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The Dhammapada (Pāli; Prakrit: Dhamapada; Sanskrit Dharmapada) is a versified Buddhist scripture traditionally ascribed to the Buddha himself. It is one of the best-known texts from the Theravada canon.
The title, Dhammapada, is a compound term composed of dhamma and pada, each word having a number of denotations and connotations. Generally, dhamma can refer to the Buddha‘s "doctrine" or an "eternal truth" or "righteousness" or all "phenomena"; and, at its root, pada means "foot" and thus by extension, especially in this context, means either "path" or "verse" (cf. "prosodic foot") or both. English translations of this text’s title have used various combinations of these and related words.
According to tradition, the Dhammapada’s verses were spoken by the Buddha on various occasions. Most verses deal with ethics. The text is part of the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka, although over half of the verses exist in other parts of the Pali Canon. A 4th or 5th century CE commentary attributed to Buddhaghosa includes 305 stories which give context to the verses.
Although the Pāli edition is the best-known, a number of other versions are known:
3 Sanskrit versions
a Tibetan translation, which is popular in traditional Tibetan Buddhism
"Fajiu jing" – 4 Chinese works; one of these appears to be an expanded translation of the Pali version; this has not traditionally been very popular.
Comparing the Pali Dhammapada, the Gandhari Dharmapada and the Udanavarga, Brough (2001) identifies that the texts have in common 330 to 340 verses, 16 chapter headings and an underlying structure. He suggests that the three texts have a "common ancestor" but underlines that there is no evidence that any one of these three texts might have been the "primitive Dharmapada" from which the other two evolved.
The Dhammapada is considered one of the most popular pieces of Theravada literature. A critical edition of the Dhammapada was produced by Danish scholar Viggo Fausbøll in 1855, becoming the first Pali text to receive this kind of examination by the European academic community.
The Twin-Verses (Yamaka-vaggo) (see excerpt below)
On Earnestness (Appamāda-vaggo)
The Fool (Bāla-vaggo)
The Wise Man (Paṇḍita-vaggo)
The Venerable (Arahanta-vaggo)
The Thousands (Sahassa-vaggo)
Punishment (Daṇḍa-vaggo) (see excerpt below)
Old Age (Jarā-vaggo)
The World (Loka-vaggo)
The Just (Dhammaṭṭha-vaggo)
The Downward Course (Niraya-vaggo)
The Elephant (Nāga-vaggo)
The Mendicant (Bhikkhu-vaggo)
The Brāhmana (Brāhmaṇa-vaggo)
The following English translations are from Müller (1881). The Pali text is from the Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project (SLTP) edition.
Ch. I. Twin Verses (Yamaka-vaggo)
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.
Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ dukkhamanveti cakkaṃ’va vahato padaṃ.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā ce pasannena bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ sukhamanveti chāyā’va anapāyinī.
For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.
Na hi verena verāni sammantīdha kudācanaṃ
Averena ca sammanti esa dhammo sanantano.
Ch. X. Punishment (Daṇḍa-vaggo)
He who seeking his own happiness punishes or kills beings who also long for happiness, will not find happiness after death.
Sukhakāmāni bhūtāni yodaṇḍena vihiṃsati
Attano sukhamesāno pecca so na labhate sukhaṃ.
He who seeking his own happiness does not punish or kill beings who also long for happiness, will find happiness after death.
Sukhakāmāni bhūtāni yodaṇḍena na hiṃsati
Attano sukhamesāno pecca so labhate sukhaṃ.
Do not speak harshly to anybody; those who are spoken to will answer thee in the same way. Angry speech is painful, blows for blows will touch thee.
Mā’voca pharusaṃ kañci vuttā paṭivadeyyu taṃ
Dukkhā hi sārambhakathā paṭidaṇḍā phuseyyu taṃ.
Chapter XII: Self (Atta-vaggo)
If a man hold himself dear, let him watch himself carefully; during one at least out of the three watches a wise man should be watchful.
Let each man direct himself first to what is proper, then let him teach others; thus a wise man will not suffer.
If a man make himself as he teaches others to be, then, being himself well subdued, he may subdue (others); one’s own self is indeed difficult to subdue.
Self is the lord of self, who else could be the lord? With self well subdued, a man finds a lord such as few can find.
The evil done by oneself, self-begotten, self-bred, crushes the foolish, as a diamond breaks a precious stone.
He whose wickedness is very great brings himself down to that state where his enemy wishes him to be, as a creeper does with the tree which it surrounds.
Bad deeds, and deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what is beneficial and good, that is very difficult to do.
The foolish man who scorns the rule of the venerable (Arahat), of the elect (Ariya), of the virtuous, and follows false doctrine, he bears fruit to his own destruction, like the fruits of the Katthaka reed.
By oneself the evil is done, by oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone, by oneself one is purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify another.
Let no one forget his own duty for the sake of another’s, however great; let a man, after he has discerned his own duty, be always attentive to his duty.
Ch. XIV: The Buddha (The Awakened) (Buddha-vaggo)
Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one’s mind, that is the teaching of (all) the Awakened.
Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ kusalassa upasampadā
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.
Ch. XX: The Way (Magga-vaggo)
You yourself must make an effort. The Tathagatas (Buddhas) are only preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the bondage of Mara.
Tumhehi kiccaṃ ātappaṃ akkhātāro tathāgatā
Paṭipannā pamokkhanti jhāyino mārabandhanā.
‘All created things perish,’ he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way to purity.
Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā’ti yadā paññāya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe esa maggo visuddhiyā.
‘All created things are grief and pain,’ he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way that leads to purity.
Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā’ti yadā paññāya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe esa maggo visuddhiyā.
‘All forms are unreal,’ he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way that leads to purity.
Sabbe dhammā anattā’ti yadā paññāya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe esa maggo visuddhiyā.
Ch. XXIV: Thirst (Taṇhā-vaggo)
Men, driven on by thirst, run about like a snared hare; let therefore the mendicant drive out thirst, by striving after passionlessness for himself.
Tasiṇāya purakkhatā pajā parisappanti saso’va bādhito
Tasmā tasiṇaṃ vinodaye bhikkhu ākaṅkhī virāgamattano.
If a man delights in quieting doubts, and, always reflecting, dwells on what is not delightful (the impurity of the body, &c.), he certainly will remove, nay, he will cut the fetter of Mara.
Vitakkupasame ca yo rato asubhaṃ bhāvayati sadā sato
Esa kho vyantikāhiti esa checchati mārabandhanaṃ.
Chapter XII: Self
157 If you hold yourself dear guard yourself diligently. Keep vigil during one of the three watches of the night.
158 Learn what is right; then teach others as the wise do.
159 Before trying to guide others, be your own guide first. It is hard to learn to guide oneself.
160 Your own self is your master; who else could be? With your own self controlled, your gain a master very hard to find.
161 The evil done by the selfish crushes them as a
162 diamond breaks a hard gem. As a vine over- powers a tree, evil over-powers the evil doer, trapping him in a situation only his enemies
163 would wish him to be in. Evil deeds, which harm oneself, are easy to do; good deeds are not so easy.
164 Foolish people who scoff at teachings of the wise, the noble, and the good, following false doctrines bring about their own down- fall like the khattaka tree, which dies after bearing fruit.
165 By oneself is evil done; by oneself one is in- jured. Do not do evil, and suffering will not come. Everyone has the choice to be pure or impure. No one can purify another.
