NOTE: this commentary stems from the period of time in a Sutra Study group in which we were spending a year reading throught the Khuddaka Nikaya--the "miscellaneous" collection of sutras in the Pali Canon. We used the Saddhatissa translation--here's a link to that. There's also a partial translation of it on the Access to Insight website, here.
From Sangharakshita: The Eternal Legacy
The antiquity of the collection is attested by:
metaphorical references haven’t hardened into precise terms yet
doctrinal formulae (including four noble truths) are absent
no sign of nuns
The two concluding vaggas are cited by other Tipitaka works
The Niddesa, a commentary on the SN, has canonical status
Uragavagga: Snake Section
This is thought to have been the work of a single highly gifted poet-author, who possibly sat at the Buddha’s own feet.
1.1 The Snake’s Skin
In this sutta, the Cycle of Existence is compared to an old, decayed snake’s skin which is worn out and eventually discarded by the snake (i.e., practitioner.)
1 “as the snake poison diffused in the body is removed by antidotes”…so there were antidotes to snakebite back then, as now.
8-13 begins a series of statements with “He who is neither restless nor indolent”. Most of these include “knows that all in the world is unsubstantial”.
17 introduces the five hindrances—so they are pretty early in the teaching as a set of factors.
This sutta can be thought of overall as a kind of overall guide to the arising of the enlightened mind, in the slow steady process of purification. The various lines make clear that these states are achieved one by one, and each one slowly—like the way a snake sheds its old, worn-out skin.
Subdues his arisen anger
Cut off passion
Cut off craving
Demonished conceit without leaving a trace
Seeing in states of becoming no essence
With no inner anger, who has gone beyond becoming and not becoming
Discursive thoughts are dispersed
Hasn’t slipped past or turned back: (Note: “not transgressed or caused another to transgress) is another possible rendering):
Transcending all complication
Knowing with regard to the world “all this is unreal”
In whom there are no obsessions (or “latent tendencies”)
There’s nothing born of distress leading back to this shore
There’s nothing born of desire keeping him bound to becoming
Abandoned five hindrances.
The old, worn out skins of all of these: anger, passion, craving, conceit. The old skin is seeing an essence, conceiving of becoming and not-becoming; we shed this. Once the skin starts to be sloughed off, there is no going back and putting it back on again. So it is the knowledge that the world is ultimately without essence: we are without greed, aversion, and delusion. No obsessions, no distresses or desires, a full abandoning of the hindrances.
1.2 Dhaniya Sutta
In this sutta, the Buddha is in dialog with the herdsman Dhaniya. The two of them speak sentences back and forth which compare the earthly existence of Dhaniya to the enlightened existence of the Buddha.
House is thatched
Body is uncovered
Fire is kindled
Fires of passion are extinguished
Meadows and cattle are healthy
Well-constructed path; no more need of raft
Wife is not wanton and obedient to him
Mind is obedient and free of passion
Self-employed and supports himself
No one’s servant; no need to serve
Has young bulls and calves
Has no young bulls nor calves
Stakes and ropes are firmly tied
No fetters for him
When the rain comes, Mara tempts Dhaniya with the delights of cattle and children and such; but the Buddha points out that to have cattle is to have grief about them, to have children, and so forth. The elements of sensory existence bring about grief and suffering.
At the end of the sutta, Dhaniya comes to the Buddha: we come to you as a refuge, one with vision. They come to understand that it is the Buddha’s teachings which bring true happiness, and not just the material things in life. After this, Mara has tried to tempt them (as I mention above) but they are (apparently) able to surmount that. At the very least, the Buddha does seem to have the last word.
1.3 Khaggavisana Sutta : The Unicorn’s Horn
The simile of the unicorn’s horn—in some translations it’s the rhinoceros. However, the translator here has chosen ‘unicorn horn’ to emphasize the solitariness which is being recommended and described in the sutta.
Norman (in the PTS edition) uses the Rhinceros-horn. Thanissaro Bhikkhu speaks of this at some length. The actual text reads: “Wander alone like a ‘sword-horn’, which is the Pali term for rhinoceros. The commentary insists that this refers to the animal’s horn rather than the animal itself, given that the Indian rhino is one-horned. However, a rhinoceros-horn cannot wander alone. Perhaps the rhino was used a symbol of being alone, as well as the single horn. Thanissaro Bhikkhu has chosen to say “rhinoceros” since that is an animal that can at least wander.
