As a great religious classic and the chief spiritual testament of early Buddhism, the Dhammapada cannot be gauged in its true value by a single reading, even if that reading is done carefully and reverentially. It yields its riches only through repeated study, sustained reflection, and most importantly, through the application of its principles to daily life. Thence it might be suggested to the reader in search of spiritual guidance that the Dhammapada be used as a manual for contemplation. After his initial reading, he would do well to read several verses or even a whole chapter every day, slowly and carefully, relishing the words. He should reflect on the meaning of each verse deeply and thoroughly, investigate its relevance to his life, and apply it as a guide to conduct. If this is done repeatedly, with patience and perseverance, it is certain that the Dhammapada will confer upon his life a new meaning and sense of purpose. Infusing him with hope and inspiration, gradually it will lead him to discover a freedom and happiness far greater than anything the world can offer.
Chapter 1. Yamaha Vada
The twin verses
1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.
3. “He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbour such thoughts do not still their hatred.
4. “He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who do not harbour such thoughts still their hatred.
5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
6. There are those who do not realise that one day we all must die. But those who do realise this settle their quarrels.
7. Just as a storm throws down a weak tree, so does Mara (the Temptress)overwhelm the man who lives for the pursuit of pleasures, who is
uncontrolled in his senses, immoderate in eating, indolent, and dissipated.
8. Just as a storm cannot prevail against a rocky mountain, so Mara can never overwhelm the man who lives meditating on the impurities, who is controlled in his senses, moderate in
and filled with faith and earnest effort.
9. Whoever being depraved, devoid of self-control and truthfulness, should don the monk’s yellow robe, he surely is not worthy of the robe.
10. But whoever is purged of depravity, well-established in virtues and filled with self-control and truthfulness, he indeed is worthy of the yellow robe.
11. Those who mistake the unessential to be essential and the essential to be unessential, dwelling in wrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential.
12. Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential.
13. Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind.
14. Just as rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion never penetrates a well-developed mind.
15. The evil-doer grieves here and hereafter; he grieves in both the worlds. He laments and is afflicted, recollecting his own impure deeds.
16. The doer of good rejoices here and hereafter; he rejoices in both the worlds. He rejoices and exults, recollecting his own pure deeds.
17. The evil-doer suffers here and hereafter; he suffers in both the worlds. The thought, “Evil have I done,” torments him, and he suffers even more when gone to realms of woe.
18. The doer of good delights here and hereafter; he delights in both the worlds. The thought, “Good have I done,” delights him, and he delights even more when gone to realms of bliss.
19. Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others — he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life.
20. Little though he recites the sacred texts, but puts the Teaching into practice, forsaking lust, hatred, and delusion, with true wisdom and emancipated mind, clinging to nothing of this or any other world — he indeed partakes of the blessings of a holy life.
Chapter 2. Heedfulness
21. Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already.3
22. Clearly understanding this excellence of heedfulness, the wise exult therein and enjoy the resort of the Noble Ones.4
23. The wise ones, ever meditative and steadfastly persevering, alone experience Nibbana, the in-comparable freedom from bondage.
24. Ever grows the glory of him who is energetic, mindful and pure in conduct, discerning and self- controlled, righteous and heedful.
25. By effort and heedfulness, discipline and self-mastery, let the wise one make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm.
26. The foolish and ignorant indulge in heedlessness, but the wise one keeps his heedfulness as his best treasure.
27 Do not give way to heedlessness. Do not indulge in sensual pleasures. Only the heedful and medi- tative attain great happiness.
28. Just as one upon the summit of a mountain beholds the groundlings, even so when the wise man casts away heedlessness by heedfulness and ascends the high tower of wisdom, this sorrowless sage beholds the sorrowing and foolish multitude.
29. Heedful among the heedless, wide-awake among the sleepy, the wise man advances like a swift horse leaving behind a weak jade.
30. By Heedfulness did Indra become the overlord of the gods. Heedfulness is ever praised, and heedlessness ever despised.5
31. The monk who delights in heedfulness and looks with fear at heedlessness advances like fire, burning all fetters, small and large.
32. The monk who delights in heedfulness and looks with fear at heedlessness will not fall. He is close to Nibbana.
3 The Deathless (amata): Nibbana, so called because those who attain it are free from the cycle of repeated birth and death.
