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  • 1. eBUDDHANETSBOOK LIBRARYE-mail: bdea@buddhanet.netWeb site: www.buddhanet.netBuddha Dharma Education Association Inc.Translated byAcharya BuddharakkhitaThe Dhammapada:The Buddhas Path of WisdomThe Dhammapada:The Buddhas Path of Wisdom
  • 2. The Dhammapada:The Buddha’s Path of WisdomTranslated from the PalibyAcharya BuddharakkhitaIntroduction by Bhikkhu BodhiCopyright © 1985, Buddhist Publication SocietyKandy, Sri LankaFor free distribution only.You may print copies of this work foryour personal use.You may re-format and redistribute this work foruse on computersandcomputer networks,provided that you charge no fees for itsdistribution or use.Otherwise, all rights reserved.
  • 3. 1ContentsPreface by Acharya Buddharakkhita 2Introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi 5Chapters:1. The Pairs (vv. 1-20) 232. Heedfulness (vv. 21-32) 263. The Mind (vv. 33-43) 284. Flowers (vv. 44-59) 305. The Fool (vv. 60-75) 336. The Wise Man (vv. 76-89) 357. The Arahat:The Perfected One (vv. 90-99) 378. The Thousands (vv. 100-115) 399. Evil (vv. 116-128) 4110. Violence (vv. 129-145) 4311. Old Age (vv. 146-156) 4512. The Self (vv. 157-166) 4713. The World (vv. 167-178) 4914. The Buddha (vv. 179-196) 5115. Happiness (vv. 197-208) 5416. Affection (vv. 209-220) 5617. Anger (vv. 221-234) 5818. Impurity (vv. 235-255) 6019. The Just (vv. 256-272) 6320. The Path (vv. 273-289) 6521. Miscellaneous (vv. 290-305) 6822. The State of Woe (vv. 306-319) 7023. The Elephant (vv. 320-333) 7224. Craving (vv. 334-359) 7425. The Monk (vv. 360-382) 7826. The Holy Man (vv. 383-423) 82
  • 4. 2Prefaceby Acharya BuddharakkhitaThe Dhammapada is the best known and mostwidely esteemed text in the Pali Tipitaka, the sacredscriptures of Theravada Buddhism. The work is in-cluded in the Khuddaka Nikaya (“Minor Collection”)of the Sutta Pitaka, but its popularity has raised it farabove the single niche it occupies in the scriptures tothe ranks of a world religious classic. Composed in theancient Pali language, this slim anthology of versesconstitutes a perfect compendium of the Buddha’steaching, comprising between its covers all the essen-tial principles elaborated at length in the forty-oddvolumes of the Pali Canon.According to the Theravada Buddhist tradition,each verse in the Dhammapada was originally spokenby the Buddha in response to a particular episode. Ac-counts of these, along with exegesis of the verses, arepreserved in the classic commentary to the work,compiled by the great scholiast BhadantacariyaBuddhaghosa in the fifth century C.E. on the basis ormaterial going back to very ancient times. The con-tents of the verses, however. transcend the limited andparticular circumstances of their origin, reaching outthrough the ages to various types of people in all thediverse situations of life. For the simple and unsophis-ticated the Dhammapada is a sympathetic counselor;for the intellectually overburdened its clear and directteachings inspire humility and reflection; for the ear-nest seeker it is a perennial source of inspiration and
  • 5. 3practical instruction. Insights that flashed into theheart of the Buddha have crystallized into these lumi-nous verses of pure wisdom. As profound expressionsof practical spirituality, each verse is a guideline toright living. The Buddha unambiguously pointed outthat whoever earnestly practices the teachings found inthe Dhammapada will taste the bliss of emancipation.Due to its immense importance, the Dhamma-pada has been translated into numerous languages. InEnglish alone several translations are available,including editions by such noted scholars as Max Mul-ler and Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. However, when pre-sented from a non-Buddhist frame of reference, theteachings of the Buddha inevitably suffer some dis-tortion. This, in fact, has already happened with ouranthology: an unfortunate selection of renderings hassometimes suggested erroneous interpretations, whilefootnotes have tended to be judgmental.The present translation was originally written inthe late 1950’s. Some years earlier, while consulting anumber of English-language editions of the Dhamma-pada, it was observed that the renderings were eithertoo free and inaccurate or too pedantic, and it wastherefore felt that a new translation avoiding these twoextremes would serve a valuable purpose. The finishedresult of that project, presented here, is a humble at-tempt by a practicing follower of the Buddha to trans-mit the spirit and content, as well as the language andstyle, of the original teachings.In preparing this volume I have had access tonumerous editions and translations of the Dhamma-pada into various languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi,
  • 6. 4Bengali, Sinhala, Burmese and Nepali. I particularlybenefited from the excellent translations of the workby the late Venerable Narada Mahathera of Vajira-rama, Colombo. Sri Lanka, and Professor Bhagwat ofPoona, India; To them I acknowledge my debt. A fewverses contain riddles, references or analogies that maynot be evident to the reader. The meanings of these areprovided either in parenthesis or notes, and for theirinterpretation I have relied on the explanations givenin Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa’s commentary.Verses discussed in the notes are indicated in the textby an asterisk at the end of the verse.A first edition of this translation was publishedin 1959 and a second in 1966, both by the Maha BodhiSociety in Bangalore, India. For this third edition, thetranslation has undergone considerable revision. Thenewly added subtitle, “The Buddha’s Path of Wis-dom,” is not literal, but is fully applicable on theground that the verses of the Dhammapada all originatefrom the Buddha’s wisdom and lead the one who fol-lows them to a life guided by that same wisdom.I am grateful to the editors of the Buddhist Pub-lication Society for their helpful suggestions. and tothe Society itself for so generously undertaking thepublication of this work.I make this offering of Dhamma in gratefulmemory of my teachers, parents and relatives, de-parted and living. May they find access in the Bud-dha’s Dispensation and attain Nibbana!May all beings be happy!Acharya Buddharakkhita
  • 7. 5Introductionby Bhikkhu BodhiFrom ancient times to the present, the Dhamma-pada has been regarded as the most succinct expres-sion of the Buddha’s teaching found in the Pali Canonand the chief spiritual testament of early Buddhism. Inthe countries following Theravada Buddhism, such asSri Lanka, Burma and Thailand, the influence of theDhammapada is ubiquitous. It is an ever-fecundsource of themes for sermons and discussions, aguidebook for resolving the countless problems ofeveryday life, a primer for the instruction of novices inthe monasteries. Even the experienced contemplative,withdrawn to forest hermitage or mountainside cavefor a life of meditation, can be expected to count acopy of the book among his few material possessions.Yet the admiration the Dhammapada has elicited hasnot been confined to avowed followers of Buddhism.Wherever it has become known its moral earnestness,realistic understanding of human life, aphoristic wis-dom and stirring message of a way to freedom fromsuffering have won for it the devotion and venerationof those responsive to the good and the true.The expounder of the verses that comprise theDhammapada is the Indian sage called the Buddha, anhonorific title meaning “the Enlightened One” or “theAwakened One.” The story of this venerable person-age has often been overlaid with literary embellish-ment and the admixture of legend, but the historicalessentials of his life are simple and clear. He was bornin the sixth century B.C., the son of a king ruling overa small state in the Himalayan foothills, in what is nowNepal. His given name was Siddhattha and his familyname Gotama (Sanskrit: Siddhartha Gautama). Raised
  • 8. 6in luxury, groomed by his father to be the heir to thethrone, in his early manhood he went through a deeplydisturbing encounter with the sufferings of life, as aresult of which he lost all interest in the pleasures andprivileges of rulership. One night, in his twenty-ninthyear, he fled the royal city and entered the forest tolive as an ascetic, resolved to find a way to deliverancefrom suffering. For six years he experimented withdifferent systems of meditation and subjected himselfto severe austerities, but found that these practices didnot bring him any closer to his goal. Finally, in histhirty-fifth year, while sitting in deep meditation be-neath a tree at Gaya, he attained Supreme Enlighten-ment and became, in the proper sense of the title, theBuddha, the Enlightened One. Thereafter, for forty-five years, he traveled throughout northern India, pro-claiming the truths he had discovered and founding anorder of monks and nuns to carry on his message. Atthe age of eighty, after a long and fruitful life, hepassed away peacefully in the small town of Kusinara,surrounded by a large number of disciples.To his followers, the Buddha is neither a god, adivine incarnation, or a prophet bearing a message ofdivine revelation, but a human being who by his ownstriving and intelligence has reached the highest spiri-tual attainment of which man is capable – perfect wis-dom, full enlightenment, complete purification ofmind. His function in relation to humanity is that of ateacher – a world teacher who, out of compassion,points out to others the way to Nibbana (Sanskrit: Nir-vana), final release from suffering. His teaching,known as the Dhamma, offers a body of instructionsexplaining the true nature of existence and showingthe path that leads to liberation. Free from all dogmasand inscrutable claims to authority, the Dhamma isfounded solidly upon the bedrock of the Buddha’s
  • 9. 7own clear comprehension of reality, and it leads theone who practices it to that same understanding – theknowledge which extricates the roots of suffering.The title “Dhammapada” which the ancientcompilers of the Buddhist scriptures attached to ouranthology means portions, aspects, or sections ofDhamma. The work has been given this title because,in its twenty-six chapters, it spans the multiple aspectsof the Buddha’s teaching, offering a variety of stand-points from which to gain a glimpse into its heart.Whereas the longer discourses of the Buddha con-tained in the prose sections of the Canon usually pro-ceed methodically, unfolding according to the sequen-tial structure of the doctrine, the Dhammapada lackssuch a systematic arrangement. The work is simply acollection of inspirational or pedagogical verses on thefundamentals of the Dhamma, to be used as a basis forpersonal edification and instruction. In any givenchapter several successive verses may have been spo-ken by the Buddha on a single occasion, and thusamong themselves will exhibit a meaningful develop-ment or a set of variations on a theme. But by andlarge, the logic behind the grouping together of versesinto a chapter is merely the concern with a commontopic. The twenty-six chapter headings thus functionas a kind of rubric for classifying the diverse poetic ut-terances of the Master, and the reason behind the in-clusion of any given verse in a particular chapter is itsmention of the subject indicated in the chapter’s head-ing. In some cases (Chapters 4 and 23) this may be ametaphorical symbol rather than a point of doctrine.There also seems to be no intentional design in the or-der of the chapters themselves, though at certain pointsa loose thread of development can be discerned.The teachings of the Buddha, viewed in theircompleteness, all link together into a single perfectly
  • 10. 8coherent system of thought and practice which gainsits unity from its final goal, the attainment of deliver-ance from suffering. But the teachings inevitablyemerge from the human condition as their matrix andstarting point, and thus must be expressed in such away as to reach human beings standing at differentlevels of spiritual development, with their highly di-verse problems, ends, and concerns and with their verydifferent capacities for understanding. Thence, just aswater, though one in essence. assumes different shapesdue to the vessels into which it is poured, so theDhamma of liberation takes on different forms in re-sponse to the needs of the beings to be taught. This di-versity, evident enough already in the prose discourses,becomes even more conspicuous in the highly con-densed. spontaneous and intuitively charged medium ofverse used in the Dhammapada. The intensified powerof delivery can result in apparent inconsistencieswhich may perplex the unwary. For example, in manyverses the Buddha commends certain practices on thegrounds that they lead to a heavenly birth, but in oth-ers he discourages disciples from aspiring for heavenand extols the one who takes no delight in celestialpleasures (187, 417) [Unless chapter numbers are in-dicated, all figures enclosed in parenthesis refer toverse numbers of the Dhammapada.]Often he enjoins works of merit, yet elsewherehe praises the one who has gone beyond both meritand demerit (39, 412). Without a grasp of the underly-ing structure of the Dhamma, such statements viewedside by side will appear incompatible and may evenelicit the judgment that the teaching is self-contradictory.The key to resolving these apparent discrepan-cies is the recognition that the Dhamma assumes itsformulation from the needs of the diverse persons to
