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Guard The Six Quarters

While the Blessed One was staying at the bamboo grove near
Rajagaha, he once met on his way Sigala, a householder, who,
clasping his hands, turned to the four quarters of the world, to
the zenith above, and to the nadir below. And the Blessed One,
knowing that this was done according to the traditional religious
superstition to avert evil, asked Sigala: "Why performest thou
these strange ceremonies?"

And Sigala in reply said: "Dost thou think it strange that I
protect my home against the influences of demons? 1 know thou
wouldst fain tell me, O Gotama Sakyamuni, whom people call the
Tathagata and the Blessed Buddha, that incantations are of no
avail and possess no saving power. But listen to me and know,
that in performing this rite I honor, reverence, and keep sacred
the words of my father."

Then the Tathagata said:

Thou dost well, O Sigala, to honor, reverence, and keep sacred
the words of thy father; and it is thy duty to protect thy home,
thy wife, thy children, and thy children's children against the
hurtful influences of evil spirits. I find no fault with the
performance of thy father's rite. But I find that thou dost not
understand the ceremony. Let the Tathagata, who now speaks to
thee as a spiritual father and loves thee no less than did thy
parents, explain to thee the meaning of the six directions.

"To guard thy home by mysterious ceremonies is not sufficient;
thou must guard it by good deeds. Turn to thy parents in the
East, to thy teachers in the South, to thy wife and children in
the West, to thy friends in the North, and regulate the zenith of
thy religious relations above thee, and the nadir of thy servants
below thee.

"Such is the religion thy father wants thee to have, and the
performance of the ceremony shall remind thee of thy duties."

And Sigala looked up to the Blessed One with reverence as to his
father and said: "Truly, Gotama, thou art the Buddha, the Blessed
One, the holy teacher. I never knew what I was doing, but now I
know. Thou hast revealed to me the truth that was hidden as one
who bringeth a lamp into the darkness. I take my refuge in the
Enlightened Teacher, in the truth that enlightens, and in the
community of brethren who have been taught the truth."

Next: Simha's Question Concerning Annihilation

Previous: The Two Brahmans

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