166 Don’t neglect you own duty for another, however great. Know your own duty and perform it.
Translated by Eknath Easwaran
The literary merits of the Dhammapada are a matter of disagreement. Pali scholar K.R. Norman notes that some readers have claimed that the Dhammapada is a "masterpiece of Indian literature", but that this assessment is not universally shared. John Brough, who wrote extensively on the subject of the related Gāndhārī Dharmapada, believed that the text had largely been composed from a patchwork of cliches, and that while it contained a few novel and well-constructed verses, suffered from an "accumulation of insipid mediocrity." While he believed that the Dhammapada did not warrant the high praise sometimes lavished upon it, Brough did note that it contained "small fragments of excellent poetry", and that the Dhammapada fared well when considered alongside other, similarly composite works. Several scholars have noted that much of the Dhammapada consists of vague moral aphorisms, many of them not clearly specific to Buddhism at all.
Tr F. Max Müller, in Buddhist Parables, by E. W. Burlinghame, 1869; reprinted in Sacred Books of the East, volume X, Clarendon/Oxford, 1881; reprinted in Buddhism, by Clarence Hamilton; reprinted separately by Watkins, 2006; reprinted 2008 by Red and Black Publishers, St Petersburg, Florida, ISBN 978-1-934941-03-4; the first English translation (a Latin translation by V. Fausböll had appeared in 1855)
Tr J. Gray, American Mission Press, Rangoon, 1881
Tr J. P. Cooke & O. G. Pettis, Boston (Massachusetts?), 1898
Hymns of Faith, tr Albert J. Edmunds, Open Court, Chicago, & Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London, 1902
Tr Norton T. W. Hazeldine, Denver, Colorado, 1902
The Buddha’s Way of Virtue, tr W. D. C. Wagiswara & K. J. Saunders, John Murray, London, 1912
Tr Silacara, Buddhist Society, London, 1915
Tr Suriyagoda Sumangala, in Ceylon Antiquary, 1915
Tr A. P. Buddhadatta, Colombo Apothecaries, 1920?
The Buddha’s Path of Virtue, tr F. L. Woodward, Theosophical Publishing House, London & Madras, 1921
Tr R. D. Shrikhande and/or P. L. Vaidya (according to different bibliographies; or did one publisher issue two translations in the same year?), Oriental Book Agency, Poona, 1923; includes Pali text
"Verses on Dhamma", in Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, volume I, tr C. A. F. Rhys Davids, 1931, Pali Text Society, Bristol; verse translation; includes Pali text
Tr N. K. Bhag(w?)at, Buddha Society, Bombay, 1931/5; includes Pali text
The Way of Truth, tr S. W. Wijayatilake, Madras, 1934
Tr Irving Babbitt, Oxford University Press, New York & London, 1936; revision of Max Müller
Tr K. Gunaratana, Penang, Malaya, 1937
The Path of the Eternal Law, tr Swami Premananda, Self-Realization Fellowship, Washington DC, 1942
Tr Dhammajoti, Maha Bodhi Society, Benares, 1944
Tr Jack Austin, Buddhist Society, London, 1945
Stories of Buddhist India, tr Piyadassi, 2 volumes, Moratuwa, Ceylon, 1949 & 1953; includes stories from the commentary
Tr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Oxford University Press, London, 1950; includes Pali text
Collection of Verses on the Doctrine of the Buddha, comp Bhadragaka, Bangkok, 1952
Tr T. Latter, Moulmein, Burma, 1950?
Tr W. Somalokatissa, Colombo, 1953
Tr Narada, John Murray, London, 1954
Tr E. W. Adikaram, Colombo, 1954
Tr A. P. Buddhadatta, Colombo, 1954; includes Pali text
Tr Siri Sivali, Colombo, 1954
Tr ?, Cunningham Press, Alhambra, California, 1955
Tr C. Kunhan Raja, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar/Madras, 1956; includes Pali text
Free rendering and interpretation by Wesley La Violette, Los Angeles, 1956
Tr Buddharakkhita, Maha Bodhi Society, Bangalore, 1959; 4th edn, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1996; includes Pali text
Tr Suzanne Karpelès?, serialized in Advent (Pondicherry, India), 1960-65; reprinted in Questions and Answers, Collected Works of the Mother, 3, Pondicherry, 1977
Growing the Bodhi Tree in the Garden of the Heart, tr Khantipalo, Buddhist Association of Thailand, Bangkok, 1966; reprinted as The Path of Truth, Bangkok, 1977
Tr P. Lal, New York, 1967/70
Tr Juan Mascaró, Penguin Classics, 1973
Tr Thomas Byrom, Shambhala, Boston, Massachusetts, & Wildwood House, London, 1976 (ISBN 0-87773-966-8)
Tr Ananda Maitreya, serialized in Pali Buddhist Review, 1 & 2, 1976/7; offprinted under the title Law Verses, Colombo, 1978; revised by Rose Kramer (under the Pali title), originally published by Lotsawa Publications in 1988, reprinted by Parallax Press in 1995
The Buddha’s Words, tr Sathienpong Wannapok, Bangkok, 1979
Wisdom of the Buddha, tr Harischandra Kaviratna, Pasadena, 1980; includes Pali text
The Eternal Message of Lord Buddha, tr Silananda, Calcutta, 1982; includes Pali text
Tr Chhi Med Rig Dzin Lama, Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India, 1982; tr from the modern Tibetan translation by dGe-‘dun Chos-‘phel; includes Pali & Tibetan texts
Tr & pub Dharma Publishing, Berkeley, California, 1985; tr from the modern Tibetan translation by dGe-‘dun Chos-‘phel
Commentary, with text embedded, tr Department of Pali, University of Rangoon, published by Union Buddha Sasana Council, Rangoon (date uncertain; 1980s)
Tr Daw Mya Tin, Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, 1986; probably currently published by the Department for the Promotion and Propagation of the Sasana, Rangoon, and/or Sri Satguru, Delhi
Path of Righteousness, tr David J. Kalupahana, Universities Press of America, Lanham, Maryland, c. 1986
Tr Raghavan Iyer, Santa Barbara, 1986; includes Pali text
Tr John Ross Carter & Mahinda Palihawadana, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987; the original hardback edition also includes the Pali text and the commentary’s explanations of the verses; the paperback reprint in the World’s Classics Series omits these
Tr U. D. Jayasekera, Colombo, 1992
Treasury of Truth, tr Weragoda Sarada, Taipei, 1993
Tr Thomas Cleary, Thorsons, London, 1995
The Word of the Doctrine, tr K. R. Norman, 1997, Pali Text Society, Bristol; the PTS’s preferred translation
Tr Anne Bancroft?, Element Books, Shaftesbury, Dorset, & Richport, Massachusetts, 1997
Tr F. Max Müller (see above), revised Jack Maguire, SkyLight Pubns, Woodstock, Vermont, 2002
Tr Glenn Wallis, Modern Library, New York, 2004 (ISBN 978-0-8129-7727-1)
Tr Bhikkhu Varado, Inward Path, Malaysia, 2007; Dhammapada in English Verse
See also online translations listed below.
^ See, e.g., the Gāndhārī Dharmapada (GDhp), verses 301, 302, in: Brough (1962/2001), p. 166; and, Ānandajoti (2007), ch. 4, "Pupphavagga" (retrieved 25 November 2008 from "Ancient Buddhist Texts" at http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Buddhist-Texts/C3-Comparative-Dhammapada/CD-04-Puppha.htm).