39: “Practising loving-kindness, equanimity, compassion, deliverance, and sympathetic joy at the appropriate time…” this sounds amazingly as though there is a kind of proto-Brahma-vihara set here, consisting of five Divine Abodes (deliverance being the new one) as well as the traditional four.
There are a surprising number of versus which warn about the dangers of unsuitable companions. Generally speaking, if you have a suitable companion—one who can be a zealous comanion, an associate of good disposition, then it’s OK. Otherwise, stay alone. Better to wander alone than to be deflected by unsuitable companions.
The last verse is sobering, and somewhat shattering: “People associate with an resort to others for some motive; nowadays friends without a motive are hard to find. Wise as to their own advantage, men are impure. One should wander solitary as a rhinoceros horn.” How nothing ever changes: these verses, written 2500-some-odd years ago, and just as valuable today. Are there friends without motives? Can we find them? Can they find us? As a seeker of ultimate truth, we may not be able to find such friends and, if that isn’t possible, it is up to us to wander solitary and alone.
I found this to be very much the case in regards to the gay Buddhist groups. There were lots of good friends there, but in fact I found out of that congregation one primary friend with whom I could wander—that being Jim Wilson. But the group itself was not really suitable for me. And the GMBS, while very sweet, was becoming a downright hindrance with its emphasis on sociability and lack of practice. I found it necessary to wander alone in that respect, although upon finding my way into Spirit Rock I found the environment that I needed for steady and secure practice.
1.4 Kasibharadvaja Sutta : The Farmer Kasibharadvaja
The brahman farmer reproaches the Buddha for not being a farmer or helping with ploughing and yet seeming to expect food. The Buddha replies that he is indeed a farmer: he plants confidence; self-control reins the beasts, wisom is his yoke and plough, modesty his pole, mind his rope, mindfulness his ploughshare and goad. He harvests the fruit of immortality, which is certainly a good fruit: at the harvest, one becomes free from all suffering.
The Buddha’s lesson encourages the farmer, who eventually takes the robe and achieves nibbana.
There don’t seem to be any comments handy on the issue of the milk-rice which, thrown into water with no living creatures, bubbles and steams, like a sizzling rice soup. There is something here about the food which has been offered to the Tathagata cannot then be eaten by anyone else, and seems in fact to have become poisonous to anyone else. I’m still not quite sure what the meaning here is.
I need to check on this, but I believe that this is the same Bharadvaja who is the first of a large family to go for refuge; one by one they all go for refuge. It’s either the SN or the AN—I think the SN.
1.5 Cunda Sutta : Cunda the Smith
Cunda asks the Buddha about the four types of monks. The Buddha answers that there are:
1. The Victor of the path (fully realized)
This is the fully-realized one, who lives entirely by the path, who has removed the arrow of craving completely.
2. The teacher of the path
He knows what’s important, analyzes and shows the Dhamma.
3. One who lives by the path
Lives by the principles of the Dhamma, is well-trained and controlled
4. one who corrupts the path
Creates counterfeit Dhamma; hides amongst monks although isn’t a true monk himself; corrupter of families, deceitful.
1.6 Parabhava Sutta : Downfall (Failure)
In this sutta, the Buddha outlines twelve different reasons for a practitioner’s downfall. They are:
1. Aversion to the Dhamma
2. Fond of the wicked
3. Fond of sleep and laziness
4. Although well-to-do, lacking in support for parents
5. Deceitful to brahmans or ascetics
6. To have wealth but to be stingy with it
7. To be proud of one’s birth or wealth or clan
8. To be a rake, drunkard, or gambler
9. Not to be contented with one’s own wife, but to consort with floozies
10. Taking a young wife and being jealous (in Norman’s translation, “a man past his youth brings home as girl with breasts like timbaru fruit.”)
11. To place an irresponsible woman or man in charge
12. To be of noble birth and to crave for rulership
How well this compares with the Judaeo-Christian theory of downfall! In the JC version, downfall is almost automatic. Adam & Eve are placed in Eden and are given curiosity by their creator; they are then told that they mustn’t eat from the tree of knowledge. And yet there is a snake who seems to be able to persuade them to do it. So they do it, and that’s pretty much the downfall right there: nobody has much of a chance after that. However, in the Buddhist ideal, it’s what you do on a regular basis that brings about downfall, but more importantly, you can change these things and begin back upwards again. There is no sense of being eternally damned for anything, nor is this an unreasonable set of terms. Each of these things is something that is pretty much guaranteed to make your life more miserable, whether they be something attached to Dhamma or not.