  • 11. 9whom it is addressed, as well as from the diversity ofneeds that may co-exist even in a single individual. Tomake sense of the various utterances found in theDhammapada, we will suggest a schematism of fourlevels to be used for ascertaining the intention behindany particular verse found in the work, and thus forunderstanding its proper place in the total systematicvision of the Dhamma. This fourfold schematism de-velops out of an ancient interpretive maxim whichholds that the Buddha’s teaching is designed to meetthree primary aims: human welfare here and now, afavorable rebirth in the next life, and the attainment ofthe ultimate good. The four levels are arrived at by dis-tinguishing the last aim into two stages: path and fruit.(i) The first level is the concern with establishingwell-being and happiness in the immediately visiblesphere of concrete human relations. The aim at thislevel is to show man the way to live at peace withhimself and his fellow men, to fulfill his family andsocial responsibilities, and to restrain the bitterness,conflict and violence which infect human relationshipsand bring such immense suffering to the individual,society, and the world as a whole. The guidelines ap-propriate to this level are largely identical with the ba-sic ethical injunctions proposed by most of the greatworld religions, but in the Buddhist teaching they arefreed from theistic moorings and grounded upon twodirectly verifiable foundations: concern for one’s ownintegrity and long-range happiness and concern for thewelfare of those whom one’s actions may affect(129-132). The most general counsel the Dhammapadagives is to avoid all evil, to cultivate good and tocleanse one’s mind (183). But to dispel any doubts thedisciple might entertain as to what he should avoid andwhat he should cultivate, other verses provide morespecific directives. One should avoid irritability in
  • 12. 10deed, word and thought and exercise self-control(231-234). One should adhere to the five precepts, thefundamental moral code of Buddhism, which teachabstinence from destroying life, from stealing, fromcommitting adultery, from speaking lies and from tak-ing intoxicants; one who violates these five trainingrules “digs up his own root even in this very world”(246-247). The disciple should treat all beings withkindness and compassion, live honestly and right-eously, control his sensual desires, speak the truth andlive a sober upright life, diligently fulfilling his duties,such as service to parents, to his immediate family andto those recluses and brahmins who depend on the la-ity for their maintenance (332-333).A large number of verses pertaining to this firstlevel are concerned with the resolution of conflict andhostility. Quarrels are to be avoided by patience andforgiveness, for responding to hatred by further hatredonly maintains the cycle of vengeance and retaliation.The true conquest of hatred is achieved by non-hatred,by forbearance, by love (4-6). One should not respondto bitter speech but maintain silence (134). One shouldnot yield to anger but control it as a driver controls achariot (222). Instead of keeping watch for the faultsof others, the disciple is admonished to examine hisown faults, and to make a continual effort to removehis impurities just as a silversmith purifies silver(50, 239). Even if he has committed evil in the past,there is no need for dejection or despair; for a man’sways can be radically changed, and one who abandonsthe evil for the good illuminates this world like themoon freed from clouds (173).The sterling qualities distinguishing the man ofvirtue are generosity, truthfulness, patience, and com-passion (223). By developing and mastering thesequalities within himself, a man lives at harmony with
  • 13. 11his own conscience and at peace with his fellow be-ings. The scent of virtue, the Buddha declares, issweeter than the scent of all flowers and perfumes(55-56). The good man, like the Himalaya mountains,shines from afar, and wherever he goes he is loved andrespected (303-304).(ii) In its second level of teaching, the Dhamma-pada shows that morality does not exhaust its signifi-cance in its contribution to human felicity here andnow, but exercises a far more critical influence inmolding personal destiny. This level begins with therecognition that, to reflective thought, the humansituation demands a more satisfactory context for eth-ics than mere appeals to altruism can provide. On theone hand our innate sense of moral justice requiresthat goodness be recompensed with happiness and evilwith suffering; on the other our typical experienceshows us virtuous people beset with hardships and af-flictions and thoroughly bad people riding the wavesof fortune (119-120). Moral intuition tells us that ifthere is any long-range value to righteousness, the im-balance must somehow be redressed. The visible orderdoes not yield an evident solution, but the Buddha’steaching reveals the factor needed to vindicate our cryfor moral justice in an impersonal universal law whichreigns over all sentient existence. This is the law ofkamma (Sanskrit: karma), of action and its fruit, whichensures that morally determinate action does not dis-appear into nothingness but eventually meets its dueretribution, the good with happiness, the bad with suf-fering.In the popular understanding kamma is some-times identified with fate, but this is a total misconcep-tion utterly inapplicable to the Buddhist doctrine.Kamma means volitional action, action springing fromintention, which may manifest itself outwardly as bod-
  • 14. 12ily deeds or speech, or remain internally as unex-pressed thoughts, desires and emotions. The Buddhadistinguishes kamma into two primary ethical types:unwholesome kamma, action rooted in mental statesof greed, hatred and delusion; and wholesome kamma.action rooted in mental states of generosity or detach-ment, goodwill and understanding. The willed actions aperson performs in the course of his life may fade frommemory without a trace, but once performed they leavesubtle imprints on the mind, seeds with the potential tocome to fruition in the future when they meet condi-tions conducive to their ripening.The objective field in which the seeds of kammaripen is the process of rebirths called samsara. In theBuddha’s teaching, life is not viewed as an isolatedoccurrence beginning spontaneously with birth andending in utter annihilation at death. Each single lifespan is seen, rather, as part of an individualized seriesof lives having no discoverable beginning in time andcontinuing on as long as the desire for existence standsintact. Rebirth can take place in various realms. Thereare not only the familiar realms of human beings andanimals, but ranged above we meet heavenly worlds ofgreater happiness, beauty and power, and ranged be-low infernal worlds of extreme suffering.The cause for rebirth into these various realmsthe Buddha locates in kamma, our own willed actions.In its primary role, kamma determines the sphere intowhich rebirth takes place, wholesome actions bringingrebirth in higher forms, unwholesome actions rebirthin lower forms. After yielding rebirth, kamma contin-ues to operate, governing the endowments and circum-stances of the individual within his given form of exis-tence. Thus, within the human world, previous stores ofwholesome kamma will issue in long life, health, wealth,
  • 15. 13beauty and success; stores of unwholesome kamma inshort life, illness, poverty, ugliness and failure.Prescriptively, the second level of teachingfound in the Dhammapada is the practical corollary tothis recognition of the law of kamma, put forth toshow human beings, who naturally desire happinessand freedom from sorrow, the effective means toachieve their objectives. The content of this teachingitself does not differ from that presented at the firstlevel; it is the same set of ethical injunctions for ab-staining from evil and for cultivating the good. Thedifference lies in the perspective from which the in-junctions are issued and the aim for the sake of whichthey are to be taken up. The principles of morality areshown now in their broader cosmic connections, astied to an invisible but all-embracing law which bindstogether all life and holds sway over the repeated rota-tions of the cycle of birth and death. The observanceof morality is justified, despite its difficulties and ap-parent failures, by the fact that it is in harmony withthat law, that through the efficacy of kamma, ourwilled actions become the chief determinant of ourdestiny both in this life and in future states of becom-ing. To follow the ethical law leads upwards – to innerdevelopment, to higher rebirths and to richer experi-ences of happiness and joy. To violate the law, to actin the grip of selfishness and hate, leads downwards –to inner deterioration, to suffering and to rebirth in theworlds of misery. This theme is announced already bythe pair of verses which opens the Dhammapada, andreappears in diverse formulations throughout the work(see, e.g., 15-18, 117-122, 127, 132-133, Chapter 22).(iii) The ethical counsel based on the desire forhigher rebirths and happiness in future lives is not thefinal teaching of the Buddha, and thus cannot providethe decisive program of personal training commended
  • 16. 14by the Dhammapada. In its own sphere of application,it is perfectly valid as a preparatory or provisionalteaching for those whose spiritual faculties are not yetripe but still require further maturation over a succes-sion of lives. A deeper, more searching examination,however, reveals that all states of existence in sam-sara, even the loftiest celestial abodes, are lacking ingenuine worth; for they are all inherently imperma-nent, without any lasting substance, and thus, for thosewho cling to them, potential bases for suffering. Thedisciple of mature faculties, sufficiently prepared byprevious experience for the Buddha’s distinctive expo-sition of the Dhamma, does not long even for rebirthamong the gods. Having understood the intrinsic in-adequacy of all conditioned things, his focal aspirationis only for deliverance from the ever-repeating roundof births. This is the ultimate goal to which the Bud-dha points, as the immediate aim for those of devel-oped faculties and also as the long-term ideal for thosein need of further development: Nibbana, the Death-less, the unconditioned state where there is no morebirth, aging and death, and no more suffering.The third level of teaching found in the Dham-mapada sets forth the theoretical framework and prac-tical discipline emerging out of the aspiration for finaldeliverance. The theoretical framework is provided bythe teaching of the Four Noble Truths (190-192, 273),which the Buddha had proclaimed already in his firstsermon and upon which he placed so much stress inhis many discourses that all schools of Buddhism haveappropriated them as their common foundation. Thefour truths all center around the fact of suffering (duk-kha), understood not as mere experienced pain andsorrow, but as the pervasive unsatisfactoriness of every-thing conditioned (202-203). The first truth details thevarious forms of suffering – birth, old age, sickness
  • 17. 15and death, the misery of unpleasant encounters andpainful separations, the suffering of not obtaining whatone wants. It culminates in the declaration that all con-stituent phenomena of body and mind, “the aggregatesof existence” (khandha), being impermanent and sub-stanceless, are intrinsically unsatisfactory. The secondtruth points out that the cause of suffering is craving(tanha), the desire for pleasure and existence whichdrives us through the round of rebirths, bringing in itstrail sorrow, anxiety, and despair (212-216, Chapter 24).The third truth declares that the destruction of cravingissues in release from suffering, and the fourth pre-scribes the means to gain release, the Noble EightfoldPath: right understanding, right thought, right speech,right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mind-fulness, and right concentration (Chapter 20).If, at this third level, the doctrinal emphasisshifts from the principles of kamma and rebirth to theFour Noble Truths, a corresponding shift in emphasistakes place in the practical sphere as well. The stressnow no longer falls on the observation of basic moral-ity and the cultivation of wholesome attitudes as ameans to higher rebirths. Instead it falls on the integraldevelopment of the Noble Eightfold Path as the meansto uproot the craving that nurtures the process of re-birth itself. For practical purposes the eight factors ofthe path are arranged into three major groups whichreveal more clearly the developmental structure of thetraining: moral discipline (including right speech, rightaction and right livelihood), concentration (includingright effort, right mindfulness and right concentration),and wisdom (including right understanding and rightthought). By the training in morality, the coarsestforms of the mental defilements, those erupting as un-wholesome deeds and words, are checked and keptunder control. By the training in concentration the
