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Digha Nikaya

Dīgha Nikāya 31 Sigāla Sutta
Advice to Sigālaka

The Buddha gives advice to a young man on how to live a good life as a lay person.

Table of Contents

Introduction

This is as I heard. In those days, the Buddha was living in the city of Rājagaha, in the Bamboo Park, the squirrels’ feeding ground. One day, a young man named Sigālaka woke up early in the morning and left Rājagaha. With his clothes and hair all wet, and with his joined palms he was worshiping the directions—east, south, west, north, below, and above.

That day, the Buddha wore his robe in the morning, took his bowl and double layered-robe and entered Rājagaha for alms. He saw Sigālaka worshipping the directions and asked him, “Young man, why are you worshipping the directions in this way?”

“Bhante, on his deathbed, my father said to me, ‘My dear son, please worship the directions.’ Bhante, honoring, respecting, and venerating my father’s words, I wake up early in the morning, leave Rājagaha and with my clothes and hair all wet, and with my joined palms I worship the directions—east, south, west, north, below, and above.”

1. The Six Directions

“Sigālaka, that’s not how the six directions should be honored in the Dhamma I teach.”

“But bhante, how should the six directions be honored in the Dhamma the Blessed One teaches? Bhante, please teach me this.”

“Well then, Sigālaka, listen and pay close attention, I will teach.”

“Yes, bhante,” replied Sigālaka. The Buddha taught this:

“Sigālaka, when a noble disciple abandons four corrupt deeds, when he doesn’t do bad deeds on four grounds, and when he avoids six drains on wealth, he has left fourteen bad things behind and he has covered the six directions.

“As a result, he’s practicing the right path to win this world and the next, and he succeeds in this world and the next. After death, he will be reborn in a happy world, in heaven.”

2. Four Corrupt Deeds

“What four corrupt deeds has he abandoned? Killing beings is a corrupt deed. Stealing is a corrupt deed. Sexual misconduct is a corrupt deed. Lying is a corrupt deed. These are the four corrupt deeds he has abandoned.”

That is what the Buddha said. The Blessed One further said,

“Killing, stealing,
telling lies,
and committing adultery are corrupt deeds;
wise people don’t praise these things.”

3. Four Grounds

“On what four grounds does he not do bad deeds? An ordinary person does bad deeds influenced by favoritism, hostility, delusion, and fear. When a noble disciple is not influenced by favoritism, hostility, delusion, and fear, he doesn’t do bad deeds on these four grounds.”

That is what the Buddha said. The Blessed One further said,

“If you act against righteousness
with favoritism, hostility, delusion, or fear,
your fame declines,
like the moon in the fading fortnight.

“If you don’t act against righteousness
even with favoritism, hostility, delusion, or fear,
your fame increases,
like the moon in the shining fortnight.”

4. Six Drains on Wealth

“What six drains on wealth does he avoid? Taking intoxicating drinks and drugs is a drain on wealth. Roaming the streets at night is a drain on wealth. Frequenting festivals is a drain on wealth. Gambling is a drain on wealth. Bad friends are a drain on wealth. Laziness is a drain on wealth.”

5. Six Dangers of Taking Intoxicating Drinks and Drugs

“Sigālaka, there are six dangers of taking intoxicating drinks and drugs. They are: immediate loss of wealth, increase of quarrels, exposure to illness, disrepute, indecent exposure and a weakened wisdom. Sigālaka, these are the six dangers of taking intoxicating drinks and drugs.”

6. Six Dangers of Roaming the Streets at Night

“Sigālaka, there are six dangers of roaming the streets at night. Your spouse, children, your property and yourself are all left unguarded. You’re suspected of bad deeds. Untrue rumors spread about you. You’re at the forefront of many things that entail suffering. Sigālaka, these are the six dangers of roaming the streets at night.”

7. Six Dangers of Festivals

“Sigālaka, there are six dangers of frequenting festivals. You’re always thinking: ‘Where’s the dancing? Where’s the singing? Where’s the music? Where are the dramas? Where’s the clapping and laughing? Where are the games?’ Sigālaka, these are the six dangers of frequenting festivals.”

8. Six Dangers of Gambling

“Sigālaka, there are six dangers of gambling. Victory generates hate in the loser. The loser laments over his money. There is immediate loss of wealth. A gambler’s word carries no weight in public. Friends treat them with disrespect. And no-one wants to marry a gambler, because people think, ‘This individual is a gambler—this individual is not able to support a wife and children.’ Sigālaka, these are the six dangers of gambling.”

9. Six Dangers of Bad Friends

“Sigālaka, there are six dangers of associating with bad friends. You become friends with those who are gamblers, drunkards, addicts, frauds, cheats, and thugs. Sigālaka, these are the six dangers of associating with bad friends.”

