The Fragrance of Precepts and Morality

Update: 29/09/2022
On the journey of studying Buddha's teachings, although there are various fundamental abilities and methods to practice the teaching of Buddha , the essential end-goal is to achieve Precepts-Concentration-Wisdom. It can be said that practicing the Buddha's teachings without these three extraordinary subjects will surely deviate from the righteous Dharma, even if they are in the name of any method or handed-down traditions.

The Fragrance of Precepts and Morality


The foundation of these three exceptional precepts is morality or virtue. The seed of precept turns into concentration, then the seed of concentration turns into wisdom which shows us the importance of morality. Therefore, the World-Honored One always praises those who keep the precepts, and honour the virtue. People who have high virtues are respected by God and people, and their good reputation is spread far and wide. Unlike the fragrance of flowers, which only flow with the wind, the fragrance of virtue is unobstructed, and always pervades through the ten directions.

“Once upon a time when the Buddha was in the country of Savatthi, the Jetavana forest, at the Garden of Solitude.

Then the venerable Ananda rose from his seat, bowed down to the Blessed One, and sat to his side, said to the Blessed One:

When I was in a deserted place, I suddenly thought: Is there any scent in the world that flies against the wind, also flies in the wind, at the same time flies in both forward and reverse winds?
The Blessed One said to Ananda:

There are wonderful scents, which fly against the wind, also fly in the wind, at the same time fly in both forward and reverse winds. These are the scents of commandment, literature and offering. Dear Ananda, these scents fly against the wind, also fly in the wind, as well as fly in both forward and reverse winds. Among all the scents available in the world, these three are supreme, and incomparable. Just like the cows have milk, and milk has a thick and sour agent (Lac), then this agent content clarified butter, which is seen as the ultimate and perfect Buddha-truth. This is also the case, among all the scents that exist in the world, these three are supreme, ultimate, and incomparable.

The Blessed One then said in verse:

Esoteric Wood and Santal Wood

Utpala and scents

Among all the scents

The Scent of Precept is above all

Precept assists enlightenment

It is pure and uncontaminated

The utmost wisdom that liberates

Not knowing that this is a way

Yet, this scent is exceptional

Together with other scents

The scent of precept is extraordinary

Ten directions all have

Chien Dan has scent

Utpala and other scents

Among these scents

The scent of Literature is the best

Santal Wood has scent

Utpala and other scents

Among these scents

The scent of offering is the best

These three types of fragrances pervade against the wind, with the wind, as well as in both forward and reverse winds. Therefore, Ananda, you should seek the means to accomplish these three kinds of scents. Thus, Ananda, you should learn this!

At that time, Ananda, after hearing the Buddha's teaching, happily obeyed."

(Sutra of Ekottarikagama, volume 1, Main Bhumi Chapter, VNCPHVN Published, 1997, p.429)

Not only the scent of precept, but the scent of literature and offering are also supreme and ultimate that spread to the ten directions and the other scents cannot compare to them.

Listening means the willingness and the ability to learn, study and understand the Dharma. Listen to the Dharma then reflect, and put it into practice. The Buddha once taught that whoever sees the Dharma will see the Buddha. Therefore, a person who thoroughly understands the Dharma and fervently propagates the profound Dharma to other people has immeasurable merit and good name that pervades the Dharma Realm in the ten directions.

Giving means making offerings. When one practices offerings to the extent of reaching Paramita (Nirvana) which helps to cease the craving and attachment and to achieve Nirvana. Those who practice giving and making offerings persistently and extensively are free from all attachments. They will surely have a good reputation that spreads far and wide.

Thus, the three fragrances of precept, learning the Dharma, and giving are the most precious fragrances in life. In particular, all of these three scents can each be crafted by one's own efforts. These scents are not only pervading throughout the ten directions, but they are also the foundation of liberation and peace.

Hoa Đạo

Translated into English by Thai Nhuoc Don

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