4 The Noble Ones (ariya): those who have reached any of the four stages of supramundane attainment leading irreversibly to Nibbana
5 Indra: the ruler of the gods in ancient Indian mythology.
Chapter 3 The Mind
33. Just as a fletcher straightens an arrow shaft, even so the discerning man straightens his mind – so fickle and unsteady, so difficult to guard.
34. As a fish when pulled out of water and cast on land throbs and quivers, even so is this mind agi- tated. Hence should one abandon the realm of Mara.
35. Wonderful, indeed, it is to subdue the mind, so difficult to subdue, ever swift, and seizing what- ever it desires. A tamed mind brings happiness.
36. Let the discerning man guard the mind, so difficult to detect and extremely subtle, seizing whatever it desires. A guarded mind brings happiness.
37. Dwelling in the cave (of the heart), the mind, without form, wanders far and alone. Those who subdue this mind are liberated from the bonds of Mara.
38. Wisdom never becomes perfect in one whose mind is not steadfast, who knows not the Good Teaching and whose faith wavers.
39. There is no fear for an awakened one, whose mind is not sodden (by lust) nor afflicted (by
hate), and who has gone beyond both merit and demerit.6
40. Realizing that this body is as fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying this mind like a well-fortified city, fight out Mara with the sword of wisdom. Then, guarding the conquest, remain unattached.
41. Ere long, alas! this body will lie upon the earth, unheeded and lifeless, like a useless log.
42. Whatever harm an enemy may do to an enemy, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind inflicts on oneself a greater harm.
43. Neither mother, father, nor any other relative can do one greater good than one’s own well-directed mind.
6 The Arahat is said to be beyond both merit and demerit because, as he has abandoned all defilements, he can no longer perform evil actions; and as he has no more attach- ment, his virtuous actions no longer bear kammic fruit.
Chapter 4. Flowers
44. Who shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods? Who shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom as an expert garland-maker would his floral design?
45. A striver-on-the path shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods. The striver-on-the-path shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom, as an expert garland-maker would his floral design.7
46. Realising that this body is like froth, penetrating its mirage-like nature, and plucking out Mara’s flower-tipped arrows of sensuality, go beyond sight of the King of Death!
47. As a mighty flood sweeps away the sleeping village, so death carries away the person of distracted mind who only plucks the flowers (of pleasure).
48. The Destroyer brings under his sway the person of distracted mind who, insatiate in sense desires, only plucks the flowers (of pleasure)
49. As a bee gathers honey from the flower without injuring its color or fragrance, even so the sage goes on his alms-round in the village.8
50. Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.
51. Like a beautiful flower full of colour but without fragrance, even so, fruitless are the fair words of one who does not practice them.
52. Like a beautiful flower full of colour and also fragrant, even so, fruitful are the fair words of one who practices them.
53. As from a great heap of flowers many garlands can be made, even so should many good deeds be done by one born a mortal.
54. Not the sweet smell of flowers, not even the fragrance of sandal, tagara, or jasmine blows against the wind. But the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind. Truly the virtuous man pervades all directions with the fragrance of his virtue.9
55. Of all the fragrances – sandal, tagara, blue lotus and jasmine – the fragrance of virtue is the sweetest.
56. Faint is the fragrance of tagara and sandal, but excellent is the fragrance of the virtuous, wafting even amongst the gods.
57. Mara never finds the path of the truly virtuous, who abide in heedfulness and are freed by perfect knowledge.
58. Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.
59. Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom.
7 The Striver-on-the-Path (sekha): one who has achieved any of the first three stages of supra-mundane attainment: a Stream-enterer, Once-returner, or Non-returner.
8 The “sage in the village” is the Buddhist monk who receives his food by going silently from door to door with his alms bowls, accepting whatever is offered.
9 Tagara: a fragrant powder obtained from a particular kind of shrub.
Chapter 5 - The Fool
60. Long is the night to him who is awake; long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law.
61. If a traveller does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship with a fool.
62. "These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me," with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?
63. The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed.
64. If a fool be associated with a wise man even all his life, he will perceive the truth as little as a spoon perceives the taste of soup.
65. If an intelligent man be associated for one minute only with a wise man, he will soon perceive the truth, as the tongue perceives the taste of soup.
66. Fools of little understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies, for they do evil deeds which must bear bitter fruits.
67. That deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the reward of which he receives crying and with a tearful face.
68. No, that deed is well done of which a man does not repent, and the reward of which he receives gladly and cheerfully.
69. As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is like honey; but when it ripens, then the fool suffers grief.
