Accomplishments

Bhikkhus, there are these five disasters. What five? Disaster due to [loss of] relatives, disaster due to [loss of] wealth, disaster due to illness, disaster regarding virtuous behavior, and disaster regarding view. It is not because of a disaster due to [loss of] relatives, or a disaster due to [loss of] wealth, or a disaster due to illness that with the breakup of the body, after death, beings are reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. It is because of a disaster regarding virtuous behavior and a disaster regarding view that with the breakup of the body, after death, beings are reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. These are the five disasters.

Bhikkhus, there are these five accomplishments. What five? Accomplishment in relatives, accomplishment in wealth, accomplishment in health, accomplishment in virtuous behaviour, and accomplishment in view. It is not because of accomplishment in relatives, accomplishment in wealth, or accomplishment in health that with the breakup of the the body, after death, beings are reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world. It is because of accomplishment in virtuous behavior and accomplishment in view that with the breakup of the body, after death, beings are reborn in a good destination, in a a heavenly world. These are the five accomplishments.
AN 5.130, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

When the Buddha talks about what happens after we die, we can take it as describing the results of our actions in the future. We don’t need a clear idea of what happens after death to understand this point.

We often think that if things are going smoothly in our personal lives, it’s a sign of cosmic approval, and if severe difficulties befall us, we have a sense of “why me?”, protesting our innocence.

In the sutta above, the most important areas in which we hope for things to go well are listed – family, wealth and health. But if you look around, you’ll notice that good and bad things happen to good and bad people; if there’s a causal link here, it’s too obscure for our perception.

Virtuous behavior and view, or how we frame our experience, are the keys to setting our selves on a straight course. What we do in the world, for good or ill, creates a peaceful or a troubled heart; and how we frame our experience is a mighty influence on how we behave. If we see others as threats and annoyances, we’ll treat them as less than human, less than ourselves. If we see others as just as vulnerable and desirous of happiness as ourselves, then we’ll treat them as we would wish to be treated. In the long run, we can’t control our health, families, and wealth. But by training our minds and actions, a peaceful heart can be accomplished.

1 Comment

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One response to “Accomplishments

  1. Experience and continuing practice bears out the value of the Buddha’s advice. Valuable reminders. – d

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