Transcribed from the audio tapes ‘Voice of the Buddha’ with peace, love, respect and gratitude. These texts are very old and have been translated many many times. However there is an essence of self mastery and awareness that makes these texts, the teachings of the Buddha.
The Voice of the Buddah Disk Two :
The Buddha was able through his teaching and the spiritual impact of his presence to inspire people to change their lives and dedicate themselves to practicing his teaching. The story of Angulimala is a striking example. A feared bandit described as murderous, bloody handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings, Angulimala had earned his name through undertaking to make himself a necklace, Mala, of human fingers, Anguli. He killed whoever he could and added one of their fingers to his collection. The Buddha was warned that Angulimala has laid waste villages, towns and districts and yet he knowingly set out to walk the road to Angulimala. The story is told in the words of Armada, Buddha’s cousin. It is said that Armada who was the Buddha’s companion for the last 25 years of his life was always present until the Buddha talked, in fact Armada made this a condition of becoming the Buddha’s attendant. Whenever he was not able to be present while the Buddha was teaching, then the Buddha would repeat to him whatever he had said the next they met. Armada is said to have memorised the Buddha’s words and to have repeated these when the scriptures came to be collected.
Armada tells the story.
The bandit Angulimala saw the Blessed One coming in the distance. When he saw him, he thought: “It is wonderful! It is marvellous! Men have come along this road in groups of ten, twenty, thirty, even forty, but still they fallen into my hands, and now this recluse comes alone, unaccompanied, as if driven by fate. Why shouldn’t I take this recluses life?” Angulimala then took up his sword & shield, buckled on his bow & quiver and followed close behind the Blessed One.
Then the Blessed One performed such a feat of supernormal power such that the bandit Angulimala, though walking as fast as he could, could not catch up with the Blessed One who was walking at his normal pace. Then the bandit Angulimala thought: “It is wonderful! It is marvellous! Formerly I could catch up even with a swift elephant and seize it, I could catch up with a swift horse and seize it, I could catch up even with a swift chariot and seize it, I could catch up even with a swift deer and seize it. But now, though I’m walking as fast as I can, I cannot catch up with this recluse who is walking at his normal pace.” He stopped and called out to the Blessed One, “Stop, recluse! Stop recluse!”
“I have stopped, Angulimala. You stop too.”
Then the bandit Angulimala thought, “These recluses, sons of Sakyan, speak truth, assert truth, and though this recluse is still walking, he says, ‘I have stopped, Angulimala. You stop too.’ Suppose I question this recluse?”
The bandit Angulimala addressed the Blessed One in stanza’s thus:
“While you are walking, recluse, you tell me, ‘you have stopped.’ But now when I have stopped you say I have not stopped. I ask you now oh recluse about the meaning: How is it that you have stopped and I have not?”
The enlightened one said: “Angulimala, I have stopped forever, I abstain from violence towards living beings. But, you have no restraint towards things that live. That is why I have stopped and you have not.”
And Angulimala said: “At long last this recluse a venerated sage has come to this great forest for my sake. Having heard your stanza teaching me the Dhamma, I will indeed renounce evil forever.” So saying, the bandit took his sword and weapons and flung them in a gaping chasms pit. The bandit worshipped the sublime ones feet and then and there asked for the Going-forth. The enlightened One, the sage of the great compassion, the teacher of the world with all its gods, addressed him with these words: “Come, bhikkhu.” And that was how he came to be a bhikkhu.
Through his courage and the simple directness of his teachings, the Buddha was able to convince even Angulimala to set aside his violent ways and follow a path of peace. When king Ajatasathu of Magava heard that the Buddha was staying in a mango grove near one of his palaces, he set out to visit him in the hope that the Buddha would enlighten him and bring peace to his mind. Armanda continues the story:
And king Ajatasathu, having placed his wives on one of each of 500 elephants, mounted the royal tusker and proceeded in royal state accompanied by torch bearers from Raja Gaha towards Jevakah’s mango grove. When king Ajatasathu came near the mango grove he felt fear and terror and his hair stood on end. Feeling this fear and the rising of the hairs, the king said to Jevakah, friend Jevakah, you are not deceiving me, you are not tricking me, you are not delivering me up to an enemy, how is it that from this great number of 1250 monks not a sneeze, a cough or a shout is to be heard? Do not fear your majesty, I would not trick you, or deceive you or deliver you up to an enemy. Approach sire, approach, there are the lights burning in the round pavilion. King Ajatasathu having ridden on his elephant as the ground would permit, alighted and continued onto the door of the round pavilion. Then he said Jevikah, where is the Lord?’ That is the lord sitting in front of the middle column with his order of monks in front of him. Then King Ajatasathu went up to the lord and stood at one side and standing there to one side the king observed how the order of monks continued in silence like a clear lake. He exclaimed if only Prince Uda Abada were possessed with such calm as this order of monks.
The life to which the Buddha invited his listeners was one of tranquillity but also a life of vigour, driving the wisdom, kindness and awakening. After the Buddha had answered King Ajatasathu’s many questions, the king exclaimed as Armanda reports.
“Excellent lord, excellent. It is as if someone were to set up what has been knocked down or to point out the way to one who had got lost or to bring an oil lamp into a dark place so that those with eyes could see what was there. Just so the blessed lord has expounded the dharma in various ways and I lord go for refuge to the blessed lord and to the dharma and to the sangha. May the blessed lord accept me from this day forth as a lay follower as long as life should last.”
The Buddha discouraged his followers from dwelling upon certain kinds of philosophical or scholastic questions such as debates whether the universe was eternal or not, whether it is finite or infinite. When the monk Malunkyaputta was taken up on such questions, he came to ask the Buddha for answers. The Buddha’s reply summarises an important attitude of the tradition. He said,
“Suppose Malunkyaputta a man was wounded by an arrow smeared with poison and his friends and relatives brought a surgeon to treat him. The man will say I will not let the surgeon pull out this arrow until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble or a brahman or a merchant or a worker and he will say I will not let the surgeon pull out this arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me, until I know whether the man who wounded me was tall or short or of middle height, until I know whether the man who wounded me was dark or golden skinned, until I know whether the man who wounded me lives in such a village or town or city, until I know whether the bow that wounded me was a long bow, or a cross bow, until I know whether the bow string that wounded me was fibre or reed or seed or sinew or hemp or bark. Until I know whether the shaft that wounded me was wild or cultivated, until I know with what kind of feathers the shaft that wounded me was fitted, whether those of a vulture or a crow or a hawk or a peacock or a stork, until I know with what kind of sinew the shaft that wounded me was bound, whether that of an ox or a buffalo or a lion or a monkey, until I know what kind of arrow it was that wounded me, whether it was hoof tipped, or curved, or barbed, or carved tooth or oleander. And all this would still not be known to that man. Meanwhile he would die.
“So too, Malunkyaputta if anyone should say this, ‘I should not lead the holy life under the blessed one until the blessed one declares to me the world is eternal, or after death a Tathargata neither exists or does not exist,’ that would still remain undeclared by the Tathargata and meanwhile that person would die.
The point of these verses is not that philosophical questions should never be asked but that we are faced with more pressing issues then the abstract unanswerable questions we often spend time on. We confuse ourselves becoming wrapped up in speculation, rather than directly addressing the source of our painful experience which lies in the three poisons of greed, hatred, and illusion. The consolation of the Buddha’s words lies in the fact that a skilled surgeon can quite easily remove the arrow. The Buddha’s approach to teaching was straightforward and simple. His concern was to help people to change their lives, to attend to what is truly meaningful and to develop qualities of wisdom kindness and compassion. And though his teaching extended into all aspects of human life, he repeatedly directed his disciples back to his more fundamental points contained in scriptures like the dharmapada. The teachings on the four noble truths; which he enumerated in his very first discourse, remain central and he returned to it throughout his teaching life.
Here Armanda again speaks.