  • 18. 16mind is made calm, pure and unified, purged of thecurrents of distractive thoughts. By the training inwisdom the concentrated beam of attention is focusedupon the constituent factors of mind and body to in-vestigate and contemplate their salient characteristics.This wisdom, gradually ripened, climaxes in the un-derstanding that brings complete purification and de-liverance of mind.In principle, the practice of the path in all threestages is feasible for people in any walk of life. TheBuddha taught it to laypeople as well as to monks, andmany of his lay followers reached high stages of at-tainment. However, application to the development ofthe path becomes most fruitful for those who have re-linquished all other concerns in order to devote them-selves wholeheartedly to spiritual training, to livingthe “holy life” (brahmacariya). For conduct to becompletely purified, for sustained contemplation andpenetrating wisdom to unfold without impediments,adoption of a different style of life becomes impera-tive, one which minimizes distractions and stimulantsto craving and orders all activities around the aim ofliberation. Thus the Buddha established the Sangha,the order of monks and nuns, as the special field forthose ready to dedicate their lives to the practice of hispath, and in the Dhammapada the call to the monasticlife resounds throughout.The entry-way to the monastic life is an act ofradical renunciation. The thoughtful, who have seenthe transience and hidden misery of worldly life, breakthe ties of family and social bonds, abandon theirhomes and mundane pleasures, and enter upon thestate of homelessness (83, 87-89, 91). Withdrawn tosilent and secluded places, they seek out the companyof wise instructors, and guided by the rules of the mo-nastic training, devote their energies to a life of medi-
  • 19. 17tation. Content with the simplest material requisites,moderate in eating, restrained in their senses, they stirup their energy, abide in constant mindfulness and stillthe restless waves of thoughts (185, 375). With themind made clear and steady, they learn to contemplatethe arising and falling away of all formations, and ex-perience thereby “a delight that transcends all humandelights,” a joy and happiness that anticipates the blissof the Deathless (373-374). The life of meditative con-templation reaches its peak in the development of in-sight (vipassana), and the Dhammapada enunciates theprinciples to be discerned by insight-wisdom: that allconditioned things are impermanent, that they are allunsatisfactory, that there is no self or truly existent egoentity to be found in anything whatsoever (277-279).When these truths are penetrated by direct experience,the craving, ignorance and related mental fetters main-taining bondage break asunder, and the disciple risesthrough successive stages of realization to the full at-tainment of Nibbana.(iv) The fourth level of teaching in the Dham-mapada provides no new disclosure of doctrine orpractice, but an acclamation and exaltation of thosewho have reached the goal. In the Pali Canon thestages of definite attainment along the way to Nibbanaare enumerated as four. At the first, called “Stream-entry” (sotapatti), the disciple gains his first glimpseof “the Deathless” and enters irreversibly upon thepath to liberation, bound to reach the goal in sevenlives at most. This achievement alone, the Dhamma-pada declares, is greater than lordship over all theworlds (178). Following Stream-entry come two fur-ther stages which weaken and eradicate still more de-filements and bring the goal increasingly closer toview. One is called the stage of Once-returner (saka-dagami), when the disciple will return to the human
  • 20. 18world at most only one more time; the other the stageof Non-returner (anagami), when he will never comeback to human existence but will take rebirth in a ce-lestial plane, bound to win final deliverance there. Thefourth and final stage is that of the Arahat, the Per-fected One, the fully accomplished sage who has com-pleted the development of the path, eradicated all de-filements and freed himself from bondage to the cycleof rebirths. This is the ideal figure of early Buddhismand the supreme hero of the Dhammapada. Extolled inChapter 7 under his own name and in Chapter 26(385-388, 396-423) under the name brahmana, “holyman,” the Arahat serves as a living demonstration ofthe truth of the Dhamma. Bearing his last body, per-fectly at peace, he is the inspiring model who shows inhis own person that it is possible to free oneself fromthe stains of greed, hatred and delusion, to rise abovesuffering, to win Nibbana in this very life.The Arahat ideal reaches its optimal exemplifi-cation in the Buddha, the promulgator and master ofthe entire teaching. It was the Buddha who. withoutany aid or guidance, rediscovered the ancient path todeliverance and taught it to countless others. His aris-ing in the world provides the precious opportunity tohear and practice the excellent Dhamma (182, 194).He is the giver and shower of refuge (190-192), theSupreme Teacher who depends on nothing but his ownself-evolved wisdom (353). Born a man, the Buddhaalways remains essentially human, yet his attainmentof Perfect Enlightenment elevates him to a level farsurpassing that of common humanity. All our familiarconcepts and modes of knowing fail to circumscribehis nature: he is trackless, of limitless range, free fromall worldliness, the conqueror of all, the knower of all,untainted by the world (179, 180, 353).
  • 21. 19Always shining in the splendor of his wisdom,the Buddha by his very being confirms the Buddhistfaith in human perfectibility consummates the Dham-mapada’s picture of man perfected, the Arahat.The four levels of teaching just discussed give usthe key for sorting out the Dhammapada’s diverse ut-terances on Buddhist doctrine and for discerning theintention behind its words of practical counsel. Inter-laced with the verses specific to these four main lev-els, there runs throughout the work a large number ofverses not tied to any single level but applicable to allalike. Taken together, these delineate for us the basicworld view of early Buddhism. The most arresting fea-ture of this view is its stress on process rather thanpersistence as the defining mark of actuality. The uni-verse is in flux, a boundless river of incessant becom-ing sweeping everything along; dust motes and moun-tains, gods and men and animals, world system afterworld system without number – all are engulfed by theirrepressible current. There is no creator of this proc-ess, no providential deity behind the scenes steering allthings to some great and glorious end. The cosmos isbeginningless, and in its movement from phase tophase it is governed only by the impersonal, implaca-ble law of arising, change, and passing away.However, the focus of the Dhammapada is noton the outer cosmos, but on the human world, uponman with his yearning and his suffering. his immensecomplexity, his striving and movement towards tran-scendence. The starting point is the human conditionas given, and fundamental to the picture that emergesis the inescapable duality of human life, the dichoto-mies which taunt and challenge man at every turn.Seeking happiness, afraid of pain, loss and death, manwalks the delicate balance between good and evil, pu-rity and defilement, progress and decline. His actions
  • 22. 20are strung out between these moral antipodes, and be-cause he cannot evade the necessity to choose, he mustbear the full responsibility for his decisions. Man’smoral freedom is a reason for both dread and jubila-tion, for by means of his choices he determines hisown individual destiny, not only through one life, butthrough the numerous lives to be turned up by the roll-ing wheel of samsara. If he chooses wrongly he cansink to the lowest depths of degradation, if he choosesrightly he can make himself worthy even of the hom-age of the gods. The paths to all destinations branchout from the present, from the ineluctable immediateoccasion of conscious choice and action.The recognition of duality extends beyond thelimits of conditioned existence to include the antitheti-cal poles of the conditioned and the unconditioned,samsara and Nibbana, the “near shore” and the “farshore.” The Buddha appears in the world as the GreatLiberator who shows man the way to break free fromthe one and arrive at the other, where alone true safetyis to be found. But all he can do is indicate the path;the work of treading it lies in the hands of the disciple.The Dhammapada again and again sounds this chal-lenge to human freedom: man is the maker and masterof himself, the protector or destroyer of himself, thesavior of himself (160, 165, 380). In the end he mustchoose between the way that leads back into theworld, to the round of becoming, and the way thatleads out of the world, to Nibbana. And though thislast course is extremely difficult and demanding, thevoice of the Buddha speaks words of assurance con-firming that it can be done, that it lies within man’spower to overcome all barriers and to triumph evenover death itself.The pivotal role in achieving progress in allspheres, the Dhammapada declares, is played by the
  • 23. 21mind. In contrast to the Bible, which opens with anaccount of God’s creation of the world, the Dhamma-pada begins with an unequivocal assertion that mind isthe forerunner of all that we are, the maker of ourcharacter, the creator of our destiny. The entire disci-pline of the Buddha, from basic morality to the highestlevels of meditation, hinges upon training the mind. Awrongly directed mind brings greater harm than anyenemy, a rightly directed mind brings greater goodthan any other relative or friend (42, 43). The mind isunruly, fickle, difficult to subdue, but by effort, mind-fulness and unflagging self-discipline, one can masterits vagrant tendencies, escape the torrents of the pas-sions and find “an island which no flood can over-whelm” (25). The one who conquers himself, the vic-tor over his own mind, achieves a conquest which cannever be undone, a victory greater than that of themightiest warriors (103-105).What is needed most urgently to train and sub-due the mind is a quality called heedfulness (ap-pamada). Heedfulness combines critical self aware-ness and unremitting energy in a process of keepingthe mind under constant observation to detect and ex-pel the defiling impulses whenever they seek an op-portunity to surface. In a world where man has no sav-ior but himself, and where the means to his deliver-ance lies in mental purification, heedfulness becomesthe crucial factor for ensuring that the aspirant keepsto the straight path of training without deviating due tothe seductive allurements of sense pleasures or thestagnating influences of laziness and complacency.Heedfulness, the Buddha declares, is the path to theDeathless; heedlessness, the path to death. The wisewho understand this distinction abide in heedfulnessand experience Nibbana, “the incomparable freedomfrom bondage” (21-23).
  • 24. 22As a great religious classic and the chief spiritualtestament of early Buddhism, the Dhammapada cannotbe gauged in its true value by a single reading, even ifthat reading is done carefully and reverentially. Ityields its riches only through repeated study, sustainedreflection, and most importantly, through the applica-tion of its principles to daily life. Thence it might besuggested to the reader in search of spiritual guidancethat the Dhammapada be used as a manual for con-templation. After his initial reading, he would do wellto read several verses or even a whole chapter everyday, slowly and carefully, relishing the words. Heshould reflect on the meaning of each verse deeply andthoroughly, investigate its relevance to his life, andapply it as a guide to conduct. If this is done repeat-edly, with patience and perseverance, it is certain thatthe Dhammapada will confer upon his life a newmeaning and sense of purpose. Infusing him with hopeand inspiration, gradually it will lead him to discover afreedom and happiness far greater than anything theworld can offer.Bhikkhu Bodhi
  • 25. 23Chapter 1The Pairs1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is theirchief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an im-pure mind a person speaks or acts suffering fol-lows him like the wheel that follows the foot ofthe ox.2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is theirchief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a puremind a person speaks or acts happiness followshim like his never-departing shadow3. “He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me,he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughtsdo not still their hatred.4. “He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me,he robbed me.” Those who do not harbor suchthoughts still their hatred.5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world.By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is alaw eternal.6. There are those who do not realize that one daywe all must die. But those who do realize this set-tle their quarrels.7. Just as a storm throws down a weak tree, so doesMara overpower the man who lives for the pursuit
  • 26. 24of pleasures, who is uncontrolled in his senses, im-moderate in eating, indolent, and dissipated.18. Just as a storm cannot prevail against a rockymountain, so Mara can never overpower the manwho lives meditating on the impurities, who iscontrolled in his senses, moderate in eating, andfilled with faith and earnest effort.29. Whoever being depraved, devoid of self-controland truthfulness, should don the monk’s yellowrobe, he surely is not worthy of the robe.10. But whoever is purged of depravity, well-established in virtues and filled with self-controland truthfulness, he indeed is worthy of the yel-low robe.11. Those who mistake the unessential to be essentialand the essential to be unessential, dwelling inwrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential.12. Those who know the essential to be essential andthe unessential to be unessential, dwelling inright thoughts, do arrive at the essential.13. Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house,so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind.___________________________1Mara: the Tempter in Buddhism, represented in the scrip-tures as an evil-minded deity who tries to lead people fromthe path to liberation. The commentaries explain Mara as thelord of evil forces, as mental defilements and as death.2The impurities (asubha): subjects of meditation which fo-cus on the inherent repulsiveness of the body, recommendedespecially as powerful antidotes to lust.
  • 27. 2514. Just as rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion never penetrates awell-developed mind.15. The evil-doer grieves here and hereafter; hegrieves in both the worlds. He laments and is af-flicted, recollecting his own impure deeds.16. The doer of good rejoices here and hereafter; herejoices in both the worlds. He rejoices and ex-ults, recollecting his own pure deeds.17. The evil-doer suffers here and hereafter; he suf-fers in both the worlds. The thought, “Evil have Idone,” torments him, and he suffers even morewhen gone to realms of woe.18. The doer of good delights here and hereafter; hedelights in both the worlds. The thought, “Goodhave I done,” delights him, and he delights evenmore when gone to realms of bliss.19. Much though he recites the sacred texts, but actsnot accordingly, that heedless man is like a cow-herd who only counts the cows of others – he doesnot partake of the blessings of the holy life.20. Little though he recites the sacred texts, but putsthe Teaching into practice, forsaking lust, hatred,and delusion, with true wisdom and emancipatedmind, clinging to nothing of this or any otherworld – he indeed partakes of the blessings of aholy life.
  • 28. 26Chapter 2Heedfulness21. Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heed-lessness is the path to death. The heedful die not.The heedless are as if dead already.322. Clearly understanding this excellence of heedful-ness, the wise exult therein and enjoy the resortof the Noble Ones.423. The wise ones, ever meditative and steadfastlypersevering, 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 is-land which no flood can overwhelm.26. The foolish and ignorant indulge in heedlessness,but the wise one keeps his heedfulness as his besttreasure.___________________________3The Deathless (amata): Nibbana, so called because thosewho attain it are free from the cycle of repeated birth anddeath.4The Noble Ones (ariya): those who have reached any ofthe four stages of supramundane attainment leading irreversi-bly to Nibbana.
  • 29. 2727. Do not give way to heedlessness. Do not indulgein sensual pleasures. Only the heedful and medi-tative attain great happiness.28. Just as one upon the summit of a mountain be-holds the groundlings, even so when the wiseman casts away heedlessness by heedfulness andascends the high tower of wisdom, this sor-rowless sage beholds the sorrowing and foolishmultitude.29. Heedful among the heedless, wide-awake amongthe sleepy, the wise man advances like a swifthorse leaving behind a weak jade.30. By Heedfulness did Indra become the overlord ofthe gods. Heedfulness is ever praised, and heed-lessness ever despised.531. The monk who delights in heedfulness and lookswith fear at heedlessness advances like fire, burn-ing all fetters, small and large.32. The monk who delights in heedfulness and lookswith fear at heedlessness will not fall. He is closeto Nibbana.___________________________5Indra: the ruler of the gods in ancient Indian mythology.
  • 30. 28Chapter 3The Mind33. Just as a fletcher straightens an arrow shaft, evenso the discerning man straightens his mind – sofickle and unsteady, so difficult to guard.34. As a fish when pulled out of water and cast onland throbs and quivers, even so is this mind agi-tated. Hence should one abandon the realm ofMara.35. Wonderful, indeed, it is to subdue the mind, sodifficult to subdue, ever swift, and seizing what-ever it desires. A tamed mind brings happiness.36. Let the discerning man guard the mind, sodifficult to detect and extremely subtle, seizingwhatever it desires. A guarded mind bringshappiness.37. Dwelling in the cave (of the heart), the mind,without form, wanders far and alone. Those whosubdue this mind are liberated from the bonds ofMara.38. Wisdom never becomes perfect in one whosemind is not steadfast, who knows not the GoodTeaching and whose faith wavers.39. There is no fear for an awakened one, whosemind is not sodden (by lust) nor afflicted (by
  • 31. 29hate), and who has gone beyond both merit anddemerit.640. 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, ora hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind inflicts ononeself a greater harm.43. Neither mother, father, nor any other relative cando one greater good than one’s own well-directedmind.___________________________6The Arahat is said to be beyond both merit and demeritbecause, as he has abandoned all defilements, he can nolonger perform evil actions; and as he has no more attach-ment, his virtuous actions no longer bear kammic fruit.
  • 32. 30Chapter 4Flowers44. Who shall overcome this earth, this realm ofYama and this sphere of men and gods? Whoshall bring to perfection the well-taught path ofwisdom as an expert garland-maker would hisfloral design?45. A striver-on-the path shall overcome this earth,this realm of Yama and this sphere of men andgods. The striver-on-the-path shall bring to per-fection the well-taught path of wisdom, as an ex-pert garland-maker would his floral design.746. Realizing that this body is like froth, penetratingits mirage-like nature, and plucking out Mara’sflower-tipped arrows of sensuality, go beyondsight of the King of Death!47. As a mighty flood sweeps away the sleeping vil-lage, so death carries away the person of dis-tracted mind who only plucks the flowers (ofpleasure).48. The Destroyer brings under his sway the personof distracted mind who, insatiate in sense desires,only plucks the flowers (of pleasure).___________________________7The Striver-on-the-Path (sekha): one who has achievedany of the first three stages of supramundane attainment: aStream-enterer, Once-returner, or Non-returner.
  • 33. 3149. As a bee gathers honey from the flower withoutinjuring its color or fragrance, even so the sagegoes on his alms-round in the village.850. Let none find fault with others; let none see theomissions and commissions of others. But let onesee one’s own acts, done and undone.51. Like a beautiful flower full of color but withoutfragrance, even so, fruitless are the fair words ofone who does not practice them.52. Like a beautiful flower full of color and also fra-grant, even so, fruitful are the fair words of onewho practices them.53. As from a great heap of flowers many garlandscan be made, even so should many good deeds bedone by one born a mortal.54. Not the sweet smell of flowers, not even the fra-grance of sandal, tagara, or jasmine blowsagainst the wind. But the fragrance of the virtu-ous blows against the wind. Truly the virtuousman pervades all directions with the fragrance ofhis virtue.955. Of all the fragrances – sandal, tagara, blue lotusand jasmine – the fragrance of virtue is thesweetest.___________________________8The “sage in the village” is the Buddhist monk who re-ceives his food by going silently from door to door with hisalms bowls, accepting whatever is offered.9Tagara: a fragrant powder obtained from a particular kindof shrub.
  • 34. 3256. Faint is the fragrance of tagara and sandal, butexcellent is the fragrance of the virtuous, waftingeven amongst the gods.57. Mara never finds the path of the truly virtuous,who abide in heedfulness and are freed by perfectknowledge.58. Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditchblooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.59. Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortalsthe disciple of the Supremely Enlightened Oneshines resplendent in wisdom.
  • 35. 33Chapter 5The Fool60. Long is the night to the sleepless; long is theleague to the weary. Long is worldly existence tofools who know not the Sublime Truth.61. Should a seeker not find a companion who is bet-ter or equal, let him resolutely pursue a solitarycourse; there is no fellowship with the fool.62. The fool worries, thinking, “I have sons, I havewealth.” Indeed, when he himself is not his own,whence are sons, whence is wealth?63. A fool who knows his foolishness is wise at leastto that extent, but a fool who thinks himself wiseis a fool indeed.64. Though all his life a fool associates with a wiseman, he no more comprehends the Truth than aspoon tastes the flavor of the soup.65. Though only for a moment a discerning personassociates with a wise man, quickly he compre-hends the Truth, just as the tongue tastes the fla-vor of the soup.66. Fools of little wit are enemies unto themselves asthey move about doing evil deeds, the fruits ofwhich are bitter.67. Ill done is that action of doing which one repentslater, and the fruit of which one, weeping, reapswith tears.
  • 36. 3468. Well done is that action of doing which one re-pents not later, and the fruit of which one, reapswith delight and happiness.69. So long as an evil deed has not ripened, the foolthinks it as sweet as honey. But when the evildeed ripens, the fool comes to grief.70. Month after month a fool may eat his food withthe tip of a blade of grass, but he still is not wortha sixteenth part of the those who have compre-hended the Truth.71. Truly, an evil deed committed does not immedi-ately bear fruit, like milk that does not turn sourall at once. But smoldering, it follows the foollike fire covered by ashes.72. To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for itcleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness.73. The fool seeks undeserved reputation, precedenceamong monks, authority over monasteries, andhonor among householders.74. “Let both laymen and monks think that it was doneby me. In every work, great and small, let themfollow me” – such is the ambition of the fool;thus his desire and pride increase.75. One is the quest for worldly gain, and quite an-other is the path to Nibbana. Clearly under-standing this, let not the monk, the disciple of theBuddha, be carried away by worldly acclaim, butdevelop detachment instead.
  • 37. 35Chapter 6The Wise Man76. Should one find a man who points out faults andwho reproves, let him follow such a wise and sa-gacious person as one would a guide to hiddentreasure. It is always better, and never worse, tocultivate such an association.77. Let him admonish, instruct and shield one fromwrong; he, indeed, is dear to the good and detest-able to the evil.78. Do not associate with evil companions; do notseek the fellowship of the vile. Associate with thegood friends; seek the fellowship of noble men.79. He who drinks deep the Dhamma lives happilywith a tranquil mind. The wise man ever delightsin the Dhamma made known by the Noble One(the Buddha).80. Irrigators regulate the rivers; fletchers straightenthe arrow shaft; carpenters shape the wood; thewise control themselves.81. Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, evenso the wise are not affected by praise or blame.82. On hearing the Teachings, the wise become per-fectly purified, like a lake deep, clear and still.83. The good renounce (attachment for) everything.The virtuous do not prattle with a yearning forpleasures. The wise show no elation or depres-sion when touched by happiness or sorrow.
  • 38. 3684. He is indeed virtuous, wise, and righteous whoneither for his own sake nor for the sake of an-other (does any wrong), who does not crave forsons, wealth, or kingdom, and does not desiresuccess by unjust means.85. Few among men are those who cross to the far-ther shore. The rest, the bulk of men, only run upand down the hither bank.86. But those who act according to the perfectlytaught Dhamma will cross the realm of Death, sodifficult to cross.87-88. Abandoning the dark way, let the wise mancultivate the bright path. Having gone from hometo homelessness, let him yearn for that delight indetachment, so difficult to enjoy. Giving up sen-sual pleasures, with no attachment, let the wiseman cleanse himself of defilements of the mind.89. Those whose minds have reached full excellencein the factors of enlightenment, who, having re-nounced acquisitiveness, rejoice in not clinging tothings – rid of cankers, glowing with wisdom,they have attained Nibbana in this very life.10___________________________10This verse describes the Arahat, dealt with more fully inthe following chapter. The “cankers” (asava) are the four ba-sic defilements of sensual desire, desire for continued exis-tence, false views and ignorance.
  • 39. 37Chapter 7The Arahat: The Perfected One90. The fever of passion exists not for him who hascompleted the journey, who is sorrowless andwholly set free, and has broken all ties.91. The mindful ones exert themselves. They are notattached to any home; like swans that abandonthe lake, they leave home after home behind.92. Those who do not accumulate and are wise re-garding food, whose object is the Void, the Un-conditioned Freedom – their track cannot betraced, like that of birds in the air.93. He whose cankers are destroyed and who is notattached to food, whose object is the Void, theUnconditioned Freedom – his path cannot betraced, like that of birds in the air.94. Even the gods hold dear the wise one, whosesenses are subdued like horses well trained by acharioteer, whose pride is destroyed and who isfree from the cankers.95. There is no more worldly existence for the wiseone who, like the earth, resents nothing, who isfirm as a high pillar and as pure as a deep poolfree from mud.96. Calm is his thought, calm his speech, and calmhis deed, who, truly knowing, is wholly freed,perfectly tranquil and wise.
  • 40. 3897. The man who is without blind faith, who knowsthe Uncreate, who has severed all links, de-stroyed all causes (for karma, good and evil), andthrown out all desires – he, truly, is the most ex-cellent of men.1198. Inspiring, indeed, is that place where Arahatsdwell, be it a village, a forest, a vale, or a hill.99. Inspiring are the forests in which worldlings findno pleasure. There the passionless will rejoice,for they seek no sensual pleasures.___________________________11In the Pali this verse presents a series of puns, and if the“underside” of each pun were to be translated, the versewould read thus: “The man who is faithless, ungrateful, aburglar, who destroys opportunities and eats vomit – he trulyis the most excellent of men.”
  • 41. 39Chapter 8The Thousands100. Better than a thousand useless words is one use-ful word, hearing which one attains peace.101. Better than a thousand useless verses is one use-ful verse, hearing which one attains peace.102. Better than reciting a hundred meaningless versesis the reciting of one verse of Dhamma, hearingwhich one attains peace.103. Though one may conquer a thousand times athousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the no-blest victor who conquers himself.104-105. Self-conquest is far better then the conquestof others. Not even a god, an angel, Mara orBrahma can turn into defeat the victory of a per-son who is self-subdued and ever restrained inconduct.12106. Though month after month for a hundred yearsone should offer sacrifices by the thousands, yetif only for a moment one should worship those ofperfected minds that honor is indeed better than acentury of sacrifice.107. Though for a hundred years one should tend thesacrificial fire in the forest, yet if only for a mo-ment one should worship those of perfected___________________________12Brahma: a high divinity in ancient Indian religion.
  • 42. 40minds, that worship is indeed better than a cen-tury of sacrifice.108. Whatever gifts and oblations one seeking meritmight offer in this world for a whole year, all thatis not worth one fourth of the merit gained by re-vering 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 medita-tive than to live a hundred years immoral and un-controlled.111. Better it is to live one day wise and meditativethan to live a hundred years foolish and uncon-trolled.112. Better it is to live one day strenuous and resolutethan to live a hundred years sluggish and dissipated.113. Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fallof things than to live as hundred years withoutever seeing the rise and fall of things.114. Better it is to live one day seeing the Deathlessthan to live a hundred years without ever seeingthe Deathless.115. Better it is to live one day seeing the SupremeTruth than to live a hundred years without everseeing the Supreme Truth.
  • 43. 41Chapter 9Evil116. Hasten to do good; restrain your mind from evil.He who is slow in doing good, his mind delightsin evil.117. Should a person commit evil, let him not do itagain and again. Let him not find pleasuretherein, for painful is the accumulation of evil.118. Should a person do good, let him do it again andagain. let him fin pleasure therein, for blissful isthe accumulation of good.119. It may be well with the evil-doer as long as theevil ripens not. But when it does ripen, then theevil-doer sees (the painful results of) his evildeeds.120. It may be ill with the doer of good as long as thegood ripens not. But when it does ripen, then thedoer of good sees (the pleasant results of) hisgood deeds.121. Think not lightly of evil, saying, “It will notcome to me.” Drop by drop is the water pot filled.Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fillshimself with evil.122. Think not lightly of good, saying, “It will notcome to me.” Drop by drop is the water pot filled.Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by lit-tle, fills himself with good.
  • 44. 42123. Just as a trader with a small escort and greatwealth would avoid a perilous route, or just asone desiring to live avoids poison, even so shouldone shun evil.124. If on the hand there is no wound, one may carryeven poison in it. Poison does not affect one whois free from wounds. For him who does no evil,there is no ill.125. Like fine dust thrown against the wind, evil fallsback upon that fool who offends an inoffensive,pure and guiltless man.126. Some are born in the womb; the wicked are bornin hell; the devout go to heaven; the stainless passinto Nibbana.127. Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by enter-ing into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world isthere a place where one may escape from the re-sults of evil deeds.128. Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by enter-ing into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world isthere a place where one may will not be over-come by death.
  • 45. 43Chapter 10Violence129. All tremble at violence; all fear death. Puttingoneself in the place of another, one should notkill nor cause another to kill.130. All tremble at violence; life is dear to all. Puttingoneself in the place of another, one should notkill nor cause another to kill.131. One who, while himself seeking happiness, op-presses with violence other beings who also desirehappiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.132. One who, while himself seeking happiness, doesnot oppress with violence other beings who alsodesire happiness, will find happiness hereafter.133. Speak not harshly to anyone, for those thus spo-ken to might retort. Indeed, angry speech hurts,and retaliation may overtake you.134. If, like a broken gong, you silence yourself, youhave approached Nibbana, for vindictiveness isno longer in you.135. Just as a cowherd drives the cattle to pasture witha staff, so do old age and death drive the life forceof beings (from existence to existence).136. When the fool commits evil deeds, he does not re-alize (their evil nature). The witless man is tor-mented by his own deeds, like one burnt by fire.
  • 46. 44137. 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, seriousillness, or derangement of mind, trouble from thegovernment, or grave charges, loss of relatives, orloss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravagingfire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorantman is born in hell.141. Neither going about naked, nor matted locks, norfilth, nor fasting, nor lying on the ground, norsmearing oneself with ashes and dust, nor sittingon the heels (in penance) can purify a mortal whohas 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, re-strained by modesty, avoids reproach, as a thor-oughbred horse avoids the whip.144. Like a thoroughbred horse touched by the whip,be strenuous, be filled with spiritual yearning. Byfaith and moral purity, by effort and meditation,by investigation of the truth, by being rich inknowledge and virtue, and by being mindful, de-stroy this unlimited suffering.145. Irrigators regulate the waters, fletchers straightenarrow shafts, carpenters shape wood, and thegood control themselves.
  • 47. 45Chapter 11Old Age146. When this world is ever ablaze, why this laugh-ter, why this jubilation? Shrouded in darkness,will you not see the light?147. Behold this body – a painted image, a mass ofheaped up sores, infirm, full of hankering – ofwhich nothing is lasting or stable!148. Fully worn out is this body, a nest of disease, andfragile. This foul mass breaks up, for death is theend of life.149. These dove-colored bones are like gourds that liescattered about in autumn. Having seen them,how can one seek delight?150. This city (body) is built of bones, plastered withflesh and blood; within are decay and death, prideand jealousy.151. Even gorgeous royal chariots wear out, and in-deed this body too wears out. But the Dhamma ofthe Good does not age; thus the Good make itknown to the good.152. The man of little learning grows old like a bull. Hegrows only in bulk, but, his wisdom does not grow.153. Through many a birth in samsara have I wanderedin vain, seeking in the builder of this house (oflife). Repeated birth is indeed suffering!
  • 48. 46154. O house-builder, you are seen! You will not buildthis house again. For your rafters are broken andyour ridgepole shattered. My mind has reachedthe Unconditioned; I have attained the destructionof craving.13155. Those who in youth have not led the holy life, orhave failed to acquire wealth, languish like oldcranes in the pond without fish.156. Those who in youth have not lead the holy life, orhave failed to acquire wealth, lie sighing over thepast, like worn out arrows (shot from) a bow.___________________________13According to the commentary, these verses are theBuddha’s “Song of Victory,” his first utterance after hisEnlightenment. The house is individualized existence insamsara, the house-builder craving, the rafters the passionsand the ridge-pole ignorance.
  • 49. 47Chapter 12The Self157. If one holds oneself dear, one should diligentlywatch oneself. Let the wise man keep vigil duringany of the three watches of the night.158. One should first establish oneself in what isproper; then only should one instruct others. Thusthe wise man will not be reproached.159. One should do what one teaches others to do; ifone would train others, one should be well con-trolled oneself. Difficult, indeed, is self-control.160. One truly is the protector of oneself; who elsecould 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 ofhimself and produced by himself, grinds him as adiamond grinds a hard gem.162. Just as a single creeper strangles the tree onwhich it grows, even so, a man who is exceed-ingly depraved harms himself as only an enemymight wish.163. Easy to do are things that are bad and harmful tooneself. But exceedingly difficult to do are thingsthat are good and beneficial.164. Whoever, on account of perverted views, scornsthe Teaching of the Perfected Ones, the Noble
  • 50. 48and Righteous Ones – that fool, like the bamboo,produces fruits only for self destruction.14165. By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled.By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is onemade pure. Purity and impurity depended on one-self; no one can purify another.166. Let one not neglect one’s own welfare for thesake of another, however great. Clearly under-standing one’s own welfare, let one be intentupon the good.___________________________14Certain reeds of the bamboo family perish immediatelyafter producing fruits.
  • 51. 49Chapter 13The World167. Follow not the vulgar way; live not in heedless-ness; hold not false views; linger not long inworldly existence.168. Arise! Do not be heedless! Lead a righteous life.The righteous live happily both in this world andthe next.169. Lead a righteous life; lead not a base life. Therighteous live happily both in this world and thenext.170. One who looks upon the world as a bubble and amirage, him the King of Death sees not.171. Come! Behold this world, which is like a deco-rated royal chariot. Here fools flounder, but thewise have no attachment to it.172. He who having been heedless is heedless nomore, illuminates this world like the moon freedfrom clouds.173. He, who by good deeds covers the evil he hasdone, illuminates this world like the moon freedfrom clouds.174. Blind is the world; here only a few possess in-sight. Only a few, like birds escaping from thenet, go to realms of bliss.175. Swans fly on the path of the sun; men passthrough the air by psychic powers; the wise are
  • 52. 50led away from the world after vanquishing Maraand his host.176. For a liar who has violated the one law (of truth-fulness) who holds in scorn the hereafter, there isno evil that he cannot do.177. Truly, misers fare not to heavenly realms; nor,indeed, do fools praise generosity. But the wiseman rejoices in giving, and by that alone does hebecome happy hereafter.178. Better than sole sovereignty over the earth, betterthan going to heaven, better even than lordshipover all the worlds is the supramundane Fruitionof Stream Entrance.15___________________________15Stream-entry (sotapatti): the first stage of supramundaneattainment.
  • 53. 51Chapter 14The Buddha179. By what track can you trace that trackless Bud-dha of limitless range, whose victory nothing canundo, whom none of the vanquished defilementscan ever pursue?180. By what track can you trace that trackless Bud-dha 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 meditationand who delight in the calm of renunciation –such mindful ones, Supreme Buddhas, even thegods hold dear.182. Hard is it to be born a man; hard is the life ofmortals. Hard is it to gain the opportunity ofhearing the Sublime Truth, and hard to encounteris the arising of the Buddhas.183. To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanseone’s mind – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.184. Enduring patience is the highest austerity. “Nib-bana is supreme,” say the Buddhas. He is not atrue monk who harms another, nor a true renun-ciate who oppresses others.185. Not despising, not harming, restraint according tothe code of monastic discipline, moderation infood, dwelling in solitude, devotion to meditation– this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
  • 54. 52186-187. There is no satisfying sensual desires, evenwith the rain of gold coins. For sensual pleasuresgive little satisfaction and much pain. Having un-derstood this, the wise man finds no delight evenin heavenly pleasures. The disciple of the Supr-eme Buddha delights in the destruction of craving.188. Driven only by fear, do men go for refuge tomany places – to hills, woods, groves, trees andshrines.189. Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not therefuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refugeis one released from all suffering.190-191. He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha,the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with tran-scendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths –suffering, the cessation of suffering, and theNoble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation ofsuffering.16192. This indeed is the safe refuge, this the refuge su-preme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is re-leased from all suffering.193. Hard to find is the thoroughbred man (the Bud-dha); he is not born everywhere. Where such awise man is born, that clan thrives happily.___________________________16The Order: both the monastic Order (bhikkhu sangha)and the Order of Noble Ones (ariya sangha) who havereached the four supramundane stages.
  • 55. 53194. Blessed is the birth of the Buddhas; blessed is theenunciation of the sacred Teaching; blessed is theharmony in the Order, and blessed is the spiritualpursuit of the united truth-seeker.195-196. He who reveres those worthy of reverence,the Buddhas and their disciples, who have tran-scended all obstacles and passed beyond thereach of sorrow and lamentation – he who reveressuch peaceful and fearless ones, his merit nonecan compute by any measure.
  • 56. 54Chapter 15Happiness197. 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 wedwell free from affliction.199. Happy indeed we live, free from avarice amidstthe avaricious. Amidst the avaricious men wedwell free from avarice.200. Happy indeed we live, we who possess nothing.Feeders on joy we shall be, like the RadiantGods.201. Victory begets enmity; the defeated dwell in pain.Happily the peaceful live, discarding both victoryand 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).17203. Hunger is the worst disease, conditioned thingsthe worst suffering. Knowing this as it really is,the wise realize Nibbana, the highest bliss.___________________________17Aggregates (of existence) (khandha): the five groups offactors into which the Buddha analyzes the living being –material form, feeling, perception, mental formations, andconsciousness.
  • 57. 55204. Health is the most precious gain and contentmentthe greatest wealth. A trustworthy person is thebest kinsman, Nibbana the highest bliss.205. Having savored the taste of solitude and peace (ofNibbana), 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 withthem is ever blissful. One will always be happyby not encountering fools.207. Indeed, he who moves in the company of foolsgrieves for longing. Association with fools isever painful, like partnership with an enemy. Butassociation with the wise is happy, like meetingone’s own kinsmen.208. Therefore, follow the Noble One, who is stead-fast, wise, learned, dutiful and devout. Oneshould follow only such a man, who is truly goodand discerning, even as the moon follows thepath of the stars. 12
  • 58. 56Chapter 16Affection209. Giving himself to things to be shunned and notexerting where exertion is needed, a seeker afterpleasures, having given up his true welfare, en-vies those intent upon theirs.210. Seek no intimacy with the beloved and also notwith the unloved, for not to see the beloved andto see the unloved, both are painful.211. Therefore hold nothing dear, for separation fromthe dear is painful. There are no bonds for thosewho have nothing beloved or unloved.212. From endearment springs grief, from endearmentsprings fear. From him who is wholly free fromendearment there is no grief, whence then fear?213. From affection springs grief, from affectionsprings fear. From him who is wholly free fromaffection there is no grief, whence then fear?214. From attachment springs grief, from attachmentsprings fear. From him who is wholly free fromattachment there is no grief, whence then fear?215. From lust springs grief, from lust springs fear.From him who is wholly free from craving thereis no grief; whence then fear?216. From craving springs grief, from craving springsfear. From him who is wholly free from cravingthere is no grief; whence then fear?
  • 59. 57217. People hold dear him who embodies virtue andinsight, 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 supramundanewisdom), and is no more bound by sense pleas-ures – such a man is called “One Bound Up-stream.”18219. When, after a long absence, a man safely returnsfrom afar, his relatives, friends and well-wisherswelcome him home on arrival.220. As kinsmen welcome a dear one on arrival, evenso his own good deeds will welcome the doer ofgood who has gone from this world to the next.___________________________18One Bound Upstream: a Non-returner (anagami).
  • 60. 58Chapter 17Anger221. One should give up anger, renounce pride, andovercome all fetters. Suffering never befalls himwho clings not to mind and body and is detached.222. He who checks rising anger as a charioteerchecks a rolling chariot, him I call a true chario-teer. Others only hold the reins.223. Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome thewicked by goodness; overcome the miser by gen-erosity; 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 threemeans 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 disciplinethemselves day and night, and are ever intentupon Nibbana – their defilements fade away.227. O Atula! Indeed, this is an ancient practice, notone only of today: they blame those who remainsilent, they blame those speak much, they blamethose who speak in moderation. There is none inthe world who is not blamed.
  • 61. 59228. There never was, there never will be, nor is therenow, a person who is wholly blamed or whollypraised.229. But the man whom the wise praise, after observ-ing him day after day, is one of flawless charac-ter, wise, and endowed with knowledge and virtue.230. Who can blame such a one, as worthy as a coin ofrefined gold? Even the gods praise him; byBrahma, too, is he praised.231. Let a man guard himself against irritability inbodily action; let him be controlled in deed.Abandoning bodily misconduct, let him practicegood conduct in deed.232. Let a man guard himself against irritability inspeech; let him be controlled in speech. Aban-doning verbal misconduct, let him practice goodconduct in speech.233. Let a man guard himself against irritability inthought; let him be controlled in mind. Abandon-ing mental misconduct, let him practice goodconduct in thought.234. The wise are controlled in bodily action, con-trolled in speech and controlled in thought. Theyare truly well-controlled.
  • 62. 60Chapter 18Impurity235. Like a withered leaf are you now; death’s mes-sengers await you. You stand on the eve of yourdeparture, yet you have made no provision foryour journey!236. Make an island for yourself! Strive hard and be-come wise! Rid of impurities and cleansed ofstain, you shall enter the celestial abode of theNoble Ones.237. Your life has come to an end now; You are set-ting forth into the presence of Yama, the king ofdeath. No resting place is there for you on theway, yet you have made no provision for thejourney!238. Make an island unto yourself! Strive hard and be-come wise! Rid of impurities and cleansed ofstain, you shall not come again to birth and decay.239. One by one, little by little, moment by moment, awise man should remove his own impurities, as asmith removes his dross from silver.240. Just as rust arising from iron eats away the basefrom which it arises, even so, their own deedslead transgressors to states of woe.241. Non-repetition is the bane of scriptures; neglect isthe bane of a home; slovenliness is the bane ofpersonal appearance, and heedlessness is the baneof a guard.
  • 63. 61242. Unchastity is the taint in a woman; niggardlinessis the taint in a giver. Taints, indeed, are all evilthings, both in this world and the next.243. A worse taint than these is ignorance, the worstof all taints. Destroy this one taint and becometaintless, 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 alwaysseeks purity, is detached and unassuming, cleanin life, and discerning.246-247. One who destroys life, utters lies, takes whatis not given, goes to another man’s wife, and isaddicted to intoxicating drinks – such a man digsup his own root even in this world.-13248. Know this, O good man: evil things are difficultto control. Let not greed and wickedness dragyou to protracted misery.249. People give according to their faith or regard. Ifone becomes discontented with the food anddrink 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, bothby 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 riverlike craving.
  • 64. 62252. Easily seen is the fault of others, but one’s ownfault is difficult to see. Like chaff one winnowsanother’s faults, but hides one’s own, even as acrafty fowler hides behind sham branches.253. He who seeks another’s faults, who is ever censo-rious – his cankers grow. He is far from destruc-tion of the cankers.254. There is no track in the sky, and no recluse out-side (the Buddha’s dispensation). Mankind de-lights in worldliness, but the Buddhas are freefrom worldliness.19255. There is not track in the sky, and no recluse out-side (the Buddha’s dispensation). There are noconditioned things that are eternal, and no insta-bility in the Buddhas.___________________________19Recluse (samana): here used in the special sense of thosewho have reached the four supramundane stages.
  • 65. 63Chapter 19The Just256. Not by passing arbitrary judgments does a manbecome just; a wise man is he who investigatesboth right and wrong.257. He who does not judge others arbitrarily, butpasses judgment impartially according to thetruth, that sagacious man is a guardian of law andis called just.258. One is not wise because one speaks much. He whois peaceable, friendly and fearless is called wise.259. A man is not versed in Dhamma because hespeaks much. He who, after hearing a littleDhamma, realizes its truth directly and is notheedless of it, is truly versed in the Dhamma. 4260. A monk is not Elder because his head is gray. Heis but ripe in age, and he is called one grown oldin vain.261. One in whom there is truthfulness, virtue, inof-fensiveness, restraint and self-mastery, who isfree from defilements and is wise – he is trulycalled an Elder.262. Not by mere eloquence nor by beauty of formdoes a man become accomplished, if he is jeal-ous, selfish and deceitful.263. But he in whom these are wholly destroyed, up-rooted and extinct, and who has cast out hatred –that wise man is truly accomplished.
  • 66. 64264. Not by shaven head does a man who is indisci-plined and untruthful become a monk. How canhe who is full of desire and greed be a monk?265. He who wholly subdues evil both small and great iscalled 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 onebecome a true monk.267. Whoever here (in the Dispensation) lives a holylife, transcending both merit and demerit, andwalks with understanding in this world – he istruly called a monk.268. Not by observing silence does one become asage, if he be foolish and ignorant. But that manis wise who, as if holding a balance-scale acceptsonly 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 iscalled noble because he is harmless towards allliving beings.271-272. Not by rules and observances, not even bymuch learning, nor by gain of absorption, nor bya life of seclusion, nor by thinking, “I enjoy thebliss of renunciation, which is not experienced bythe worldling” should you, O monks, rest con-tent, until the utter destruction of cankers (Ara-hatship) is reached.
  • 67. 65Chapter 20The Path273. Of all the paths the Eightfold Path is the best; ofall the truths the Four Noble Truths are the best;of all things passionlessness is the best: of menthe Seeing One (the Buddha) is the best.274. This is the only path; there is none other for thepurification of insight. Tread this path, and youwill bewilder Mara.275. Walking upon this path you will make an end ofsuffering. Having discovered how to pull out thethorn of lust, I make known the path.276. You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas onlypoint the way. Those meditative ones who treadthe path are released from the bonds of Mara.277. “All conditioned things are impermanent” – whenone sees this with wisdom, one turns away fromsuffering. This is the path to purification.278. “All conditioned things are unsatisfactory” –when one sees this with wisdom, one turns awayfrom suffering. This is the path to purification.279. “All things are not-self” – when one sees thiswith wisdom, one turns away from suffering.This is the path to purification.280. The idler who does not exert himself when heshould, who though young and strong is full of
  • 68. 66sloth, with a mind full of vain thoughts – such anindolent man does not find the path to wisdom.281. Let a man be watchful of speech, well controlledin mind, and not commit evil in bodily action. Lethim purify these three courses of action, and win thepath made known by the Great Sage.282. Wisdom springs from meditation; without medi-tation wisdom wanes. Having known these twopaths 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; fromthe forest springs fear. Having cut down the for-est and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, Omonks!20284. For so long as the underbrush of desire, even themost subtle, of a man towards a woman is not cutdown, his mind is in bondage, like the suckingcalf to its mother.285. Cut off your affection in the manner of a manplucks with his hand an autumn lotus. Cultivateonly the path to peace, Nibbana, as made knownby the Exalted One.286. “Here shall I live during the rains, here in winterand summer” – thus thinks the fool. He does notrealize the danger (that death might intervene).___________________________20The meaning of this injunction is: “Cut down the forestof lust, but do not mortify the body.”
  • 69. 67287. As a great flood carries away a sleeping village,so death seizes and carries away the man with aclinging mind, doting on his children and cattle.288. For him who is assailed by death there is no pro-tection by kinsmen. None there are to save him –no sons, nor father, nor relatives.289. Realizing this fact, let the wise man, restrained bymorality, hasten to clear the path leading toNibbana.
  • 70. 68Chapter 21Miscellaneous290. If by renouncing a lesser happiness one may real-ize a greater happiness, let the wise man re-nounce the lesser, having regard for the greater.291. Entangled by the bonds of hate, he who seeks hisown happiness by inflicting pain on others, isnever delivered from hatred.292. The cankers only increase for those who are arro-gant and heedless, who leave undone what shouldbe done and do what should not be done.293. The cankers cease for those mindful and clearlycomprehending ones who always earnestly prac-tice mindfulness of the body, who do not resort towhat should not be done, and steadfastly pursuewhat should be done.294. Having slain mother (craving), father (self-conceit), two warrior-kings (eternalism and nihil-ism), and destroyed a country (sense organs andsense objects) together with its treasurer (attach-ment and lust), ungrieving goes the holy man.295. Having slain mother, father, two brahmin kings(two extreme views), and a tiger as the fifth (thefive mental hindrances), ungrieving goes the holyman.296. Those disciples of Gotama ever awaken happilywho day and night constantly practice the Recol-lection of the Qualities of the Buddha.
  • 71. 69297. Those disciples of Gotama ever awaken happilywho day and night constantly practice the Recol-lection of the Qualities of the Dhamma.298. Those disciples of Gotama ever awaken happilywho day and night constantly practice the Recol-lection of the Qualities of the Sangha.299. Those disciples of Gotama ever awaken happilywho day and night constantly practice Mindful-ness of the Body.300. Those disciples of Gotama ever awaken happilywhose minds by day and night delight in thepractice of non-violence.301. Those disciples of Gotama ever awaken happilywhose minds by day and night delight in thepractice of meditation.302. Difficult is life as a monk; difficult is it to delighttherein. Also difficult and sorrowful is the house-hold life. Suffering comes from association withunequals; suffering comes from wandering insamsara. Therefore, be not an aimless wanderer,be not a pursuer of suffering.303. He who is full of faith and virtue, and possessesgood repute and wealth – he is respected every-where, in whatever land he travels.304. The good shine from afar, like the Himalayamountains. But the wicked are unseen, like ar-rows shot in the night.305. He who sits alone, sleeps alone, and walks alone,who is strenuous and subdues himself alone, willfind delight in the solitude of the forest.
  • 72. 70Chapter 22The State of Woe306. The liar goes to the state of woe; also he who,having done (wrong), says, “I did not do it.” Menof base actions both, on departing they share thesame destiny in the other world.307. There are many evil characters and uncontrolledmen wearing the saffron robe. These wicked menwill be born in states of woe because of their evildeeds.308. It would be better to swallow a red-hot iron ball,blazing like fire, than as an immoral and uncon-trolled monk to eat the alms of the people.309. Four misfortunes befall the reckless man whoconsorts with another’s wife: acquisition of de-merit, disturbed sleep, ill-repute, and (rebirth in)states of woe.310. Such a man acquires demerit and an unhappybirth in the future. Brief is the pleasure of thefrightened man and woman, and the king imposesheavy punishment. Hence, let no man consortwith another’s wife.311. Just as kusa grass wrongly handled cuts the hand,even so, a recluse’s life wrongly lived drags oneto states of woe.312. Any loose act, any corrupt observance, any life ofquestionable celibacy – none of these bear muchfruit.
  • 73. 71313. If anything is to be done, let one do it with sus-tained vigor. A lax monastic life stirs up the dustof passions all the more.314. An evil deed is better left undone, for such a deedtorments one afterwards. But a good deed is bet-ter done, doing which one repents not later.315. Just as a border city is closely guarded bothwithin and without, even so, guard yourself. Donot let slip this opportunity (for spiritual growth).For those who let slip this opportunity grieve in-deed when consigned to hell.316. Those who are ashamed of what they should notbe ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what theyshould be ashamed of – upholding false views,they go to states of woe.317. Those who see something to fear where there isnothing to fear, and see nothing to fear wherethere is something to fear – upholding falseviews, they go to states of woe.318. Those who imagine evil where there is none, anddo not see evil where it is – upholding falseviews, they go to states of woe.319. Those who discern the wrong as wrong and theright as right – upholding right views, they go torealms of bliss.
  • 74. 72Chapter 23The Elephant320. As an elephant in the battlefield withstands ar-rows shot from bows all around, even so shall Iendure abuse. There are many, indeed, who lackvirtue.321. A tamed elephant is led into a crowd, and theking mounts a tamed elephant. Best among menis the subdued one who endures abuse.322. Excellent are well-trained mules, thoroughbredSindhu horses and noble tusker elephants. Butbetter still is the man who has subdued himself.323. Not by these mounts, however, would one go tothe Untrodden Land (Nibbana), as one who isself-tamed goes by his own tamed and well-controlled mind.324. Musty during rut, the tusker named Dhanapalakais uncontrollable. Held in captivity, the tuskerdoes not touch a morsel, but only longingly callsto mind the elephant forest.325. When a man is sluggish and gluttonous, sleepingand rolling around in bed like a fat domestic pig,that sluggard undergoes rebirth again and again.326. Formerly this mind wandered about as it liked,where it wished and according to its pleasure, butnow I shall thoroughly master it with wisdom asa mahout controls with his ankus [sic] an ele-phant in rut.
  • 75. 73327. Delight in heedfulness! Guard well yourthoughts! Draw yourself out of this bog of evil,even as an elephant draws himself out of themud.328. If for company you find a wise and prudentfriend who leads a good life, you should, over-coming all impediments, keep his company joy-ously and mindfully.329. If for company you cannot find a wise and pru-dent friend who leads a good life, then, like aking who leaves behind a conquered kingdom, orlike a lone elephant in the elephant forest, youshould go your way alone.330. Better it is to live alone; there is no fellowshipwith a fool. Live alone and do no evil; be carefreelike and elephant in the elephant forest.331. Good are friends when need arises; good is con-tentment with just what one has; good is meritwhen life is at an end, and good is the abandon-ing of all suffering (through Arahatship).332. In this world, good it is to serve one’s mother,good it is to serve one’s father, good it is to servethe monks, and good it is to serve the holy men.333. Good is virtue until life’s end, good is faith that issteadfast, good is the acquisition of wisdom, andgood is the avoidance of evil.
  • 76. 74Chapter 24Craving334. The craving of one given to heedless living growslike a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits inthe forest, he leaps from life to life (tasting thefruit of his kamma).335. Whoever is overcome by this wretched and stickycraving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.336. But whoever overcomes this wretched craving, sodifficult to overcome, from him sorrows fallaway like water from a lotus leaf.337. This I say to you: Good luck to all assembledhere! Dig up the root of craving, like one insearch of the fragrant root of the birana grass. Letnot Mara crush you again and again, as a floodcrushes a reed.338. Just as a tree, though cut down, sprouts up againif its roots remain uncut and firm, even so, untilthe craving that lies dormant is rooted out, suffer-ing springs up again and again.339. The misguided man in whom the thirty-six cur-rents of craving strongly rush toward pleasurableobjects, is swept away by the flood of his pas-sionate thoughts.21___________________________21The thirty-six currents of craving: the three cravings – forsensual pleasure, for continued existence, and for annihilation– in relation to each of the twelve bases – the six sense or-gans, including mind, and their corresponding objects.
  • 77. 75340. Everywhere these currents flow, and the creeper (ofcraving) sprouts and grows. Seeing that the creeperhas sprung up, cut off its root with wisdom.341. Flowing in (from all objects) and watered bycraving, feelings of pleasure arise in beings. Benton pleasures and seeking enjoyment, these menfall prey to birth and decay.342. Beset by craving, people run about like an entrap-ped hare. Held fast by mental fetters, they cometo suffering again and again for a long time.343. Beset by craving, people run about like an en-trapped hare. Therefore, one who yearns to bepassion-free should destroy his own craving.344. There is one who, turning away from desire (forhousehold life) takes to the life of the forest (i.e.,of a monk). But after being freed from the house-hold, he runs back to it. Behold that man! Thoughfreed, he runs back to that very bondage!22345-346. That is not a strong fetter, the wise say,which is made of iron, wood or hemp. But the in-fatuation and longing for jewels and ornaments,children and wives – that, they say, is a farstronger fetter, which pulls one downward and,though seemingly loose, is hard to remove. This,too, the wise cut off. Giving up sensual pleasure,and without any longing, they renounce theworld.___________________________22This verse, in the original, puns with the Pali word vanameaning both “desire” and “forest”.
  • 78. 76347. Those who are lust-infatuated fall back into theswirling current (of samsara) like a spider on itsself-spun web. This, too, the wise cut off. With-out any longing, they abandon all suffering andrenounce the world.348. Let go of the past, let go of the future, let go ofthe present, and cross over to the farther shore ofexistence. With mind wholly liberated, you shallcome no more to birth and death.349. For a person tormented by evil thoughts, who ispassion-dominated and given to the pursuit ofpleasure, his craving steadily grows. He makesthe fetter strong, indeed.350. He who delights in subduing evil thoughts, whomeditates on the impurities and is ever mindful –it is he who will make an end of craving and rendasunder Mara’s fetter.351. He who has reached the goal, is fearless, freefrom craving, passionless, and has plucked outthe thorns of existence – for him this is the lastbody.352. He who is free from craving and attachment, isperfect in uncovering the true meaning of theTeaching, and knows the arrangement of the sa-cred texts in correct sequence – he, indeed, is thebearer of his final body. He is truly called theprofoundly wise one, the great man.353. A victor am I over all, all have I known. Yet un-attached am I to all that is conquered and known.Abandoning all, I am freed through the destruc-tion of craving. Having thus directly compre-
  • 79. 77hended all by myself, whom shall I call myteacher?23354. The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts; the taste ofthe Dhamma excels all tastes; the delight inDhamma excels all delights. The Craving-Freedvanquishes all suffering.355. Riches ruin only the foolish, not those in quest ofthe Beyond. By craving for riches the witlessman ruins himself as well as others.356. Weeds are the bane of fields, lust is the bane ofmankind. Therefore, what is offered to those freeof lust yields abundant fruit.357. Weeds are the bane of fields, hatred is the bane ofmankind. Therefore, what is offered to those freeof hatred yields abundant fruit.358. Weeds are the bane of fields, delusion is the baneof mankind. Therefore, what is offered to thosefree of delusion yields abundant fruit.359. Weeds are the bane of fields, desire is the bane ofmankind. Therefore, what is offered to those freeof desire yields abundant fruit.___________________________23This was the Buddha’s reply to a wandering ascetic whoasked him about his teacher. The Buddha’s answer shows thatSupreme Enlightenment was his own unique attainment,which he had not learned from anyone else.
  • 80. 78Chapter 25The Monk360. Good is restraint over the eye; good is restraintover the ear; good is restraint over the nose; goodis restraint over the tongue.361. Good is restraint in the body; good is restraint inspeech; good is restraint in thought. Restrainteverywhere is good. The monk restrained inevery way is freed from all suffering.362. He who has control over his hands, feet andtongue; who is fully controlled, delights in in-ward development, is absorbed in meditation,keeps to himself and is contented – him do peo-ple call a monk.363. That monk who has control over his tongue, ismoderate in speech, unassuming and who ex-plains the Teaching in both letter and spirit –whatever he says is pleasing.364. The monk who abides in the Dhamma, delights inthe Dhamma, meditates on the Dhamma, andbears the Dhamma well in mind – he does not fallaway from the sublime Dhamma.365. One should not despise what one has received,nor envy the gains of others. The monk who en-vies the gains of others does not attain to medita-tive absorption.
  • 81. 79366. A monk who does not despise what he has re-ceived, even though it be little, who is pure inlivelihood and unremitting in effort – him eventhe gods praise.367. He who has no attachment whatsoever for themind and body, who does not grieve for what hehas not – he is truly called a monk.368. The monk who abides in universal love and isdeeply devoted to the Teaching of the Buddha at-tains the peace of Nibbana, the bliss of the cessa-tion of all conditioned things.369. Empty this boat, O monk! Emptied, it will sail lightly.Rid of lust and hatred, you shall reach Nibbana.370. Cut off the five, abandon the five, and cultivatethe five. The monk who has overcome the fivebonds is called one who has crossed the flood.24371. Meditate, O monk! Do not be heedless. Let notyour mind whirl on sensual pleasures. Heedless,do not swallow a red-hot iron ball, lest you crywhen burning, “O this is painful!”___________________________24The five to be cut off are the five “lower fetters”: self-illusion, doubt, belief in rites and rituals, lust and ill-will. Thefive to be abandoned are the five “higher fetters”: craving forthe divine realms with form, craving for the formless realms,conceit, restlessness, and ignorance. Stream-enterers andOnce-returners cut off the first three fetters, Non-returners thenext two and Arahats the last five. The five to be cultivatedare the five spiritual faculties: faith, energy, mindfulness,concentration, and wisdom. The five bonds are: greed, hatred,delusion, false views, and conceit.
  • 82. 80372. There is no meditative concentration for him wholacks insight, and no insight for him who lacksmeditative concentration. He in whom are foundboth meditative concentration and insight, in-deed, is close to Nibbana.373. The monk who has retired to a solitary abode andcalmed his mind, who comprehends the Dhammawith insight, in him there arises a delight thattranscends all human delights.374. Whenever he sees with insight the rise and fall ofthe aggregates, he is full of joy and happiness. Tothe discerning one this reflects the Deathless.25375. Control of the senses, contentment, restraint accord-ing to the code of monastic discipline – these formthe basis of holy life here for the wise monk.376. Let him associate with friends who are noble, en-ergetic, and pure in life, let him be cordial and re-fined in conduct. Thus, full of joy, he will makean end of suffering.377. Just as the jasmine creeper sheds its witheredflowers, even so, O monks, should you totallyshed lust and hatred!378. The monk who is calm in body, calm in speech,calm in thought, well-composed and who hasspewn out worldliness – he, truly, is called serene.379. By oneself one must censure oneself and scruti-nize oneself. The self-guarded and mindful monkwill always live in happiness.___________________________25See footnote to v. 202.
  • 83. 81380. One is one’s own protector, one is one’s own ref-uge. Therefore, one should control oneself, evenas a trader controls a noble steed.381. Full of joy, full of faith in the Teaching of theBuddha, the monk attains the Peaceful State, thebliss of cessation of conditioned things.382. That monk who while young devotes himself tothe Teaching of the Buddha illumines this worldlike the moon freed from clouds.
  • 84. 82Chapter 26The Holy Man383. Exert yourself, O holy man! Cut off the stream(of craving), and discard sense desires. Knowingthe destruction of all the conditioned things, be-come, O holy man, the knower of the Uncreate(Nibbana)!26384. When a holy man has reached the summit of twopaths (meditative concentration and insight), heknows the truth and all his fetters fall away.385. He for whom there is neither this shore nor theother shore, nor yet both, he who is free of caresand is unfettered – him do I call a holy man.27___________________________26“Holy man” is used as a makeshift rendering for brah-mana, intended to reproduce the ambiguity of the Indianword. Originally men of spiritual stature; by the time of theBuddha the brahmins had turned into a privileged priesthoodwhich defined itself by means of birth and lineage rather thanby genuine inner sanctity. The Buddha attempted to restore tothe word brahmana its original connotation by identifying thetrue “holy man” as the Arahat, who merits the title throughhis own inward purity and holiness regardless of family line-age. The contrast between the two meanings is highlighted inverses 393 and 396. Those who led a contemplative life dedi-cated to gaining Arahatship could also be called brahmins, asin verses 383, 389, & 390.27This shore: the six sense organs; the other shore: theircorresponding objects; both: I-ness and my-ness.
  • 85. 83386. He who is meditative, stainless and settled,whose work is done and who is free from can-kers, having reached the highest goal – him do Icall a holy man.387. The sun shines by day, the moon shines by night.The warrior shines in armor, the holy man shinesin meditation. But the Buddha shines resplendentall day and all night.388. Because he has discarded evil, he is called a holyman. Because he is serene in conduct, he is calleda recluse. And because he has renounced hisimpurities, he is called a renunciate.389. One should not strike a holy man, nor should aholy man, when struck, give way to anger. Shameon him who strikes a holy man, and more shameon him who gives way to anger.390. Nothing is better for a holy man than when heholds his mind back from what is endearing. Tothe extent the intent to harm wears away, to thatextent does suffering subside.391. He who does no evil in deed, word and thought,who is restrained in these three ways – him do Icall a holy man.392. Just as a brahmin priest reveres his sacrificialfire, even so should one devoutly revere the per-son from whom one has learned the Dhammataught by the Buddha.393. Not by matted hair, nor by lineage, nor by birthdoes one become a holy man. But he in whom
  • 86. 84truth and righteousness exist – he is pure, he is aholy man.394. What is the use of your matted hair, O witlessman? What of your garment of antelope’s hide?Within you is the tangle (of passion); only out-wardly do you cleanse yourself.28395. The person who wears a robe made of rags, whois lean, with veins showing all over the body, andwho meditates alone in the forest – him do I calla holy man.396. I do not call him a holy man because of his line-age or high-born mother. If he is full of impedingattachments, he is just a supercilious man. Butwho is free from impediments and clinging – himdo I call a holy man.397. He who, having cut off all fetters, trembles nomore, who has overcome all attachments and isemancipated – him do I call a holy man.398. He who has cut off the thong (of hatred), theband (of craving), and the rope (of false views),together with the appurtenances (latent evil ten-dencies), he who has removed the crossbar (ofignorance) and is enlightened – him do I call aholy man.___________________________28In the time of the Buddha, such ascetic practices as wear-ing matted hair and garments of hides were considered marksof holiness.
  • 87. 85399. He who without resentment endures abuse, beat-ing and punishment; whose power, real might, ispatience – him do I call a holy man.400. He who is free from anger, is devout, virtuous,without craving, self-subdued and bears his finalbody – him do I call a holy man.401. Like water on a lotus leaf, or a mustard seed onthe point of a needle, he who does not cling tosensual pleasures – him do I call a holy man.402. He who in this very life realizes for himself theend of suffering, who has laid aside the burdenand become emancipated – him do I call a holyman.403. He who has profound knowledge, who is wise,skilled in discerning the right or wrong path, andhas reached the highest goal – him do I call aholy man.404. He who holds aloof from householders and ascet-ics alike, and wanders about with no fixed abodeand but few wants – him do I call a holy man.405. He who has renounced violence towards all liv-ing beings, weak or strong, who neither kills norcauses others to kill – him do I call a holy man.406. He who is friendly amidst the hostile, peacefulamidst the violent, and unattached amidst the at-tached – him do I call a holy man.407. He whose lust and hatred, pride and hypocrisyhave fallen off like a mustard seed from the pointof a needle – him do I call a holy man.
  • 88. 86408. He who utters gentle, instructive and truthfulwords, who imprecates none – him do I call aholy man.409. He who in this world takes nothing that is notgiven to him, be it long or short, small or big,good or bad – him do I call a holy man.410. He who wants nothing of either this world or thenext, who is desire-free and emancipated – himdo I call a holy man.411. He who has no attachment, who through perfectknowledge is free from doubts and has plungedinto the Deathless – him do I call a holy man.412. He who in this world has transcended the ties ofboth merit and demerit, who is sorrowless,stainless and pure – him do I call a holy man.413. He, who, like the moon, is spotless and pure, se-rene and clear, who has destroyed the delight inexistence – him do I call a holy man.414. He who, having traversed this miry, perilous anddelusive round of existence, has crossed over andreached the other shore; who is meditative, calm,free from doubt, and, clinging to nothing, has at-tained to Nibbana – him do I call a holy man.415. He who, having abandoned sensual pleasures, hasrenounced the household life and become ahomeless one; has destroyed both sensual desireand continued existence – him do I call a holyman.416. He who, having abandoned craving, has re-nounced the household life and become a home-
  • 89. 87less one, has destroyed both craving and contin-ued existence – him do I call a holy man.417. He who, casting off human bonds and transcend-ing heavenly ties, is wholly delivered of all bond-ages – him do I call a holy man.418. He who, having cast off likes and dislikes, hasbecome tranquil, is rid of the substrata of exis-tence and like a hero has conquered all the worlds– him do I call a holy man.419. He who in every way knows the death and rebirthof all beings, and is totally detached, blessed andenlightened – him do I call a holy man.420. He whose track no gods, no angels, no humanstrace, the Arahat who has destroyed all cankers –him do I call a holy man.421. He who clings to nothing of the past, present andfuture, who has no attachment and holds on tonothing – him do I call a holy man.422. He, the Noble, the Excellent, the Heroic, theGreat Sage, the Conqueror, the Passionless, thePure, the Enlightened one – him do I call a holyman.423. He who knows his former births, who seesheaven and hell, who has reached the end ofbirths and attained to the perfection of insight, thesage who has reached the summit of spiritual ex-cellence – him do I call a holy man.