that’s good for meditation.
Furthermore, the Saṅgha lives comfortably, in harmony, appreciating each other, without quarreling, with one recitation. When the Saṅgha is in harmony, they don’t abuse, insult, block, or reject each other. This inspires confidence in those without it, and increases confidence in those who have it. This is the fifth time that’s good for meditation.
These are the five times that are good for meditation.”
“You are lovely, noble Isidasi, And your youth has not yet faded. What was the flaw that you had seen That led you to pursue renunciation?” – (Therigatha 403)
Isidasi then told her life story. She had been born in the city of Ujjeni as the much-loved only daughter of a rich merchant. When she came of age, a wealthy merchant who was a friend of her father asked for her hand in marriage for his son. Isidasi’sparents were overjoyed at the proposal as they knew the family well. Isidasi, who was a model daughter, displayed these qualities and behaviour to her husband and in-laws. She soon she won over the hearts of her parents-in-law. Isidasi also grew to love her husband. Disregarding the help offered by her servants she took care of all his meals and needs herself. However, despite her love and model behaviour, her husband soon tired of her. Isidasi describes her life as follows:
“By myself I cooked the rice, By myself I washed the dishes. As a mother looks after her only son, So did I serve my husband. I showed him devotion unsurpassed, I served him with a humble mind, I arose early, I was diligent, virtuous, And yet my husband hated me.” – (Therigatha 412-413)
While admitting to his parents that Isidasi was blameless her husband insisted that he could no longer live with her. However, as she had done no wrong, he offered to leave the city and start a new life elsewhere. Isidasi’s parents-in-law were devastated. They loved their daughter-in-law and did not want to lose her. Thinking that there was a problem that their son was hesitant to tell them, they questioned Isidasi. She answered truthfully as follows:
“I have done nothing wrong, I have done him no harm, I have not spoken rudely to him. What have I done that my husband hates me?” – (Therigatha 418)
Her parents-in-law were perplexed and disappointed. They had grown to love Isidasi as a daughter. They did not, however, want their son to move away to another city. They decided to send Isidasi back to her parents, certain that with her beauty and kindness she would easily find another suitable partner. This rejection was devastating to Isidasi. Being sent back to one’s parents was a disgrace and a shame in Indian society at the time of the Buddha. Isidasi describes her pain as follows:
Isidasi’sparents were perplexed by what had happened. Accepting the inevitable they began looking for a suitable husband. Before long they found a wealthy young man who was so overcome by Isidasi’sbeauty and deportment that he offered to provide half of the usual marriage dowry that was given by the bride’s father. Despite the fact that Isidasi lavished her attention on her new husband and treated him with utmost respect, the same pattern followed. Within a month he returned her to her father and annulled the marriage, though he could give no cause for his extreme dislike of his model wife.
Isidasi was devastated. This second rejection pierced her heart like a poisoned arrow. She moped around the house, dejected. When a mendicant came to their house begging for alms, Isidasi’s desperate father offered her to the ascetic. The ascetic seemed to be unsatisfied with his solitarylife. The prospect of a beautiful wife and a life of luxury in a splendid mansion appealed to him. Giving his begging bowl and robes to her father he accepted Isidasi as his wife. But after two weeks he brought her back and asked for his robe and bowl. “He preferred”, he said, “to be the poorest man on earth than to live with Isidasi under the same roof.” Despite the fact that they pleaded to know the reason for the rejection he could give none. “All he knew, he said, was that he could not live with her.”
Isidasi was ready to commit suicide. The shame and sorrow of three rejections were too hard to bear. She was planning for her death when a Buddhist nun named Jinaddata came to their house for alms. Pleased by her serenity and countenance, Isidasi asked permission from her father to enter the Noble Order. Her father was hesitant as he did not want to lose her company, but seeing the suffering in his beloved daughter’s eyes, he agreed. He then urged her to attain the supreme state of Nibbana.
She explained the cause of her present suffering to her friend Bodhi. Eight lifetimes ago Isidasi had been born a man – a rich, handsome and dashing goldsmith. Women had been attracted to him and he had taken advantage of them even though they were other men’s wives and innocent girls. He flitted from woman to woman, breaking hearts, quite oblivious to the pain and suffering he was causing. He wanted to take his pleasure again and again. He wanted change. The fact that he had broken many hearts and marriages did not bother him at all. They were all trophies that he could brag about.