“On one occasion the blessed one was dwelling at Kasambi in a Simsapa grove. Then the blessed one took up a few Simsapa leaves in his hands and addressed the bhikkhu’s thus. What do you think bhikkhu’s, which is more numerous, these few simsapa leaves I have taken up in my hand or those in the simsapa grove overhead? Venerable sir, the simsapa leaves that the blessed one has taken up in his hand are few but those in the simsapa grove overhead are numerous. So bhikkhu’s the things that I have directly known but have not taught you are numerous, while the things I have taught you are few. And why bhikkhu’s have I not taught those many things, because they are unbeneficial, irrelevant to the fundamentals of the holy life and do not lead to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nirbanna, therefore I have not taught them. And what bhikkhu’s have I taught? I have taught this is suffering. I have taught this is the origin of suffering. I have taught this is the cessation of suffering, this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering. And why bhikkhu’s have I taught this? Because this is beneficial, relevant to the fundamentals of the holy life and leads to revulsion to dissertion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nirbanna, therefore I have taught this. Therefore bhikkhu’s an assertion should be made to understand, this is suffering. An assertion should be made to understand, this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.”
Here follows a collection of readings from the Pali scriptures, the oldest written text of Buddhism which illustrates fundamental aspects of the Buddhist teachings. Where necessary some texts have been slightly shortened and brief introductory paragraphs included. The intention is as far as possible to allow the listener to hear the Buddha speaking in the words of the scriptures. “Thus have I heard,” most early Buddhist scriptures begin with this formula which reflects Buddhisms roots in aural tradition. In the following account of an incident involving the monk Meghiya, the Buddha outlines the Patimokkha, the basic code of monastic discipline, an extensive list of ethical and behavioural constraints, set down in the texts of the Vinaya Pitaka. Meghiya the Buddha’s attendant learns from direct experience that there is a right time to practice and a right time to do ones job.
Thus have I heard. On a certain occasion the Blessed One dwelt at Calaka, on the Calaka mountain.
Now at that time the venerable Meghiya was the attendant of the Blessed One. And the venerable Meghiya went to where the Blessed One was and drawing near, he saluted the Blessed One and stationed himself respectfully apart, and while thus standing the venerable Meghiya said to the Blessed One: “I wish, Sire, to enter the village of Jantu to go on my rounds for alms.”
“Very well, Meghiya, do as you think fit.”
And the venerable Meghiya clothing himself in the forenoon and taking his alms-bowl and tunic entered the Jantu village for alms. And when he had gone his rounds and finished his meal, he went to the banks of the Kimikâla-river and as he wandered on foot from place to place along the banks of the river, he beheld an enchanting and delightful grove of Mango-trees. And when he saw it, he exclaimed: “How beautiful, how lovely is this Mango Grove! Truly this is a fitting place for a scion of noble family to struggle and strive (after holiness). If the Blessed One consents, I will return to this Mango Grove and there struggle and strive in meditation.”
And the venerable Meghiya went to where the Blessed One was and drawing near, he saluted the Blessed One and sat down respectfully apart and while thus sitting, he said to the Blessed One: “In the forenoon, Sire, having put on my garments and taking my alms-bowl and tunic, I entered the Jantu village for alms, and when I had gone my rounds and finished my meal, I went to the banks of the Kimikâla-river and wandering on foot from place to place I beheld an enchanting and delightful Grove of Mango-trees and when I saw it, I exclaimed: ‘How lovely, how beautiful is this Mango Grove! Surely this is a fitting place for a scion of noble family, to struggle and strive in meditation’. If the Blessed One will consent, I will return to this Mango Grove and struggle and strive in meditation.”
When these words had been spoken, the Blessed One said to the venerable Meghiya: “Wait, for the present, Meghiya, we are alone now, at least till some other Bhikkhu arrives.”
And a second time the venerable Meghiya spoke to the Blessed One, saying: “No further duties, Sire, have to be performed by the Blessed One, no further experience is needed, but I, Sire, have duties still to perform, and experience to gain. If Sire, the Blessed One consents, I will go to that Mango Grove and enter upon the struggle.”
The second time, the Blessed One said to the venerable Meghiya: “Wait a while, Meghiya, we are alone now, at least till some other Bhikkhu arrives.”
The venerable Meghiya asked the Blessed One for a third time to go to the Mango Grove.
“As to the struggle, Meghiya, in what terms shall I declare it to you? Do now, Meghiya, as you think best.”
And the venerable Meghiya arose from his seat and saluted the Blessed One and passing round keeping his right side to him, he went to where the Mango Grove was, and drawing near he entered the Mango Grove and sat down during the heat of the day at the foot of a tree.
And while living in that Mango Grove, the venerable Meghiya was constantly assailed by three kinds of evil and unlawful thoughts, namely lustful thoughts, malicious thoughts, and cruel thoughts.
And the venerable Meghiya thought to himself: “How strange is it, how marvellous is it, that I, who through faith have abandoned my home for the homeless state, should be filled with these three evil and unlawful thoughts, namely, lustful thoughts, malicious thoughts, and cruel thoughts.”
And the venerable Meghiya arose from his solitary communings and went to where the Blessed One was and having saluted the Blessed One, he sat down respectfully apart and while thus sitting he said to the Blessed One: “while living in that Mango Grove, Sire, I was assailed by three evil and unlawful thoughts, namely lustful thoughts, malicious thoughts and cruel thoughts and I thought how strange, how marvellous is it, that I who through faith have abandoned my home for the homeless state, should be assailed by these three evil and unlawful thoughts.
When these words had been spoken the Blessed One said to the venerable Meghiya. “For the immaturely released heart, O Meghiya, five conditions conduce to maturity. What are these five?
In this world, Meghiya, a Bhikkhu should have a virtuous friend, a virtuous companion. For the immaturely released heart, Meghiya, this is the first condition which conduces to maturity.
Further, Meghiya, a Bhikkhu should be pious, should live a life of restraint according to the precepts, and be endued with right conduct, perceiving danger in the least of the sins, and adopting the moral precepts, should exercise himself therein. For the immaturely released heart, Meghiya, this is the second condition which conduces to maturity.
Further, Meghiya, there should be discourses such as tend to the eradication of evil, to a beneficial expansion of the heart, to an utter weariness of the world, to the cessation of all desire, to tranquillity, to the higher knowledge, to supreme enlightenment, to Nirvana, that is, discourses on frugality, on contentment, solitude, exclusiveness, effort and exertion, piety, self-concentration, wisdom and emancipation as resulting from insight acquired by knowledge. By means of such discourses satisfaction is obtained, and trouble and difficulties overcome.
For the immaturely released heart, Meghiya, this is the third condition which conduces to maturity.
Further, Meghiya, the Bhikkhu should live a life of effort and exertion, abandoning unlawful practises, he should practise what is lawful, he should be resolute, put forth his strength, not throwing down the burden in the practise of those things that are lawful.
For the immaturely released heart, Meghiya, this is the fourth condition which conduces to maturity.
Further, Meghiya, the Bhikkhu should have wisdom, should be endowed with a knowledge of the ‘rise and set’ of things, of sublime penetration, and of that which leads to the complete cessation of sorrow.
For the immaturely released heart, Meghiya, this is the fifth condition which conduces to maturity.
For the immaturely released heart, Meghiya, these are the five conditions which conduce to maturity.
Thus, Meghiya, when the Bhikkhu has provided himself with a virtuous friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous associate, it is to be expected that he will become pious, that he will live a life of restraint according to the precepts and be endued with right conduct, and seeing danger in the least of the sins, will adopt the moral precepts and exercise himself therein; and those discourses which tend to the eradication of evil, to a beneficial expansion of the heart, to an utter weariness of the world, to the cessation of all desire, to tranquillity, to the higher knowledge, to supreme enlightenment, to Nirvana, namely, discourses on frugality, contentment, solitude, exclusiveness, effort and exertion, piety, self-concentration, wisdom and emancipation resulting from insight acquired by knowledge. By the means of such discourses satisfaction is obtained and trouble and difficulties overcome.
Thus the Bhikkhu with a virtuous friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous associate will live a life of effort and exertion, and abandoning unlawful practises will practise what is lawful, he will be resolute, put forth his strength and not throw down the burden in the practise of what is lawful.
Thus the Bhikkhu with a virtuous friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous associate, will become wise, will be endowed with a knowledge of the ‘rise and set’ of things, of sublime penetration, and of that which conduces to the complete cessation of sorrow.