1.7 Vasala Sutta : Discourse on Outcasts
This is a simply wonderful sutta, which clearly states the Buddha’s position on caste. It declares all of the things that make one an outcast—lying, stealing, disrespect, immorality of various sorts including disrespect to the Sangha. He says: Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman. By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes a brahman.
This has always been a greatly attractive aspect of the Dhamma, among so many. Anyone, regardless of birth or status, is welcome in the Sangha. It is a Sangha of achievement, of deeds, of intentions, and not of birth or status or any other such thing. The Buddha did not appear to all the khattiyas—he was not interested in just his own tribe. (Compare this to Jesus of Nazareth, who spoke that he was primarily here for the lost sheep of Israel.) There is absolutely no cultural component to the Buddhadharma; it is open to all. A meritocracy of the highest order—by our deeds we become members of the Sangha, not by birth, and also not by any outside agency. There is no need for baptism or confirmation or ceremony. I am a Buddhist and an upasika, through my own efforts. There is no piece of paper calling me a lay disciple of the Buddha. I am such due to my own efforts, my own intentions, and my own heart.
It’s worth noting that the Metta Sutta immediately follows this sutta, and seems to pick up almost where this one left off. That is, the Metta Sutta begins with a list of things that the good practitioner should be—skillful, capable, upright, peaceful, calm, etc—and it is the lack of those many qualities (especially the lack of Metta itself) which make one an outcaste. Thus the sutta is deepened by its context.
1.8 Karaniya Metta Sutta : Discourse on Metta
I suppose I could spend the rest of my life chanting and contemplating this sutta…
The Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation is particularly interesting. The opening lines create an interesting possibility in comparison to the Sharon Salzberg translation:
This is to be done by one skilled in aims
Who wants to break through to the path of peace:
This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness
And who knows the path of peace
In Sharon’s version, we already know the path of peace—that is, at least we know where it is and how to follow it. We are skilled in aims (goodness) in both versions. There is a little more implication I think in Sharon’s version that we are already there to some extent in our practice, whereas in Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s version, we want to break through to the path. However, this is probably hair-splitting: in both instances, there is a clear indication here that the practice of Metta is most definitely a skillful means to be used in breaking through to the Path, to realization.
In Acharya Buddhakarrakhita, we have “having glimpsed the state of perfect peace” which would tend to indicate that we are at least a bit of the way there first.
I cannot keep from feeling that the Buddha has said that Metta will take us through to full enlightenment. As Sylvia has said, perhaps it all boils down to being a really, really good person. That’s really the path when you get right down to it.
1.9 Hemavata Sutta : Satagira and Hemavata
These two creatures are yakkhas. Even though the translation is “demon”, they don’t seem to be the really icky kinds of yakkhas, but perhaps more questioning than anything else.
The Buddha’s answers to their questions are quite important. To begin with:
1. What is the attachment by which the world is troubled? The five sensual senses plus the mind; it is the salvation of the world when one escapes from attachment to the six senses.
2. Who crosses the flood? One who is always virtuous, wise, well concentrated, reflects within himself, and mindful, crosses the flood which is difficult to cross.
3. Who crosses the sea? Abstaining from lustful thoughts and having broken all fetters, being one in whom desire for existence is extinct, will not sink into the deep.
1.10 Alavaka Sutta : Alavaka
This is another yakkha, which questions the Buddha.
1. What is the best wealth? Confidence (faith).
2. What is the good practice that brings happiness? Well-practiced Dhamma.
3. What is the sweetest of all tastes? Truth.
4. What manner of living is said to be the noblest kind? Living with wisdom.
5. How does one cross the flood of recurrent birth? By faith.
6. How does one cross the sea of existence? By vigilance.
7. How does one transcend unhappiness? By strenuous effort.
8. How does one get purified? By wisdom.
9. How does one acquire knowledge? By reposing confidence and listening to the Dhamma, being diligent and attentive.
10. How does one obtain wealth? One who does what is proper, one who is resolute, one who is industrious acquires wealth.
11. How does one obtain fame? By truth.
12. How does one gain friends? By giving.
13. How does one not repent passing from this world to the next? The confident householder in whom there are four virtues—truthfulness, goodness, energy and generosity—will not repent after his death.
