Buddha's Advice on Friendship and Discipline

Buddha’s Advice on Friendship and Discipline

Buddha in one of his sermons, “Sigalowada Sutta” tells a young man named ‘Sigala’ about the discipline a laymen should have.

This takes place when Lord Buddha encountered a youth called Sigala in his morning stroll. The young man, in drenched attire, prostrated and worshiped the four compass direction (East, South, West and North), plus the Earth (Down) and the Sky (Up). When asked by Lord Buddha why he did so, the youth Sigala replied that he had been told by his late father to do so and he thought that it was right to uphold his father’s wishes. Lord Buddha then, based on Sigala’s point of view, taught him on how a noble one (Pali: ariya) should worship the Six directions.

1. Avoid evil ways

Buddha first describes fourteen evil ways that a householder should avoid.

The four defilements of action:

  1. Taking life (killing other beings)
  2. Taking things that don’t belong to us (stealing)
  3. Having intimate relationships with people other than their spouses and having abnormal  sexual behaviors (sexual misconduct)
  4. Telling lies that would harm others, messing up their lives (lying)

The four causes of evil action:

  1. desire (chanda)
  2. hatred (dosa)
  3. ignorance (moha)
  4. fear (bhaya)

The six ways of squandering wealth:

  1. Indulging in intoxicants over and over again.
  2. Wandering the streets at inappropriate times over and over again.
  3. Frequenting public shows over and over again.
  4. Obsessive gambling over and over again.
  5. Associating bad friends over and over again.
  6. Habitual idleness.

2.Choose true friends

The Buddha then went into detail on the importance of having and being a true friend, as he described who true friends are; and who are not; and, how true friends will aid in attaining a blissful life.

According to Buddha, there are four types of true friends:

a)      Accommodative friend – Protects the friend and his wealth when needed, helps the friend when in trouble and provides resources when needed.

b)     The friend who treats his friend equally, both in health & misfortune – Guards the friend’s secrets as his own as well as tells all his secrets to him, doesn’t leave the friend in trouble and ready to sacrifice even his life for the friend.

c)      The friend who shows the correct guidance – Shows the way to a good life not only in this world, but, in the world after death. Prevents the friend from committing sins and shows the way to a better world by advising him on subjects he is ignorant of.

d)     Compassionate friend – Shows compassion to the friend like his mother and prevents others from criticizing him. Praises those who commend him. Happy at the friend’s success and sad at his failure.

According to Buddha there are four types of bad friends who act like friends, but in truth, are enemies:

a)The bad friend who becomes friendly to take, not give – Helps a little and wish for more. Formulates a friendship when he is in trouble to get out of it. He associates a friend only for his gain.

b) The bad friend who talks big and treat his friends only with words – He never ever assists a friend when in need. Tells about his own problems and evade helping the friend.

c) The bad friend who sides with his friend just to make him happy without thinking the consequences of the act – He approves and support his friend in all his deeds whether they are good or bad; but criticizes him behind his back.

d) The bad friend who gets friendly to do sins – He associates the friend to indulge in intoxicants, gambling and attend public shows frequently. Thus, taking his friend with him to the hell after death.

3. Protect close relationships

Finally, returning to the topic of the six directions, the Buddha described the Four Compass Directions as :

Parents (East)

Teachers (South)

Wife (West)

Friends and colleagues (North)

The two vertical directions as:        

Ascetics and Brahmins (Up)

Servants (Down)

The householder’s commitments and the reciprocal acts of those he honors, which make those directions protected, peaceful and secure as identified by the Buddha

East : Parents

Duty of the householder:   

  • To support the parents when they are old and feeble.
  • Protect and maintain the family name and traditions.
  • Be worthy of one’s inheritance.
  • Do meritorious deeds on behalf of the dead ancestors.

Reciprocal acts of the parents:

  • Preventing their children from doing bad deeds.
  • Guide them towards goodness.
  • Educating them properly.
  • Finding them a good spouse.
  • Handing over the inheritance at right time.

South : Teachers

Duty of the student:   

  • Arise from the seat whenever the teacher approaches.
  • Attend on the teacher thrice a day.
  • Listening carefully and eagerly to the teacher.
  • Serving the teacher appropriately.
  • Learning the lessons well.

Reciprocal acts of the teachers:  

  • Discipline the students advising about what to do and what not to do.
  • Teach properly without making mistakes.
  • Teach everything without hiding anything.
  • Introduce the student to their friends praising the skills and talents of the student.
  • Protect the student.

West : Wife

Duty of the husband:  

  • Speaking to the wife in kind words.
  • Never humiliating the wife.
  • Being faithful to the wife.
  • Handing over all household activities such as cooking to the wife.
  • Providing clothing and jewelry.

Reciprocal acts of the wife:  

  • When the husband fulfils his duties, a wife should also do the following in return.
  • Being well organized and finish the household chores on time, such as preparing food, tiding the house,…..etc.
  • Treating the husband’s relatives and friends properly with care and with affection.
  • Being faithful to the husband.
  • Protecting and managing properly the assets the husband earns.
  • Do the needful skillfully without idling.

North : Friends and colleagues

Duty of the householder to his friends:

  • Being generous towards the friends in need.
  • Speaking to the friends in kind words.
  • Always acting towards their welfare.
  • Never taking sides; but be impartial when a trouble arises among friends.
  • Always being honest with friends.

Reciprocal acts of the friends:

  • Protecting you when you arein danger.
  • Protecting your wealth when you are helpless.
  • Being a safe haven when you are worried and scared.
  • Not abandoning you when you are in a hardship.
  • Being devoted to your family and its descendants.

Up : Ascetics and Brahmins

Duty of the householder to Ascetics & Brahmins:

  • Treating them with gentleness.
  • Speaking to them with consideration.
  • Thinking about them with kindness.
  • Always keep the door open for them.
  • Provide them with the necessary material needs.

Reciprocal acts of the Ascetics & Brahmins:

  • Prevent the devotees from wrong doings.
  • Guide the devotees towards righteousness.
  • Show compassion towards the devotees.
  • Educate the devotees in matters they ought to know.
  • Answering and explaining the matters that devotees want to know.
  • Show the devotees the path to heaven or liberation.

Down : Servants

Duty of the householder to servants:

  • Assigning the servants to work according to their ability.
  • Paying the servants properly and adequately fitting to their labor.
  • Treating the servants with medicine and other necessities when they are ill.
  • Sharing special treats with the servants as and when he receives them.
  • Giving enough rest and a number of reasonable holidays to the servants.

Reciprocal acts of the servants :

  • Rising up before the master.
  • Retiring after the master.
  • Taking only what is given and not cheating.
  • Working hard.
  • Praising the master and spread his good among the people.

• To avoid domestic violence and lead a peaceful life one should follow the path of Buddha’s teachings. It is the greed and desire which bring all the problems into this world. The ignorance of this reality, according to Buddha, cause all the tribulations in a human’s life.

• Meditation brings peace to mind and teach tolerance. The Buddhist culture basically teaches a person to feel guilty and be fearful of the outcome of such a deed.

• Buddhists, believe in the theory of action and reaction. It is one’s actions which bring the result of their existence. It could be peaceful and harmonious or messy and disastrous.