Moreover, Meghiya, the Bhikkhu who holds to these five conditions, must give special attention to four other conditions; in order to abandon lust he must dwell on the impurity of the body, in order to forsake malice he must dwell on kindness, with a view to the excision of evil thoughts, he must practise meditation by counting inhalations and exhalations; for the removal of the pride which says ‘I am’, he must exercise himself in the consciousness of the impermanency of all things. By the consciousness of impermanence, the consciousness of non-egoity is established, and he who is conscious of non-egoity succeeds in the removal of the notion ‘I am’, and in this very existence attains to Nirvana.”
Bahiya: There once was an ascetic known as Bahiya of the bark garment, named for the rough material of his clothing. Bahiya sought the Buddha travelling a very great distance across India in order to meet him. When he arrived where the Buddha was staying in a grove belonging to one of his wealthy patrons, near the town of Savatthi, Bahiya was informed that the Buddha was on his alms round. He decided none the less to find him and request a teaching.
Armanda tells the story.
“Bahiya beheld the exalted one going about his rounds for alms in Savatthi. The lord gracious beautiful to behold, with sense stilled and mind restrained as one who has obtained the supreme calms of self-conquest, subdued and guarded. And when he beheld him, he went to where the Exalted One was and drawing near, he bowed his head in salutation at the feet of the Exalted One and said: “Teach me, O Exalted One, the doctrine; O happy One, teach me the doctrine, so that throughout the length of my days it may conduce to my happiness and welfare,”
When these words had been spoken the Blessed One said to Bahiya ; “The time is ill-chosen, I have entered the city for alms.”
A second time Bahiya Daruciriya said to the Blessed One: “It is hard. Sire, to know to which of us death will first come; whether to the Blessed One or to me; teach me the doctrine, O, Blessed One; O, Happy One, teach me the doctrine, so that throughout the length of my days, it may be for my welfare and happiness.”
A second time the Blessed One said to Bahiya: “The time is ill-chosen, I have entered the city for alms.”
A third time Bahiya said to the Blessed One, “It is hard. Sire, to know to which of us death will first come; whether to the Blessed One or to me; teach me the doctrine, O, Blessed One; O, Happy One, teach me the doctrine, so that throughout the length of my days, it may be for my welfare and happiness.”
“Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself in this way. In the seen there will be only the seen; in the heard only the heard; in the sensed only the sensed, in the cognised only the cognised. That is how you should train yourself.
“When for you there will be only the seen in the seen, only the heard in the heard, only the sensed, only the cognised in the cognised, then Bahiya there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This is the end of suffering.”
And the heart of Bahiya, by this concise exposition of the Doctrine by the Blessed One, was freed from ‘attachment.’
The Karuna Metta Sutta: This Sutta contains the essence of the Buddha’s teachings on Meta or loving kindness. It speaks first of the general attitude and lifestyle that best supports the cultivation of this quality: a simple and frugal life uncorrupted, capable and just, mild. And then proceeds to outline a meditation practice for cultivating Metta beginning with the phrase, ‘May everything that lives be well.’ Through such active well-wishing supported by an imaginative identification with other living beings, one works to secure a mind of love.
If you know your own good
and know where peace dwells
then this is the task:
Lead a simple and a frugal life
uncorrupted, capable and just;
be mild, speak soft, eradicate conceit,
keep appetites and senses calm.
Be discreet and unassuming;
do not seek rewards.
Do not have to be ashamed
in the presence of the wise.
May everything that lives be well!
Weak or strong, large or small, seen or unseen, here or elsewhere,
present or to come, in heights or depths,
may all be well.
Have that mind for all the world
get rid of lies and pride
a mother’s mind for her baby,
her love, but now unbounded.
Secure this mind of love,
no enemies, no obstructions,
wherever or however you may be!
It is sublime, this,
it escapes birth and death,
losing lust and delusion,
and living in the truth!
Mahamangala Sutta: Asked by a minor deity to account for the highest blessings one might enjoy the Buddha offered a catalogue of positive qualities and attainments. Each in turn is described as the highest blessing. From associating with the wise instead of fools, from supporting ones parents and cherishing ones wife and children to possessing a mind that is void of sorrow, stainless and secure, each of these is the highest blessing at its own level. From ordinary day to day concerns to the complete transformation to awakening symbolised here by the stainless mind. If one is forced to spend ones time with foolish people it is a great blessing to meet a wise man or woman. If one is married and has children then to cherish your partner and children is a great blessing. And within the Buddha’s teaching a mind that is void of sorrow, stainless and secure is certainly the greatest blessing.
“For welfare wishing many gods and men have pondered on the most auspicious signs, tell us the most auspicious signs?”
The Buddha replied:
Not to serve fools but men of wisdom deep,
And to give worship to the worshipful.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
Live in a suitable locality with deeds of merit done in former times
and aspiration to the perfect state.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
Much knowledge and much skill in arts and crafts,
a well learned discipline and pleasant speech.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
The maintenance of parents past their youth,
the loving nurture of one’s child and wife
and following a peaceful livelihood.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
To give in charity, live righteously,
to help ones kindred in a time of need
and to do spotless deeds that bring no blame.
This is the most auspicious sign of all
To cease and utterly abstain from sin,
shunning all destroying drinks and drugs,
and to be vigilant in doing good.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
Reverent demeanour, humble heartedness,
contentment sweet and lowly gratitude
and harkening to the law at proper times.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
Patience in provocation, pleasant speech,
the sight of those who lead the holy life,
and talk about the Truth in season meet.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
Asceticism and the life sublime,
the vision splendid of the Noble Truths,
the seeing of Nibbana face to face.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
He whose firm mind, untroubled by the touch
of all terrestrial happenings whatso’er,
is void of sorrow, stainless, and secure.
This is the most auspicious sign of all.
Those who accomplish such good things as these
in every place unconquered do abide,
moving in perfect safety where they will.
Theirs are the most auspicious signs of all.
The Voice of the Buddah Disk One :
The Darmabuddha. When the child that was the Buddha was born, it is said that the Deva’s or shining ones that inhabit the heavens near earth shouted, sung, played music and danced with great joy. A famous seer, Ashita witnessed their celebration and asked what had occasioned it. They told him of the birth of Siddharta Gotama, declaring him the foremost jewel unequalled born for the welfare and ease of the human world, describing him as the highest of all beings, the ultimate person, a bull among men. They foresaw he would set turning the wheel of dharma, like a strong roaring lion, the conqueror of beasts. Ashita told Siddharta’s father that the boy would become either a world ruler or a spiritual ruler. To prevent him from being attracted away from a courtly life to follow a spiritual quest, Siddharta’s father, a nobleman surrounded him with tremendous wealth and the best of things, turbins and clothes of the finest varanasi silk, beautiful women, lotus ponds, a summer palace, a winter palace and one for the rainy season.
Eventually aged 29 having glimpsed the inevitability of illness, old age and death, Siddharta grew disenchanted and set out to live as a homeless wanderer seeking truth and meaning. Six years later having practiced austerities and meditated intently he had attained enlightenment, the unbounded state of freedom joy kindness clarity to which all Buddhists aspire.
A short while later he began to teach what he had realised known as dharma and he soon gathered a large following. Buddha is a title not a name. After Siddharta Gotama’s enlightenment he was known as many names, including Shakyamuni, the sage of the Shakyi tribe of which he was a member. Buddha means awake. The title applies to one who rediscovers the path of dharma when it has long been forgotten.
Tradition holds that there is a long line of Buddha’s of which Shakyamuni Buddha is the most recent. The Buddha taught for 45 years, instructing people of all backgrounds and at every level of society. When he died there came a tremendous earthquake, dreadful and astounding and the thunders rolled across the heavens. At the third Buddhist council convened by the great king Ashoka at the Tali Putra in India at around 250 BCE the final version of the scriptures was agreed. Another 100 to 150 years passed before these were written down. The scriptures were divided into three sections known as the Tipi Taka, literally meaning three baskets. Each basket contains one section or one form of the Buddha’s teaching. They are the Vinaya Pitaka containing the rules of conduct for monastic practitioners, the Sutta Pitika, a collection of more than 10 000 discourses, Sutta’s accounts of the Buddha teaching in a wide range of circumstances, including some delivered by his closest disciples. The abhidhamma Pitaka an extrapolation of the underlying doctrinal principles of the Sutta Pitaka which was compiled in the centuries following the Buddha’s death. The Sutta Pitika is divided into 5 sections, known as Nikaya’s (collections). The Digha Nikiya or collection of long discourses. The middle length or Majjhima Nikaya, the Samyutta Nikaya grouped collection, the Anguttara Nikaya or further factored collection and the Khuddaka Nikaya, the collection of little texts.