^ a b See, for instance, Buswell (2003): "rank[s] among the best known Buddhist texts" (p. 11); and, "one of the most popular texts with Buddhist monks and laypersons" (p. 627). Harvey (2007), p. 322, writes: "Its popularity is reflected in the many times it has been translated into Western languages"; Brough (2001), p. xvii, writes: "The collection of Pali ethical verses entitled Dhammapada is one of the most widely known of early Buddhist texts."
^ See, e.g., Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), pp. 335-39, entry "Dhamma," retrieved 25 November 2008 from "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.1:1:2654.pali.
^ See, e.g., Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 408, entry "Pada," retrieved 25 November 2008 from "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.2:1:1516.pali.
^ See also Fronsdal (2005), pp. xiii-xiv. Fronsdal, p. xiv, further comments: "… If we translate the title based on how the term dhammapada is used in the verses [see Dhp verses 44, 45, 102], it should probably be translated ‘Sayings of the Dharma,’ ‘Verses of the Dharma,’ or ‘Teachings of the Dharma.’ However, if we construe pada as ‘path,’ as in verse 21 …, the title could be ‘The Path of the Dharma.’ Ultimately, as many translators clearly concur, it may be best not to translate the title at all."
^ Pertinent episodes allegedly involving the historic Buddha are found in the commentary (Buddharakkhita & Bodhi, 1985, p. 4). In addition, a number of the Dhammapada’s verses are identical with text from other parts of the Pali tipitaka that are directly attributed to the Buddha in the latter texts. For instance, Dhammapada verses 3, 5, 6, 328-330 can also be found in MN 128 (Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi, 2001, pp. 1009-1010, 1339 n. 1187).
^ Harvey (2007), p. 322, line v.b., refers to the Dhammapada as "a popular collection of 423 pithy verses of a largely ethical nature." Similarly, Brough (2001)’s preface (p. xvii) starts: "The collection of Pali ethical verses entitled Dhammapada is one of the most widely known of early Buddhist texts."
^ Geiger (2004), p. 19, para. 11.2 writes:
More than half the verses may be found also in other canonical texts. The compiler of the [Dhammapada] however certainly did not depend solely on these canonical texts but also made use of the great mass of pithy sayings which formed a vast floating literature in India.In a similar vein, Hinüber (2000), p. 45, para. 90 remarks: "The contents of the [Dhammapada] are mainly gnomic verses, many of which have hardly any relation to Buddhism."
^ Brough (2001), pp. 44-45, summarizes his findings and inferences as:
"… We can with reasonable confidence say that the Gāndhārī text did not belong to the schools responsible for the Pali Dhammapada, the Udānavarga, and the Mahāvastu; and unless we are prepared to dispute the attribution of any of these, this excludes the Sarvāstivādins and the Lokottaravāda-Mahāsānghikas, as well as the Theravādins (and probably, in company with the last, the Mahīśāsakas). Among possible claimants, the Dharmaguptakas and Kāśyapīyas must be considered as eligible, but still other possibilities cannot be ruled out."
^ Brough (2001). The original manuscript is believed to have been written in the first or second century CE.
^ Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XXIII, pages 113f
^ Brough (2001), pp. 38-41, indicates that the Udanavarga is of Sarvastivadin origin.
^ Hinüber (2000), p. 45, para. 89, notes:
More than half of [the Dhammapada verses] have parallels in corresponding collections in other Buddhist schools, frequently also in non-Buddhist texts. The interrelation of these different versions has been obscured by constant contamination in the course of the text transmission. This is particularly true in case of one of the Buddhist Sanskrit parallels. The Udānavarga originally was a text corres[p]onding to the Pāli Udāna…. By adding verses from the Dhp [Dhammapada] it was transformed into a Dhp parallel in course of time, which is a rare event in the evolution of Buddhist literature.
^ Law (1930), p. iv; and, Ānandajoti (2007), "Introduction," "Sahassavagga" and "Bhikkhuvagga."
^ Brough (2001), pp. 23-30. After considering the hypothesis that these texts might lack a "common ancestor," Brough (2001), p. 27, conjectures:
He then continues:
On the evidence of the texts themselves it is much more likely that the schools, in some manner or other, had inherited from the period before the schisms which separated them, a definite tradition of a Dharmapada-text which ought to be included in the canon, however fluctuating the contents of this text might have been, and however imprecise the concept even of a ‘canon’ at such an early period. The differing developments and rearrangements of the inherited material would have proceeded along similar lines to those which, in the Brahmanical schools, produced divergent but related collections of texts in the different Yajur-veda traditions.
… [When] only the common material [is] considered, a comparison of the Pali Dhammapada, the Gandhari text, and the Udanavarga, has produced no evidence whatsoever that any one of these has any superior claim to represent a ‘primitive Dharmapada’ more faithfully than the others. Since the contrary appears to have been assumed from time to time, it is desirable to say with emphasis that the Pali text is not the primitive Dharmapada. The assumption that it was would make its relationship to the other texts altogether incomprehensible.
^ English chapter titles based on Müller (1881).
^ a b Pali retrieved 2008-03-28 from "Bodhgaya News" (formerly, La Trobe U.) starting at http://www.bodhgayanews.net/tipitaka.php?title=&record=7150, and from "MettaNet – Lanka" at http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/5Khuddaka-Nikaya/02Dhammapada/index.html.
^ Brough (2001) orders the chapters of the Gandhari Dharmapada as follows: I. Brāhmaṇa; II. Bhikṣu; III. Tṛṣṇā; IV. Pāpa; V. Arhant; VI. Mārga; VII. Apramāda; VIII. Citta; IX. Bāla; X. Jarā; XI. Sukha; XII. Sthavira; XIII. Yamaka; XIV. Paṇḍita; XV. Bahuśruta; XVI. Prakīrṇaka (?); XVII. Krodha; XVIII. Pruṣpa; XIX. Sahasra; XX. Śīla (?); XXI. Kṛtya (?); XXII. Nāga, or Aśva (?); XXIII. – XVI. [Lost]. [Parenthesized question marks are part of Brough’s titles.] Cone (1989) orders the chapters of the Patna Dharmapada as follows: 1. Jama; 2. Apramāda; 3. Brāhmaṇa; 4. Bhikṣu; 5. Attha; 6. Śoka; 7. Kalyāṇī; 8. Puṣpa; 9. Tahna; 10. Mala; 11. Bāla; 12. Daṇḍa; 13. Śaraṇa; 14. Khānti; 15. Āsava; 16. Vācā; 17. Ātta; 18. Dadantī; 19. Citta; 20. Māgga; 21. Sahasra; [22. Uraga].
Ānandajoti Bhikkhu (2007). A Comparative Edition of the Dhammapada. U. of Peradeniya. Retrieved 25 Nov 2008 from "Ancient Buddhist Texts" at http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Buddhist-Texts/C3-Comparative-Dhammapada/index.htm.
Brough, John (2001). The Gāndhārī Dharmapada. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
Buswell, Robert E. (ed.) (2003). Encyclopedia of Buddhism. MacMillan Reference Books. ISBN 978-0028657189.
Cone, Margaret (transcriber) (1989). "Patna Dharmapada" in the Journal of the Pali Text Society (Vol. XIII), pp. 101–217. Oxford: PTS. Retrieved 06-15-2008 from "Ancient Buddhist Texts" at http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Buddhist-Texts/C5-Patna/index.htm. [On-line text interspersed with Pali parallels compiled by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu (2007).]
Geiger, Wilhelm (trans. by Batakrishna Ghosh) (1943, 2004). Pāli Literature and Language. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. ISBN 81-215-0716-2.
Harvey, Peter (1990, 2007). An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31333-3.
