delivered many discourses on the life of lay followers. In one
of these discourses, which is called the Sigalovada Sutta, the
Buddha talked about the roles and responsibilities of members
within the family and within the society. He defined the ideal
relationships that the lay follower should develop with respect
to his family and the society at large. These relationships
are based on the acceptance of reciprocal responsibilities between
according to the Sigalovada Sutta, the Buddha saw Sigala bowing
to the six directions, that is, east, south, west, north, above
and below, immediately after his morning bath. Sigala had promised
at his father's deathbed to observe this ritual faithfully.
It was then believed that when people practised this ritual,
they were honouring the gods residing in the six directions.
As a result, these gods would be pleased and would bestow good
luck, happiness and prosperity on them.
however, explained to Sigala the meaning of paying respect to
the six directions. He said that the east represents the parent;
the south, teacher; the west, spouse; the north, friends; above,
religious teacher; and below, employee. The six directions represent
the six types of human relationships, namely those between parent
and child, teacher and pupil, husband and wife, friends, religious
teacher and disciple, as well as employer and employee. Thus
honouring the six directions means fulfilling one's reciprocal
responsibilities in each of these relationships. As every person
assumes several roles in life whether as a parent, a child,
a friend or employer, he has to be aware of and fulfil his responsibilities
in each of these roles.
explained to Sigala that honouring the six directions really
means fulfilling one's reciprocal responsibilities in six social
relationships. The six types of human relationships are those
between parents and children, husband and wife, teacher and
pupil, friends, employer and employee, and religious teacher
and his disciples. Through fulfilling one's responsibilities,
one can achieve harmony, security and prosperity both within
the family and in the society as a whole.