70. Let a fool month after month eat his food (like an ascetic) with the tip of a blade of Kusha grass, yet he is not worth the sixteenth particle of those who have well weighed the law.
71. An evil deed, like newly-drawn milk, does not turn (suddenly); smouldering, like fire covered by ashes, it follows the fool.
72. And when the evil deed, after it has become known, brings sorrow to the fool, then it destroys his bright lot, nay, it cleaves his head.
73. Let the fool wish for a false reputation, for precedence among the Bhikshus, for lordship in the convents, for worship among other people!
74. "May both the layman and he who has left the world think that this is done by me; may they be subject to me in everything which is to be done or is not to be done," thus is the mind of the fool, and his desire and pride increase.
75. "One is the road that leads to wealth, another the road that leads to Nirvana;" if the Bhikshu, the disciple of Buddha, has learnt this, he will not yearn for honour, he will strive after separation from the world.
Chapter 6 - The Wise Man
76. Should one find a man who points out faults and who reproves, let him follow such a wise and sagacious person as one would a guide to hidden treasure. It is always better, and never worse, to cultivate such an association.
77. Let him admonish, instruct and shield one from wrong; he, indeed, is dear to the good and detest- able to the evil.
78. Do not associate with evil companions; do not seek the fellowship of the vile. Associate with the good friends; seek the fellowship of noble men.
79. He who drinks deep the Dhamma lives happily with a tranquil mind. The wise man ever delights in the Dhamma made known by the Noble One (the Buddha).
80. Irrigators regulate the rivers; fletchers straighten the arrow shaft; carpenters shape the wood; the wise control themselves.
81. Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame.
82. On hearing the Teachings, the wise become perfectly purified, like a lake deep, clear and still.
83. The good renounce (attachment for) everything. The virtuous do not prattle with a yearning for pleasures. The wise show no elation or depression when touched by happiness or sorrow.
84. He is indeed virtuous, wise, and righteous who neither for his own sake nor for the sake of an- other (does any wrong), who does not crave for sons, wealth, or kingdom, and does not desire success by unjust means.
85. Few among men are those who cross to the far- ther shore. The rest, the bulk of men, only run up and down the hither bank.
86. But those who act according to the perfectly taught Dhamma will cross the realm of Death, so difficult to cross.
87-88. Abandoning the dark way, let the wise man cultivate the bright path. Having gone from home to homelessness, let him yearn for that delight in detachment, so difficult to enjoy. Giving up sensual pleasures, with no attachment, let the wise man cleanse himself of defilements of the mind.
89. Those whose minds have reached full excellence in the factors of enlightenment, who, having renounced acquisitiveness, rejoice in not clinging to things – rid of cankers, glowing with wisdom,
they have attained Nibbana in this very life.10
10 This verse describes the Arahat, dealt with more fully in the following chapter. The “cankers” (asava) are the four basic defilements of sensual desire, desire for continued existence, false views and ignorance.
Chapter 7 - The Arahat: The Perfected One
90. The fever of passion exists not for him who has completed the journey, who is sorrowless and wholly set free, and has broken all ties.
91. The mindful ones exert themselves. They are not attached to any home; like swans that abandon the lake, they leave home after home behind.
92. Those who do not accumulate and are wise regarding food, whose object is the Void, the Unconditioned Freedom – their track cannot be traced, like that of birds in the air.
93. He whose cankers are destroyed and who is not attached to food, whose object is the Void, the Unconditioned Freedom – his path cannot be traced, like that of birds in the air.
94. Even the gods hold dear the wise one, whose senses are subdued like horses well trained by a charioteer, whose pride is destroyed and who is free from the cankers.
95. There is no more worldly existence for the wise one who, like the earth, resents nothing, who is firm as a high pillar and as pure as a deep pool free from mud.
96. Calm is his thought, calm his speech, and calm his deed, who, truly knowing, is wholly freed, perfectly tranquil and wise.
97. The man who is without blind faith, who knows the Uncreate, who has severed all links, destroyed all causes (for karma, good and evil), and thrown out all desires – he, truly, is the most excellent of men.11
98. Inspiring, indeed, is that place where Arahats dwell, be it a village, a forest, a vale, or a hill.
99. Inspiring are the forests in which worldlings find no pleasure. There the passionless will rejoice, for they seek no sensual pleasures.