Hinüber, Oskar von (2000). A Handbook of Pāli Literature. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016738-7.
Law, Bimala Churn (1930). A Study of the Mahāvastu. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co. Retrieved 26 Nov 2008 from "Archive.org" at http://ia331310.us.archive.org/flipbook/flipbook.php?identifier=studyofthemahava031355mbp&datapath=/3/items/studyofthemahava031355mbp&dataserver=ia331310.us.archive.org.
by John Richards (1993)
by Thomas Byrom (1993)
by Thanissaro (1997)
Detailed word-by-word translation of the Dhammapada, including explanation of grammar (click on "Language Lessons", then "Pali lessons", then "Readings in Pali texts")
The path of the Dhamma
The Dhammapada consists of 423 verses in Pali uttered by the Buddha on some 305 occasions for the benefit of a wide range of human beings. These sayings were selected and compiled into one book as being worthy of special note on account of their beauty and relevance for moulding the lives of future generations of Buddhists. They are divided into 26 chapters and the stanzas are arranged according to subject matter.
The Pairs (verses 1-20)
Heedfulness (verses 21-32)
The Mind (verses 33-43)
Flowers (verses 44-59)
The Fool (verses 60-75)
The Wise Man (verses 76-89)
The Perfected One (verses 90-99)
The Thousands (verses 100-115)
Evil (verses 116-128)
Violence (verses 129-145)
Old Age (verses 146-156)
The Self (verses 157-166)
The World (verses 167-178)
The Buddha (verses 179-196)
Happiness (verses 197-208)
Affection (verses 209-220)
Anger (verses 221-234)
Impurity (verses 235-255)
The Just (verses 256-272)
The Path (verses 273-289)
Miscellaneous (verses 290-305)
The State of Woe (verses 306-319)
The Elephant (verses 320-333)
Craving (verses 334-359)
The Monk (verses 360-382)
The Holy Man (verses 383-423)
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.
"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.
In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.
You too shall pass away.
Knowing this, how can you quarrel?
How easily the wind overturns a frail tree.
Seek happiness in the senses,
Indulge in food and sleep,
And you too will be uprooted.
The wind cannot overturn a mountain.
Temptation cannot touch the man
Who is awake, strong and humble,
Who masters himself and minds the dharma.
If a man’s thoughts are muddy,
If he is reckless and full of deceit,
How can he wear the yellow robe?
Whoever is master of his own nature,
Bright, clear and true,
He may indeed wear the yellow robe.
Mistaking the false for the true,
And the true for the false,
You overlook the heart
And fill yourself with desire.
See the false as false,
The true as true.
Look into your heart.
Follow your nature.
An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house.
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.
Whoever follows impure thoughts
Suffers in this world and the next.
In both worlds he suffers
And how greatly
When he sees the wrong he has done.
But whoever follows the dharma
Is joyful here and joyful there.
In both worlds he rejoices
And how greatly
When he sees the good he has done.
For great is the harvest in this world,
And greater still in the next.
However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?
Are you a shepherd
Who counts another man’s sheep,
Never sharing the way?
Read as few words as you like,
And speak fewer.
But act upon the dharma.
Give up the old ways –
Passion, enmity, folly.
Know the truth and find peace.
Share the way.
Wakefulness Wakefulness is the way to life. The fool sleeps As if he were already dead, But the master is awake And he lives forever. He watches. He is clear. How happy he is! For he sees that wakefulness is life. How happy he is, Following the path of the awakened. With great perseverance He meditates, seeking Freedom and happiness. So awake, reflect, watch. Work with care and attention. Live in the way And the light will grow in you. By watching and working The master makes for himself an island Which the flood cannot overwhelm. The fool is careless. But the master guards his watching. It is his most precious treasure. He never gives in to desire. He meditates. And in the strength of his resolve He discovers true happiness. He overcomes desire - And from the tower of his wisdom He looks down with dispassion Upon the sorrowing crowd. From the mountain top He looks down at those Who live close to the ground. Mindful among the mindless, Awake while others dream, Swift as the race horse He outstrips the field. By watching Indra became king of the gods. How wonderful it is to watch. How foolish to sleep. The beggar who guards his mind And fears the waywardness of his thoughts Burns through every bond With the fire of his vigilance. The beggar who guards his mind And fears his own confusion Cannot fall. He has found his way to peace.
Mind As the fletcher whittles And makes straight his arrows, So the master directs His straying thoughts. Like a fish out of water, Stranded on the shore, Thoughts thrash and quiver, For how can they shake off desire? They tremble, they are unsteady, They wander at their own will. It is good to control them, And to master them brings happiness. But how subtle they are, How elusive! The task is to quieten them, And by ruling them to find happiness. With single-mindedness The master quells his thoughts. He ends their wandering. Seated in the cave of the heart, He finds freedom. How can a troubled mind Understand the way? If a man is disturbed He will never be filled with knowledge. An untroubled mind, No longer seeking to consider What is right and what is wrong, A mind beyond judgments, Watches and understands. Know that the body is a fragile jar, And make a castle of your mind. In every trial Let understanding fight for you To defend what you have won. For soon the body is discarded, Then what does it feel? A useless log of wood, it lies on the ground, Then what does it know? Your worst enemy cannot harm you As much as your own thoughts, unguarded. But once mastered, No one can help you as much, Not even your father or your mother.
Flowers Who shall conquer this world And the world of death with all its gods? Who shall discover The shining way of dharma? You shall, even as the man Who seeks flowers Finds the most beautiful, The rarest. Understand that the body Is merely the foam of a wave, The shadow of a shadow. Snap the flower arrows of desire And then, unseen, Escape the king of death. And travel on. Death overtakes the man Who gathers flowers When with distracted mind and thirsty senses He searches vainly for happiness In the pleasures of the world. Death fetches him away As a flood carries off a sleeping village. Death overcomes him When with distracted mind and thirsty senses He gathers flowers. He will never have his fill Of the pleasures of the world. The bee gathers nectar from the flower Without marring its beauty or perfume. So let the master settle, and wander. Look to your own faults, What you have done or left undone. Overlook the faults of others. Like a lovely flower, Bright but scentless, Are the fine but empty words Of the man who does not mean what he says. Like a lovely flower, Bright and fragrant, Are the fine and truthful words Of the man who means what he says. Like garlands woven from a heap of flowers, Fashion from your life as many good deeds. The perfume of sandalwood, Rosebay or jasmine Cannot travel against the wind. But the fragrance of virtue Travels even against the wind, As far as the ends of the world. How much finer Is the fragrance of virtue Than of sandalwood, rosebay, Of the blue lotus or jasmine! The fragrance of sandalwood and rosebay Does not travel far. But the fragrance of virtue Rises to the heavens. Desire never crosses the path Of virtuous and wakeful men. Their brightness sets them free. How sweetly the lotus grows In the litter of the wayside. Its pure fragrance delights the heart. Follow the awakened And from among the blind The light of your wisdom Will shine out, purely.
