Two) 17. He Worshipped in All Directions
Discourse on a Layperson's Duties
morning, the Buddha left the Bamboo Grove to go into Rajagaha.
On his alms round he saw a young man called Sigala, dripping
wet as though he had just taken a bath. Sigala was bowing
down in each of the four directions to the East, South,
West and North. He was bowing to the sky above and to the
ground beneath his feet. Seeing all this, the Buddha stopped
and asked the young man what he was doing.
was my father's last wish just before he died," Sigala
replied. "My father advised me to worship in all directions,
to keep evil away from the four directions and from above
Buddha thought about this and said, "It is the right
thing to do, to keep the advice your father gave
you as his last wish, but you must not take your father's
words literally. Your father did not
intend that you should actually bow down in this way."
Then the Buddha explained the real meaning of worshipping
in all directions:
worship the East really means to respect and honour your parents.
To worship the South means to respect and obey your teachers.
To worship the West means to be faithful and devoted to your
To worship the North means to be pleasant and charitable to
your friends, relatives and neighbours.
To worship the sky means to look after the material needs
of religious persons such as the monks and ascetics.
To worship the earth means to be fair to your servants, giving
them work according to their abilities, paying them fair wages,
and providing them with medical care when they are sick.
It is by doing these things that one can keep away from evil."
Buddha also advised Sigala of four evils to avoid.
are four evils of conduct," he said. "These should
surely be avoided: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and
the Buddha talked with Sigala. "There are four evil motives
which make people perform evil actions: partiality (or being
biased and prejudiced), enmity, foolishness and fear.
finally, Sigala, you must avoid the six ways of wasting one's
wealth: drinking intoxicating drinks, roaming about the streets
until late at night, spending too much time at fairs and thinking
too much about entertainment, gambling, associating with evil
friends, and being lazy."
Sigala listened with respect to this advice and suddenly remembered
that when his father was alive, he had often told him what
a good teacher the Buddha was. Although the old man had tried
to get Sigala to go and listen to the Buddha, Sigala had always
given excuses that it was too troublesome, that he had no
time, was too tired or he had no money to spend on the monks.
young man confessed this to the Buddha and asked him to accept
him as his follower. He promised that from now on, he would
keep his father's dying wish, but in the correct way as was
taught to him by the Buddha.