1:10 Vijaya Sutta : Victory over Delusion
A contemplation on the unattractive nature of the body. While on the surface this may seem like a rather unappealing thing to do, it is a fine counteraction to lustful thoughts and attachment to the body in general.
In the world, the monk who is wise, listening to the Buddha’s word, fully comprehends the body and sees it in its true perspective. He compares his body to a corpse and thinking that this body is the same as a corpse and a corpse the same as this body, he removes desire for his own body.
1:12 Muni Sutta : The Sage
A praise of the life of self-control.
Having considered the ground, having discarded the seed and not supplying moisture for the growth of that seed; having abandoned sophistry, that sage who has seen the end of birth cannot be categorically described.
The blue-necked peacock which flies through the air, never approaches the speed of the swan. Similarly, the householder can never resemble the monk who is endowed with the qualities of a sage who meditates, aloof, in the jungle.
2 The Cullavagga or “Minor Section”
Sangharakshita, The Eternal Legacy: The Culla-vagga or ‘Minor Section’ is no less rich and varied in contentk, though perhaps as a work of art less unified. It opens with the Ratana- or ‘Jewel’ sutta, probably the latest sutta in the whole anthology, a ward-rune, and much used in Theravada countries for protective purposes.
2:1 Ratana Sutta : Jewels
From Piyadassi translation:
The occasion for this discourse, in brief, according to the commentary, is as follows: The city of Vesali was afflicted by a famine, causing death, especially to the poor folk. Due to the presence of decaying corpses the evil spirits began to haunt the city; this was followed by a pestilence. Plagued by these three fears of famine, non-human beings and pestilence, the citizens sought the help of the Buddha who was then living at Rajagaha.
Followed by a large number of monks including the Venerable Ananda, his attendant disciple, the Buddha came to the city of Vesali. With the arrival of the Master, there were torrential rains which swept away the putrefying corpses. The atmosphere became purified, the city was clean.
Thereupon the Buddha delivered this Jewel Discourse (Ratana sutta) to the Venerable Ananda, and gave him instructions as to how he should tour the city with the Licchavi citizens reciting the discourse as a mark of protection to the people of Vesali. The Venerable Ananda followed the instructions, and sprinkled the sanctified water from the Buddha's own alms bowl. As a consequence the evil spirits were exorcised, the pestilence subsided. Thereafter the Venerable Ananda returned with the citizens of Vesali to the Public hall where the Buddha and his disciples had assembled awaiting his arrival. There the Buddha recited the same Jewel Discourse to the gathering.
A series of treasures, or fine attributes, belonging to either Buddha, Dhamma, or Sangha. Some of these are deeply moving: Those who comprehend clearly the noble truths well taught by him who is endowed with profound wisdom, however exceedingly heedless they may be, they do not take birth for the eighth time. This precious jewel is in the Sangha. By this truth may there be peace!
Note: the last two lines: This precious jewel is in the xxx. By this truth may there be peace is a translation of:
Idampi [sanghe/buddhe/dhamme] ratanam panitam
Etena saccena suvatthi hotu
This certainly seems to have been designed for chanting—the rhythm is very strong and repetitive.
2:2 Amagandha Sutta : Stench
This is the real meaning of impure, or uncaste, as against the ritual meanings that would have been used in a brahmanical society.
It’s interesting to note that this particular conversation takes place between an ascetic and the Buddha Kassapa, instead of our Buddha Gotama. The universality of the message is here stressed; it isn’t specific to just our Buddha, but to all Buddhas. The Dhamma is universal and endless; it cannot be specific to just one teacher, which would make it a specific thing that could begin and/or end.
Note also that this particular sutta does speak clearly that vegetarianism doesn’t have anything to do with being pure or impure: Taking life, beating, wounding, binding, stealing, lying, deceiving, worthless knowledge, adultery; this is stench. Not the eating of meat.
What is said here is always worth remembering: if one is living a virtuous life, then it is all well and good if one is vegetarian; this simply adds to the accumulation of virtue. However, it is not in and of itself a virtuous act—but it may result from virtuous intentions. A person can be a vegetarian and yet harm others, steal, lie, act irresponsibly sexually, and use intoxicants.