This recording includes readings from each of the five Nikaya’s, our main text the dhammapada is found in the Khuddaka Nikaya. The dhammapada is a comprehensive guide to living with wisdom and compassion. Each verse is said to have been spoken by the Buddha in response to a particular question or situation. The text has been translated many times since its first appearance in a Western language, Latin in 1855. This recording uses a version translated by the English teacher Sangharakshita first published in 2001.
Disk three explores dharma using passages from the Buddhist scriptures to introduce various ideas, values and practices. The word Sutta literally means thread. The Sutta’s thread together the words of the Buddha and his disciples.
The dhammapada’s contains the pith of the Buddha’s teachings on mental and ethical discipline. The opening statement that mind exceeds experience prepares the ground for the succeeding teachings in how to cultivate purity, love, stability, moderation and containment.
In this chapter an important figure from Buddhist mythology is introduced. Mara is the embodiment of evil representing forces that obstruct the attainment of enlightenment.
Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind and produced by mind. If a person speaks with an impure mind suffering follows even like the cartwheel follows the hoof of the ox drawing the cart.
Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind and produced by mind. If a person speaks with a pure mind happiness follows like a shadow that never departs.
Those who entertain such thoughts as, “He abused me, he beat me, he conquered me, he robbed me,” will not still their hatred.
Those who do not entertain such thoughts as, “He abused me, he beat me, he conquered me, he robbed me,” will still their hatred.
Not by hatred are hatreds ever pacified here in the world. They are pacified by love. This is the eternal law.
Others do not realize that we are all heading for death. Those that do realize this will compose their quarrels.
As the wind blows down a weak tree, so Mara overthrows the one who lives seeing the unlovely as lovely, whose senses are uncontrolled, whose immoderate in food, lazy, and of inferior vigour.
As the wind does not blow down the rocky mountain peak, so Mara does not overthrow the one who lives seeing the unlovely as lovely, whose senses are controlled, whose moderate in food, and whose faith and vigour are aroused.
He is not worthy of the yellow robe who takes it while still not free of impurity and lacking in self restraint and truth.
He is worthy of the yellow robe who has made an end to all impurity, who is well-established in virtuous conduct and who is endowed with self-restraint and truth.
Those who take the unreal for the real and who through the real see the unreal, they are wandering the sphere of wrong thought and will not attain the real.
Those who have known the real as the real and the unreal as the unreal, they, moving in the sphere of right thoughts, will attain the real.
As the rain penetrates the badly thatched house, so lust enters the spiritually undeveloped mind.
As the rain does not penetrate into the well-thatched house, so lust does not enter the spiritually well-developed mind.
The evil-doer grieves in both worlds. He grieves here and he grieves there. He suffers and torments himself seeing his own foul deeds.
The doer of good rejoices in both the worlds, he rejoices here and he rejoices there. He rejoices and is glad seeing his own pure deeds.
The evil-doer burns in both worlds. He burns here and he burns there. He burns with remorse thinking he has done evil and he burns with suffering having gone after death to an evil state.
The doer of good delights in both the worlds. He delights here and he delights there. He delights in this life thinking that he has done good and he delights after death having gone to a state of happiness.
He who for his own benefit constantly recites the canonical literature, but does not act accordingly, that heedless man, like a cowherd that counts the cows of others; is not enriched by the ascetic life.
He who for his own benefit recites only a little of the canonical literature, but lives in accordance with its principles, abandoning hatred, craving and illusion, possessed with right knowledge with mind well freed, clinging to nothing in this or any other world; he is enriched by the ascetic life.
Many forms of Buddhist meditation cultivate mindfulness with the aim of unifying and focusing the meditators energies. Such practices offer increasing stability and freedom towards the tendency of distraction towards the undisciplined mind and the untrained hearts susceptibility to ups and downs. The immortal or deathless mentioned in this chapter is one of the many synonyms for Nirvana, the goal of Buddhist practice, mentioned here as a state of freedom from death and rebirth.
Mindfulness is the way to the immortal. Unmindfullness is the way to death. Those who are mindful do not die; whereas the unmindful are like the dead.
Knowing the distinction of mindfulness, the spiritually mature rejoice in mindfulness and take delight in the sphere of the Noble Ones.
Absorbed in super conscious states, recollected and ever exerting themselves, those wise ones, realise Nirvana, the unsurpassed security.
Whoever is energetic, recollected, pure in conduct, considerate, self-restrained, of rightful life and mindful, the glory of such a one waxes exceedingly.
By means of energy, mindfulness, self-restraint and control, let the wise one make for himself an island that no flood can overwhelm.
Out of their evil understanding, the spiritually immature abandon themselves to unmindfulness. The wise one guards mindfulness as his chief treasure.
Do not abandon yourselves to unmindfulness. Have no intimacy in sensuous delights. The mindful person absorbed in super conscious states gains ample bliss.
As a dweller in the mountains looks down on those who dwell in the valley, so the spiritually mature person, the hero free of sorrow, having driven out unmindfulness by means of mindfulness, ascends to the palace of wisdom, and looks down on the sorrowful spiritually immature multitude below.
Mindful among the unmindful, wide-awake among the sleeping, the man of good understanding forges ahead like a swift horse outdistancing a feeble hack.
By means of mindfulness Magava attains the chieftaincy of the gods. Mindfulness is always praised, and unmindfulness always despised.
The monk who delights in mindfulness and looks with fear at heedlessness advances like fire, burning all fetters, small and large.
The bhikkhu who delights in heedfulness and regards unmindfulness with fear, advances like fire, burning up fetters gross and subtle. The bhikkhu who delights in heedfulness and regards unmindfulness with fear, is not liable to regression. He is in the presence of Nirvana.
This chapter continues to praise the well trained mind, warning of the dangers of disillusion and indiscipline and exhorting the benefits of steadiness, wakefulness, contentment and clarity, all of which lead to happiness and freedom.
As a fletcher straightens the arrow, so the man of understanding makes straight the trembling unsteady mind, which is difficult to guard and difficult to restrain.
As a fish thrashes from side to side when taken from one abode to another and cast on dry land, so the mind vibrates and throbs with the strain, as it abandons the domain of Mara.
The mind is frivolous and difficult to control, alighting on whatever it pleases. It is good to tame the mind. Attained mind brings happiness.
The mind is extremely subtle and difficult to grasp, alighting on whatever it pleases. Let the man of understanding keeps watch over the mind. A guarded mind brings happiness.
Far ranging and lone faring is the mind, incorporeal and abiding in the cave of the heart. Those who bring it under control are freed from the bonds of Mara.
His wisdom does not attain to perfection, whose mind is unsettled, who is ignorant of the real truth and whose faith wavers.
There is no fear for someone who is awake, whose mind is uncontaminated by craving and unperplexed and has given up vice and virtue.
Perceiving the body to be fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying the mind as though it were a city, with a sword of wisdom, make war on Mara. Free from attachment keep watch over what has been won.
Before long, this body devoid of consciousness will lie rejected on the ground, like a useless fagot.
Whatever foe may do to foe or hater do to hater, greater is the harm done to self by a wrongly directed mind.
Neither mother, nor father, nor any other relative can do one as much good as a perfectly directed mind.
Floral symbolism is variously used in this chapter to describe the limited beauties of the physical and the transcendent beauties of the spiritual. It contrasts the unreal accomplishments of those who simply mouth wise words with those who truly embody wisdom in a life of mindfulness and care.
Who shall conquer the earth and the realm of death with its deities? Who shall make out the well-taught verses of truth as an expert picks flowers?
The learner of the transcendental path shall conquer the realm of death and its deities. The learner shall make out the well taught verses of truth, as an expert picks flowers.
Seeing the body as froth, and thoroughly comprehending its mirage nature, let one proceed unseen by the King of Death, having broken the flower tipped arrows of Mara.
As a great flood carry’s away a sleeping village, so death bares of the man who possessed of longing plucks only the flowers of existence.
The Destroyer brings under his sway the man who possessed by longing plucks only the flowers of existence and who is insatiable in sexual passions.
Let the silent sage move about in the village as the bee goes taking honey from the flower without harming colour or fragrance.
One should pay no heed to the faults of others. What they have done or not done. Rather one should consider the things that one has oneself done and not done.
Like a beautiful flower brightly coloured but without scent, even so useless as the well uttered speech of one that does not act accordingly.
Like a beautiful flower brightly coloured but without scent, even so useless as the well uttered speech of one that acts accordingly.
As many garlands are made from a heap of flowers so one who is a mortal born should perform many ethically skilful deeds.
The fragrance of flowers, of sandalwood , of aromatic resin or jasmine does not go against the wind whereas the fragrance of the good does go against the wind. Sandalwood , or aromatic resin, blue lotus or wild jasmine, of all these kinds of fragrance, the odour of virtue is unsurpassed.
Sandlewood, or aromatic resin, blue lotus or wild jasmine, of all these kinds of fragrance, the odour of virtue is unsurpassed.
Insignificant in comparison is this fragrance of aromatic resin and sandalwood. The fragrance of virtue it is that blows amongst the gods as the highest.
Mara does not find the path of those that are virtuous, who live mindfully and who are freed through perfect knowledge.
As pink lotuses sweet scented and lovely spring from a heap of rubbish thrown in the highway so among those who have become as rubbish.
Among ignorant ordinary people the disciple of the Perfectly Enlightened One shines forth exceedingly in wisdom.
The Spiritually immature:
Chapters five and six contrast the qualities of the spiritually immature and the spiritually mature person. Here are listed some of the acts and attitudes it is necessary to abandon in order to move towards wisdom and maturity.
Long is the night of the wakeful, long is the league to one who is exhausted with travel. Long is the process of faring through repeated existences and those spiritually immature ones who know do not know the real Truth.
If he that goes about in search of truth and does not find one better than or at least similar to himself, let him firmly lead a solitary life. There is no companionship for him with the spiritually immature.
The spiritually immature person vexes himself with thinking, “Sons are mine, riches are mine.” He himself is not his own even, how then sons, how then riches?
The spiritually immature person who recognises his immaturity is to that extent mature. The spiritually immature one who thinks of himself as mature is termed immature indeed.
Though out his life a spiritually immature person honours one who is spiritually mature, he does not necessarily know the Truth any more than the spoon knows the taste of the soup.
If for a moment a wise man attends on one who is spiritually mature he quickly perceives the Truth, as the tongue at once detects the taste of the soup.
Of evil understanding, the spiritually immature live as enemies to themselves committing sinful deeds, the consequences of which are bitter.
That deed is not well done is which being done one repents and the result of which one suffers with tearful face and lamentations.
That deed is well done, which being done one does not repent and the result of which one receives gladly.
So long as it has not ripened, the spiritually immature one thinks sin as sweet as honey. But when sin does ripen, then the spiritually immature one suffers a downfall.
Month after month a spiritually immature person may eat his food with the tip of a blade of sacred cusa grass, yet his worth is not a fraction of those who have ascertained the Truth.
Unlike milk that flows immediately the teat is sucked, the sin that has been committed does not at once bear fruit, instead it pursues the spiritually immature person like a fire covered with ashes burning him only after a time.
The spiritually immature wins theoretical religious knowledge, only to his own disadvantage. It destroys his better nature while splitting his head.
One who is spiritually immature desires a false reputation, honour among fellow bhikkhu’s, authority over monastic settlements, and respect from the families living round about.
“Let both those householders and those who have gone forth from the household life approve what I have done. Let them be subject to me in all undertakings great and small,” such is the wish of the spiritually immature, as a result of which his craving and conceit increase.
One thing is that that leads to worldly gain, quite another is that that leads to Nirvana. Thus comprehending, let the bhikkhu, the disciple of the Buddha, take no delight in respectful greetings, but devote himself to solitude.
The spiritually mature:
Further shore there is a graphic image of the awakened state. While the unenlightened or spiritually immature can only run back and forth on the near side of the stream futilely expending energy in the encompassing pursuits of everyday life, the wise, the awakened, the spiritually mature are able to cross over to the cool refreshment of enlightenment. The seven factors of enlightenment, mentioned at the end of the chapter are practices and qualities aiding development towards spiritual maturity, mindfulness, investigation of mental states, energy, rapture, tranquillity, concentration and equanimity.
Should one see a man of understanding who as if indicating a buried treasure points out faults and administers reproofs, let one associate with such a spiritually mature person. To associate with one like this is good not evil.
Let him instruct, let him advise, let him restrain one from uncivilised behaviour and the result will be that he will be dear to the good and detestable to the bad.
Do not associate with evil friends; do not associate with low fellows. Associate with spiritual friends, associate with superior men.
One who has imbibed the truth, lives happily with well seeing mind. The spiritually mature person delights in the truth made known by the Noble.
Irrigators draw off waters, fletchers straighten arrows, carpenters shape wood, the spiritually mature discipline themselves.
As a solid rock cannot be shaken by the wind, so the spiritually mature person is unmoved by praise or blame.
Hearing the truth of things, the spiritually mature win insight, like a deep lake, suddenly becoming clear and undisturbed.
True men give up everything. The righteous do not speak wishing for sensuous pleasures. Touched now by pleasure, now by pain; the spiritually mature show neither elation nor depression.
Not for ones’ own sake, nor for the sake of others, should one desire sons, wealth or territory. One should not desire success for oneself by unrighteous means. He who behaves in such a way is virtuous, is wise, is righteous.
Few among men are those who go to the further shore. The other ordinary people chase up and down this shore.
Those people who conform themselves to the well explained truth of things and who are desirous of reaching the further shore will pass over the realm of Death, so difficult to transcend.
Forsaking dark ways, the spiritually mature person cultivates the bright. Coming from home to the homeless life, he abides in solitude which is hard to enjoy. Giving up delight in sensuous pleasures, the spiritually mature person, the man of no possessions, should purify himself from all mental defilements.
Those whose minds have cultivated to perfection the factors of enlightenment, and who, free from clinging, delight in the giving up of attachment, those bias free radiant ones become cool even in this life.
The Supremely worthy
The supremely worthy one whose impurities are extinct is awakened. He or she has reached the goal of practice, has gained the further shore. This chapter rejoices in the experiences of freedom, joy and tranquillity that characterise realisation on the Buddhist path.
The burning fever of passion does not exist for one who has finished his journey, who is free from sorrow wholly emancipated and released from all the bonds of conditionality.
The mindful who leave home do not delight in an abode; like wild geese quitting a lake, they abandon whatever security they have.
Those who do not accumulate material or mental possessions who thoroughly understand the true nature of the food they eat and whose range of experience is liberation through the realisation of the empty and unconditioned, their path like that of birds in the sky is difficult to trace.
He whose impurities are distinct, who is not attached to food and whose range of experience is liberation through the realisation of the empty and unconditioned, his path like that of birds in the sky is difficult to trace.
He whose senses are pacified like horses well controlled by the charioteer, who has eradicated conceit and who is free from impurities; the very gods’ love a man of such good qualities as these.
Like the earth he offers no opposition, like the main pillar of the city gate he stands firm. He is pure like a lake free from mud. For a man of such good qualities as these there are no wanderings from life to life.
Tranquil is the thought, tranquil is the word and deed, of that supremely tranquil person who is emancipated through words and knowledge.
He is a superior man who does not merely believe but who knows the unmade, who has severed all links with conditioned existence, put an end to the occasions of good and evil, and who has renounced all worldly hopes.
Whether village or forest, plane, or hill, delightful is that spot where the supremely worthy dwell.
Delightful are the forests where ordinary people find no pleasure. Those who are free from passion delight in them for they do not go in quest of sensuous enjoyment.
It does not matter how many times one repeats meaningless words, they will not lead to tranquillity. A single day lived with mindfulness and understanding is more beneficial than any number of years lived in confusion and distraction. This chapter compares the relative value of spending time on ultimately unimportant pursuits with living with awareness and engaging the heart with contemplative reflection on the true nature of conditioned things. Another figure from Eastern mythology is introduced, Brahma is the ruler of the realm of archetypal form. Rupaloka , a counterpart to Mara who governs the realm of sense desire, Kamaloka.
Better than a thousand meaningless words collected together, is a single meaningful word, on hearing which one becomes tranquil.
Better than a thousand meaningless verses collected together, is one meaningful line of verse, on hearing which one becomes tranquil.
Though one should recite a hundred verses without meaning, better is one line of Dhamma, on hearing which one becomes tranquil.
Though one should conquer in battle thousands upon thousands of men, yet he who conquers himself is truly the greatest in battle.
104 – 105
It is indeed better to conquer oneself than to conquer other people. Of a man who has subdued himself and who lives self controlled, neither a god, nor a celestial musician, nor Mara together with Brahma can undo the victory. The victory of a person who is subdued and controlled like that.
If month after month for a hundred years one should offer sacrifices by the thousands, and if for a single moment one should venerate a spiritually developed person, better is that act of veneration than a hundred years of sacrifices.
Though one should tend a sacred fire in the forest for a hundred years, yet if he venerates a spiritually developed person even for a moment, better is that act of veneration than the hundred years spent tending the sacred fire.
Whatever oblations and sacrifices one might offer here on earth in the course of the whole religious year seeking to gain merit thereby; all that is not a quarter meritorious as paying respect to those that live uprightly, which is indeed excellent.
For him who is of a reverential disposition, four things constantly increase; life, beauty, happiness and strength.
Though one should live a hundred years unethical and unintegrated; better is one single day lived ethically and absorbed in higher meditative states.
Though one should live a hundred years of evil understanding and unintegrated; better is one single day lived possessed of wisdom and absorbed in higher meditative states.
Better than a hundred years lived lazily with inferior energy is one single day lived with energy aroused and fortified.
Better than a hundred years lived unaware of the rise and fall of conditioned things is one single day lived aware of the rise and fall of conditioned things.
Better than a hundred years lived unaware of the deathless state is one single day lived aware of the deathless state.
Better than a hundred years lived unaware of the Supreme Truth is one single day lived aware of the Supreme Truth.
Since their results are seldom immediately evident we think our actions have no consequences, but Buddhist teachings insist that how we act will affect us in the future, either positively or negatively depending on our intentions. This belief is a strong impetus to generous kindly ethical action by means of which little by little one is filled with good.
Be quick to do what is morally beautiful, restrain the mind from evil. He who is sluggish in doing good, his mind delights in evil.
Should a man once do evil, let him not make a habit of it. Let him not set his heart on it. Painful is the heaping up of evil.
Should a man once do good, let him make a habit of it. Let him set his heart upon it, happy is the heaping up of good.
As long as it bears no fruit, so long the evil-doer sees the evil he has done, has good. When it bears fruit in the form of suffering, he recognises it as evil.
As long as it bears no fruit, so long the good man sees the good he has done, has evil. When it bears fruit in the form of happiness, then he recognises it as good.
Do not underestimate evil, thinking, “It will not approach me.” A water pot becomes full with the constant falling of drops of water. Similarly, the spiritually immature person, little by little, fills himself with evil.
Do not underestimate good, thinking, “It will not approach me.” A water pot becomes full with the constant falling of drops of water. Similarly, the wise man, little by little, fills himself with good.
As a merchant travelling with a small caravan and much wealth avoids a dangerous road, or as one desirous of life shuns poison, so should one keep clear of evil.
If one has no wound in ones hand, one may safely handle poison. The unwounded hand is not affected by poison. Similarly no evil befalls him who does no wrong.
Whoever offends against an innocent man, one who is pure and faultless, to that spiritually immature person, the evil he has committed comes back like fine dust thrown against the wind.
Some beings arise by way of conception in the womb; evil doers are born in a state of woe; those who do good go to heaven, those who are free from defilements become utterly cool.
Not in the sky nor in the midst of the sea, nor yet in the clefts of mountains, nowhere in the world in fact is there any place to be found where having entered one can abide free from the consequences of ones’ evil deeds.
Not in the sky nor in the midst of the sea, nor yet in the clefts of mountains, nowhere in the world in fact is there any place to be found where having entered one will not be overcome by death.
This chapter warns of the danger of ethical downfall. Importantly this is described not just in terms of actions that harm, but also attitudes, such as conceit and rough and useless speech. Living with awareness that our actions will have consequences, sooner or later encourages care and discipline in how we relate to others and ourselves.
All living beings are terrified of punishment. All fear death. Making comparison of others with oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill.
All living beings are terrified of punishment. To all life is dear. Making comparison of others with oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill.
Whoever torments with a stick, creatures desirous of happiness, he himself thereafter seeking happiness, will not attain happiness.
Whoever does not torment with a stick, creatures desirous of happiness, he himself thereafter seeking happiness, will attain happiness.
Do not speak roughly to anyone, those thus spoken to will answer back. Painful indeed is angry talk as a result of which one will experience retribution.
If you can silence yourself like a shattered metal plate, you have already attained Nirvana, no anger is found in you.
As a cowherd drives cows out to pasture with a stick, so do old age and death drive the life out of living beings.
A spiritually immature person performs evil deeds, not realizing their true nature. By his own actions is the man of evil understanding, tormented as though consumed by fire.
Whoever inflicts punishment on the innocent or who offends against the unoffending, he speedily falls into one of the ten states:
138 – 140
He meets either with intense physical pain, or material loss, or bodily injury, or serious illness, or mental derangement, or he meets with trouble from the government, or a serious accusation, or bereavement, or loss of wealth, or else his houses are consumed by fire; while on dissolution of the body he is reborn in a state of woe.
Not going about naked, not the wearing of matted locks, not abstention from food, not sleeping on the bare ground, not smearing the body with dust and ashes, nor yet the practice of squatting on the balls of the feet, can purify a mortal who has not overcome his doubts.
If one who is richly adorned lives in tranquillity is calm, controlled, assured of eventual enlightenment and devotes himself to the spiritual life, laying down the stick with regards to all living beings, then despite his being richly adorned, he is a Brahmana, he is an ascetic, he is a bhikkhu.
In the whole world is there a man to be found who, restrained by sense of shame, avoids reproach, as a good horse avoids the whip.
Like a good horse touched by the whip, be zealous, and stirred by profound religious emotion. By means of faith, upright conduct, energy, concentration and an investigation of the truth, as well as by being endowed by spiritual knowledge and righteous behaviour, and by being mindful, leave this great suffering behind.
Irrigators draw off the waters, fletchers straighten arrows, carpenters shape wood, righteous men discipline themselves.
Decay: A human birth is considered a great and rare opportunity, traditionally it is said to be as unlikely as the possibility of a blind seat turtle that rises from the depths only one every one hundred years, breaking the water so that its head pokes through the hole of a yoke afloat on the wide ocean. And yet it passes so quickly. The body is subject to suffering and decay and we all eventually die. This chapter is an urgent call to attention. Grasp this opportunity for awakening.
What mirth can there be, what pleasure when all the time everything is blazing with the three fold fire of suffering, impermanence and insubstantiality.
Covered though you are in blind darkness, you do not seek a light. Look at this painted doll, this pretentious mass of sores, wretched and full of cravings, nothing of which is stable or lasting.
Wasted away is this body, a nest of disease, and perishable. The putrid mass breaks up, death is the end of life.
When like gourds in autumn, these dove grey bones lie here discarded, what pleasure can one take in looking at them.
The body is a city built of bones, and plastered with flesh and blood; a city wherein lie concealed decay and death, pride and hypocrisy.
Even the richly decorated royal chariots, in time wear out, likewise the body also perishes. But the truth of the mindful does not perish; for those who are tranquil, speak of it to the well-bred.
The man of little learning lives like a stalled ox. His flesh increases, but, his wisdom does not.
Many a birth have I undergone in this process of fairing on around conditioned existence, seeking the builder of this house and not finding him. Painful is such repeated birth.
House-builder, now you are seen! Never again shall you build me a house. Your rafters are all broken, your ridgepole shattered, the conditioned mind too is gone to distruction. One has attained to the cessation of craving.
Those who have have not led the spiritual life, or obtained the wealth of merit in their youth, such is these brewed over the past like aged herons in a pond without fish.
Those who have not lead the spiritual life, or obtained the wealth of merit in their youth, such as these, lie like worn out arrows lamenting the things of old.
Self: We each are responsible for our own actions and attitudes. No other person or deities can protect us from the consequence of their actions and so we must establish for ourselves a sound and appropriate sense of how to live a good life and scrupulously attend to what is best and wisest.
If a man really regards himself as dear, let him well truly protect himself, during one or another of the three watches of the night, the spiritually mature person should keep wide awake.
First establish yourself in what is suitable, then advise others. The spiritually mature person should not besmirch himself by acting otherwise.
Should you act as you advise others to act, then it would be a case of one who is self controlled exercising control over others.
The self is truly difficult to control; one is indeed ones own protector. What other protectors should there be? With oneself well controlled, one finds a protector who is hard to find.
The evil done by oneself, born of oneself and produced by oneself, destroys the man of evil understanding, as a diamond pulverises a peace of rock crystal.
He whose unprincipled behaviour is without limits, like a maloova creeper overspreading a sul tree, does to his own self that which his enemy wishes to do to him.
Easily done are things which are bad and not beneficial to oneself. What is both beneficial and good, that is exceedingly difficult to do.
A man of evil understanding who, on account of his wrong views, obstructs the message of the supremely worthy, noble ones, the man of authentic life, that wicked person like a cetak reed, performs actions to his own destruction.
A man besmirches himself by the evil he personally commits, similarly he purifies himself by personally abstaining from evil. Purity and impurity are matters of personal experience. One man cannot purify another.
Consequently one should not neglect one’s own spiritual welfare for the welfare of others, great as that may be. Clearly perceiving what constitute one’s personal welfare, one should devote oneself to one’s own good.
The world: A good life is joyful and beneficial, delightful day by day its consequences too are positive. So, one gains now and in the future. However one has lived in the past, taking up Dhamma practice we grow in wisdom and happiness and are better able to distinguish what is truly beneficial from our mistaken perceptions of the conditioned world.
Don’t follow inferior principles; don’t live heedlessly; don’t entertain false views; don’t be the one whom by following inferior principles keeps the world going.
Get up! Don’t be heedless! Live practicing the Dhamma. The Dhamma which is good conduct. One who lives practicing the Dhamma dwells happily both in this world and the other.
Live practicing the Dhamma; do not live behaving badly. One who lives practicing the Dhamma dwells happily both in this world and the other world.
Look upon the world as a bubble. Look upon it as a mirage. The King of Death does not see one who looks upon the world in this way.
Come! Just look at this world, which is like decorated royal chariot in which the spiritually immature sink down, but with regard to which there is no attachment on the part who really know.
One who having formerly been heedless, later is not heedless no more, lights up the world like the moon when freed from clouds.
One who covers over the evil deeds he has done with ethically skilful actions, lights up this world like the moon when freed from clouds.
This world is mentally blinded, few see clearly. Few are those who like birds freed from the net, go to heaven.
Swans fly on the path of the sun; those with supernormal powers travel through the air; the wise having conquered Mara and his army are lead away from the world.
There is no wrong that cannot be committed by a lying person who has transgressed one good principle and who has given up all thought of the other world.
Truly, misers do not get to the world of the gods; only the spiritually immature do not praise giving. The wise man rejoices in giving, and therefore is happy in the hereafter.
The fruit of stream entry is better than soul sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds.
The Enlightened One:
The true happiness of the enlightened ones cannot be found in the things of everyday life. The beauty and pleasure of the spiritual realm is far greater than the conditioned. And though we seek refuge in the suffering of the things of the world, these cannot ongoingly sustain us. The people we love will fade and die. Things we crave will break and fail us. This chapter describes the enlightened one who has put an end to craving of things of this world, who has transcended illusion and passed beyond grief and lamentation.
That enlightened one whose sphere is endless, whose victory is irreversible and after whose victory no defilements remain to be conquered. By what track will you lead him astray, the trackless one.
That enlightened one in whom there is not that ensnaring and entangling craving to lead anywhere in conditioned existence and whose sphere is endless, by what track will you lead him astray, the trackless one.
Those wise ones who are intent in absorption in higher meditative states and who delight in the calm of renunciation, even the gods love them, those thoroughly enlightened and mindful ones.
Difficult is the attainment of a human state, difficult is the life of mortals. Difficult is the hearing of the real Truth, difficult is the appearance of the enlightened ones.
Not doing of anything evil, undertaking to do what is ethically skilful and complete purification of the mind, this is the ordinance of the enlightened ones.
Patient endurance is the best form of penance. “Nirvana is the highest,” say the enlightened ones. No true goer forth from the household life is he who injures another, nor is he a true ascetic who persecutes others.
Not to speak evil, not to injure , to exercise restraint through the observance of the code of conduct, to be moderate in diet, and to occupy oneself with higher mental states — this is the ordinance of the enlightened ones.
186 – 187.
Not even in a shower of money is satisfaction of desires to be found. Worldly pleasures are of little relish, indeed painful. Thus understanding this, the spiritually mature person takes no delight even in heavenly pleasures. The disciple of the fully perfectly enlightened one takes delight only in the destruction of craving.
Many people out of fear flee for refuge to sacred hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines.
In reality this is not a safe refuge; in reality this is not the best refuge. Fleeing to such a refuge one is not released from all suffering.
190 – 191.
He who goes for refuge to the enlightened one, to the truth and to the spiritual community and who see with perfect wisdom the Four Arian Truths, namely suffering, the origin of suffering, the passing beyond suffering, and the Ariyan Eightfold Way leading to the pacification of suffering.
For him this is a safe refuge; for him this is the best supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is released from all suffering.
Hard to come by is the ideal man. He is not born everywhere. Where such a wise one is born, that family grows happy.
Happy is the appearance of the enlightened ones. Happy is the teaching of the real truth. Happy is the unity of the spiritual community. Happy is the spiritual effort of the united.
195 – 196.
He who reverences those worthy of reverence whether enlightened ones or their disciples, men who have transcended illusion and passed beyond grief and lamentation — he who reverences those who are of such a nature who moreover are at peace and without cause for fear, his merit is not to be reckoned as such and such.
It is said that like a crystal laid on patterned cloth, the mind takes on the colours of that which it is near. So, by spending time with the spiritually immature, one takes on the colour of their limited concerns and by spending time with the wise, the spiritually mature one experiences increasing happiness and contentment. The five constituents of conditioned existence are the five groups of factors Skandha’s in Sanskrit, to which the Buddha analyses the living being, material form, feeling perception, mental formations and consciousness
Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the haters. Among men who hate we dwell free from hate.
Happy indeed we live, healthy amidst the sick. Among men who are sick we dwell free from sickness.
Happy indeed we live, content amidst the greedy. Among men who are greedy we dwell free from greed.
Happy indeed we live, we for whom there are no possessions. Feeders on rapture shall we be, like the gods of brilliant light.
Victory begets hatred; for the defeated one experiences suffering. The tranquil one experiences happiness, giving up both victory and defeat.
There is no fire like lust, no blemish like demerit, no suffering like the taking up the 5 constituents of conditioned existence, no happiness like peace.
Hunger is the worst disease, conditioned existence the worst suffering. Knowing this as it really is, one realizes that Nirvana is the highest happiness.
Health is the highest gain, contentment the greatest riches. The trustworthy are the best kinsman, Nirvana is the supreme happiness.
Having enjoyed the flavour of solitude and tranquillity, free from sorrow and free from sin, one enjoys the rapturous flavour of the truth.
Good is it to see the spiritually developed, to actually dwell with them is always happiness. By not seeing the spiritually immature, one indeed will be perpetually happy.
By living in company with the spiritually immature one grieves for a long time. Association with the spiritually immature is always painful, like association with an enemy. Association with the wise is pleasant, like the coming together of relatives.
Therefore it is said, follow one who is wise, understanding and learned, who bares the yoke of virtue, is religious and spiritually developed. Follow one of such a nature as the moon follows the path of the stars.
Affections: Chapter 16 begins with a series of verses in joining the letting go of what is dear to us. This is a form of preventive medicine based on the truth that we suffer greatly to our attachment to the people and things of this world. We suffer because the people we love suffer. And we suffer when we are separated from them. We suffer through not having the things we desire. And we suffer when they are taken from us. The teachings suggest that we constantly loosen our bonds and lessen our hankerings in order to free ourselves from these forms of suffering. One whose stream goes upwards, is a person who is set on enlightenment. The image evokes the rarity of such a person and the difficulty of the task.
Devoting himself to the unbefitting and not devoting himself to the befitting, he rejecting the truly good, and grasping the merely pleasant, envies those who are devoted to the truly good.
