Itivuttaka: The Buddha’s Sayings

The Section of the Threes

74. Sons

This was said by the Lord…

“Bhikkhus, these three kinds of sons are found existing in the world. What three? The superior kind, the similar kind, and the inferior kind.

“Now what, bhikkhus, is the superior kind of son? In this instance a son has a mother and father who have not gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who do not abstain from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence;who are unvirtuous and of bad conduct. But the son is one who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, to the Dhamma, and to the Sangha; who abstains from taking life, from taking what has not been given, from wrong conduct in sensual desires, from false speech, and from intoxicating drink leading to negligence; who is virtuous and of good conduct. This, bhikkhus, is the superior kind of son.

“Now what, bhikkhus, is the similar kind of son? In this instance a son has a mother and father who have gone for refuge to the Buddha … who abstain from taking life … who are virtuous and of good conduct. And the son also is one who has gone for refuge to the Buddha … who abstains from taking life … who is virtuous and of good conduct. This, bhikkhus, is the similar kind of son.

“Now what, bhikkhus, is the inferior kind of son? In this instance a son has a mother and father who have gone for refuge to the Buddha … who abstain from taking life … who are virtuous and of good conduct. But the son is one who has not gone for refuge to the Buddha … who does not abstain from taking life … who is unvirtuous and of bad conduct. This, bhikkhus, is the inferior kind of son.

“These, bhikkhus, are the three kinds of sons found existing in the world.”

The wise wish for a son
Who is superior or similar.
They do not wish for an inferior son,
One who disgraces the family.

But such sons in the world
Who are devoted lay followers,
Excelling in faith and virtue,
Liberal, without selfishness,
Shine forth in assemblies
Like the moon freed from clouds.