The Fool How long the night to the watchman, How long the road to the weary traveler, How long the wandering of many lives To the fool who misses the way. If the traveler cannot find Master or friend to go with him, Let him travel alone Rather than with a fool for company. "My children, my wealth!" So the fool troubles himself. But how has he children or wealth? He is not even his own master. The fool who knows he is a fool Is that much wiser. The fool who thinks he is wise Is a fool indeed. Does the spoon taste the soup? A fool may live all his life In the company of a master And still miss the way. The tongue tastes the soup. If you are awake in the presence of a master One moment will show you the way. The fool is his own enemy. The mischief is his undoing. How bitterly he suffers! Why do what you will regret? Why bring tears upon yourself? Do only what you do not regret, And fill yourself with joy. For a while the fool's mischief Tastes sweet, sweet as honey. Bit in the end it turns bitter. And how bitterly he suffers! For months the fool may fast, Eating from the tip of a grass blade. Still he is not worth a penny Beside the master whose food is the way. Fresh milk takes time to sour. So a fool's mischief Takes time to catch up with him. Like the embers of a fire It smolders within him. Whatever a fool learns, It only makes him duller. Knowledge cleaves his head. For then he wants recognition. A place before other people, A place over other people. "Let them know my work, Let everyone look to me for direction." Such are his desires, Such is his swelling pride. One way leads to wealth and fame, The other to the end of the way. Look not for recognition But follow the awakened And set yourself free.
The Wise Man The wise man tells you Where you have fallen And where you yet may fall - Invaluable secrets! Follow him, follow the way. Let him chasten and teach you and keep you from mischief. The world may hate him. But good men love him. Do not look for bad company Or live with men who do not care. Find friends who love the truth. Drink deeply. Live in serenity and joy. The wise man delights in the truth And follows the law of the awakened. The farmer channels water to his land. The fletcher whittles his arrows. And the carpenter turns his wood. So the wise man directs his mind. The wind cannot shake a mountain. Neither praise nor blame moves the wise man. He is clarity. Hearing the truth, He is like a lake, Pure and tranquil and deep. Want nothing. Where there is desire, Say nothing. Happiness or sorrow - Whatever befalls you, Walk on Untouched, unattached. Do not ask for family or power or wealth, Either for yourself or for another. Can a wise man wish to rise unjustly? Few cross over the river. Most are stranded on this side. On the riverbank they run up and down. But the wise man, following the way, Crosses over, beyond the reach of death. He leaves the dark way For the way of light. He leaves his home, seeking Happiness on the hard road. Free from desire, Free from possessions, Free from the dark places of the heart. Free from attachment and appetite, Following the seven lights of awakening, And rejoicing greatly in his freedom, In this world the wise man Becomes himself a light, Pure, shining, free.
The Master At the end of the way The master finds freedom From desire and sorrow - Freedom without bounds. Those who awaken Never rest in one place. Like swans, they rise And leave the lake. On the air they rise And fly an invisible course, Gathering nothing, storing nothing. Their food is knowledge. They live upon emptiness. They have seen how to break free. Who can follow them? Only the master, Such is his purity. Like a bird, He rises on the limitless air And flies an invisible course. He wishes for nothing. His food is knowledge. He lives upon emptiness. He has broken free. He is the charioteer. He has tamed his horses, Pride and the senses. Even the gods admire him. Yielding like the earth, Joyous and clear like the lake, Still as the stone at the door, He is free from life and death. His thoughts are still. His words are still. His work is stillness. He sees his freedom and is free. The master surrenders his beliefs. He sees beyond the end and the beginning. He cuts all ties. He gives up all desires. He resists all temptations. And he rises. And wherever he lives, In the city or the country, In the valley or in the hills, There is great joy. Even in the empty forest He finds joy Because he wants nothing.
The Thousands Better than a thousand hollow words Is one word that brings peace. Better than a thousand hollow verses Is one verse that brings peace. Better than a hundred hollow lines Is one line of the dharma, bringing peace. It is better to conquer yourself Than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, Not by angels or by demons, Heaven or hell. Better than a hundred years of worship, Better than a thousand offerings, Better than giving up a thousand worldly ways In order to win merit, Better even than tending in the forest A sacred flame for a hundred years - Is one moment's reverence For the man who has conquered himself. To revere such a man, A master old in virtue and holiness, Is to have victory over life itself, And beauty, strength and happiness. Better than a hundred years of mischief Is one day spent in contemplation. Better than a hundred years of ignorance Is one day spent in reflection. Better than a hundred years of idleness Is one day spent in determination. Better to live one day Wondering How all things arise and pass away. Better to live one hour Seeing The one life beyond the way. Better to live one moment In the moment Of the way beyond the way.
Mischief Be quick to do good. If you are slow, The mind, delighting in mischief, Will catch you. Turn away from mischief. Again and again, turn away. Before sorrow befalls you. Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, And you will be filled with joy. A fool is happy Until his mischief turns against him. And a good man may suffer Until his goodness flowers. Do not make light of your failings, Saying, "What are they to me?" A jug fills drop by drop. So the fool becomes brimful of folly. Do not belittle your virtues, Saying, "They are nothing." A jug fills drop by drop. So the wise man becomes brimful of virtue. As the rich merchant with few servants Shuns a dangerous road And the man who loves life shuns poison, Beware the dangers of folly and mischief. For an unwounded hand may handle poison. The innocent come to no harm. But as dust thrown against the wind, Mischief is blown back in the face Of the fool who wrongs the pure and harmless. Some are reborn in hell, Some in this world, The good in heaven. But the pure are not reborn. Nowhere! Not in the sky, Nor in the midst of the sea, Nor deep in the mountains, Can you hide from your own mischief. Not in the sky, Not in the midst of the ocean, Nor deep in the mountains, Nowhere Can you hide from your own death.
Violence All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in other. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? He who seeks happiness By hurting those who seek happiness Will never find happiness. For your brother is like you. He wants to be happy. Never harm him And when you leave this life You too will find happiness. Never speak harsh words For they will rebound upon you. Angry words hurt And the hurt rebounds. Like a broken gong Be still, and silent. Know the stillness of freedom Where there is no more striving. Like herdsmen driving their cows into the fields, Old age and death will drive you before them. But the fool in his mischief forgets And he lights the fire Wherein one day he must burn. He who harms the harmless Or hurts the innocent, Ten times shall he fall - Into torment or infirmity, Injury or disease or madness, Persecution or fearful accusation, Loss of family, loss of fortune. Fire from heaven shall strike his house And when his body has been struck down, He shall rise in hell. He who goes naked, With matted hair, mud bespattered, Who fasts and sleeps on the ground And smears his body with ashes And sits in endless meditation - So long as he is not free from doubts, He will not find freedom. But he who lives purely and self-assured, In quietness and virtue, Who is without harm or hurt or blame, Even if he wears fine clothes, So long as he also has faith, He is a true seeker. A noble horse rarely Feels the touch of the whip. Who is there in this world as blameless? Then like a noble horse Smart under the whip. Burn and be swift. Believe, meditate, see. Be harmless, be blameless. Awake to the dharma. And from all sorrows free yourself. The farmer channels water to his land. The fletcher whittles his arrows. The carpenter turns his wood. And the wise man masters himself.
Old Age The world is on fire! And you are laughing? You are deep in the dark. Will you not ask for a light? For behold your body - A painted puppet, a toy, Jointed and sick and full of false imaginings, A shadow that shifts and fades. How frail it is! Frail and pestilent, It sickens, festers and dies. Like every living thing In the end it sickens and dies. Behold these whitened bones, The hollow shells and husks of a dying summer. And you are laughing? You are a house of bones, Flesh and blood for plaster. Pride lives in you, And hypocrisy, decay, and death. The glorious chariots of kings shatter. So also the body turns to dust. But the spirit of purity is changeless And so the pure instruct the pure. The ignorant man is an ox. He grows in size, not in wisdom. "Vainly I sought the builder of my house Through countless lives. I could not find him... How hard it is to tread life after life! "But now I see you, O builder! And never again shall you build my house. I have snapped the rafters, Split the ridgepole And beaten out desire. And now my mind is free." There are no fish in the lake. The long-legged cranes stand in the water. Sad is the man who in his youth Loved loosely and squandered his fortune - Sad as a broken bow, And sadly is he sighing After all that has arisen and has passed away.
