Now, it so happens that later today I have a meeting with a literary editor. We'll be whittling some of the numbered entries in my Book of Scotlands down to size. With this in mind, perhaps, I remarked to David Woodard after the Buddhist lecture "I couldn't help thinking that, if the Buddha had had a good editor, the Mangala Sutta could have been cut down from 38 blessings to about 20". David is also writing a book, and also going through this kind of editorial process right now.
In this frame of mind -- after a slightly-too-long lecture -- it's tempting to go through the Mangala Sutta with a blue pencil, cutting out repetitions and tautologies:
1. Not to associate with fools
2. To associate with the wise
Could these two be combined in one, perhaps?
3. To honour those worthy of honour
4. Living in a suitable locality
5. Good deeds done in the past
6. Setting oneself on the right course
7. Great learning
8. Skill in work
9. A highly trained discipline
10. Well-spoken speech
11. Looking after one's mother and father
12. Caring for one's wife and children
Maybe combine in a single "be nice to relatives" item?
13. Unconfused actions
15. A righteous life
16. Caring for one's relatives
See 12, bundle into 11.
17. Blameless actions
Might this be placed under the umbrella of "unconfused actions"?
18. To abhor all evil
19. To avoid all evil
These two could be collapsed into one.
20. Abstention from intoxicants
21. Diligence in righteousness
26. Hearing the Dhamma at the right time
Product placement? Maybe a little too pushy -- we could use the inside back cover for this.
29. Seeing the monks
30. Opportune discussion of the Dhamma
32. A holy life
33. Seeing the Four Noble Truths
34. Realising Nibbana
35. When affected by worldly conditions, if one's mind remains unshaken
See, I've already cut the 38 blessings down to 30 in that cursory gloss through. A really good editor could surely get the blessings down to twenty or less.