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Deeds of Substance —Bhikkhu Sujato

Numbered Discourses 4

7. Deeds of Substance

61. Deeds of Substance

1.1Then the householder Anāthapiṇḍika went up to the Buddha, bowed, and sat down to one side. The Buddha said to him:

2.1“Householder, these four things that are likable, desirable, and agreeable are hard to get in the world. 2.2What four? 2.3The first thing is the wish: ‘May wealth come to me by legitimate means!’

3.1The second thing, having got wealth by legitimate means, is the wish: ‘May fame come to me, together with my family and teachers.’

4.1The third thing, having got wealth and fame, is the wish: ‘May I live long, keeping alive for a long time!’

5.1The fourth thing, having got wealth, fame, and long life, is the wish: ‘When my body breaks up, after death, may I be reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm!’ 5.2These are the four things that are likable, desirable, and agreeable, but hard to get in the world.

6.1These next four things lead to the getting of those four things. 6.2What four? 6.3Accomplishment in faith, ethics, generosity, and wisdom.

7.1And what is accomplishment in faith? 7.2It’s when a noble disciple has faith in the Realized One’s awakening: 7.3‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ 7.4This is called accomplishment in faith.

8.1And what is accomplishment in ethics? 8.2It’s when a noble disciple doesn’t kill living creatures, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie, or take alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. 8.3This is called accomplishment in ethics.

9.1And what is accomplishment in generosity? 9.2It’s when a noble disciple lives at home rid of the stain of stinginess, freely generous, open-handed, loving to let go, committed to charity, loving to give and to share. 9.3This is called accomplishment in generosity.

10.1And what is accomplishment in wisdom? 10.2When your heart is mastered by covetousness and immoral greed, you do what you shouldn’t, and fail to do what you should. 10.3Your fame and happiness are crushed. 10.4When your heart is mastered by ill will … 10.5 10.6dullness and drowsiness … 10.7 10.8restlessness and remorse … 10.9 10.10doubt, you do what you shouldn’t, and fail to do what you should. 10.11Your fame and happiness are crushed.

11.1Knowing that ‘covetousness and immoral greed are corruptions of the mind’, that noble disciple gives them up. 11.2Knowing that ‘ill will …’ … 11.3‘dullness and drowsiness …’ … 11.4‘restlessness and remorse …’ … 11.5‘doubt is a corruption of the mind’, that noble disciple gives it up.

12.1When a noble disciple has given up these things, 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6they’re called ‘a noble disciple of great wisdom, of widespread wisdom, who sees what matters, and is accomplished in wisdom’. 12.7This is called accomplishment in wisdom. 12.8These are the four things that lead to the getting of the four things that are likable, desirable, and agreeable, but hard to get in the world.

13.1There are four deeds of substance that a noble disciple does with the legitimate wealth he has earned by his efforts and initiative, built up with his own hands, gathered by the sweat of the brow. 13.2What four?

13.3To start with, with his legitimate wealth he makes himself happy and pleased, keeping himself properly happy. 13.4He makes his mother and father happy … 13.5He makes his children, partners, bondservants, workers, and staff happy … 13.6He makes his friends and colleagues happy … 13.7This is his first solid and substantive investment, used in the appropriate sphere.

14.1Furthermore, with his legitimate wealth he defends himself against threats from such things as fire, flood, rulers, bandits, or unloved heirs. 14.2He keeps himself safe. 14.3This is his second solid and substantive investment, used in the appropriate sphere.

15.1Furthermore, with his legitimate wealth he makes five spirit-offerings: 15.2to relatives, guests, ancestors, king, and deities. 15.3This is his third solid and substantive investment, used in the appropriate sphere.

16.1Furthermore, with his legitimate wealth he establishes an uplifting religious donation for ascetics and brahmins—those who avoid intoxication and negligence, are settled in patience and gentleness, and who tame, calm, and extinguish themselves—that’s conducive to heaven, ripens in happiness, and leads to heaven. 16.2This is his fourth solid and substantive investment, used in the appropriate sphere.

17.1These are the four deeds of substance that a noble disciple does with the legitimate wealth he has earned by his efforts and initiative, built up with his own hands, gathered by the sweat of the brow.

17.2Whatever wealth is spent on something other than these four deeds of substance is said to be not a solid or substantive investment, and not used in the appropriate sphere. 17.3But whatever wealth is spent on these four deeds of substance is said to be a solid and substantive investment, used in the appropriate sphere.

18.1‘I’ve enjoyed my wealth, supporting those who depend on me;
18.2I’ve overcome losses;
18.3I’ve given uplifting religious donations;
18.4and made the five spirit-offerings.
18.5I have looked after the ethical and
18.6disciplined spiritual practitioners.

19.1I’ve achieved the purpose
19.2for which an astute lay person
19.3wishes to gain wealth.
19.4I don’t regret what I’ve done.’

20.1A mortal person who recollects this
20.2stands firm in the teaching of the noble ones.
20.3They’re praised in this life,
20.4and they depart to rejoice in heaven.”