Natural Laws and Values for Life

By Phra Prayudh Payutto
Translated by Grant A. Olson

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780791426326, 326 pages, September 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426319, 326 pages, September 1995

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Table of contents

A Concise Note on the Name and Ecclesiastical Titles of Phra Prayudh Payutto


Pali Text Abbreviations Used in the Notes

Translator's Introduction



A Brief Biography of Phra Prayudh Payutto
Phra Prayudh and the Middle Path
The Publication History of Buddhadhamma
The Characteristics of Buddhadhamma: Placing Phra Prayudh in the Context of Modern Buddhist Scholarship
Phra Prayudh in the Context of Other Major Thai Buddhist Scholars
Building on the Work of Others: The Orderly and Systematic Character of Phra Prayudh's Work


The Things That Should Be Understood First

PART I: The Middle Way of Expressing the Truth (majjhena dhammadesana), A Balanced Way of Teaching Natural Truth

What Is Life? The Five Aggregates of Existence (panca-khandha)


Conditions of Reality
The Five Aggregates of Existence and The Five Aggregates of Existence as Objects of Attachment, or Life and Life as a Problem
The Ethical Importance of the Five Aggregates of Existence


What Is the Nature of Existence? The Three Charateristics of Existence (tilakkhana), The Three Natural Characteristics of All Things

The Laws or Conditions
The Ethical Importance of the Three Characteristics of Existence




What Is the Life Process? Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppada), The Principle of the Interdependence of All Things

The Laws or Conditions of Reality


The Basis and Importance of Dependent Origination
References and Interrelationships Concerning the Principle of Dependent Origination
Translating the Meaning of Dependent Origination
A Basic Summary of the Meaning of Dependent Origination
A Diagrammatic Explanation of Dependent Origination
The Meaning of Dependent Origination in Daily Life


Dependent Origination Expressed as a Middle Truth (majjhena dhammadesana)

Two Principles of the Dhamma Related to Dependent Origination


1. Kamma (Skt. , karma; Thai, kam)
2. The Noble Truths (ariyasacca)


PART II: The Middle Way of Practicing the Truth (majjhima patipada), The Middle Points of Practice According to Natural Law

How Should We Live Our Lives? The Middle Path

The Middle Way of Practicing the Truth (majjhima patipada) as a Continuation of the Middle Way of Expressing the Truth (majjhena dhammadesana)
Coming to a Basic Understanding of the Middle Path
The System of the Middle Path
The Meaning of Each Factor of the Middle Path

1. Proper Understanding (sammaditthi)


The Importance of Proper Understanding
The Definition of Proper Understanding
Proper Understanding and the Practice of the Middle Path
A Summary of the Principle of Confidence (saddha)
Canonical Passages Explaining Confidence
Factors Leading to Proper Understanding
A Summary of Two Factors


2. Proper Thought (sammasankappa)
3. Proper Speech (sammavaca)
4. Proper Action (sammakammanta)
5. Proper Livelihood (samma-ajiva)
6. Proper Effort (sammavayama)
7. Proper Mindfulness (sammasati)


Sati as Appamada
Sati as a Social Value
The Role of Sati in the Process of Developing Wisdom, or Eradicating Mental Intoxicants and Unwholesome Tendencies
Satipatthana as Sammasati
The Important Essence of Satipatthana


8. Proper Concentration (sammasamadhi)


The Meaning of Proper Concetration
Attaining Positive Results by Developing Concentration
Methods for Developing Concentration
The Sphere of Importance of Concentration
Putting Concentration to Good Use



Written by one of the most highly regarded monk-scholars in Southeast Asia, this book is a modern distillation of the pivotal doctrines found in the Pali Buddhist canon.


Written by a Thai, Theravada monk who has been recognized for his scholarly achievements, Buddhadhamma is a modern distillation of pivotal doctrines found in the Pali Buddhist canon. Many scholars of Buddhism in Thailand and beyond have said that if a person is not able to read the more than 40 volumes of the Pali Buddhist canon, then read this one book.

This volume—with a clear introduction that introduces the author and places him in the context of the history of the Thai Buddhist tradition—makes a significant contribution to the scant literature on Theravada Buddhism in English. One of the major contributions of this book is a detailed description of the Buddhist principles of causality, which will add to other works on this topic by modern Buddhist scholars. Furthermore, this book reveals the rational basis of the Buddhist worldview and contains an especially lucid discussion of the distinctive Buddhist notion of no-self and Buddhist "faith" or confidence based on inquiry.

Phra Prayudh Payutto has held the following ecclesiastical ranks and titles: Phra Maha Prayudh Payutto (1961); Phra Srivisuddhimoli (1969); Phra Rajavaramuni (1973); Phra Debvedi (1987); and Phra Dhammapitaka (1993). Grant A. Olson most recently held the post of Baring Foundation Lectureship in Thai Language and Thai Culture, Centre for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull, England.


"The book is a translation of the first edition of the magnum opus written by Thailand's most highly respected monastic intellectual. Thoroughly grounded in Pali text and commentary, it represents a contemporary transformation of classical Theravada thought and practice. " -- Donald K. Swearer, Swarthmore College