After suffering in hellish torment for the lifespan of the plane he was reborn in the womb of a monkey. Seven days after his birth the leader of the monkeys, seeing a threat to his position from the new-born monkey, bit his genitals and castrated him. Isidasi describes this act, done to prevent future rivalry, as follows:
“A great monkey leader of the troops, Castrated me when I was seven days old, This was the fruit of that kamma Because I had seduced others wives.” – (Therigatha 437)
At death he was reborn as a sheep, the offspring of a lame, one-eyed ewe. He lived in misery for twelve years, infected with intestinal worms, obliged to transport children and pull the plough and cart with hardly any rest. Hard work was what the frivolous goldsmith had avoided and hard work was what he now had to endure as a beast of burden. He had been castrated by his owner and his life was a misery of intense, hard work with loss of sight in his latter years.
In his next birth he (the former goldsmith) was reborn as a female. He had now become a woman, the object of his former desire. The woman’s father was a good-for-nothing carter who failed at every endeavor. He gave his daughter to a rich merchant to pay his debts. Despite her pleas she found herself taken into the merchant’s household as a slave girl. She was sixteen years old and an attractive girl. After some time, the son of the household fell in love with her, and took her as his second wife. Naturally, the first wife was most displeased with this arrangement. The slave girl, however, did everything in her power to strike discord between the husband and wife, as she liked her new position. This resulted in much fighting and quarreling in the household until she finally succeeded in breaking up the marriage and separating the husband and his first wife.
“This was the fruit of that past deed, That although I served them like a slave, They rejected me and went away; Of that too I have made an end.” – (Therigatha 447)
We can all benefit from Isidasi’s story. Over time, especially in the western world, moral values have deteriorated. Young men and women are very casual about sexual behaviour and the media and television have glorified sex through advertisements, movies and magazines. What was once considered immoral is now considered moral. Despite the ignorance of humankind, the law of kamma operates. The Buddha laid down a very simple moral code to follow regarding sexual behavior. As Buddhists we are not only advised to refrain from adultery and rape, but we are cautioned against inappropriate sexual behavior of any kind. This includes relationships with those under the guardianship of parents, relatives and friends and relationships with members of religious orders who have taken the vows of celibacy. Buddhists should not indulge in casual sex but should exercise restraint and ensure that they form meaningful, long-term relationships based on love and commitment before they give in to their desires. Buddhists should also actively work at preventing child abuse and the breaking up and disruption of marriages caused by casual relationships.
“Now what, bhikkhus, is the superior kind of child? In this instance a child has a mother and father who have not gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who do not abstain from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence ; who are unvirtuous and of bad conduct.
But the child is one who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who abstains from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence; who is virtuous and of good conduct. This, bhikkhus, is the superior kind of child.”
2. Who is Anujāto or the similar kind?
“Now what, bhikkhus, is the similar kind of child? In this instance a son has a mother and father who have gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who abstain from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence; who are virtuous and of good conduct.
And the child also is one who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who abstains from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence; who is virtuous and of good conduct. This, bhikkhus, is the similar kind of child.”
3. Who is Avajātoti or the inferior kind?
“Now what, bhikkhus, is the inferior kind of child? In this instance a son has a mother and father who have gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who abstain from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence; who are virtuous and of good conduct.
But the son is one who has not gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who abstains from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence; who is virtuous and of good conduct. This, bhikkhus, is the similar kind of child.”
“These, bhikkhus, are the three kinds of children found existing in the world.”
