Service To Others On The Eightfold Path Of Buddhism

Buddhism and Service

Compiled by Jayaram V

Buddhism emphasizes the importance of service on the Eightfold Path. By serving others one cultivates compassion and washes away past sins. Particular emphasis is placed upon service to parents, teachers, learned persons, fellow monks when they are sick or need of help, service to animals, friends, servants, ascetics and others. The following are few rules regarding how a lay Buddhist should serve others.


Service to Others

A noble disciples should serve six types of people in his life. They are:

  1. Mother and father.
  2. Teachers.
  3. Wife and children.
  4. Friends and counselors
  5. Slaves and servants.
  6. Ascetics and Brahmans.

Service to Mother and Father

Service to Mother and Father should be done in five ways in  the following manner:

  1. He should look after them in old age.
  2. He should perform duties for which they were responsible previously when they were young.
  3. He should maintain the honor and traditions of his family and lineage.
  4. He should make himself worthy of his heritage.
  5. He should make offerings to the departed spirits. 

Served by him thus, the mother and father should care for their son in the following five ways:

  1. They should restrain him from evil.
  2. They should encourage him to do good.
  3. They should have him taught a profession.
  4. They should arrange for his marriage to a suitable girl.
  5. They should transfer their inheritance to him in due time.

Service to the teacher

Service to the teacher should be done in the following five ways:

  1. He should rise when the teacher enters and greet him obediently.
  2. He should wait upon him.
  3. He should learn from him willingly.
  4. He should render him attentive service.
  5. He should learn his trade very diligently.

The teacher should in turn care for his disciple in the following five ways:

  1. He should train him in good conduct.
  2. Should teach him in such a way that he remembers what has been taught to him.
  3. He should train him thoroughly in every aspect his profession.
  4. He should speak well of him to his friends and couselors.
  5. He should protect him all the time.

Service to the wife

Service to the wife should be done in the following five ways:

  1. By honoring her.
  2. By respecting her.
  3. By remaining faithful to her.
  4. By giving her the charge of the home.
  5. by giving her gifts.  

The wife should in turn serve her husband in the following five ways:

  1. She should be efficient in her household duties.
  2. She should manage the servants well.
  3. She should be chaste.
  4. She should take care of the goods brought to the house by her husband.
  5. She should be skilful and untiring in all her duties.

Service to friends

Service to friends should be rendered in the following five ways:

  1. By generosity
  2. By courtesy
  3. By helping them
  4. By treating them the way he would treat himself. 
  5. By keeping his word to them.

And his friends in turn should care for him in the following five ways:

  1. They should protect him when he is careless.
  2. They should guard his property on such occasions.
  3. They should be a refuge for him when he is in trouble.
  4. In times of adversity they should not leave him.
  5. They should respect other members of his family.

Service to slaves and servants

He should serve his servants and slaves in the following five ways:

  1. He should assign them duties in accordance with their strengths.
  2. He should give them due food and wages.
  3. He should look after them in times of sickness.
  4. He should share especially tasty luxuries with them.
  5. He should give them holidays at due intervals.

The servants in turn should care for their master in the following five ways:

  1. They should wake up before him.
  2. They should go to bed after him.
  3. They should be content with what he gives them.
  4. They should do their work well.
  5. They should spread abroad his praise and good name.

Service to ascetics and Brahmans

He should serve ascetics and Brahmans in the following five ways:

  1. By affectionate acts.
  2. By affectionate words.
  3. By affectionate thoughts.
  4. By not closing his doors to them.
  5. By duly supplying them with food.

The ascetics should in turn him care for him in the following six ways:

  1. They should restrain him from evil.
  2. they should encourage him to do good.
  3. They should feel for him with a friendly mind.
  4. They should teach him things he had not heard before.
  5. They should encourage him to practice what he had already learned.
  6. They should show him the way to heaven.

Suggestions for Further Reading

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