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Samyutta Nikaya

Saṁyutta Nikāya 3.19 Patama Aputtaka Sutta
Childless 1

The Buddha explains what a person should do if they acquire great wealth.

At the city of Sāvatthī…

One day, King Pasenadi went up to the Buddha in the middle of the day, bowed respectfully, and sat down to one side. The Buddha said to him, “So, great king, where are you coming from in the middle of the day?”

“Bhante, here in this city of Sāvatthī, a rich man has passed away. Since he died childless, I have come after transferring his wealth to the royal treasury. There was eight million in gold, not to mention the silver.

“Bhante, I learned that the rich man didn’t spend money on delicious food. Unfortunately, he ate meals of rough gruel with pickles. He didn’t spend money on good clothing. He wore a rag cloth which he made by sewing three pieces of hemp together. He didn’t spend money on comfortable vehicles. He traveled around in a very old, little cart, holding an old umbrella as a sunshade.”

“That’s so true, great king! That’s so true! When a foolish person has acquired great wealth, he doesn’t make himself happy or pleased. Nor does he make his mother and father, spouse and children, servants, workers, staff, friends and relatives happy or pleased. And he doesn’t give gifts to monks and nuns. He doesn’t collect merit in order to be reborn in heaven. Because he hasn’t made proper use of his wealth, rulers or thieves take it, a fire burns it, a flood sweeps it away, or enemies take it. Since that wealth is not properly utilized, it’s wasted.

“Suppose there is a lotus pond with clear, sweet, cool water, and with clean, smooth, delightful banks. However, it is inhabited by ghosts. Therefore, people don’t go to it, drink from it, bathe in it or use it for any purpose. Since that water is not properly utilized, it’s wasted.

“In the same way, when an foolish person has acquired great wealth … it’s wasted, not used.

“When a wise person has acquired great wealth, he makes himself happy and pleased. He makes his mother and father, spouse and children, servants, workers, staff, friends and relatives happy and pleased. He gives gifts to monks and nuns. He collects merit in order to be reborn in heaven. Because he makes proper use of his wealth, rulers or thieves don’t take it, fire doesn’t burn it, floods don’t sweep it away, and enemies don’t take it. Since his wealth is properly utilized, it’s used, not wasted.

“Suppose there is a lotus pond not far from a town or village with clear, sweet, cool water, with clean, smooth, delightful banks. And people go to it, drink it, bathe in it and use it for their own purpose. Since that water is properly utilized, it’s used, not wasted.

“In the same way, when a wise person has acquired great wealth … it’s used, not wasted.

The Buddha:

“As cool water in a pond which is inhabited by ghosts
evaporates when not drunk;
so too when a foolish person acquires wealth,
he neither uses it himself nor shares it with others.

“But when a wise person gains wealth,
he uses it and does his duty.
That fortunate man or woman,
supports their family and their relatives as well.
He or she is praised by the wise in this world,
and goes to a heavenly rebirth after death.”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 3.19 Patama Aputtaka Sutta: Childless 1

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