When Does Human Life Begin in This Body? By Ajahn Brahm
What Did the Buddha Say? 1a. “(Human life begins) when in the mother’s womb, the first citta (‘mind’ or ‘thought’) arises, when the first consciousness manifests”.1 1b. “Bhikkhus, the descent of the gabbha (misleadingly translated as embryo by Bhikkhu Bodhi) takes place through the union of 3 things – the union of mother and father, the mother is in season, and the gandhabba (stream of consciousness) is present.”2 1c. “If viññāṇa (consciousness) were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would nāma-rūpa take shape in the womb? Certainly not, Venerable Sir.”3 Nāma-rūpa = feeling (vedana) perception (saññā) contact (phasso) will (cetanā) attention (manasikāro) and material form (rūpa ). 1d. Nāma-rūpa and consciousness are like two sheaves of reeds standing leaning against each other. If one were to remove one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall. So, with the cessation of nāma-rūpa comes cessation of consciousness, and with the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of nāma-rūpa. 4
What Did the Buddha Mean? 2a. Human life begins when the stream of consciousness (s.o.c.) enters the embryo-fetus and the first consciousness manifests therein. 2b. Such an arising of consciousness is caused by the combination of 3 conditions: parental union, fertility and an s.o.c. being available. 2c. The above causal link is not necessarily instantaneous. Buddhist causality includes results that appear a long time after their cause. A prime example is “when there is birth, there is old age, sickness and death.” It is a mistake to assume that the s.o.c. descends into the mother’s womb at the very moment of parental union. Such a belief would beg the question into what does the s.o.c. descend? Into the lucky one of the millions of sperm, or into an egg that might well remain 1 From Pārājika 3, the rule about deliberately killing a human being, repeated at Vinaya Mahāvagga 1.75. 2 From Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of Sutta #38 of the Majjhima Nikāya.. 3 Mahānidāna Sutta, DN15. 4 Abridged from Nidana Saṃyutta No. 67. unfertilized? The Buddha meant that some time after parental union, with the other two factors also being fulfilled, there is descent of the s.o.c. into the mother’s womb. 2d. Point 1d, above, shows that there cannot be consciousness without feeling + perception + contact + will + attention + material form (nāma-rūpa). When one manifests, so does the other, immediately.
When Does A New Human Life Begin? 3a. The embryo designates the unborn being in the first 8 weeks of development, the fetus designates the unborn being after 8 weeks of development. 3b. A single embryo may split into 2 or more viable embryos after a certain number of days. Prior to such an event, there cannot be 2 s.o.cs. co-existing in a single embryo, nor can a single s.o.c. split into two separate streams. Such propositions are excluded by the Buddha’s doctrine of Paṭicca-Samuppāda. Either a second s.o.c. enters one of the divided embryos after the separation, or two karmically connected s.o.cs. enter the twinned embryos at the same time shortly after division. In either case, this shows that the s.o.c. can descend into the mother’s womb several days after parental union. 3c. The Buddha consistently stated that human life in this body begins when consciousness first manifests inside the mother’s womb. The Pāli word here rendered as “manifest” is Pātubhūta, which also means to be open, visible, apparent. To be precise, human life in this body begins not when consciousness first exists in the mother’s womb, but when it first shows its existence in the mother’s womb (these two events, I believe, are simultaneous). How does consciousness first manifest its existence? Point 2d, above, states that when consciousness first manifests then nāma-rūpa also shows its first appearance. Two essential parts of nāma-rūpa are vedana (feeling, the ability to distinguish between painful or pleasurable or neutral sensations) and cetanā (will, deliberate reactions to such sensations). So, when vedana and will first manifest in the unborn being, then one knows that nāma-rūpa has first manifested; and when nāmarūpa has first manifested, then consciousness has first manifested and human life has begun anew!
In conclusion, only when the embryo-fetus first shows sensitivity to pleasure and pain (vedana) and first shows will (such as by a purposeful shrinking away from a painful stimulus) has consciousness and nāma-rūpa first manifested and the new human life started.
