Points of Controversy

7.6. Of the Effect of Gifts given in this Life

Controverted Point: That what is given here sustains elsewhere.

Theravādin: Your proposition commits you to the further statement that robes, alms-food, lodging, medical requisites for ailments, hard food, soft food, and drink, given in this life, are enjoyed in the after-life—which you deny… . And it commits you further to this heterodox position, that one person is the agent for another; that the happiness or suffering we feel is wrought by others; that one acts, another experiences the consequences—which you deny… .

Rājagiriyas and Siddhatthikas: You deny our proposition. But do not the Petas thank him who gives a gift for their advantage, are not their hearts appeased, are they not interested, do they not obtain gladness? Was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Just as water that rains on the highlands,
flows down to the lowlands,
so too what has been given here
is of benefit to the departed.

“Just as rivers that are full
flow and fill up the ocean,
so too what has been given here
is of benefit to the departed.

“For in that place there is no ploughing,
and cattle-rearing is not found there,
similarly there is no trading,
or buying and selling of gold.
The departed in that place who have died,
have to subsist on gifts.”

Therefore our proposition is right.

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

Bhikkhus, there are these five matters which parents, if wishing for a child to be born to them, contemplate. Which are the five? Cared for (they think) he will care for us; or, he will do our work; he will continue our family; he will inherit our property; he will institute offerings to the departed parent shades (Petas).

“Wise folk who fain a child would have
Have five advantages in view—
Us by his wages he will keep;
His will it be our work to do;
Our family will long endure;
Our heritage to him tee leave;
And then again an offering
To Peta-shades he’ll institute.
These matters five keep well in view
The wise who fain a child would have.
Wherefore the pious and the good,
Children who know and grateful feel,
Support their mother and their sire,
Remembering all these did for them.
Their tasks they take upon themselves,
E’en as their parents toiled for them;
Do their behests and them maintain,
Nor suffer that their race decay.
Praise to the child of filial heart,
With piety and virtue dight”?

Was it not so said? Then is our proposition right.