What Increase Matters?
We have a very rare opportunity to learn things that we should give priority to in this life. Normally, if we don’t know the teachings of the Supreme Buddha, then we give priority to insignificant things. Later on, we feel regret and remorse when we realize that we have wasted our time and effort. But when we learn the teachings of the Supreme Buddha, we can very clearly understand the areas where we should give priority, so that we won’t feel regret and remorse in the future. Today we are going to learn some Dhamma about these things.
One day, Supreme Buddha taught like this.
“Insignificant, bhikkhus, is the increase of relatives. The best thing to increase is wisdom.”
Isn’t that a very important statement made by the Blessed One? Normally, when somebody has lots of relatives, friends, and companions, one is proud of that, thinking, “I’m a very special person.” Because of this, some people are sometimes tempted to use this strength of relatives to harm others. They become intoxicated with their relatives; that is the danger of misunderstanding. They think the increase of relatives is a very significant thing, a very important thing. But the Supreme Buddha explains that the increase of relatives is not significant. The best thing to increase is wisdom.
Now, we know the meaning of the development of wisdom by learning the teachings of the Supreme Buddha. If one understands merits, demerits, wholesome deeds, unwholesome deeds, good friends, bad friends, good worlds, bad worlds, and the true nature of this life, that’s called the development of wisdom. So the Supreme Buddha highly praised that development of wisdom, saying that the best thing to increase is wisdom.
The most compassionate teacher, the Supreme Buddha, encouraged his disciples to achieve the most valuable things in this life. In addition, the Supreme Buddha instructed the bhikkhus,
“You should train yourself thus: ‘We will increase in wisdom. It is in a such a way that you should train yourself.’”
In another sutta, the Supreme Buddha explains further,
“Insignificant, bhikkhus, is the increase of wealth. The best thing to increase is wisdom.”
Again, we can very clearly understand how a Fully Enlightened Buddha understands this life. Normally, people tend to think that if they increase their wealth, then they will become very happy, overjoyed, and sometimes very rich people.
Some rich people become intoxicated with their riches and they use their wealth in a wrong way to harm others. They break precepts; they kill others; they harm others; they injure others because they think that they have become very powerful due to their increase of wealth. They have plenty of money, material things, beautiful things, and comforts.
However, the Supreme Buddha says that such an increase is insignificant, and a very small development. The best thing to increase is wisdom. This is why the Supreme Buddha explains it in this way. Think about that material wealth and the increase of that material wealth. One will use that material wealth to gain happiness only for this life, but when we die we have to leave that wealth behind and go.
In contrast, the increase of wisdom follows one, giving happy results again and again. And that increase of wisdom helps a person to achieve the supreme bliss of Nibbāna. Because Nibbāna is achieved mainly via the development of wisdom (pañña), the Supreme Buddha therefore encourages his disciples,
“You should train yourself thus, ‘We will increase in wisdom.’”
It is in a such a way that you should train yourself. Now, we can understand the things that we should give priority to in this life. And we should make an effort to achieve these significant things. So what is the most significant thing here? it is the development of wisdom. Understanding the true nature of this life leads one towards true happiness. Again, the Supreme Buddha explains,
“Insignificant, bhikkhus, is the increase of fame. The best thing to increase is wisdom.”
Again we can understand that in this world, ordinary people tend to think that when they become very famous, popular, and everybody respects them, that they have achieved a great thing. Sometimes they use their fame and power to harm others. They may collect lots of demerits and bad kamma.
Because they think that insignificant fame is a very significant thing, they misunderstand. But the Supreme Buddha explains that the increase of fame is insignificant; it doesn’t do that much good for us. The best thing to increase is wisdom. That fame is temporary. We will gain that fame due to some of our skills. But when we lose our skills, when we grow old, and when we get sick, we will lose that fame as well. It’s very temporary and subject to change.
But the development and increase of wisdom is not like that. It will be a part of our life. It will follow us, giving true happiness. So now we know the importance of wisdom. We are very fortunate to learn the teachings of the Supreme Buddha because we have been born with that potential to develop wisdom. The Supreme Buddha explains that very few individuals have the opportunity to develop their wisdom. So we should not miss this opportunity.
In order to develop wisdom, there are some fundamental factors that we should have. The most important factor that enables us to develop wisdom is the association of good friends, kalyāṇa-mitta. The association of good friends means the association of Noble Friends.
Why is this so important? The Supreme Buddha explained that when we associate with kalyāṇa-mittas, we will get opportunities to listen to the Supreme Dhamma, the teachings of the Supreme Buddha.
What is the result of listening to the teachings of the Supreme Buddha? One can understand the true nature of this life. One can know about good deeds, bad deeds, meritorious deeds, demeritorius deeds, good destinations, good worlds, bad worlds, and the true nature of this cycle of birth and death. One can understand all of these things when one listens to the teachings of the Supreme Buddha.
Having listened to the teachings of the Supreme Buddha, one should then have another factor developing within oneself, called wise consideration, yoniso manasikāra. This means that when we learn the teachings of the Supreme Buddha, we memorize them and we try to think in the way they teach. Then, that thinking pattern will become a part of our life. It will change our lives completely. It will stop our crying, weeping and lamenting.
This wise consideration is the initial part of the development of wisdom. It’s as if we have obtained new eyes. It’s called the Eye of Wisdom, or the Eye of The Dhamma, and it’s a very rare opportunity to stop our suffering and experience true happiness by using the teachings of the Supreme Buddha.
May all of you have the opportunity to give priority to developing wisdom and not become intoxicated with insignificant things. May you all realize the teachings of the Supreme Buddha in this Gautama Buddha’s dispensation.
Sadhu sadhu sadhu! Excellent excellent excellent!