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The starting point of culture

By Ven. Ampitiya Sri Rāhula Mahāthera
Vajirarama Aranya, 77 Bowalawatta Kandy (Sri Lanka)


The Buddha is a suppremely Enlightened Being. He shows us the path gain that Enlightenment. He is no savoiur but a path-pointer, a teacher of gods and men. Enlightenment is to be gained by the complete eradication of all mental defilements, (kilesas) such as greed, hate, delusion, egoism, pride, jealousy, etc. which are our bitterest enemies. In short, the Buddha teaches us to conquer self, for He says the greatest conquest is the conquest of self.

To achieve this object, one has to be disciplined. Pañca-Sīla or the five precepts are the elementary principles of discipline, extolled by the Buddha, which are good for all mankind, throughout the world.

First comes the precept of not taking the lives of living beings. It is explained by the Buddha thus: refraining from killing of living beings, laying aside the cudgel and sword, having shame to hurt others and full of compassion he lives with deep feeling and kindness for all creatures that have life.

Second is refraining from taking of what has not been given, keeping aloof from grasping what is not his own. He takes only what is given and passes his life in honesty and purity of heart.

Third is refraining from sexual misconduct. He is chaste, he holds aloof from sins of the flesh, unlawful and unfit.

Forth is refraining from lying. He keeps aloof from falsehood, he swerves not from the truth, faithful, and trustworthy, he breaks not his word to the world.

Fifth is refraining from strong drinks which tend to entoxication and heedlessness. He shuns drugs and drinks which work the wit abuse.

Thus, we see the Buddha's teaching is one saturated with unfathomable love and compassion to the world. It is a doctrine that brings peace and happiness to all living beings, man, bird and beast.

It is a soothing balm to the ailing world. It is our paramount duty to live for the good and happiness not only of ourselves but also of others. By thought, word and deed must we do good to the world.

Ideologies like materialism, marxism, capitalism, ect. are each a virus degenerating and destroying society. Hence the vital necessity of the Pañca-Sīla. Otherwise, whe world will be doomed.

Minus Pañca-Sīla, man is a menace to society. The individual as well as society suffers. Taking life when pursued, practised and increased gives one a bad rebirth. The very trifling result of taking life when born as a human being is the shortening of one's life. Similarly, stealing leads to states of woe, and the least evil result when born as a human being is loss of wealth. Sexual misconduct leads to states of woe and the least evil result when born as a human being is a large number of enemies. Lying leads to states of woe and the least evil result when he gains a human birth is being the target of groundless or false accusation. Taking strong drinks leads to states of woe and the very trifling result is being a lunatic when born as a human being.

One who keeps the Pañca-Sīla five benefits.

  1. As a result of diligence he comes into a large fortune.
  2. His fame spreads abroad.
  3. When he enters an assembly of the laity or clergy he does so without fear or hesitation.
  4. He dies unconfused.
  5. After death he is reborn in a happy state.

The one who keeps the Pañca-Sīla gains five streams of merit, resulting in happiness both here and in the world beyond.

The nobles of great tradition of the East, of the distant past, abandoned taking life and abstained therefrom; abandoned stealing and abstained therefrom; abandoned lying and abstained therefrom; abandoned sexual misconduct and abstained therefrom; abandoned lying and abstained therefrom; abandoned intoxicants and abstained therefrom; and they gave to unnumbered beings fearlessness, amity and goodwill. And giving rearlessness, amity and goodwill they in turn became partakers of boundless fearlessness, amity and goodwill. These were the five great gifts the nobles of great tradition of the East, of the distant past, gave and received from the world.

Similarly, one who keeps the Pañca-Sīla follows the nobles of great tradition of the East, of the distant past, and gives the five great gifts to unnumbered beings and in turn becomes a partaker of boundless fearlessness, amity and goodwill. In short, he enjoys unfathomable peace and happiness. The Pañca-Sīla is the starting point of culture which culminates in Enlightenment, the Highest Wisdom and incomparable bliss, Nibbāna.


Some Sayings of the Buddha

The mind is hard to check, swift, flits wherever it listeth: to control it is good. A controlled mind is conducive to happiness.

The mind is hard to perceive, extremely subtle. Let the wise person guard it. A guarded mind brings happiness.

Whatever harm a foe may do to a foe, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind can do one far greater harm.

What neither mother, nor father, nor any other relation can do, a well-directed mind does one far grater good to enrich and ennoble his life.

Sould one see a wise man, who like a revealer of a treasure, point out faults and reproves; let one associate with such a wise person; it will be better, not worse, for him who associates with such a one.


Sri Lanka