Yourself Love yourself and watch - Today, tomorrow, always. First establish yourself in the way, Then teach, And so defeat sorrow. To straighten the crooked You must first do a harder thing - Straighten yourself. You are your only master. Who else? Subdue yourself, And discover your master. Willfully you have fed Your own mischief. Soon it will crush you As the diamond crushes stone. By your own folly You will be brought as low As you worst enemy wishes. So the creeper chokes the tree. How hard it is to serve yourself, How easy to lose yourself In mischief and folly. The kashta reed dies when it bears fruit. So the fool, Scorning the teachings of the awakened, Spurning those who follow the dharma, Perishes when his folly flowers. Mischief is yours. Sorrow is yours. But virtue is also yours, And purity. You are the source Of all purity and impurity. No one purifies another. Never neglect your work For another's, However great his need. Your work is to discover your work And then with all your heart To give yourself to it.
The World Do not live in the world, In distraction and false dreams. Outside the dharma. Arise and watch. Follow the way joyfully Through this world and beyond. Follow the way of virtue. Follow the way joyfully Through this world and on beyond! For consider the world - A bubble, a mirage. See the world as it is, And death shall overlook you. Come, consider the world, A painted chariot for kings, A trap for fools. But he who sees goes free. As the moon slips from behind a cloud And shines, So the master comes out from behind his ignorance And shines. The world is in darkness. How few have eyes to see! How few the birds Who escape the net and fly to heaven! Swans rise and fly toward the sun. What magic! So do the pure conquer the armies of illusion And rise and fly. If you scoff at heaven And violate the dharma, If your words are lies, Where will your mischief end? The fool laughs at generosity. The miser cannot enter heaven. But the master finds joy in giving And happiness is his reward. And more - For greater than all the joys Of heaven and earth, Greater still and than dominion Over all the worlds, Is the joy of reaching the stream.
The Man Who Is Awake He is awake. The victory is his. He has conquered the world. How can he lose the way Who is beyond the way? His eye is open His foot is free. Who can follow after him? The world cannot reclaim him Or lead him astray, Nor can the poisoned net of desire hold him. He is awake! The gods watch over him. He is awake And finds joy in the stillness of meditation And in the sweetness of surrender. Hard it is to be born, Hard it is to live, Harder still to hear of the way, And hard to rise, follow, and awake. Yet the reaching is simple. Do what is right. Be pure. At the end of the way is freedom. Till then, patience. If you wound or grieve another, You have not learned detachment. Offend in neither word nor deed. Eat with moderation. Live in your heart. Seek the highest consciousness. Master yourself according to the dharma. This is the simple teaching of the awakened. The rain could turn to gold And still your thirst would not be slaked. Desire is unquenchable Or it ends in tears, even in heaven. He who wishes to awake Consumes his desires Joyfully. In his fear a man may shelter In mountains or in forests, In groves of sacred trees or in shrines. But how can he hide there from his sorrow? He who shelters in the way And travels with those who follow it Comes to see the four great truths. Concerning sorrow, The beginning of sorrow, The eightfold way And the end of sorrow. Then at last he is safe. He has shaken off sorrow. He is free. The awakened are few and hard to find. Happy is the house where a man awakes. Blessed is his birth. Blessed is the teaching of the way. Blessed is the understanding among those who follow it, And blessed is their determination. And blessed are those who revere The man who awakes and follows the way. They are free from fear. They are free. They have crossed over the river of sorrow.
Joy Live in joy, In love, Even among those who hate. Live in joy, In health, Even among the afflicted. Live in joy, In peace, Even among the troubled. Live in joy, Without possessions. Like the shining ones. The winner sows hatred Because the loser suffers. Let go of winning and losing And find joy. There is no fire like passion, No crime like hatred, No sorrow like separation, No sickness like hunger, And no joy like the joy of freedom. Health, contentment and trust Are your greatest possessions, And freedom your greatest joy. Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment, Know the sweet joy of the way. How joyful to look upon the awakened And to keep company with the wise. How long the road to the man Who travels the road with the fool. But whoever follows those who follow the way Discovers his family, and is filled with joy. Follow then the shining ones, The wise, the awakened, the loving, For they know how to work and forbear. Follow them As the moon follows the path of the stars.
Pleasure Do not let pleasure distract you From meditation, from the way. Free yourself from pleasure and pain. For in craving pleasure or in nursing pain There is only sorrow. Like nothing lest you lose it, Lest it bring you grief and fear. Go beyond likes and dislikes. From passion and desire, Sensuousness and lust, Arise grief and fear. Free yourself from attachment. He is pure, and sees. He speaks the truth, and lives it. He does his own work. So he is admired and loved. With a determined mind and undesiring heart He longs for freedom. He is called uddhamsoto - "He who goes upstream." When a traveler at last comes home From a far journey, With what gladness His family and friends receive him! Even so shall your good deeds Welcome you like friends And with what rejoicing When you pass from one life to the next!
Anger Let go of anger. Let go of pride. When you are bound by nothing You go beyond sorrow. Anger is like a chariot careering wildly. He who curbs his anger is the true charioteer. Others merely hold the reins. With gentleness overcome anger. With generosity overcome meanness. With truth overcome deceit. Speak the truth. Give whenever you can, Never be angry. These three steps will lead you Into the presence of the gods. The wise harm no one. They are masters of their bodies And they go to the boundless country. They go beyond sorrow. Those who seek perfection Keep watch day and night Till all desires vanish. Listen, Atula. This is not new, It is an old saying - "They blame you for being silent, They blame you when you talk too much And when you talk too little." Whatever you do, they blame you. The world always finds A way to praise and a way to blame. It always has and it always will. But who dares blame the man Whom the wise continually praise, Whose life is virtuous and wise, Who shines like a coin of pure gold? Even the gods praise him. Even Brahma praises him. Beware of the anger of the body. Master the body. Let it serve truth. Beware of the anger of the mouth. Master your words. Let them serve truth. Beware of the anger of the mind. Master your thoughts. Let them serve truth. The wise have mastered Body, word and mind. They are the true masters.
Impurity You are as the yellow leaf. The messengers of death are at hand. You are to travel far away. What will you take with you? You are the lamp To lighten the way. Then hurry, hurry. When your light shines Without impurity of desire You will come into the boundless country. Your life is falling away. Death is at hand. Where will you rest on the way? What have you taken with you? You are the lamp To lighten the way. Then hurry, hurry. When you light shines purely You will not be born And you will not die. As a silversmith sifts dust from silver, Remove your own impurities Little by little. Or as iron is corroded by rust Your own mischief will consume you. Neglected, the sacred verses rust. For beauty rusts without use And unrepaired the house falls into ruin, And the watch, without vigilance, fails. In this world and the next There is impurity and impurity: When a woman lacks dignity, When a man lacks generosity. But the greatest impurity is ignorance. Free yourself from it. Be pure. Life is easy For the man who is without shame, Impudent as a crow, A vicious gossip, Vain, meddlesome, dissolute. But life is hard For the man who quietly undertakes The way of perfection, With purity, detachment and vigor. He sees light. If you kill, lie or steal, Commit adultery or drink, You dig up your own roots. And if you cannot master yourself, The harm you do turns against you Grievously. You may give in the spirit of light Or as you please, But if you care how another man gives Or how he withholds, You trouble your quietness endlessly. These envying roots! Destroy them And enjoy a lasting quietness. There is no fire like passion. There are no chains like hate. Illusion is a net, Desire is a rushing river. How easy it is to see your brother's faults, How hard it is to face your own. You winnow his in the wind like chaff, But yours you hide, Like a cheat covering up an unlucky throw. Dwelling on your brother's faults Multiplies your own. You are far from the end of your journey. The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. See how you love Whatever keeps you from your journey. But the tathagathas, "They who have gone beyond," Have conquered the world. They are free. The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. All things arise and pass away. But the awakened awake forever.
