The Four Assurances of a Holy Life

By Buddhistdoor International Ven. Nyanabodhi
Buddhistdoor Global | 2011-08-01 |
Throughout 45 years of his life as the Enlightened One, the Buddha in his every sermon (sutta) focused on only two things namely, suffering (dukkha) and cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodha). Thus he says; “Both formerly and now also, Anuradha, it is just suffering and the cessation of suffering that I proclaim” – [M I, p. 139].
Suffering is the very fact of samsaric life. Therefore to end suffering the Buddha proclaimed the middle path (majjhima-pa?ipada) known as the noble eight-fold path (ariya-a??ha?gika-magga). The noble eight-fold path are namely, right view, right intention; right speech, right action, right livelihood; right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This eight-fold path can be classified into morality (s?la), concentration (sam?dhi), and wisdom (paññ?). In short, as is seen in the Dhammapada [verse-183], the Buddha says, if one wants lasting peace and happiness of mind ‘he/she should avoid all forms of evil, cultivate good, and purify his/her own mind’.
The Buddhist principle of life is that good begets good whereas evil begets evil. Therefore we should act in such a way as to evil does neither fall upon us nor does it fall upon others. However most people in this materially advanced world tend to believe that whatever action we perform, it all will come to an end with our death. Therefore, there is no need to worry about what will happen after death. And thus they use full of their energy and time enjoying life engaging in every possible way.
But the question remains as to – do they really lead a happy life? Do they not get upset, angry, worried, feel anxiety, jealousy, envious etc.? I don’t think the answer would be ‘No’ to these questions. Why? As Buddhism precisely says, as long as there is greed and hatred towards the six sense possessions (namely, form, sound, odor, taste, touch and thoughts) and as long as there is ignorance in man regarding the phenomenal existence, he is bound to have other negative mental qualities (as mentioned above) and therefore he is bound to suffer.
So, what is the way following which one can lead a happy and peaceful life? One has to cultivate good mental qualities. The great meditation teacher Mr. S.N. Goenka says whenever we get angry, we do not keep this anger limited to us. We throw it out to whoever is around us. We throw it out to whoever comes in contact with us. We make everyone around us upset and create an unhappy environment. On the contrary if we cultivate good mental qualities such as loving kindness, caring, forgiving, endurance etc. and when our mind is peaceful, then anyone who comes in contact with us gets a peaceful response from us and suddenly the entire atmosphere becomes peaceful.
Precisely it is the innermost wish of the Buddha as we find in his teachings that every individual becomes peaceful and happy himself and herself and makes others who come in contact with him or her peaceful and happy. Thus he wanted every individual to have peace of mind. He wanted the entire humanity to be peaceful.
On what basis one should perform good actions he presents four following assurances as found in the Kalama sutta. He says if anyone performs good actions:
1. If there is next life after death and if there is retributions of actions rightly and wrongly done, he/she does not have to worry about it because he/she will have good destination then. This is the first assurance.

2. If there is no next life and if there is no retributions of actions rightly and wrongly done, also he/she does not have worry about it because he/she lived a good life here and now. This is the second assurance.

3. If he does evil unconsciously without intending to harm anyone still he/she does not have to worry because suffering will not touch him. This is the third assurance.

4. And finally if he/she does not do evil even unknowingly, he/she is then pure in both respects (action and intention), therefore he/she will not be touched by suffering. This is the fourth assurance.

These are the four assurances given by the Buddha to those who cultivate good thoughts and lead a good and holy life.

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