Here’s perhaps the most important part:
Abstaining from fish and meat, nakedness, shaving of the head, matted hair, smearing with ashes, wearing rough deerskins, attending the sacrificial fire; none of the various penances in the world performed for unhealthy ends, neither incantations, oblations, sacrifices nor seasonable observances, purify a person who has not overcome his doubts.
He who lives with his senses guarded and conquered and is established in the Dhamma, delights in uprightness and gentleness; who has gone beyond attachments and has overcome all sorrows; that wise man does not cling to what is seen and heard.
Ajahn Jagaro (from Amaravati) has this to say about vegetarianism in particular:
So when we eat meat, that has its consequences. What are the consequences? We are directly supporting an industry that is based on rearing animals, quite often under terrible conditions, for the sole purpose of slaughter. The meat can then be available in neatly wrapped little packages so that we can buy it can eat it. Our intention when we cook and eat meat is not to kill animals - I don't think anyone has that intention - however the fact remains that by the acts of buying, cooking and eating, we indirectly support the killing of the animal. It's not killing, but it is supporting.
Now, with that understanding, certain individuals may decide not to support killing. They won't want to be part of it; they will want to remove themselves from it. If there is one reason why a Buddhist should decide to be a vegetarian, it should be based on this perspective. There is only one good, valid reason, and that is compassion - not wanting to contribute to the suffering any more than one has to.
Vegetarianism is a matter of individual choice and responsibility, not something that can be forced, but it is certainly praise-worthy and compatible with the Buddha's teaching. But does it stop there? Are you now pure? You've become vegetarian, but are you blameless? Are your hands clean?
2.3 Hiri Sutta : Shame
A sutta on the meaning of true friendship.
With whom should one not associate?
One who behaves shamelessly, and who is duplicitous or two-faced in regards to friendship. One who is a talker, not a doer. One who is constantly on the alert for defects, constantly carping and critical.
With whom should one associate?
One who is like a son on his father’s breast, faithful and reliable.
What brings happiness?
Human responsibility, which yields good result.
What is the sweetest condition?
Having drunk the sweetness of solitude and tranquility, becoming free from fear and wrongdoing.
2.4 Mahamangala Sutta : The Auspicious Performance
In this sutta, the Buddha describes those virtues which make up the “auspicious performance”. They are:
Associating with the wise, those worthy of honor, rather than with fools
To live in the proper environment
To have done meritorious deeds in the past
To set oneself in the right course
A good, all-round education including arts and liberal arts
Supporting one’s family and relatives
Helping one’s relatives and friends
Ceasing and abstaining from evil
Abstention from intoxicants
Diligence in virtue
Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude
Timely hearing of the Dhamma
Forbearance, obedience, association with exemplars of the Dhamma
Perception of the Noble Truths
Realization of Nibbana
Sorrowless, unstained mind
Undisturbed by worldly vicissitudes
Being everywhere unconquered, attaining happiness everywhere
2.5 Suciloma Sutta : Suciloma
Suciloma was another yakkha who asked the Buddha questions.
From where to passion and hatred spring? From egoism.
From where do discontentment, attachment, and terror spring? These also spring from egoism.
From where do evil speculations arise? Also from egoism.
All these spring from desire, which are in one’s self like branches of a tree. Sense desires are the problem.
Remember: Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as I, myself, or mine.
2.6 Dhammacariya Sutta : The Good Life
If one leads the homeless life, one must be truly a monk and not a fake monk. Not injuring others, or speaking harshly, or ignorant. If such a monk is to be found in the assembly, he is to be cast out. (There is a sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya in which precisely such a thing happens—the Buddha determines that there is an impure monk in the assembly and insists on that monk’s being ejected before the Uposatha can take place.)
Particularly good line: Like a cess-pool filled over a number of years, such an impure one is difficult to be purified.
2.7 Brahmanadhammika Sutta : The Good Conduct of the Brahmin
One of the interesting aspects of this sutta is that it makes clear that the brahmins didn’t marry until they were older, and then they had sex only for the purposes of reproduction. Apparently they didn’t have sex during the periods of menstrual flow (icky!), and then “only at the right time” which would presumably mean only when the time was right for reproduction.
In olden days there were only three diseases: desire, hunger and decay; but owing to the killing of animals, these sprang to ninety-eight. There may be more truth in this in terms of real happenings: if they did begin to kill animals (and presumably eat them), then there would be more infectious disease transmitted, and thus more disease. I’m sure that the line is meant in terms of spiritual disease, but at the same time, there might be some societal issue right along with it.
