“Monks, endowed with five qualities a lay disciple becomes an outcaste of a lay disciple, a stain of a lay disciple, and one to be scorned. What five? He or she is without faith, he or she is immoral, one who relies on rituals, not on actions (kamma), one who looks for outsiders to donate to, and one who gives there first.
“Monks, endowed with five qualities a lay disciple becomes a gem of a lay disciple, a red and white lotus of a lay disciple, a white lotus of a lay disciple. What five? He or she has faith, he or she is moral, one who relies on actions (kamma) not on rituals, one who does not look for outsiders to donate to, and one who gives here first.”
Assaddho: A well-informed and virtuous lay disciple of the Buddha has firm confidence in his teachings based on listening to or studying them carefully, applying them in practice, and gaining personal realisation of the universal truths contained therein. He or she is not credulous and is not easily beguiled by charlatans who perform magic tricks, or even those who have genuine mystic powers, but who lack insight. For example, Devadatta had acquired some psychic powers, and through the exhibition of these powers Prince Ajātasattu was greatly impressed. Misled by Devadatta, he killed his own father King Bimbisāra to gain control of the kingdom. Some naïve and uneducated Buddhists are beguiled and misled by simple magician’s illusions used by charlatans who do not have any genuine psychic powers such as those possessed by Devadatta.
Dussīlo: He or she is immoral, not observing the five basic precepts incumbent upon all genuine disciples of the Buddha — Abstaining completely from: 1) Killing living beings, 2) Taking what is not given, whether by force, by stealth, or by deception, 3) Engaging in illicit sexual relations, 4) Telling lies, slandering others, abusing others, or indulging in idle chatter such as jokes and stories with no benefit for this life or the next, 5) Intoxicating drugs and drinks that lead to heedlessness. A genuine Buddhist is a teetotaler.
Kotūhalamaṅgaliko: Festivals and auspicious signs. Superstitious Buddhists place too much faith in amulets, sacred threads (pirit nul), astrology, ceremonies, and rituals. Not understanding the teachings in the Maṅgala Sutta, which the Buddha taught to debunk superstitious beliefs, they rely on listening to recitations of the Maṅgala Sutta, and tying sacred threads around their wrists (which is a Hindu tradition, not a Buddhist one), instead of practising the Maṅgala Dhamma so clearly explained by the Blessed One in that very discourse. The true blessings and protection from dangers derive from not associating with the foolish, but associating with the wise, paying homage to those worthy of homage, and the other thirty-five excellent virtuous practices enumerated in the Maṅgala Sutta. A Stream-winner, being a genuine Buddhist, is completely free from reliance on rites and rituals (sīlabbataparāmāsa).
Bahiddhā dakkhiṇeyyaṃ gavesati: The Buddha was not resentful of offerings given to others. He encouraged the wholesome deed of giving alms, saying that one should give wherever the heart is pleased. Even if one gives to an animal, the benefit is returned a thousandfold. What he is saying here is that one without faith, who is immoral, and superstitious will be inclined to look elsewhere to donate. A charlatan or a Buddhist monk of dubious moral character will flatter donors and devotees, wishing to receive more and more offerings. A virtuous monk or nun who desires the long-term welfare and spiritual benefit of his or her supporters will urge them to practice morality and meditation rather than emphasising donation, which is easier, but of less benefit. If a lay disciple lacks morality, he or she will be ashamed to visit virtuous monks and nuns, fearing that he or she might be admonished for not practising the true Dhamma, or may be embarrassed to admit his or her inability to undertake and observe the five precepts scrupulously. It is not easy to be a devout and genuine follower of the Buddha. The truth of suffering must be understood, the truth of craving must be abandoned, the truth of the cessation of craving must be realised, and the truth of the Noble Eightfold Path must be developed.
Tattha ca pubbakāraṃ karoti: Due to the reasons outlined above, the faithless disciple will be included to donate outside of the Buddha’s dispensation first, because a weak person will obviously prefer to be flattered rather than admonished.
A disciple who has faith, who is virtuous, who relies on kamma and not on rituals, will not be fearful of visiting virtuous monks and nuns. On the contrary, his or her heart will leap up, and a keen interest will be aroused to listen to discourses and admonishments about the benefits of practising meditation, or developing insight, and relinquishing attachment to worldly things.
175. “Pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato upāsako upāsakacaṇḍālo ca hoti upāsakamalañca upāsakapatikuṭṭho ca. Katamehi pañcahi? Assaddho hoti; dussīlo hoti; kotūhalamaṅgaliko hoti, maṅgalaṃ pacceti no kammaṃ; ito ca bahiddhā dakkhiṇeyyaṃ gavesati; tattha ca pubbakāraṃ karoti. Imehi kho, bhikkhave, pañcahi dhammehi samannāgato upāsako upāsakacaṇḍālo ca hoti upāsakamalañca upāsakapatikuṭṭho ca.
“Pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato upāsako upāsakaratanañca hoti upāsakapadumañca upāsakapuṇḍarīkañca. Katamehi pañcahi? Saddho hoti; sīlavā hoti; akotūhalamaṅgaliko hoti, kammaṃ pacceti no maṅgalaṃ; na ito bahiddhā dakkhiṇeyyaṃ gavesati; idha ca pubbakāraṃ karoti. Imehi kho, bhikkhave, pañcahi dhammehi samannāgato upāsako upāsakaratanañca hoti upāsakapadumañca upāsakapuṇḍarīkañcā”ti.