WHILE the Blessed One was staying at the bamboo grove near Rajagaha, he once met on his way Sigala, a householder, who, clasping his hands, turned to the four quarters of the world, to the zenith above, and to the nadir below. The Blessed One, knowing that this was done according to the traditional religious superstition to avert evil, asked Sigala: "Why performest thou these strange ceremonies?"
And Sigala in reply said: "Dost thou think it strange that I protect my home against the influences of demons? I know thou wouldst fain tell me, O Gotama Sakyamuni, whom people call the Tathagata and the Blessed Buddha, that incantations are of no avail and possess no saving power. But listen to me and know, that in performing this rite I honor, reverence, and keep sacred the words of my father."
Then the Tathagata said: Thou dost well, O Sigala, to honor, reverence, and keep sacred the words of thy father; and it is thy duty to protect thy home, thy wife, thy children, and thy children's children against the hurtful influences of evil spirits. I find no fault with the performance of thy father's rite. But I find that thou dost not understand the ceremony. Let the Tathagata, who now speaks to thee as a spiritual father and loves thee no less than did thy parents, explain to thee the meaning of the six directions.
"To guard thy home by mysterious ceremonies is not sufficient; thou must guard it by good deeds. Turn to thy parents in the East, to thy teachers in the South, to thy wife and children in the West, to thy friends in the North, and regulate the zenith of thy religious relations above thee, and the nadir of thy servants below thee. Such is the religion thy father wants thee to have, and the performance of the ceremony shall remind thee of thy duties."
And Sigala looked up to the Blessed One with reverence as to his father and said: "Truly, Gotama, thou art the Buddha, the Blessed One, the holy teacher. I never knew what I was doing, but now I know. Thou hast revealed to me the truth that was hidden as one who bringeth a lamp into the darkness. I take my refuge in the Enlightened Teacher, in the truth that enlightens, and in the community of brethren who have been taught the truth."