2.8 Nava Sutta : The Boat
On choosing a good and learned teacher, and avoiding the teacher who is not himself realized enough to point the way. A man who is being swept away by a strong current in a deep river: how can he help others to cross it?
…he who has attained knowledge and has a well-trained mind, who is learned and unmoved; clearly knows he can help others to understand, who are attentive to listen and ready to comprehend.
Note that the student must be ready to learn and able to comprehend as well: it’s a two-way street.
2.9 Kimsila Sutta : Right Conduct
The character and conduct of the one who will be well-established and who will attain the highest well-being.
Knows the right time for seeing the teacher
Knows the right time to listen attentively to teachings
Is obedient with teachers, discards obstinacy
Remembers and practices the teaching, self-restraint and virtue
Delights and rejoices in the Dhamma
Does not speak in opposition to the Dhamma
Refrains from unprofitable conversation
Passes time with true and well-spoken words
Abandons laughter, gossip, complaining, ill-will, deception, hypocrisy, greediness, spite, bad temper, impurity and attachment
2.10 Utthana Sutta : Arousing
This is an urgent exhortation to exert more effort. Arise! Get up! Sit up! There is no advantage to sleeping when you are afflicted by desires and taints. This reminds me a lot of the stories of U Pandita telling people to begin with four hours’ sleep per night and then going down from there. Overcome the craving, do not let the opportune moment pass.
2.11 Rahula Sutta : Rahula
The Buddha speaks to his son about living the life of the recluse. To discard the five pleasures of senses plus the mind, to renounce the home life. Have retraint according to the Patimokkha, meditate on the Signless. Forsake egoism; by ending such egoism you will live calmly and well.
2.12 Vangisa Sutta : Vangisa
This sutta concerns the teacher of Vangisa; the Buddha confirms that upon his death he had obtained the parinirvana. The sutta is mostly praises to the Buddha, rather than being so much about Vangisa’s teacher.
2.13 Sammaparibbajaniya Sutta : The Correct Homeless Life
This is a series of qualities that characterize the proper monk—i.e., the one who has truly become a proper wanderer. It’s an incredibly long list, but there are certain categories within the list. These qualities are:
Belief in the efficacy of omens—shooting stars, dreams, and signs—is destroyed
Giving up the desire of sense pleasure, either earthly or heavenly
Refrain from slanders
Has given up anger, greed
Is free from attraction/repulsion
Has give up attachment to pleasant/unpleasant
Does not grasp anything nor is dependent on anything
Not seeing value in material belongings
Removing desire for grasping objects
One who is not opposed to anyone, either by word thought or deed
Understanding the Teaching well
Aspiring to a state of Nibbana
Does not seek approbation
Does not become upset when abused
Removes the arrow of desire
Would not hurt anyone in the world
Realizes the Teaching as it really is
There are no latent evil tendencies whatsoever; all roots of evil destroyed
Has overcome desires and is free of them
Depravities are destroyed
Has abandoned egoism
Has completely escaped from the path of passion
Restrained, emancipated and steadfast
Confident, learned, who sees the path leading to Nibbana
Does not take sides with quarreling sects
Has removed greed, anger, and ill-will
Has conquered the defilements
Torn asunder the veil of evil
Well disciplined in the Teaching
Has gone to the other shore (Nibbana)
Is firm and skillful in the knowledge concerning the destruction of asavas
Has transcended egoistic thought as of past and future
Is of exceedingly clear wisdom
Released from all sensual objects
Has realized the Truth
Has understood the Teaching
Has seen clearly the destruction of the depravities
Has eliminated all attachments
In fact, the long list of qualities come down to just a few categories
It is a very tall order to realize such qualities, but that is indeed our practice. We just take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and keep working at it.
2:14 Dhammika Sutta : Dhammika
A lay disciple, Dhammika, comes to the Buddha and asks him about the proper way for both monks and lay disciples to live.
Not wandering for alms at the wrong time
Put away desires for sense pleasures
Sit in solitude, reflecting and self-composed
Speak of only Dhamma with anyone else
Do not slander or speak ill of others
Do not become involved with controversial arguments
Makes use of food, lodging, bed, seat, water
The five precepts
Then the higher three: no food at night, no perfumes or ornaments, no high beds
Should observe the uposathas
Provide the monks with proper offerings
Pursue a blameless career