10. Six Dangers of Laziness

“Sigālaka, there are six dangers of laziness. You don’t get your work done because you think, ‘It’s too cold! It’s too hot! It’s too late! It’s too early! I’m too hungry! I’m too full!’ By relying on so many excuses for not working, you don’t make any more money, and the money you already have runs out. Sigālaka, these are the six dangers of laziness.”

That is what the Buddha said. The Blessed One further said,

“Some are just drinking buddies,
some call you their dear, dear friend,
but a true friend is one
who stands by you in need.

“Waking up late, adultery,
living with hatred, harming others,
associating with bad friends, and greediness:
these six things ruin a person.

“With bad friends, bad companions,
bad behavior,
a person falls to ruin
in both this world and the next.

“Gambling, associating with others’ wives, drinking alcohol, infatuated with music and dance;
sleeping by day and roaming at night;
bad friends, and excessive greed:
these six things ruin a person.

“They gamble, drink alcohol,
and associate with others’ wives.
Associating with those with evil qualities,

“And not associating with
people who have good qualities,
they decline like the fading moon.

“A drunkard, broke, and poor,
thirsty, drinking in the bar,
drowning in debt,
will quickly destroy his family.

“When he’s in the habit of sleeping during day time,
going to bed very early,
and always getting drunk,
he can’t succeed in life.

“‘Too cold, too hot,
too late,’ he says.
When the person neglects his work like this,
wealth passes him by.

“But one who considers hot and cold
as nothing more than blades of grass—
he does his duty energetically,
and happiness never goes away from him.”

11. Fake Friends

“Sigālaka, you should recognize these four enemies disguised as friends: the taker, the talker, the approver and the evil helper.

“You can recognize the fake friend called ‘the taker’ through four bad qualities.

“His goal is to always take something from you.
Giving little to you, he expects a lot from you.
He comes to help you, only when he is in danger and has problems.
He associates with you for his own advantage.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize the fake friend called ‘the taker’ through these four bad qualities.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize the fake friend called ‘the talker’ through four bad qualities.

“He serves you in the past (Instead of helping at present, he always says, I could’ve helped you if you asked me before). He serves you in the future (Instead of helping at present, he always says, I will help you in the future). He only serves you with meaningless and false words. When something needs doing in the present, he points to his own misfortune.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize the fake friend called ‘the talker’ through these four bad qualities.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize the fake friend called ‘the approver’ through four bad qualities.

“He approves your bad deeds. He approves your good deeds. He praises you to your face, and puts you down behind your back.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize the fake friend called ‘the approver’ through these four bad qualities.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a fake friend called ‘the evil helper’ through four bad qualities.

“He accompanies you when you are drinking, roaming the streets at night, frequenting festivals, and gambling.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize the fake friend called ‘the evil helper’ through these four bad qualities.”

That is what the Buddha said. The Blessed One further said,

“One friend is all take,
another all talk;
one’s just an approver,
and one’s a friend who helps to do evil.

“A wise person understands
these four enemies for what they are
and they avoid them,
as a person avoids a risky road.”

12. Goodhearted Friends

“Sigālaka, you should recognize these four goodhearted friends: the helper, the friend in good times and bad, the counselor, and the one who’s compassionate.

“You can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘a helper’ through four good qualities.

“He guards you when you’re negligent. He guards your property when you’re negligent. He keeps you safe in times of danger. When something needs doing, he supplies you with twice the money you need.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘a helper’ through these four good qualities.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘the friend who is the same in good times and bad times’ through four good qualities.

“He tells you his secrets. He keeps your secrets. He doesn’t abandon you in times of trouble. He’d even give his life for you.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘the friend who is the same in good times and bad times’ through these four good qualities.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘a counselor’ through four good qualities.

“He keeps you from doing bad. He supports you in doing good. He helps you to listen to the Dhamma. He explains the path to heaven.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘a counselor’ through these four good qualities.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘a compassionate friend’ through four good qualities.

“He doesn’t delight in your misfortune. He delights in your good fortune. He keeps others from criticizing you. He encourages the praising of you.

“Sigālaka, you can recognize a goodhearted friend called ‘a compassionate friend’ through these four good qualities.”

That is what the Buddha said. The Blessed One further said,

“If a friend is a helper,
the same in both pleasure and pain,
is of good counsel,
and is one of compassion,

“A wise person will understand
these four friends for what they are
and associate with them,
like a child associates with their mother.

“The wise and virtuous person
shines like a burning flame.

“They righteously gather wealth as bees
roaming round gather nectar.
And his wealth proceeds to grow,
like an ant-hill piling up.

“In gathering wealth like this,
a person becomes a clever householder
by dividing his wealth in four.
He surely will be surrounded by friends.

“One portion is spent on the well being of
himself and the family.
Two parts are invested in business.
And the fourth should be saved
for times of trouble.”

13. Covering the Six Directions

“How, Sigālaka, does a noble disciple cover the six directions? These six directions should be recognized: parents as the east, teachers as the south, wife and children as the west, friends as the north, servants as beneath, and recluses as above.