If you determine your course With force or speed, You miss the way of the dharma. Quietly consider What is right and what is wrong. Receiving all opinions equally, Without haste, wisely, Observe the dharma. Who is wise, The eloquent or the quiet man? Be quiet, And loving and fearless. For the mind talks. But the body knows. Gray hairs do not make a master. A man may grow old in vain. The true master lives in truth, In goodness and restraint, Nonviolence, moderation and purity. Fine words or fine features Cannot make a master Out of a jealous and greedy man. Only when envy and selfishness Are rooted out of him May he grow in beauty. A man may shave his head But if he still lies and neglects his work, If he clings to desire and attachment, How can he follow the way? The true seeker Subdues all waywardness. He has submitted his nature to quietness. He is a true seeker Not because he begs But because he follows the lawful way, Holding back nothing, holding to nothing, Beyond good and evil, Beyond the body and beyond the mind. Silence cannot make a master out of a fool. But he who weighs only purity in his scales, Who sees the nature of the two worlds, He is a master. He harms no living thing. And yet it is not good conduct That helps you upon the way, Nor ritual, nor book learning, Nor withdrawal into the self, Nor deep meditation. None of these confers mastery or joy. O seeker! Rely on nothing Until you want nothing.
The way is eightfold. There are four truths. All virtue lies in detachment. The master has an open eye. This is the only way, The only way to the opening of the eye. Follow it. Outwit desire. Follow it to the end of sorrow. When I pulled out sorrow’s shaft I showed you the way. It is you who must make the effort. The masters only point the way. But if you meditate And follow the dharma You will free yourself from desire. "Everything arises and passes away." When you see this, you are above sorrow. This is the shining way. "Existence is sorrow." Understand, and go beyond sorrow. This is the way of brightness. "Existence is illusion." Understand, and go beyond. This is the way of clarity. You are strong, you are young. It is time to arise. So arise! Lest through irresolution and idleness You lose the way. Master your words. Master your thoughts. Never allow your body to do harm. Follow these three roads with purity And you will find yourself upon the one way, The way of wisdom. Sit in the world, sit in the dark. Sit in meditation, sit in light. Choose your seat. Let wisdom grow. Cut down the forest. Not the tree. For out of the forest comes danger. Cut down the forest. Fell desire. And set yourself free. While a man desires a woman, His mind is bound As closely as a calf to its mother. As you would pluck an autumn lily, Pluck the arrow of desire. For he who is awake Has shown you the way of peace. Give yourself to the journey. "Here shall I make my dwelling, In the summer and the winter, And in the rainy season." So the fool makes his plans, Sparing not a thought for his death. Death overtakes the man Who, giddy and distracted by the world, Cares only for his flocks and his children, Death fetches him away As a flood carries off a sleeping village. His family cannot save him, Not his father nor his sons. Know this. Seek wisdom, and purity. Quickly clear the way.
Out of the Forest
There is pleasure And there is bliss. Forgo the first to possess the second. If you are happy At the expense of another man’s happiness, You are forever bound. You do not what you should. You do what you should not. You are reckless, and desire grows. But the master is wakeful. He watches his body. In all his actions he discriminates, And he becomes pure. He is without blame Though once he may have murdered His mother and his father, Two kings, a kingdom, and all its subjects. Though the kings were holy And their subjects among the virtuous, Yet he is blameless. The followers of the awakened Awake And day and night they watch And meditate upon their master. Forever wakeful, They mind the dharma. They know their brothers on the way. They understand the mystery of the body. They find joy in all beings. They delight in meditation. It is hard to live in the world And hard to live out of it. It is hard to be among the many. And for the wanderer, how long is the road Wandering through many lives! Let him rest. Let him not suffer. Let him not fall into suffering. If he is a good man, A man of faith, honored and prosperous, Wherever he goes he is welcome. Like the Himalayas Good men shine from afar. But bad men move unseen Like arrows in the night. Sit. Rest. Work. Alone with yourself, Never weary. On the edge of the forest Live joyfully, Without desire.
One man denies the truth. Another denies his own actions. Both go into the dark. And in the next world suffer For they offend truth. Wear the yellow robe. But if you are reckless You will fall into darkness. If you are reckless, Better to swallow molten iron Than eat at the table of the good folk. If you court another man’s wife You court trouble. Your sleep is broken. You lose our honor. You fall into darkness. You go against the law, You go into the dark. Your pleasures end in fear And the king’s punishment is harsh. But as a blade of grass held awkwardly May cut your hand, So renunciation may lead you into the dark. For if in your renunciation You are reckless and break your word, If your purpose wavers, You will not find the light. Do what you have to do Resolutely, with all your heart. The traveler who hesitates Only raises dust on the road. It is better to do nothing Than to do what is wrong. For whatever you do, you do to yourself. Like a border town well guarded, Guard yourself within and without. Let not a single moment pass Lest you fall into darkness. Feel shame only where shame is due. Fear only what is fearful. See evil only in what is evil. Lest you mistake the true way And fall into darkness. See what is. See what is not. Follow the true way. Rise.
I shall endure harsh words As the elephant endures the shafts of battle. For many people speak wildly. The tamed elephant goes to battle. The king rides him. The tamed man is the master. He can endure hard words in peace. Better than a mule Or the fine horses of Sindh Or mighty elephants of war Is the man who had mastered himself. Not on their backs Can he reach the untrodden country. But only on his own. The mighty elephant Dhanapalaka Is wild when he is in rut, And when bound he will not eat, Remembering the elephant grove. The fool is idle. He eats and he rolls in his sleep Like a hog in a sty. And he has to live life over again. "My own mind used to wander Wherever pleasure or desire or lust led it. But now I have it tamed, I guide it, As the keeper guides the wild elephant." Awake. Be the witness of your thoughts. The elephant hauls himself from the mud. In the same way drag yourself out of your sloth. If the traveler can find A virtuous and wise companion Let him go with him joyfully And overcome the dangers of the way. But if you cannot find Friend or master to go with you, Travel on alone – Like a king who has given away his kingdom, Like an elephant in the forest. Travel on alone, Rather than with a fool for company. Do not carry with you your mistakes. Do not carry your cares. Travel on alone. Like an elephant in the forest. To have friends in need is sweet And to share happiness. And to have done something good Before leaving this life is sweet, And to let go of sorrow. To be a mother is sweet, And a father. It is sweet to live arduously, And to master yourself. O how sweet it is to enjoy life, Living in honesty and strength! And wisdom is sweet, And freedom.
