Life Skills, Buddhism style: Tips from A P De Zoysa’s Account of Buddhist Culture

Many of us turn to Buddhism’s age-old wisdom for profound advice on spirituality and inner peace. But, we were surprised to find Buddhist writings also offer wisdom on mundane activities such as eating, cleaning, making conversation and hosting guests – a perfect life skills guide, if you please!

First published in 1955, ‘Indian culture in the Days of the Buddha’ is a detailed account of the social and cultural habits of Buddhists. A P De Zoysa, a Sri Lankan Social Reformer and a renowned Buddhist Scholar, paints a holistic view of the Buddhist way of life, drawing from diverse sources such as ancient Buddhist scriptures or the Tripataka, Jataka Stories and accounts of foreign travelers.

Here we curate for you a perfect party guide from Zoysa’s extensive compilation:




  • When guests are expected, go meet them and accompany them home.
  • If you are in a chariot, stop and walk a short distance to meet your guest.
  • Always rise to meet your guests.
  • Throw flowers from your balcony to honour a distinguished passer-by.
  • Serve food to your guest with your own hands and do not ask anything of the guest before they have finished their meal.
  • Avoid ostentatious and luxurious furniture such as high settees, divans with supports carved with animal figures, sofas with cushions for the head and feet; coverlets made of fleecy goats hair or embroidered with flowers, or with figures of lions or tigers, or those ornamented with gems, or those made of silk; rugs with fur on both sides or on one side, rugs of antelope skins; carpets with awnings about them and carpets large enough for sixteen dancers.
  • Treat all guests and strangers with honour and reverence.


  • Knock before entering a private room.
  • Take flowers for your host.
  • When going to a stranger’s house, be properly clad, keep your body under proper control without swaying the arms, legs or heads, do not walk on your heels or toes, and do not laugh loudly.
  • Offer expressions of greeting and compliments of civility at parties and gatherings.
  • Avoid vulgar and frivolous conversation topics such as tales of kings, robbers, ministers of states, war, terror, battles, food and drink; stories about women and heroes; ghost stories, boastful talk, speculations about the creation of the world or about existence and non-existence.
  • After eating, cleanse your teeth with a willow stick and wash your hands and mouth. Unless you have performed these ablutions, avoid touching anyone else.
  • Every time you perform a function of nature, use perfumes of sandalwood and turmeric.
  • When taking leave of one’s betters, bow down and pass around them with one’s right side towards them.

To look up appropriate behavior in other social scenarios, find a copy of the book here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *