It is important that one should maintain calm and composed in the face of the ups and downs of life, known as Lokadhammas, which are eight in number.
1. Labha = Acquiring wealth, requisites, etc.,
2. Alabha = Not acquiring wealth, requisites, etc.,
3. Yasa = Having followers,
4. Ayasa = Not having followers,
5. Ninda = Being blamed,
6. Pasamsa = Being praised,
7. Sukha = Happiness,
8. Dukkha = Suffering.
These are four good and four bad circumstances in life. When you encounter the four good conditions, you must not be elated and proud. When you encounter the other four, you must not be distressed. If you feel either elated or distressed, you are getting perturbed; you are being tossed about in the sea of worldly storms. Those who are emotionally unstable and easily moved from a state of elation to one of depression are the victims of domanassa (anger). Those who want to get mental peace in the ups and downs of life must have a steadfast mind.
1+2 = Labha & Alabha
Everyone should honestly earn a living and work for material gain by lawful means. In doing so, one may accumulate wealth, which should not be the cause to be elated or boastful. On the other hand some people, while earning a livelihood, encounter material loss, and get poorer and poorer. In such a case one must not cry over it; instead, one must remain composed and calm. It must be understood that even a king may have to give up his scepter and crown, bringing the country into servitude. Therefore, one should build up fortitude to remain calm and composed under the stress of vicissitudes of life.
3+4 = Yasa & Ayasa
Teachers, leaders and great men ought to have a retinue of followers. As a fence protects a building it encloses, so followers usually protects their leaders and render service to them. In turn, leaders should reward their followers. Generosity brings in a large numbers of followers; and they should be treated with due respect. Leaders must have the good will to enhance the life of the followers. Even servants and menials should be treated like co-workers and friends. As a result they will give full protection and good service. If, in spite of one’s goodwill, one has few or no followers, there is no need to be worried. On the other hand, when one is surrounded by many followers, one should not be conceited and haughty.
Fame is an asset not only in this one life but also in the future lives. Great and noble tasks can be accomplished only by persons of great fame and quality. A saying goes, “Gunavante passanti jana—People revere persons of rank and status.” Everyone should cultivate wisdom, intelligence and perseverance to attain great fame. One should not be conceited for one’s fame; nor should one not be depressed for not being famous.
5+6 = Ninda & Pasamsa
Envious and jealous persons and fault-finders are in abundance everywhere. In this life, therefore, it is very difficult to be praised and very easy to be blamed. Nevertheless one should try to live righteously by means of mindfulness. No one is immune from blame. Even the bull created by Sakka, King of Devas, was blamed for the softness of its dung. So there is a saying, “Hate sees only faults; love sees only praise; fondness leads to trust.” In this life, ill-will is prolific and fault-finders are abounded.
But those who blame others should ask themselves “Are we free from faults? Are we flawless?” No one is flawless like the Bodhisatta Mahosadha, King Vessantara, Venerable Kassapa, Venerable Sariputta, or Venerable Anada. In the case of women they are far from being faultless like Amara, Kinnari, Maddi, and Sambula, the four exemplary ladies.
In a village, a young boy told his father that a neighbor falters in speech. He stuttered: “Oh father! Our neighbor …ah….ah, has…..has…..fal….ter….ing spe…ech. He was probably oblivious of the fact that he himself had the same defect.
Some fault-finders cover up their own faults and conceal their shortcomings. They are hypocrites who do steal but pretend to be innocent, like a wily cat.
Sometimes, due to envy and jealousy, people blame others but usually they emulate their ways. Gossips slander a young girl when a young man frequently visits her but these gossips actually want the young man to visit them.
Such are the ways of the world. It is only natural to come across the eight vicissitudes already mentioned. A victim of slander may not be as blameworthy as critics make out to be. Sometimes a trivial fault may be exaggerated. So it is best to appraise one’s fault by oneself in the light of ottappa (moral fear) and hiri (moral shame).
Those who are afraid of ghosts dare not to go into the dark; when they do, they might see a tree-stump and yell “Ghost! Ghost!” Since their minds entertain the fear of ghosts constantly, they imagine that ghosts are chasing them.
Some people are too much preoccupied with the possible onset of blame so much so that fear plays a dominant part in their lives. In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha said, “One who is too overcome by fear of criticism is like a deer that startles and takes flight at the slightest sound; he is one who is timid, faint-hearted and irresolute.” People too overcome by fear have nothing to gain. They only encourage critics and fault-finders. The timid make easy prey for fault-finders.
On the other hand, criticisms, comments and condemnations are in a way signs of fame; nobody cares to talk of little-known persons. People take notice of only the prominent. For example, the tallest tree is most subject to the impact of strong wings. As you soar higher and higher in society, you are more and more liable to face the eight Lokadhammas, vicissitudes. Therefore you should be indifferent to them bearing in mind that such things are the signs of your fame and success.
Just ask yourself “How steadfast am I?” Only then will you be able to withstand unjust condemnations and false comments with equanimity. And you must try to live a faultless life.
Just as you ought to be indifferent to blame, you should also be unmoved in the face of praise. You should not be elated by praise. You must be aware that benefits are the fruits of good work or good deeds. Continue to nurture metta (loving-kindness) ; and share merits thus: “May others receive recognition like me! May they enjoy praises like me!”
7+8 = Sukha & Dukkha
Let’s skip sukha (happiness) & dukkha (suffering) hence they are generally known facts.
Summing up, among the eight worldly circumstances, four are desirable and others undesirable. Since time immemorial all sentient beings had done good and bad deeds in countless past lives, they all will have good and bad effects, or ups and downs, in this life. Situations desirable and undesirable are periodic phases of life. Unflinching, try to withstand the ups and downs and sail across the ocean of samsara through storms and winds towards the peaceful Shore of Nibbana where all sufferings cease.
For example, captains of ocean-going vessels cannot always expect calm and smooth seas in their voyages. They are bound to encounter rough seas, turbulent winds and storms, or rolling waves that may even endanger their ships. Under such circumstances, skillful captains use their intelligence and industry to steer their ships through perilous seas and storms to drop anchor at a safe haven.
Katatta nanakammanam, itthanitthepi agate,
Yoniso tittham sandhaya, tareyya naviko yatha.
Due to deeds of good and bad kammas in past existences, we encounter situations both desirable and undesirable. Come what may, we must be like the captain of a ship; with confidence, zeal and skill, we must face storms and gales and overcome difficulties and dangers. We must be unmoved by the eight worldly conditions to steer straight to drop anchor at the Port of Nibbana.
Maxim: It is natural for everyone to face the eight worldly conditions. We should try to practice mental concentration and nurture a stoical mind.
Title- A Discourse On Lokadhamma E-Book By Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw