Chapter 38. The Universal Principle of Buddhist Practice

The Three Universal Principle of Buddhism


The original Buddhist teachings taught by the Lord Gotama Buddha are available in numerous categories.  And the Lord Buddha selected the right Dharma topic to teach people with different preferences.  To simplify, we can claim that the Lord Buddha ‘put the right man to the right Dharma.’  For example, the Lord Buddha once demonstrated a famous beautiful lady’s corpse to teach his disciples the contemplation on decaying of impermanent body whereas, on the another occasion, the Lord Buddha used his magic power to create the image of beautiful female angel to motivate one of his royal cousin to practice meditation in order to meet and enjoy the angels in heaven.

Despite of the fact that there are numerous Dharma topics to learn and practice, the Lord Buddha had made an exclusive essential teaching called Ovadapatimokkha Discourse on Magha Puja Day (the full-moon day of the third lunar month) or The Fourfold Assembly Day.  The discourse concludes the principle of Buddhism which requires three practices namely (1) Doing no bad deed (2) Doing only good deed, and (3) Keeping up with mental purity.

Moreover, according to Ukkatitanyu Discourse, the Lord Buddha compared and contrasted people to different stages of lotus flowers as follows:

(1)           Lotus flowers in the mud are people who have wrong views and are not ready to learn the Dharma.

(2)           Lotus flowers in the water are those who are eligible to learn and practise the Dharma to attain enlightenment later on in the future.

(3)           Lotus flowers on the water are those who are ready to learn the Dharma and become enlightened very soon.

(4)           Lotus flowers above the water surface are competent people who can attain enlightenment promptly when they come across the Dharma.

In Dhammonomics, we can use a graph to express the universal principle of Buddhism by synchronising to the Lord Buddha’s comparison of people to the four stages of lotus flowers as the followings:

(a)           One who abstains from doing bad deeds has better quality of mind, and this can be indicated on the x-axis of our graph.  The more one abstains from bad deeds, the higher value of ‘x,’ and the less is toward the ‘-x,’ where x-axis is accounted as the ‘water surface.’

(b)           One who does more good deeds has better quality of mind, and this can be shown on the y-axis of our graph.  The more good deeds one does, the more value of ‘y,’ and the less is toward the ‘-y.’

(c)            (x,y) and (-x,-y) can be plotted on our graph to show how one can have more or less purity of mind (m) as the result of abstaining from bad deeds (x) and doing good deeds (y); otherwise, the plotting will be on (-x) and (-y).

(d)           Each of (x,y) and (-x,-y) marks each of the four stages of lotus flowers in comparison and contrast to different groups of people who do or do not put the universal principle of Buddhism into practice.

(e)           (-x1,-y1) marks the lotus flower in mud, representing one who does not follow the three practices in the principle of Buddhism.  Thus, one is too incompetent to learn the Dharma.

(f)             (-x2,-y2) marks the lotus flower in water, representing one who, somewhat, avoids bad deeds, does good deeds, and has pure mind up to a level. This one is more likely to be successful in learning the Dharma, but it will take a longer time for achievement.  However, (x) and (y) can be both or either positive or negative in this case due to variation of people.

(g)           (x3,y3) marks the lotus flower on the water surface, meaning one who applies the three practices at the greater extent to enjoy noble fruition so soon.

(h)           (x4,y4) marks the lotus flower above the water surface, signifying one who can promptly attain enlightenment with fulfilled requirement of the three practices.

(i)             The dotted graph (m) represents the purity of one’s mind in relationship with the value of avoiding bad deed (x) and doing only good deed (y) and vice versa.

In conclusion, our graph of the universal principle of Buddhist practice is the typical one, but there can possibly be more variation of (x), (y), (-x), and (-y) while the lotus flowers can shift to other positions to represent different type of people. 

According to the aforesaid, we can see how Buddhist teachings correlate to form a single functional system.  More importantly, Dhammonomics reveals how we can convert the Buddhist doctrines into ‘natural philosophy’ and render them with economic tool such as a graph to prove their logic which is universal for all to learn. 

by Pirajak Tisuthiwongse

(former name/ pen name: Pirajak Suwapatdecha,
Pittaya Tisuthiwongse, Pittaya Wong)

First Version: 27 June 2021, 17:37 pm. (Thailand Time)

Second Version: 28 June 2021, 9:52 am. (Thailand Time)


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