Personal Attributes for True Happiness and Success

Venerable Dattajeevo Bhikku, often referred to as Luang Phor Dattajeevo, is the Acting Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the President of Dhammakaya International Society of California, USA and the Vice President of Dhammakaya Foundation.  Luang Phaw Dattajeevo.

In his work ‘A Manual of Peace- 38 Steps towards Enlightened Living’, Luang Phor explains in detail how Lord Buddha has used the 38 Blessings as a means of helping humankind to cultivate certain desirable personal attributes, and how they can help individuals meet true happiness and success in life.

Having spent close to 12 years teaching this Dhamma topic over and over again, it occurs to Luang Phor that these 38 Blessings can be divided into ten different groups. Below is an excerpt from the manual.

The first five groups deal with the practical aspects of our daily life whereas the latter five groups deal specifically with the training of our mind from the basic level all the way to the attainment of Arahatship.

The First Group teaches us to be a good person in that
    (Blessing No. 1):    we need to stay away from fools,
    (Blessing No. 2):    we need to associate with wise people, and
    (Blessing No. 3):    we need to respect those who are worthy of our respect
The Second Group teaches us to be ready to do good deeds in that
    (Blessing No. 4):    we need to live in a civilised environment,
    (Blessing No. 5):    we need to be blessed with past merit, and
    (Blessing No. 6):    we need to have a good life-goal.
The Third Group teaches us to be capable and productive
    (Blessing No. 7):    by being scholarly,
    (Blessing No. 8):    by being creative,
    (Blessing No. 9):    by having self-discipline, and
    (Blessing No. 10):    by speaking truth.
The Fourth Group teaches us to provide for our loved ones
    (Blessing No. 11):    by caring for our aging parents,
    (Blessing No. 12):    by providing for our children,
    (Blessing No. 13):    by supporting our spouse, and
    (Blessing No. 14):    by not being a procrastinator.
The Fifth Group teaches us to practice altruism
    (Blessing No. 15):    by achieving charity,
    (Blessing No. 16):    by performing wholesome deeds,
    (Blessing No. 17):    by supporting our relatives and friends in times of need,
    (Blessing No. 18):    and by doing work which has altruistic value.
The Sixth Group teaches us to begin training our mind
    (Blessing No. 19):    by abstaining from all unwholesome deeds,
    (Blessing No. 20):    by abstaining from alcohol drinking, and
    (Blessing No. 21):    by not being reckless.
The Seventh Group teaches us to pursue fundamental virtues
    (Blessing No. 22):    by being respectful,
    (Blessing No. 23):    by practicing humility,
    (Blessing No. 24):    by practicing moderation,
    (Blessing No. 25):    by being grateful, and
    (Blessing No. 26):    by taking the time to listen to Dhamma lectures.
The Eighth Group teaches us to pursue higher virtues
    (Blessing No. 27):    by cultivating patience,
    (Blessing No. 28):    by being open to constructive criticism,
    (Blessing No. 29):    by being acquainted with righteous monks, and
    (Blessing No. 30):    by learning Dhamma from the righteous monks.
The Ninth Group teaches us to remove all defilements from our nature
    (Blessing No. 31):    by cultivating austerity,
    (Blessing No. 32):    by practicing chastity,
    (Blessing No. 33):    by practicing meditation, and
    (Blessing No. 34):    by penetrating Nibbana.
The Tenth Group teaches us about the fruits of freedom from defilements which include:
    (Blessing No. 35):    Equanimity
    (Blessing No. 36):    Joy
    (Blessing No. 37):    Purity, and
    (Blessing No. 38):    Bliss.

Luang Phor hopes that this short presentation should not only give the reader an idea about Life’s 38 Blessings but also convey the fact that the Lord Buddha arranges every Dhamma topic so precisely and exactly in the right order that when we practice His Teachings accordingly we can be assured of the expected outcome.


Why should leaders bother with spiritual knowledge?
When dealing with spiritual issues, the ‘big question’ on many business peoples’ minds is why academic or material knowledge is not sufficient to get by in the world. If a full stomach and a place to sleep were enough to keep the human happy then we wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of studying about ethics or about spirituality. However, for every human being, there is something deeper inside us which is always searching for the answers to questions on a deeper level -something which seeks for purpose and meaning in the life we live and the world around us. If supporting yourself were all there was to life then certainly millionaires would be the happiest people on earth. Unfortunately wealth can only buy physical comfort - money cannot buy the means to nurture or nourish the mind. On the contrary, the irresponsible people may use their cunning to do more heinous crimes than they would do if they weren’t educated. Thus worldly education cannot guarantee us a happy life or guarantee that we will not end up in jail. This is why we make the distinction between worldly and spiritual knowledge.

In the ideal world, our system of education would give us the answers we need to the questions inside ourselves, but in practice, the secular education doesn’t manage to fill this gap-and maybe, even if it were to try, it could not - because in some way the personal quest is part of the process of acquiring knowledge. Thus we are forced to look for the answers from alternative sources.

The human being has two important parts: body and mind. By body we mean all the blood, bones, muscles and organs associated with the physical body - even the brain, which is a physical organ. By mind, we mean the knowledge and attitudes that constitute our consciousness. The mind is like the ghost in the machine. The physical components of the human being are neutral. The difference between a human who is uplifting and one who is degrading depends not on the body, but on the mental component. Unfortunately, the software of the human mind is not pre-installed from the factory! The path of our subsequent destiny depends on the sort of knowledge we fill ourselves with. If the knowledge is wholesome, then our lives and business ventures will be wholesome too.

Thus, even with all our business acumen and qualifications, we cannot deny the importance, in this third wave of leadership, of spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge properly studied can guarantee that we will not be put in jail - it is not only something to fill up our brains - it has transformative power to upgrade the way we think, speak and act. It has the power to ensure that we do business ethically, rather than making profit from the suffering of others, especially in these times of economic downturn when the temptation to cut ethical corners is all the greater. Thus, as businesspeople, to prosper both inwardly and outwardly we need to make sure that our economics go hand in hand with our ethical conduct. We need to do business in the way that when, on our deathbeds we look back over our lives, we can close our eyes with the feeling that we have done good for (and by) the world.

Adapted from Dhammakaya Foundation’s (2005) “A Manual of Peace” by Ven. Phra Nicholas Thanissaro.

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