11 In the Pali this verse presents a series of puns, and if the “underside” of each pun were to be translated, the verse would read thus: “The man who is faithless, ungrateful, a burglar, who destroys opportunities and eats vomit – he truly is the most excellent of men.”
Chapter 8 The thousands
100. Better than a thousand useless words is one useful word, hearing which one attains peace.
101. Better than a thousand useless verses is one useful verse, hearing which one attains peace.
102. Better than reciting a hundred meaningless verses is the reciting of one verse of Dhamma, hearing which one attains peace.
103. Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the no- blest victor who conquers himself.
104-105. Self-conquest is far better then the conquest of others. Not even a god, an angel, Mara or Brahma can turn into defeat the victory of a person who is self-subdued and ever restrained in conduct.12
106. Though month after month for a hundred years one should offer sacrifices by the thousands, yet if only for a moment one should worship those of perfected minds that honour is indeed better than a century of sacrifice.
107. Though for a hundred years one should tend the sacrificial fire in the forest, yet if only for a moment one should worship those of perfected
12 Brahma: a high divinity in ancient Indian religion. 39
minds, that worship is indeed better than a century of sacrifice.
108. Whatever gifts and oblations one seeking merit might offer in this world for a whole year, all that is not worth one fourth of the merit gained by revering the Upright Ones, which is truly excellent.
109. To one ever eager to revere and serve the elders, these four blessing accrue: long life and beauty, happiness and power.
110. Better it is to live one day virtuous and meditative than to live a hundred years immoral and un-controlled.
111. Better it is to live one day wise and meditative than to live a hundred years foolish and un-controlled.
112. Better it is to live one day strenuous and resolute than to live a hundred years sluggish and dissipated.
113. Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live as hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.
114. Better it is to live one day seeing the Deathless than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the Deathless.
115. Better it is to live one day seeing the Supreme Truth than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the Supreme Truth.
Chapter 9 Evil
116. Hasten to do good; restrain your mind from evil. He who is slow in doing good, his mind delights in evil.
117. Should a person commit evil, let him not do it again and again. Let him not find pleasure therein, for painful is the accumulation of evil.
118. Should a person do good, let him do it again and again. let him find pleasure therein, for blissful is the accumulation of good.
119. It may be well with the evil-doer as long as the evil ripens not. But when it does ripen, then the evil-doer sees (the painful results of) his evil deeds.
120. It may be ill with the doer of good as long as the good ripens not. But when it does ripen, then the doer of good sees (the pleasant results of) his good deeds.
121. Think not lightly of evil, saying, “It will not come to me.” Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil.
122. Think not lightly of good, saying, “It will not come to me.” Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by lit- tle, fills himself with good.
123. Just as a trader with a small escort and great wealth would avoid a perilous route, or just as one desiring to live avoids poison, even so should one shun evil.
124. If on the hand there is no wound, one may carry even poison in it. Poison does not affect one who is free from wounds. For him who does no evil, there is no ill.
125. Like fine dust thrown against the wind, evil falls back upon that fool who offends an inoffensive, pure and guiltless man.
126. Some are born in the womb; the wicked are born in hell; the devout go to heaven; the stainless pass into Nibbana.
127. Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the results of evil deeds.
128. Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may will not be overcome by death.
Chapter 10. Violence
129. All tremble at violence; all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.
130. All tremble at violence; life is dear to all. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.
131. One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.
132. One who, while himself seeking happiness, does not oppress with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will find happiness hereafter.
133. Speak not harshly to anyone, for those thus spoken to might retort. Indeed, angry speech hurts, and retaliation may overtake you.
134. If, like a broken gong, you silence yourself, you have approached Nibbana, for vindictiveness is no longer in you.
135. Just as a cowherd drives the cattle to pasture with a staff, so do old age and death drive the life force of beings (from existence to existence).
136. When the fool commits evil deeds, he does not realize (their evil nature). The witless man is tormented by his own deeds, like one burnt by fire.
137. He who inflicts violence on those who are un-armed, and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states:
138-140 Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from the government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell.
141. Neither going about naked, nor matted locks, nor filth, nor fasting, nor lying on the ground, nor smearing oneself with ashes and dust, nor sitting on the heels (in penance) can purify a mortal who has not overcome doubt.
142. Even though he be well-attired, yet if he is posed, calm, controlled and established in the holy life, having set aside violence towards all beings – he, truly, is a holy man, a renunciate, a monk.
143. Only rarely is there a man in this world who, restrained by modesty, avoids reproach, as a thoroughbred horse avoids the whip.
144. Like a thoroughbred horse touched by the whip, be strenuous, be filled with spiritual yearning. By faith and moral purity, by effort and meditation, by investigation of the truth, by being rich in knowledge and virtue, and by being mindful, destroy this unlimited suffering.
145. Irrigators regulate the waters, fletchers straighten arrow shafts, carpenters shape wood, and the good control themselves.
Chapter 11 Old Age
146. When this world is ever ablaze, why this laughter, why this jubilation? Shrouded in darkness, will you not see the light?
147. Behold this body – a painted image, a mass of heaped up sores, infirm, full of hankering – of which nothing is lasting or stable!
148. Fully worn out is this body, a nest of disease, and fragile. This foul mass breaks up, for death is the end of life.
149. These dove-coloured bones are like gourds that lie scattered about in autumn. Having seen them, how can one seek delight?
150. This city (body) is built of bones, plastered with flesh and blood; within are decay and death, pride and jealousy.
151. Even gorgeous royal chariots wear out, and indeed this body too wears out. But the Dhamma of the Good does not age; thus the Good make it known to the good.
152. The man of little learning grows old like a bull. He grows only in bulk, but, his wisdom does not grow.
153. Through many a birth in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking in the builder of this house (of life). Repeated birth is indeed suffering!
154. O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving.13
155. Those who in youth have not led the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, languish like old cranes in the pond without fish.
156. Those who in youth have not lead the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, lie sighing over the past, like worn out arrows (shot from) a bow.
13 According to the commentary, these verses are the Buddha’s “Song of Victory,” his first utterance after his Enlightenment. The house is individualised existence in samsara, the house-builder craving, the rafters the passions and the ridge-pole ignorance.
Chapter 12 The Self
157. If one holds oneself dear, one should diligently watch oneself. Let the wise man keep vigil during any of the three watches of the night.
158. One should first establish oneself in what is proper; then only should one instruct others. Thus the wise man will not be reproached.
159. One should do what one teaches others to do; if one would train others, one should be well controlled oneself. Difficult, indeed, is self-control.
160. One truly is the protector of oneself; who else could the protector be? With oneself fully con- trolled, one gains a mastery that is hard to gain.
161. The evil a witless man does by himself, born of himself and produced by himself, grinds him as a diamond grinds a hard gem.
162. Just as a single creeper strangles the tree on which it grows, even so, a man who is exceed- ingly depraved harms himself as only an enemy might wish.
163. Easy to do are things that are bad and harmful to oneself. But exceedingly difficult to do are things that are good and beneficial.
164. Whoever, on account of perverted views, scorns the Teaching of the Perfected Ones, the Noble and Righteous Ones – that fool, like the bamboo, produces fruits only for self destruction.
165. By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depended on one-self; no one can purify another.
166. Let one not neglect one’s own welfare for the sake of another, however great. Clearly under- standing one’s own welfare, let one be intent upon the good.
Chapter 13 The world
167. Follow not the vulgar way; live not in heedless-ness; hold not false views; linger not long in worldly existence.
168. Arise! Do not be heedless! Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and the next.
169. Lead a righteous life; lead not a base life. The righteous live happily both in this world and the next.
170. One who looks upon the world as a bubble and a mirage, him the King of Death sees not.
171. Come! Behold this world, which is like a decorated royal chariot. Here fools flounder, but the wise have no attachment to it.
172. He who having been heedless is heedless no more, illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.
173. He, who by good deeds covers the evil he has done, illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.
174. Blind is the world; here only a few possess insight. Only a few, like birds escaping from the net, go to realms of bliss.
175. Swans fly on the path of the sun; men pass through the air by psychic powers; the wise are led away from the world after vanquishing Mara and his host.
176. For a liar who has violated the one law (of truthfulness) who holds in scorn the hereafter, there is no evil that he cannot do.
177. Truly, misers fare not to heavenly realms; nor, indeed, do fools praise generosity. But the wise man rejoices in giving, and by that alone does he become happy hereafter.
178. Better than sole sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better even than lordship over all the worlds is the supramundane Fruition of Stream entrance.15
15 Stream-entry (sotapatti): the first stage of supramundane attainment.
Chapter 14. The Buddha
179. By what track can you trace that trackless Buddha of limitless range, whose victory nothing can undo, whom none of the vanquished defilements can ever pursue?
180. By what track can you trace that trackless Buddha of limitless range, in whom exists no longer, the entangling and embroiling craving that per- petuates becoming?
181. Those wise ones who are devoted to meditation and who delight in the calm of renunciation – such mindful ones, Supreme Buddhas, even the gods hold dear.
182. Hard is it to be born a man; hard is the life of mortals. Hard is it to gain the opportunity of hearing the Sublime Truth, and hard to encounter is the arising of the Buddhas.
183. To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one’s mind – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
184. Enduring patience is the highest austerity. “Nibbana is supreme,” say the Buddhas. He is not a true monk who harms another, nor a true renunciate who oppresses others.
185. Not despising, not harming, restraint according to the code of monastic discipline, moderation in food, dwelling in solitude, devotion to meditation – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
186-187. There is no satisfying sensual desires, even with the rain of gold coins. For sensual pleasures give little satisfaction and much pain. Having un- derstood this, the wise man finds no delight even in heavenly pleasures. The disciple of the Supreme Buddha delights in the destruction of craving.
188. Driven only by fear, do men go for refuge to many places – to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines.
189. Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one released from all suffering.
190-191. He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with transcendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths – suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering.16
192. This indeed is the safe refuge, this the refuge supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is released from all suffering.
193. Hard to find is the thoroughbred man (the Buddha); he is not born everywhere. Where such a wise man is born, that clan thrives happily.
194. Blessed is the birth of the Buddhas; blessed is the enunciation of the sacred Teaching; blessed is the harmony in the Order, and blessed is the spiritual pursuit of the united truth-seeker.
195-196. He who reveres those worthy of reverence, the Buddhas and their disciples, who have transcended all obstacles and passed beyond the reach of sorrow and lamentation – he who reveres such peaceful and fearless ones, his merit none can compute by any measure.
16 The Order: both the monastic Order (bhikkhu sangha) and the Order of Noble Ones (ariya sangha) who have reached the four supramundane stages.
Chapter 15 Happiness
Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the hostile. Amidst hostile men we dwell free from hatred.
198. Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the af- flicted (by craving). Amidst afflicted men we dwell free from affliction.
199. Happy indeed we live, free from avarice amidst the avaricious. Amidst the avaricious men we dwell free from avarice.
200. Happy indeed we live, we who possess nothing. Feeders on joy we shall be, like the Radiant Gods.
201. Victory begets enmity; the defeated dwell in pain. Happily the peaceful live, discarding both victory and defeat.
202. There is no fire like lust and no crime like hatred. There is no ill like the aggregates (of existence) and no bliss higher than the peace (of Nibbana).17
203. Hunger is the worst disease, conditioned things the worst suffering. Knowing this as it really is, the wise realize Nibbana, the highest bliss.
204. Health is the most precious gain and contentment the greatest wealth. A trustworthy person is the best kinsman, Nibbana the highest bliss.
205. Having savored the taste of solitude and peace (of Nibbana), pain-free and stainless he becomes, drinking deep the taste of the bliss of the Truth.
206. Good is it to see the Noble Ones; to live with them is ever blissful. One will always be happy by not encountering fools.
207. Indeed, he who moves in the company of fools grieves for longing. Association with fools is ever painful, like partnership with an enemy. But association with the wise is happy, like meeting one’s own kinsmen.
208. Therefore, follow the Noble One, who is stead-fast, wise, learned, dutiful and devout. One should follow only such a man, who is truly good and discerning, even as the moon follows the path of the stars.
17 Aggregates (of existence) (khandha): the five groups of factors into which the Buddha analyzes the living being – material form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.
Chapter 16 Affection
209. Giving himself to things to be shunned and not exerting where exertion is needed, a seeker after pleasures, having given up his true welfare, en- vies those intent upon theirs.
210. Seek no intimacy with the beloved and also not with the unloved, for not to see the beloved and to see the unloved, both are painful.
211. Therefore hold nothing dear, for separation from the dear is painful. There are no bonds for those who have nothing beloved or unloved.
212. From endearment springs grief, from endearment springs fear. From him who is wholly free from endearment there is no grief, whence then fear?
213. From affection springs grief, from affection springs fear. From him who is wholly free from affection there is no grief, whence then fear?
214. From attachment springs grief, from attachment springs fear. From him who is wholly free from attachment there is no grief, whence then fear?
215. From lust springs grief, from lust springs fear. From him who is wholly free from craving there is no grief; whence then fear?