Further Discussion 4a. Such a definition for the beginning of human life has been argued tightly from the earliest teachings of Buddhism, those as close as we can get to what the Buddha actually said. Thus the definition has textual authority. 4b. Such a definition is pragmatic, because it gives us a discernible measure by which we can know when a human life has begun anew. Procedures such as the ultrasound scan can convince neutral observers that the fetus at a certain stage of development shows experience of pain and moves deliberately, but before such a stage does not manifest feeling or will. Neurologists can also confirm that prior to a certain stage of development, the fetus’s nervous system is absent and therefore pain and pleasure cannot be felt. Thus such a definition is workable. 4c. When there is no sure-fire method of discerning the beginning of a new human life, many will err on the safe side, meaning they will push the beginning of human life impractically early, even to the stage of parental union. The above definition avoids such sloppiness based on fear. 4d. The ethical quality of karma has much to do with the happiness or suffering that one deliberately inflicts upon another. When the other is incapable of feeling pleasure or pain, such considerations become irrelevant. Indeed, there is a widespread revulsion at viewing a film of an abortion where the fetus manifest pain during the procedure, but such a revulsion is absent at the destruction of an embryo, in a Petri dish, that does not manifest any feeling at all. The above definition is in harmony with the ethical foundation of such revulsion. In other words, many non-Buddhists, especially those rationalists with no religious affiliations, would easily support such a Buddhist definition of the beginning of human life.
IVF. 5a. The above definition clarifies the ethics of destroying fertilized human ova that are yet to be implanted into the mother, or using them to begin a line of stem cells. Since these embryos do not show feeling or will, then consciousness also has not been manifested, and so it is not reckoned as human life. Scientifically speaking, the nervous system has certainly not developed yet and therefore such an embryo is incapable of manifesting consciousness. Other ethical considerations may be relevant here, but certainly not that concerned with destroying a human life.
5b. A further clause in the Buddha’s consistent definition for the beginning of a human life is the location of the manifested consciousness – in the mother’s womb. Thus, there is a strong logical argument that states that even if consciousness did manifest somehow in an embryo in the lab, it still has not appeared in the mother’s womb, and therefore does not fulfil the Buddha’s definition of a human life. Only when that embryo–with-consciousness has been implanted in the mother’s womb, then can one say that consciousness has appeared within the mother’s womb and human life begun. 5c. There are some skilful meditators who can remember their past lives, and also those who can recall past lives through other means. Those who recall the passage from their previous life into their present existence are remarkably consistent in their recollection of being drawn irresistibly into their future mother’s womb. To them, it is implausible that one could be drawn into a bunch of cells in a Petri dish in a laboratory. One of the unstated but necessary ingredients for rebirth is the sight of one’s future mother, which acts as a magnet to draw the stream of consciousness in. Such an attractor would be absent in a laboratory.
Conclusion: embryos outside of a mother’s womb are not reckoned as human life, and thus the ethical considerations specific to human beings do not apply. Ajahn Brahm, Perth, September 2007
Donation is not a concept of gambling! It’s not like, you donate $1 and get $1000 in future or after life. It should be out of compassion and kindness.
Donation is not a concept of gambling! It’s not like, you donate $1 and get $1000 in future or after life. It should be out of compassion and kindness.
The concept of donation is giving up the attachment of ego. One should give because he/she has a beautiful and compassionate heart. If you increase ego by giving and expect more than you give in return, then it’s more likely a gambling donation which is harmful and fruitless. People gamble to multiply what they spend but donation isn’t such.
Buddha said….. People should donate to purify their heart (Citta Visuddhi), as an adornment for the mind (Citta Alaṇkāra), and as a gift for the mind (Citta Parikkhāra). They should have thoughts like…by this donation, may the deserved receiver be benefited, be well, be freed from danger and affliction, be happy and peaceful.
You give foods, so one doesn’t stay hungry.
You give cloths, so one doesn’t stay with shame.
You give education, so one doesn’t stay illiterate.
You give medicine, so one doesn’t stay sick.
You give shelter, so one doesn’t stay under the open sky.
You give anything to anyone who deserves and needs it, thinking thus, may the deserved receiver be eased from their bad condition and situation, serious affliction or danger. May the receiver be well, happy, and peaceful.
But in the case of a recluse practice who vowed to practice the homelessness, is difference. They dwell in happiness of non-attachment state for having nothing.
And also…there are monks and people who have sacrificed and dedicated their lives for the people and community. If such social and religious services are practiced with limitless kindness and compassion, such practices are the Bodhisattva practices, to fulfill all the Paramitas by serving the world community. And a Buddha always encouraged and praises such good deeds while he also encouraged his followers to shorten the Saṃsāra.