A child should serve his parents as the eastern direction in five ways, thinking, ‘I will look after my parents who brought me up. I’ll support them every time they need help. I’ll maintain the family lineage. I’ll use the inheritance properly. When my parents have passed away, I’ll offer gifts to virtuous persons and share merit with my parents.’ Parents served by the children in these ways, show compassion to the children in five ways. Parents keep children from doing bad. Parents support children in doing good. Parents train children in a profession. Parents find children suitable spouses. Parents transfer the inheritance to the children in due time. Parents served by their children in five ways show compassion to them in these five ways. Sigālaka, that’s how the eastern direction is covered, kept safe and free of danger.

“Sigālaka, a student should serve his teacher as the southern direction in five ways: by rising for them if students are seated, by serving them, by listening to the lessons well, by looking after them, and by carefully learning their profession. Teachers served by their students in these five ways, show compassion to the students in five ways. Teachers make sure students are well trained and well educated. Teachers clearly explain all the knowledge of the profession. Teachers introduce students to their skilled friends. Teachers provide protection for students. Teachers served by their students in five ways, show compassion to them in these five ways. Sigālaka, that’s how the southern direction is covered, kept safe and free of danger.

“Sigālaka, a husband should serve his wife as the western direction in five ways: by talking to her with kind and honest words, by not looking down on her, by not being unfaithful, by giving authority to her in household matters, and by presenting her with adornments and gifts. A wife served by her husband in these five ways, shows compassion to him in five ways. She gives well-prepared food at the right time. She treats the servants well. She’s not unfaithful. She preserves his earnings. She’s skillful and tireless in all her duties. A wife served by her husband in five ways, shows compassion to him in these five ways. Sigālaka, that’s how the western direction is covered, kept safe and free of danger.

“Sigālaka, a friend should serve his friends as the northern direction in five ways: by giving, by kind words, by supporting to earn wealth, by helping equally, and by not cheating. Friends served by a friend in these five ways show compassion to him in five ways. They guard him when he is negligent. They guard his property when he is negligent. They keep him safe in times of danger. They don’t abandon him in times of trouble. They support his children. Friends served by a gentleman in these five ways show compassion to them in these five ways. Sigālaka, that’s how the northern direction is covered, kept safe and free of danger.

“Sigālaka, a master should serve his servants as the direction below in five ways: by assigning duties according to servants’ abilities, by giving food and salaries properly, by supporting them with special care when sick, by sharing delicious food and valuable gifts with them, and by giving time off work. Servants served by a master in these five ways, show compassion to him in five ways. They wake up early in the morning and get ready to work, and work until late night. They don’t steal. They do their work well. And they promote a good reputation about their master. Servants served by a master in five ways, show compassion to them in these five ways. Sigālaka, that’s how the direction below is covered, kept safe and free of danger.

“Sigālaka, a lay person should serve recluses as the upper direction in five ways: by helping recluses with a kind heart, by talking to them with a kind heart, by recollecting them with a kind heart, by leaving the gate open for them (inviting them to accept food), and by providing them with material needs. Recluses served by a lay person in these five ways, show compassion to them in five ways. Recluses keep a lay person from doing bad. They support him in doing good. They advise him with kind thoughts. They teach him the Dhamma. They clarify what he has already learned. They explain the path to heaven. Recluses served by a lay person in five ways, show compassion to them in these five ways. Sigālaka, that’s how the upper direction is covered, kept safe and free of danger.”

That is what the Buddha said. The Blessed One further said,

“Parents are the east,
teachers the south,
wife the west,
friends the north,

“Servants below,
and recluses above.
A clever lay person succeeds,
by honoring these directions.

“The wise, virtuous,
experienced, talented,
humble and kind
person gains fame.

“The diligent, energetic person,
is not disturbed by troubles.
He continuously follows good behavior.

“He’s wise and gains fame.
He treats friends well using the four ways of making friends.
He thinks about the well being of his friends.

“He helps many people generously and voluntarily.
He shows the right path to others, and encourages others to follow that path.
He’s kind and gains fame.

“Giving, kind words, beneficial instructions
and treating equally in righteous ways,
as befits friends in each case;
these ways of making friends in the world
are like a moving chariot’s linchpin.

“If there were no such ways of treating others,
neither mother nor father
would be respected and honored
for what they’ve done for their children.

“But since these ways of treating others exist in the world,
the wise practice them well,
so they achieve greatness
and are praised.”

When this was said, Sigālaka said to the Buddha, “Excellent, bhante! Excellent! As if someone were to upright what was turned upside down, or revealing what was hidden, or pointing out the path to the lost, or lighting a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes can see what’s there, the Buddha has made the Dhamma clear in many ways. I go for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. From this day on, may the Buddha remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge as long as I live.”

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Dīgha Nikāya 31 Sigāla Sutta: Advice to Sigālaka

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