In this article let’s discuss an interesting Buddhist teaching related to a successful life. In Vyagghapajja Sutta, Buddha explains four keys to success in life to a noble man called Dighajanu.
May you be safe from inner and outer danger, healthy and free from suffering!

A common criticism Buddhism face is that it is largely focus on the spiritual development undermining the material development. Therefore, many think when people truly start to follow Buddhism they naturally become passive and less ambitious to be successful in life. This is not true! There are many places in Sutra disclosures where Buddha has given advices to laymen to become successful in life. The sutra that we are going to discuss today is such disclosure by the Lord Buddha where he explains the four reasons that are key to success in life.
What is the successful life according to Buddhism?

Before going any further it’s best to understand what it means by “successful in life” according to Buddhism. The term success, has become much distorted in modern day. According to the current standards, success of a person is commonly attributed to the wealth or the power that person has acquired. Therefore we often identify wealthy, powerful people as successful people in life. The mare presence of wealth and power is enough for one to be classified as a person with a successful life. In modern standards for success, qualities such as ethics, honor and happiness is usually considered secondary or not considered at all.

In Buddhism however, being successful has a different meaning. Buddhism also sees acquisition of power and wealth is an element of success. However, according to Buddhism success become complete only when it truly help you become happier. It’s more like a tool to help yourself and others to be happy. Laymen Buddhist consider success as a necessity for further spiritual development. More wealth and power you have, more people you can reach to help. As a result, you will become happier and make lot of good karma.

According to Buddhist teachings, happiness is the key to success in life. Surprisingly, many of us think success is the key to happiness. We see examples everyday suggesting that it’s not. But we are constantly chasing behind this elusive success, hoping that someday when we ultimately become successful, we will be happy too.

Keys to success in life

One day, Buddha was dwelling in a market town call Kakkarapatta: a town in the kingdom of Buddha’s mother’s kingdom. A rich man, a trader named Digajanu approached the lord Buddha and asked an important question that gave the motivation to Vyagghapajja Sutta.
He requested from Lord Buddha to teach those things that will be helpful for laymen people that will lead to wealth and happiness in this life and wealth and happiness in future life.
Buddha replied saying that he sees four conditions that are conduce to a wealth and happiness in this very life and four more conditions that will help bring wealth and happiness in future life.

The four conditions that Buddha said were, the accomplishment of persistent effort, the accomplishment of watchfulness, having good friendship and leading a balanced livelihood. Let’s discuss how these conditions help bring a successful life.

Persistent effort

The first key to success in life is to accomplish persistent effort. In here Buddha advised that laypeople mush seek for prosperity and financial security through “rightful means”.

To become “rightful” in livelihood, a person should, first, avoid any occupation that cause harm to himself, any other living things or to the environment. Secondly, he/she should become honest and ethical in business practices. A drug dealer can be honest in his business, but it wouldn’t make his business rightful. A service of a doctor will not be rightful, if he/she is not honest and ethical. They can make lot of money or become powerful people in the community, but they surely will not be successful in their lives. One day (in this life or next) they will have to pay for the evil deeds they have committed. Making money with un-rightful means is not success, it’s just putting yourself in to a grave danger.

Doing rightful business will also not make the way for a successful life. You will need to be skillful and not lazy. A farmer may have a rightful livelihood, yet he will not be successful if he doesn’t have the skill and not lazy for his occupation. He should also be capable of making right judgments as to the proper ways and means to develop his business. He should also be skilled enough to carry out or allocate the duties.

According to Buddha this is the accomplishment of persistent effort. Buddha said this is a key to success in life.


Making wealth from rightful means is not easy. Buddha said, a person who’s willing to lead a successful life, should not only gather wealth but also protect it by guarding and watching.
Person who’s trying to be successful should, put forward suitable strategies to guard his wealth from kings and powerful people who can seize it. He should also protect it from thieves who can steal it. Then he should think of safeguarding his wealth by fire, water and other natural disasters. He should also take protective steps to protect his wealth by hostile inheritors who can remove it.
This is the second condition for successful life according to Buddha. This is how one would accomplish watchfulness.

Good friendship

The people we surround ourselves will raise or lower values of our life. We are constantly influenced by them. We shape our lives to match the standards set by people around us. Among the people we associate, our friends and family are the most influential to our lives. They can either help us to reach our true potential or weaken us down so that we become lesser versions of ourselves.

According to Buddha’s advice, a person who’s truly willing to be successful in life should try to associate friends who are rich in four qualities. They should be full of faith, full of virtue, full of charity and full of wisdom. Lord Buddha said if a person regularly associate with friends with these four qualities, he/she will automatically acts in accordance with the faith of the faithful, with the virtue of the virtuous, with the charity of the charitable and the with the wisdom of the wise.

According to Buddha, this is called good friendship: an important key to success in life.

Balanced livelihood

Lord Buddha preaches balanced livelihood as the fourth condition for a successful life. Balanced livelihood is knowing your income and expense and then managing it correctly so that it leads to a balanced life. “Life should neither be extravagant nor misery”, Buddha said. One should always manage his business so that his income will stand in excess of his expenses. Not the other way around.

Middle way is the best and fastest way to achieve anything in life. If a person becomes stingy and ungenerous, so that he only spends for his very basic requirements, then he will miss out on other important responsibilities. He will take less care of his family and relatives, wouldn’t do his part to the country and wouldn’t be close to generous people. Ultimately he will be engulfed by his own stinginess.  According to buddha, people who enjoy their property like this are similar to ones who are trying to eat a wood-apple, without cracking it open. The richness inside the shell, is not available to this person because he’s too stingy to crack open the shell, thinking that the fruit will go to waste. This is an absurdity! People like this will never be truly successful. They may be rich, but not be happy and successful.

Being extravagant in life, without the right income will also lead to grave difficulties in life. Modern day economy, is a well oiled machine. It will feed people with “any pleasure” for the right price. You just need to have the intention. The system works so fine, that some people don’t even realize they’ve fallen in to debauchery. If a person is too extravagant in his/her life, without the proper income, the world will easily grab them. It wouldn’t take much time until that person get surrounded by many friends, who will tell him above exclusive pleasures: drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling. The trap is set, many millions of innocent souls fall each year and never recover. Hence, the Buddha’s condition of balanced life!
We hope this teaching of Buddha will be helpful to you in shaping your life.


Try to reflect, what’s important in life, money or happiness, or both, draw examples from your life (don’t judge)
Do you know anyone who have these qualities, and not successful in their lives? Look back at your life and  lives of people you know.
Try and remember someone who fell in to debauchery (without judging), was he/she successful in his life?
Pick a random channel in your TV, and watch
May you be safe from inner and outer danger, healthy and free from suffering!

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