216. From craving springs grief, from craving springs fear. From him who is wholly free from craving there is no grief; whence then fear?
217. People hold dear him who embodies virtue and insight, who is principled, has realized the truth, and who himself does what he ought to be doing.
218. One who is intent upon the Ineffable (Nibbana), dwells with mind inspired (by supramundane wisdom), and is no more bound by sense pleas- ures – such a man is called “One Bound Up- stream.”18
219. When, after a long absence, a man safely returns from afar, his relatives, friends and well-wishers welcome him home on arrival.
220. As kinsmen welcome a dear one on arrival, even so his own good deeds will welcome the doer of good who has gone from this world to the next.
18 One Bound Upstream: a Non-returner (anagami). 57
Chapter 17 Anger
221.One should give up anger, renounce pride, and
overcome all fetters. Suffering never befalls him
who clings not to mind and body and is detached.
222.He who checks rising anger as a charioteer
checks a rolling chariot, him I call a true chario-
teer. Others only hold the reins.
223. Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.
224. Speak the truth; yield not to anger; when asked, give even if you only have a little. By these three means can one reach the presence of the gods.
225. Those sages who are inoffensive and ever re-
strained in body, go to the Deathless State,
where, having gone, they grieve no more.
226.Those who are ever vigilant, who discipline
themselves day and night, and are ever intent
upon Nibbana – their defilements fade away.
227. O Atula! Indeed, this is an ancient practice, not one only of today: they blame those who remain silent, they blame those speak much, they blame those who speak in moderation. There is none in the world who is not blamed.
228.There never was, there never will be, nor is there now, a person who is wholly blamed or wholly praised.
229. But the man whom the wise praise, after observing him day after day, is one of flawless character, wise, and endowed with knowledge and virtue.
230. Who can blame such a one, as worthy as a coin of refined gold? Even the gods praise him; by
Brahma, too, is he praised.
231. Let a man guard himself against irritability in
bodily action; let him be controlled in deed.
Abandoning bodily misconduct, let him practice
good conduct in deed.
232. Let a man guard himself against irritability in
speech; let him be controlled in speech. Aban-
doning verbal misconduct, let him practice good
conduct in speech.
233. Let a man guard himself against irritability in
thought; let him be controlled in mind. Abandon-
ing mental misconduct, let him practice good
conduct in thought.
234. The wise are controlled in bodily action, con-
trolled in speech and controlled in thought. They
are truly well-controlled.
Chapter 18 Impurity
235. Like a withered leaf are you now; death’s mes-
sengers await you. You stand on the eve of your
departure, yet you have made no provision for
236. Make an island for yourself! Strive hard and be-
come wise! Rid of impurities and cleansed of
stain, you shall enter the celestial abode of the
237. Your life has come to an end now; You are set-
ting forth into the presence of Yama, the king of
death. No resting place is there for you on the
way, yet you have made no provision for the
238. Make an island unto yourself! Strive hard and become wise! Rid of impurities and cleansed of
stain, you shall not come again to birth and decay
239. One by one, little by little, moment by moment, a wise man should remove his own impurities, as a
smith removes his dross from silver.
240. Just as rust arising from iron eats away the base from which it arises, even so, their own deeds
lead transgressors to states of woe.
241. Non-repetition is the bane of scriptures; neglect is the bane of a home; slovenliness is the bane of
personal appearance, and heedlessness is the bane
of a guard.
242. Unchastity is the taint in a woman; niggardliness is the taint in a giver. Taints, indeed, are all evil things, both in this world and the next.
243. A worse taint than these is ignorance, the worst
of all taints. Destroy this one taint and become
taintless, O monks!
244. Easy for life is the shameless one who is impu-
dent as a crow, is backbiting and forward, arro-
gant and corrupt.
245. Difficult is life for the modest one who always
seeks purity, is detached and unassuming, clean
in life, and discerning.
246-247. One who destroys life, utters lies, takes what is not given, goes to another man’s wife, and is
addicted to intoxicating drinks – such a man digs
up his own root even in this world.
248. Know this, O good man: evil things are difficult
to control. Let not greed and wickedness drag
you to protracted misery.
249. People give according to their faith or regard. If
one becomes discontented with the food and
drink given by others, one does not attain medita-
tive absorption, either by day of night.
250. But he in who this (discontent) is fully destroyed, uprooted and extinct, he attains absorption, both by day and by night.
251. There is no fire like lust; there is no grip like ha-
tred; there is no net like delusion; there is no river
252. Easily seen is the fault of others, but one’s own
fault is difficult to see. Like chaff one winnows
another’s faults, but hides one’s own, even as a
crafty fowler hides behind sham branches.
253. He who seeks another’s faults, who is ever censorious – his cankers grow. He is far from destruction of the cankers.
254. There is no track in the sky, and no recluse (19) outside (the Buddha’s dispensation). Mankind de-
lights in worldliness, but the Buddhas are free
255. There is not track in the sky, and no recluse outside (the Buddha’s dispensation). There are no
conditioned things that are eternal, and no insta-
bility in the Buddhas.
Recluse (samana): here used in the special sense of those who have reached the four supramundane stages
Chapter 19 The Just
256. Not by passing arbitrary judgments does a man become just; a wise man is he who investigates both right and wrong.
257. He who does not judge others arbitrarily, but
passes judgment impartially according to the
truth, that sagacious man is a guardian of law and
is called just.
258. One is not wise because one speaks much. He who is peaceable, friendly and fearless is called wise.
259. A man is not versed in Dhamma because he
speaks much. He who, after hearing a little
Dhamma, realizes its truth directly and is not
heedless of it, is truly versed in the Dhamma.
260. A monk is not Elder because his head is gray. He is but ripe in age, and he is called one grown old in vain.
261. One in whom there is truthfulness, virtue, in-offensiveness, restraint and self-mastery, who is
free from defilements and is wise – he is truly
called an Elder.
262. Not by mere eloquence nor by beauty of form
does a man become accomplished, if he is jealous,
selfish and deceitful.
263. But he in whom these are wholly destroyed, uprooted and extinct, and who has cast out hatred – that wise man is truly accomplished.
264. Not by shaven head does a man who is indisciplined and untruthful become a monk. How can he who is full of desire and greed be a monk?
265. He who wholly subdues evil both small and great is called a monk, because he has overcome all evil.
266. He is not a monk just because he lives on others’ alms. Not by adopting outward form does one become a true monk.
267. Whoever here (in the Dispensation) lives a holy life, transcending both merit and demerit, and
walks with understanding in this world – he is
truly called a monk.
268. Not by observing silence does one become a
sage, if he be foolish and ignorant. But that man
is wise who, as if holding a balance-scale accepts
only the good.
269. The sage (thus) rejecting the evil, is truly a sage. Since he comprehends both (present and future) worlds, he is called a sage.
270. He is not noble who injures living beings. He is called noble because he is harmless towards all
271-272. Not by rules and observances, not even by much learning, nor by gain of absorption, nor by a life of seclusion, nor by thinking, “I enjoy the
bliss of renunciation, which is not experienced by
the worldling” should you, O monks, rest con-
tent, until the utter destruction of cankers (Ara-
hatship) is reached.
Chapter 20 The Path
273. Of all the paths the Eightfold Path is the best; of all the truths the Four Noble Truths are the best; of all things passionlessness is the best: of men the Seeing One (the Buddha) is the best.
274. This is the only path; there is none other for the purification of insight. Tread this path, and you will bewilder Mara.
275. Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering. Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of lust, I make known the path.
276. You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas only point the way. Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.
277. “All conditioned things are impermanent” – when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
278. “All conditioned things are unsatisfactory” – when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
279. “All things are not-self” – when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
280. The idler who does not exert himself when he should, who though young and strong is full of
sloth, with a mind full of vain thoughts – such an indolent man does not find the path to wisdom.
281. Let a man be watchful of speech, well controlled in mind, and not commit evil in bodily action. Let him purify these three courses of action, and win the path made known by the Great Sage.
282. Wisdom springs from meditation; without medi- tation wisdom wanes. Having known these two paths of progress and decline, let a man so con- duct himself that his wisdom may increase.
283. Cut down the forest (lust), but not the tree; from the forest springs fear. Having cut down the for- est and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, O monks!
284. For so long as the underbrush of desire, even the most subtle, of a man towards a woman is not cut down, his mind is in bondage, like the sucking calf to its mother.
285. Cut off your affection in the manner of a man plucks with his hand an autumn lotus. Cultivate only the path to peace, Nibbana, as made known by the Exalted One.
286. “Here shall I live during the rains, here in winter and summer” – thus thinks the fool. He does not realize the danger (that death might intervene).
20 The meaning of this injunction is: “Cut down the forest of lust, but do not mortify the body.”