Sakka, ruler of the devas, asked the Blessed One: “Beings wish to live without hate, hostility, or enmity; they wish to live in peace. Yet they live in hate, harming one another, hostile, and as enemies. By what fetters are they bound, sir, that they live in such a way?”
[The Blessed One said:] “Ruler of the devas, it is the bonds of envy and miserliness that bind beings so that, although they wish to live without hate, hostility, or enmity, and to live in peace, yet they live in hate, harming one another, hostile, and as enemies.”
Sakka, delighted, exclaimed: “So it is, Blessed One, so it is, Fortunate One! Through the Blessed One’s answer I have overcome my doubt and gotten rid of uncertainty.” Then Sakka, having expressed his appreciation, asked another question: “But, sir, what gives rise to envy and miserliness, what is their origin, how are they born, how do they arise? When what is present do they arise, and when what is absent do they not arise?”
“Envy and miserliness arise from liking and disliking; this is their origin, this is how they are born, how they arise. When these are present, they arise, when these are absent, they do not arise.”
“But, sir, what gives rise to liking and disliking…?”—“They arise from desire”—“And what gives rise to desire…?”—“It arises from thinking. When the mind thinks about something, desire arises; when the mind thinks of nothing, desire does not arise.”—“But, sir, what gives rise to thinking…?”
“Thinking, ruler of the devas, arises from elaborated perceptions and notions. When elaborated perceptions and notions are present, thinking arises. When elaborated perceptions and notions are absent, thinking does not arise.”
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi was born in New York City and, after finishing a BA and a PhD in philosophy, received full ordination in Sri Lanka in 1973. In 1988, he was appointed editor of the Buddhist Publication Society in Sri Lanka and has written, edited, and translated a number of Buddhist texts.
From The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Copyright ©2016 by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Used by permission of Wisdom Publications, Somerville, MA.