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Four types of good

CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us!United States Veteran

There are these four types of people found in the world. What four? Those who are concerned neither with their own good nor the good of others, those who are concerned with good of others but not their own, those concerned with their own good but not that of others, and those who are concerned with both their own good and the good of others. Just as a stick from a funeral pyre, burning at both ends and smeared with dung in the middle, serves no useful purpose as fuel in the village or as timber in the forest—using such a simile do I speak of those concerned neither with their own good nor the good of the others. Those concerned with the good of others but not their own are more excellent and higher than this. Those who are concerned with their own good but not that of others are more excellent and higher still. But those who are concerned with both their own good and the good of others—they are, of these four persons, the supreme, the highest the topmost and the best.

Aṅguttara Nikāya 4.95

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  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Those who are concerned with their own good but not that of others are more excellent and higher still.

    That's going to cause a few raised eyebrows....?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 7

    @federica said:

    Those who are concerned with their own good but not that of others are more excellent and higher still.

    That's going to cause a few raised eyebrows....?

    Yeah, I would think it would be the other way around for those two.

    Unless it means being concerned with our own actions and not our own well being.

    Edit to add:

    Hmm... The link makes it clear that "the good" means "the benefit" so being concerned for the benefit of ones self is better than being concerned for the benefit of others.

    Maybe it's the same logic as oxygen mask protocol on airplanes. You're no good to others if you're all passed out.

    federicaHozanCarlita
  • @federica said:

    Those who are concerned with their own good but not that of others are more excellent and higher still.

    That's going to cause a few raised eyebrows....?

    Analayo points out that the following Sutta, AN 4.96, elaborates on the meaning. It describes that type of person as one who practices to subdue their own passions but doesn't encourage others to do the same. I take it as "live and let live." A "private buddha" would seem to fit that type.

    Bunksperson
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Snakeskin said:

    @federica said:

    Those who are concerned with their own good but not that of others are more excellent and higher still.

    That's going to cause a few raised eyebrows....?

    Analayo points out that the following Sutta, AN 4.96, elaborates on the meaning. It describes that type of person as one who practices to subdue their own passions but doesn't encourage others to do the same. I take it as "live and let live." A "private buddha" would seem to fit that type.

    Yes, I found the reference in AtoI, and read on...

    "And who is the individual who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others? There is the case where a certain individual practices for the subduing of passion within him/herself but doesn't encourage others in the subduing of passion; practices for the subduing of aversion within him/herself but doesn't encourage others in the subduing of aversion; practices for the subduing of delusion within him/herself but doesn't encourage others in the subduing of delusion. Such is the individual who practices for his/her own benefit but not for that of others.

    I can see how a person who does not concern themselves about influencing or attempting to encourage others, but focuses and concentrates on their own Virtues & vices, would be above the others....

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @David , I think that's precisely what is meant.

    It's a bit like the "He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not..." thing.

    Hozan
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I find it a little curious to try to rank these four kinds of people at all from worst to best a little strange, although I can see that as a guide to practice it makes a certain sense. It seems to end up being an admonishment to not efface one’s own benefit, and second care for other’s benefit.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I dunno, @Kerome ... The Buddha seemed to teach certain subjects by simplifying the content. Remember though, that the Pali cannon was not written down until much later; and the suttas are very repetititve, because that was an aid to being able to memorise each important factor. So the numerical factor is similar to that of the quote I included, above (see link) in that there are four kinds, and it's easier to remember them in ascending order. Participants/contestants of competitions are usually announced 3rd to first... it seems to be the order of things. The last shall be first and the first shall be last...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    why an admonishment? I see it more as an aide memoire ...

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