Akankha Sutta Wishes Granted


In the Akankha Sutta – Wishes Granted the Buddha addresses the  assembled sangha on the wish to be helpful to others.  He teaches that having a mind inclined to compassion and wisdom is noble. The Buddha also teaches that developing awakening within The Eightfold Path carries responsibilities of behavior and Dhamma practice. 

“If your wish is to be held dear by your sangha, to be respected and inspiring to them, listen closely to my words. If your wish is that the gifts you receive be of benefit for all, listen closely to my words. If your wish is that thoughts of you bring benefit to all, listen closely to my words. If your wish is to be free of ever-changing conditions, of emotional and physical upset, listen closely to my words. If your wish is to overcome disappointment, worry and fear, listen closely to my words. 

“If your wish is to attain unwavering mindfulness and pleasant abiding moment by moment, listen closely to my words. If your wish is to attain the end of delusion and distraction, listen closely to my words.

“Friends, remain free of taking life. Remain free of taking what is not offered. Remain free of sexual misconduct. Remain free of hurtful speech. Remain free of intoxicating substances. Bring these precepts to perfection. [1]

“Friends, commit to develop tranquility, be mindful of meditative absorption and useful insight. Meditate often and with consistency. [2]

“Train yourself in this manner and be mindful of the slightest deviation.”

This is another brief sutta from the Pali Canon that if understood and developed will bring lasting peace and happiness. As is typical of the Buddha’s teachings, he does not teach the manipulation of personal or societal conditions as these conditions are all rooted in impermanence. He teaches to immediately abandon any behavior that would contribute to other’s suffering. He does not teach to “embrace suffering” or to “observe suffering.” This over-emphasis on one aspect of the three marks of existence is a misapplication of mindfulness and does not develop understanding of the underlying confusing and unsatisfactory nature of life.

The Buddha teaches to penetrate to the cause of suffering: ignorance of The Four Noble Truths resulting in craving and clinging in an impermanent environment. The Buddha consistently taught the Dhamma always in the context of The Four Noble Truths. In this short Sutta the Buddha teaches the importance of developing moral and ethical behavior through the Eightfold Path. Right View inclines the mind away from ego-driven pursuits and towards the Dhamma. Right Intention is strengthened through mindfulness of the skillful desire to be truly helpful and to recognize what is unskillful.

To be of benefit to all we must start with our own behavior and be mindful of Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood. This brings mindfulness of craving and clinging, including (and most importantly) clinging to views that further the establishment of a “self” prone to confusion and  suffering.

Right Effort develops the refined mindfulness to recognize and abandon what would otherwise lead to further confusion and suffering. Right Mindfulness is to be mindful of the Eightfold Path and avoids becoming distracted by conceptual applications of the Dhamma. Shamatha-Vipassana meditation develops the profound concentration necessary to develop useful insight into impermanence, not-self, and unsatisfactoriness (suffering).

If Dhamma practice is to truly benefit others and ourselves the qualities of virtue, concentration, useful mindfulness, meditative absorption, and useful insight are to be developed through The Eightfold Path. Cessation of the establishment and defense of a “self” by a misapplication of mindfulness is avoided and freedom from craving and clinging is fully developed.

The remarkable simplicity of the Buddha’s teachings, and the consistency in presentation, provides an accessible and easily integrated practical method of developing profound understanding and lasting peace and happiness.

[1] The Precepts

[2] Shamatha-Vipassana meditation

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