What is Blessings?

Those who thus abide, ever remain invincible, in happiness established. These are the greatest blessings.”

With this verse, the past postings on Mangala sutta comes to an end. This is a popular sutta because Buddha explains what is Blessings and how to obtain blessings in life.

For a long time, I cannot bring myself to conclude this chapter until recently; after I read some commentaries on the Theravada canon.

Before continuing, here’s a recap of the 38 blessings and the scripture itself. BTW, I lifted it from here

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Exalted One was dwelling at Anathapindika’s monastery, in Jeta’s Grove, near Savatthi. Now when the night was far spent, a certain deity whose surpassing splendor illuminated the entire Jeta Grove, came to the presence of the Exalted One and, drawing near, respectfully saluted him and stood at one side. Standing thus, he addressed the Exalted One in verse: “Many deities and men, yearning after good, have pondered on blessings. Pray, tell me the greatest blessing!”

[The Buddha:]

  1. “Not to associate with the foolish,
  2. but to associate with the wise;
  3. and to honor those who are worthy of honor — this is the greatest blessing.
  4. To reside in a suitable locality,
  5. to have done meritorious actions in the past
  6. and to set oneself in the right course — this is the greatest blessing.
  7. To have much learning,
  8. to be skillful in handicraft,
  9. well-trained in discipline,
  10. and to be of good speech — this is the greatest blessing.
  11. To support mother and father,
  12. to cherish wife and children,
  13. and to be engaged in peaceful occupation — this is the greatest blessing.
  14. To be generous in giving,
  15. to be righteous in conduct,
  16. to help one’s relatives,
  17. and to be blameless in action — this is the greatest blessing.
  18. To loathe more evil
  19. and abstain from it,
  20. to refrain from intoxicants,
  21. and to be steadfast in virtue — this is the greatest blessing.
  22. To be respectful,
  23. humble,
  24. contented
  25. and grateful;
  26. and to listen to the Dhamma on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.
  27. To be patient
  28. and obedient,
  29. to associate with monks
  30. and to have religious discussions on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.
  31. Self-restraint,
  32. a holy and chaste life,
  33. the perception of the Noble Truths
  34. and the realisation of Nibbana — this is the greatest blessing.
  35. A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune,
  36. from sorrow freed,
  37. from defilements cleansed,
  38. from fear liberated — this is the greatest blessing.

Those who thus abide, ever remain invincible, in happiness established. These are the greatest blessings.”

From the above scripture, we witness the Buddha giving very down to earth and relevant advice. Whereas, in some instances, we can only imagine what it is like.

For example, No.38. Imagine being free from fear…… We read from the heart sutra, that we need to have the ultimate wisdom and REALISE emptiness to be free from fear.

More importantly,

we must also remember the social situation and historical context during the Buddha’s time. That will make this scripture extra vibrant!

At that time (and even today), people pray to God / different Gods for blessings. Rituals where conducted for appeasing the god(s) or for soliciting their delights. Priest and priestess enjoy special privileges because people believe they are special agents of Gods. All these are done with an objective of finding happiness or blessings in life.

However, Buddha’s teaching was contrary to the old religious practices.

Instead of asking his disciples to conduct rituals for blessings, he advised them with some very down to earth wisdom. For example 1 to 13.

Neither did He teach people to worship him like a god.

Furthermore, towards the end of these scriptures, we found out that the ultimate blessings is Enlightenment. In this way, Buddha’s advice is consistently encouraging us to be enlightened.(Just like Him)

If you think about it under this context and read the beginning of the scripture again, you might observe the irony of mankind!

This sutta is a result of a deity asking Buddha. “what is Blessing?”

Which means, they (the deities) were equally clueless.

There you have it!

The clueless mankind conducting rituals directed to the clueless deities, asking them for blessings……


Buddhism has come a long way and we have many different sects and various spiritual practices in the world of Buddhism today.

Since the Truth cannot be self contradicting, it will be good to remember the wisdom of Buddha as witnessed in this scripture.

Especially when we engage in different Buddhist practices.

Remember to ask ourselves, are we practicing Buddhism like the way ancient people engage in their religion?

Do we look upon the Buddha as if he is just another old God sitting in the sky?

If we remember the wisdom of Buddha from this scripture, then we will learn to look beyond the surface of our spiritual practices. Perhaps, we can catch a glimpse of the Truth and marvel the wisdom of our practices.

May all be well and happy.

Categories: Scriptural

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