The Parabhava Sutta points out causes of downfall in a life. He who allows himself to become tarnished by these blemishes of conduct blocks his road to worldly, moral and spiritual progress and lowers what is essentially noble and human in man. But he who avoids these dangers may keep open the road to the thirty-eight blessings that human nature is capable of.
Once Buddha lived at Anathapindika's monastery, in the Jeta Grove, near Savatthi. When the night was far spent a certain deity came and asked Buddha with respect: "Please, tell about man's decline; tell us the cause of downfall."
Buddha: He who loves Dharma progresses; he who is averse to it, declines.
Dharma (Pali: Dhamma) is a word with many meanings. In Buddhism it stands for general righteousness, and also Buddha's great teachings.
The Deity: Thus much we see: this is the first cause of downfall. Pray, tell us the second cause of downfall.
Being fond of sleep, fond of company, indolent, lazy and irritable this is a cause of downfall.
Though being well-to-do, not to support father and mother who are old and past their youth this is a cause of downfall.
To deceive by falsehood a brahman or ascetic or any other mendicant this is a cause of downfall.
To have much wealth and ample gold and food, but to enjoy one's luxuries alone this is a cause of downfall.
To be proud of birth, of wealth or clan, and to despise one's own kinsmen this is a cause of downfall.
To be a rake, a drunkard, a gambler, and to squander all one earns this is a cause of downfall.
Not to be contented with one's own wife, and to be seen with harlots and the wives of others this is a cause of downfall.
Being past one's youth, to take a young wife and to be unable to sleep for jealousy of her this is a cause of downfall.
To place in authority a woman given to drink and squandering, or a man of a like behaviour this is a cause of downfall.
To be of noble birth, with vast ambition and of slender means, and to crave for rulership this is a cause of downfall.
Knowing well these causes of downfall in the world, the noble sage endowed with insight shares in a happy realm.
Narada Thera, tr. "Parabhava Sutta". (Sutta Nipata, vv. 91-115). In The Light of the Dhamma. The Wheel Publication No. 14. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1985. On-line adaptation: Access to Insight edition 1995.
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