Extract 6 - A Discourse Delivered at the IMC, Yangon (Rangoon)

For an explanation of words in Pali - the language of the time of the Buddha - please see the Pali Glossary.


(extract and summary)

Ven. Webu Sayadaw: Now that you have exerted much effort on medita­tion, you have had some positive achievement. Now, when you go home, do you have to give this to your wife?

Answer: No sir, I do not have to give it. But she would scowl at me and say I have done this only for my own good and that I was selfish.

Sayadaw: Well then, from here you have experienced the beneficial effects of the Dhamma, and when you meet your wife and children at home I think you have failed to mention how the practice of the Dhamma has produced positive results in you.

A: I did not get a chance to explain at all, sir. The moment I reached home she greeted me with a scowl.

S: Well, now after you have taken the precepts (sīla) what did I say? I said that now that you have taken sīla you must observe and practice this sīla to the fullest extent. This is in accordance with the Buddha’s Teachings. If you practice in this manner, all your wishes will be fulfilled in this lifetime as well as in the future. That was how I reminded you. In practising sīla you must perform all those acts that are required of a layman. A person who has a sound and complete sīla is indeed a wholesome person. In the case of the Saṅgha, the Buddha also laid down the relevant rules of conduct. Only when you practice and observe sīla to the fullest extent can it be said that your sīla is complete.

Now when you go home, if you have experienced joy that arises from the full observance of sīla, you would have mettā for your wife at home and you would, accordingly, have greeted her with such feelings. But since you did not greet her so, she scowled at you. That is why when you return from here this time, you must greet her, talk to her, and treat her in a manner which will be agreeable to her and in accordance with sīla. Even before reaching your house there should be mettā in you for her and the wish that she may also enjoy the peace that you yourself have achieved. When you reach home it should be you who should greet her pleasantly and with mettā.

A: Sir, when I returned home from here, my mind was so occupied with thoughts about nāma and rūpa (mind and matter) that I failed to smile at her.

S: Well, nāma-rūpa is of course nāma-rūpa. But since you did not greet her with a smile as you used to before well she scowled at you. What you should have done was to greet her in the way I explained just now. This is also sīla. She should also have the peace that you have had. Now, although you have greeted her suitably and she is still not pleased, in such a case, who is still lacking in sīla? Here you must regard yourself as still lacking in the fulfilment of your sīla. You should then remember that you must make her happy and that you are still wanting in sīla. So you greet her again or call her again agreeably.

Now, when you first greet her, if your intention was that she should also enjoy the fruits of Dhamma that you had experienced and if you had mettā for her, merit has already accrued to you for that action. So you are, in a way, the gainer. If your greeting had met with success, so much the better. But suppose it was not successful and you had to try again. In that case, have you lost or gained anything by your first actions? You know you have lost nothing. In fact, by having to try again you will be gaining more merit, and so you should be happy for it.

So you must try again and again, making changes in yourself until you succeed. But the change must come from you. Don’t be angry, don’t be short-tempered if there is no success. You must regard yourself as still wanting in this respect.

Now suppose I tell you that there is a big water pot that is used by many and that you should fill this pot with water. You know that the more water there is in the pot, the greater will be the number of people who can use it. So you will no doubt fill it to the full. So it will not be necessary for me to tell you whether it is full or not. You will know it yourself. So you see, if your wife smiles when you greet her, then you will know that the water pot is full.