If you sleep, Desire grows in you Like a vine in the forest. Like a monkey in the forest You jump from tree to tree, Never finding the fruit – From life to life, Never finding peace. If you are filled with desire Your sorrows swell Like the grass after the rain. But if you subdue desire Your sorrows shall fall from you Like drops of water from a lotus flower. This is good counsel And it is for everyone: As the grass is cleared for the fresh root, Cut down desire Lest death after death crush you As a river crushes the helpless reeds. For if the roots hold firm, A felled tree grows up again. If desires are not uprooted, Sorrows grow again in you. Thirty-six streams are rushing toward you! Desire and pleasure and lust… Play in your imagination with them And they will sweep you away. Powerful streams! They flow everywhere. Strong vine! If you see it spring up, Take care! Pull it out by the roots. Pleasures flow everywhere. You float upon them And are carried from life to life. Like a hunted hare you run, The pursuer of desire pursued, Harried from life to life. O seeker! Give up desire, Shake off your chains. You have come out of the hollow Into the clearing. The clearing is empty. Why do you rush back into the hollow? Desire is a hollow And people say "Look! He was free. But now he gives up his freedom." It is not iron that imprisons you Nor rope nor wood, But the pleasure you take in gold and jewels, In sons and wives. Soft fetters, Yet they hold you down. Can you snap them? There are those who can, Who surrender to the world, Forsake desire, and follow the way. O slave of desire, Float upon the stream. Little spider, stick to your web. Or else abandon your sorrows for the way. Abandon yesterday, and tomorrow, And today. Cross over to the father shore, Beyond life and death. Do your thoughts trouble you? Does passion disturb you? Beware of this thirstiness Lest your wishes become desires And desire binds you. Quieten your mind. Reflect. Watch. Nothing binds you. You are free. You are strong. You have come to the end. Free from passion and desire, You have stripped the thorns from the stem. This is you last body. You are wise. You are free from desire And you understand words And the stitching together of words. And you want nothing. "Victory is mine, Knowledge is mine, And all purity, All surrender. "I want nothing. I am free. I found my way. What shall I call Teacher? The gift of truth is beyond giving. The taste beyond sweetness, The joy beyond joy. The end of desire is the end of sorrow. The fool is his own enemy. Seeking wealth, he destroys himself. Seek rather the other shore. Weeds choke the field. Passion poisons the nature of man, And hatred, illusion, and desire. Honor the man who is without passion, Hatred, illusion, and desire. What you give to him Will be given back to you, And more.
Master your senses, What you taste and smell, What you see, what you hear. In all things be a master Of what you do and say and think. Be free. You are a seeker. Delight in the mastery Of your hands and your feet, Of your words and your thoughts. Delight in meditation And in solitude. Compose yourself, be happy. You are a seeker. Hold your tongue. Do not exalt yourself But lighten the way For your words are sweet. Follow the truth of the way. Reflect upon it. Make it your own. Live it. It will always sustain you. Do not turn away what is given you Not reach out for what is given to others, Lest you disturb your quietness. Give thanks For what had been given to you, However little. Be pure, never falter. You have no name and no form. Why miss what you do not have? The seeker is not sorry. Love and joyfully Follow the way, The quiet way to the happy country. Seeker! Empty the boat, Lighten the load, Passion and desire and hatred. And sail swiftly. There are five at the door To turn away, and five more, And there are five to welcome in. And when five§ have been left Stranded on the shore, The seeker is called oghatinnoti – "He who has crossed over." Seeker! Do not be restless. Meditate constantly. Or you will swallow fire And cry out: "No more!" If you are not wise, How can you steady the mind? If you cannot quieten yourself, What will you ever learn? How will you become free? With a quiet mind Come into that empty house, your heart, And feel the joy of the way Beyond the world. Look within – The rising and the falling. What happiness! How sweet to be free! It is the beginning of life, Of mastery and patience, Of good friends along the way, Of a pure and active life. So life in love. Do your work. Make an end of sorrow. For see how the jasmine Releases and lets fall Its withered flowers. Let fall willfulness and hatred. Are you quiet? Quieten your body. Quieten your mind. You want nothing. Your words are still. You are still. By your own efforts Waken yourself, watch yourself. And live joyfully. You are the master, You are the refuge. As a merchant breaks in a fine horse, Master yourself. How gladly you follow The words of the awakened. How quietly, how surely You approach the happy country, The heart of stillness. However young, The seeker who sets out upon the way Shines bright over the world. Like the moon, Come out from behind the clouds! Shine.
The True Master
Wanting nothing With all your heart Stop the stream. When the world dissolves Everything becomes clear. Go beyond This way or that way, To the farther shore Where the world dissolves And everything becomes clear. Beyond this shore And the father shore, Beyond the beyond, Where there is no beginning, No end. Without fear, go. Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work, with mastery. By day the sun shines, And the warrior in his armor shines. By night the moon shines, And the master shines in meditation. But this day and night The man who is awake Shines in the radiance of the spirit. A master gives up mischief. He is serene. He leaves everything behind him He does not take offense And he does not give it. He never returns evil for evil. Alas for the man Who raises his hand against another, And even more for him Who returns the blow. Resist the pleasures of life And the desire to hurt – Till sorrows vanish. Never offend By what you think or say or do. Honor the man who is awake And shows you the way. Honor the fire of his sacrifice. Matted hair or family or caste Do not make a master But the truth and goodness With which he is blessed. Your hair is tangled And you sit on a deerskin. What folly! When inside you are ragged with lust. The master’s clothes are in tatters. His veins stand out, He is wasting away. Alone in the forest He sits and meditates. A man is not born to mastery. A master is never proud. He does not talk down to others. Owning nothing, he misses nothing. He is not afraid. He does not tremble. Nothing binds him. He is infinitely free. So cut through The strap and the thong and the rope. Loosen the fastenings. Unbolt the doors of sleep And awake. The master endures Insults and ill treatment Without reacting. For his spirit is an army. He is never angry. He keeps his promises. He never strays, he is determined. This body is my last, he says! Like water on the leaf of a lotus flower Or a mustard seed on the point of a needle, He does not cling. For he has reached the end of sorrow And has laid down his burden. He looks deeply into things And sees their nature. He discriminates And reaches the end of the way. He does not linger With those who have a home Nor with those who stray. Wanting nothing, He travels on alone. He hurts nothing. He never kills. He moves with love among the unloving, With peace and detachment Among the hungry and querulous. Like a mustard seed from the point of a needle Hatred has fallen from him, And lust, hypocrisy and pride. He offends no one. Yet he speaks the truth. His words are clear But never harsh. Whatever is not his He refuses, Good or bad, great or small. He wants nothing from this world And nothing from the next. He is free. Desiring nothing, doubting nothing, Beyond judgment and sorrow And the pleasures of the senses, He had moved beyond time. He is pure and free. How clear he is. He is the moon. He is serene. He shines. For he has traveled Life after life The muddy and treacherous road of illusion. He does not tremble Or grasp or hesitate. He has found peace. Calmly He lets go of life, Or home and pleasure and desire. Nothing of men can hold him. Nothing of the gods can hold him. Nothing in all creation can hold him. Desire has left him, Never to return. Sorrow has left him, Never to return. He is calm. In him the seed of renewing life Had been consumed. He has conquered all the inner worlds. With dispassionate eye He sees everywhere The falling and the uprising. And with great gladness He knows that he has finished. He has woken from his sleep. And the way he has taken Is hidden from men, Even from spirits and gods, By virtue of his purity. In him there in no yesterday, No tomorrow, No today. Possessing nothing, Wanting nothing. He is full of power. Fearless, wise, exalted. He has vanquished all things. He sees by virtue of his purity. He has come to the end of the way, Over the river of his many lives, His many deaths. Beyond the sorrow of hell, Beyond the great joy of heaven, By virtue of his purity. He has come to the end of the way. All that he had to do, he has done. And now he is one.