Don’t associate with the dear and never with the undear. Not seeing those who are dear is painful as is seeing those who are not dear.
Therefore let nothing be dear to you, for separation from the dear is experienced as an evil. There exist no bonds for those for whom there is neither the dear nor the undear.
From the dear arises grief, from the dear arises fear. For the one who is wholly free from the dear there exists no grief, whence should fear come?
From affection arises grief, from affection arises fear. For the one who is wholly free from affection there exists no grief, whence should fear come?
From sensual enjoyment arises grief, from sensual enjoyment arises fear. For one who is wholly free from sensual enjoyment there is no grief, whence should fear come?
From lustful desire arises grief, from lustful desire arises fear. For one who is wholly free from lustful desire there is no grief, whence should fear come?
From craving arises grief, from craving arises fear. For one who is wholly free from craving there is no grief, whence should fear come?
People hold him dear who is perfect in right conduct and vision, who is principled and a speaker of the truth and who carries out his own spiritual tasks.
He is called one whose stream goes upwards, in whom is born an ardent aspiration for the undefined, whose mind would be permeated by the thrill of his progress so far and whose heart is unattached to sensual pleasures.
When a man long absent from home, returns safely from a distant place, his relatives, friends and well-wishers rejoice exceedingly at his return.
Similarly his own good deeds receive him as he goes from this world to the other world as relatives receive a dear one on his return home.
Here we are encouraged to develop equanimity, truthfulness and contentment, giving up attachments and anger. Atula mentioned in this chapter was a layman who criticised disciples of the Buddha for the various failings described. The Buddha’s response was it is impossible to escape criticism in this world. There will always be someone who disapproves of how we act. Our task then is to free ourselves from our real faults and to apply ourselves to cultivating moral qualities and understanding since even the gods praise such a man.
Let one give up anger, renounce conceit, and overcome all fetters. Suffering does not befall him who is unattached to name and form and who is without material and mental possessions.
I call him a charioteer who holds back the risen anger as though holding back a swerving chariot; others only holders of reins.
Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked with good; overcome the miserly by giving; the teller of lies with truth.
Speak the truth, do not get angry, give your might to those who ask for arms. On these three grounds can one goes into the presence of the gods.
Those silent sages who are harmless and always self controlled, go to the immovable abode, whether, having gone, they do not grieve.
They come to the end of their defilements, those who keep awake, who study day and night, and who are intent on Nirvana.
This is an old story Atula, not just one of today. They blame him who is taciturn, they blame him who is talkative, they even blame him who speaks in moderation. There is no-one in the world who is not blamed.
There has not been, nor will be, nor is there anyone, a person who is absolutely blamed or absolutely praised.
229 – 230.
Who is entitled to blame that man who is like a coin of pure gold. A man who is praised by the wise, by those who have tested him day by day, one who is free from faults, a man of understanding and whose wisdom and understanding are well integrated, even the gods praise such a man, by Brahma, too, is he praised.
Let a man guard himself against irritability in bodily action; let him be controlled in deed. Abandoning bodily misconduct, let him practice good conduct in deed.
Be on your guard against bodily agitation, be controlled in body. Giving up bodily misconduct, live well behaved as regards the body.
Be on your guard against verbal agitation, be controlled in speech. Giving up verbal misconduct, live well behaved as regards speech.
Be on your guard against mental agitation, be controlled in mind. Giving up mental misconduct, live well behaved as regards the mind. They are the perfectly constrained ones, the wise who are controlled in body and speech, together with the wise who are controlled with regards the mind.
Stains: Because death is ever near we have no time to waist. We must free ourselves from the stain of wrong ideas and harmful behaviour and cultivate what is good. This is not easily done but the sufferings of lust, anger, illusion are great, and freedom from them is much to be desired. This chapter deals with mainly ethical practices and standards taken up in order to purify ones-self. Tathagata is another name for the Buddha, one who has come to awakening.
You are now like a withered leaf, death’s men have approached you. You stand at the door of your departure, and you do not even have provisions for the road.
Make a lamp for yourself. Strive quickly and become one who is spiritually mature, with stains removed and free from blemish, you will reach the celestial plain of the spiritually developed.
You are now of advanced age, you have gone forth into the presence of death. There is no resting place for you in-between, and you do not even have provisions for the road.
Make a lamp for yourself! Strive quickly and become one who is spiritually mature, with stains removed and free from blemish, you will not undergo repeated birth and old age anymore.
The man of understanding removes his stains gradually. Little by little and from moment to moment, just as the silver smith removes the impurities from silver.
Just as rust springing from iron, having sprung from that eats it, even so his own actions lead the transgressor to an evil state.
Non-repetition is the stain of the orally transmitted sacred verses, inactivity in maintaining them is the stain of houses, sloth is the stain of beauty of complexion, heedlessness is the stain of one who guards.
Misconduct is the stain of a woman, stinginess is the stain of one who gives. Both in this world and the other world, stains are indeed evil things.
A greater stain than these is ignorance, which is the supreme stain. Abandoning this stain be stainless bhikkhu’s.
He has an easy life who is shameless. Impudent as a crow, disparaging others merits, obtrusive, arrogant and of a corrupt way of life.
Life is hard for one with a sense of shame, who always seeks purity, who is unattached or strenuous, who is humble and of a pure way of life, and discerning.
246 – 247
Whoever in this world if ours destroys life, tells lies, takes what is not given, resorts to the wives of others, and is addicted to the drinking of intoxicants; that man in this world himself digs up his own roots of merit.
Know this, good man. Evil ways are perceptible as such. Don’t let greed and unrighteousness subject you to prolonged suffering.
People give arms according to their faith and at their good pleasure, one who is discontented by the food and drink given by others, does not attain concentration, be it by day or by night.
One in whom this kind of attitude is extirpated, it being destroyed at its roots and abolished, he attains concentration, be it by day or by night.
There is no fire like lust, there is no grip like anger, there is no net like delusion, there is no river like craving.
The faults of others are easily seen, one’s own faults are seen with difficulty. One winnows the faults of others like chaff, one covers one’s own like a dishonest gambler covers up a losing throw of the dice.
He who pays attention to the faults of others and who is always irritable, his defilements grow. He is far from destruction of the defilements.
There is no track in the sky, there is no true ascetic outside this teaching. The race of man delight in illusion, but Tathagata’s are free from illusion.
There is no track in the sky, there is no true ascetic outside this teaching. There are no conditioned things that are eternal. There is no vacillation in the enlightened ones.
The man of principle:
We cannot judge people solely by their outward actions, though in the world a person might be respected for his or her age, appearance or wise words, inwardly that person might be utterly different to how he or she seems. It is easy to fool some of the people some of the time. This chapter describes the principled person as modest, friendly, harmless, committed to truth and understanding.
256 – 257.
He is not a man of principle who rashly judges what is advantageous. The spiritually mature person who judges both what is advantageous and disadvantageous and who judges others impartially, carefully and in accordance with principle, that man of understanding, guarded in principle, is said to be a man of principle.
A man is not spiritually mature merely because he talks a lot. He is said to be spiritually mature who is secure in himself, friendly and without fear.
He is not a vessel of the teaching merely because he talks a lot. He who, having heard only a little, personally sees the truth, he truly is a vessel of the teaching, that man who is not neglectful of the teaching.
A man is not an elder because his hair is grey. Though of a mature age, he is called grown old in vain.
He is truly called an elder in whom are truth and principle, together with harmlessness, self control and restraint and who is without stain and wise.
One who is jealous, miserly and dishonest is not accounted good merely by reason of his speechifying or beautiful complexion.
He is said to be good that fault free man of understanding in whom this kind of behaviour is extirpated, it being destroyed at its roots and abolished.
A man who is without religious observances and who speaks what is false is not an ascetic merely by reason of his shaven head.
He who stills all his evils, small and great is said to be an ascetic because those evils have been stilled.
One is not a bhikkhu merely because he bares arms with others. One is not a bhikkhu merely because of adopting a bad teaching.
He is said to be a bhikkhu who lives in the world of discrimination, having by means of the spiritual life, set aside merit and demerit.
One who is confused and ignorant, does not become a silent sage merely by observing silence
But that spiritually mature person who as if holding a pair of scales accepts the best and rejects the evil, he is a silent sage. He is a silent sage for that very reason. He is called a silent sage because he understands both worlds.
A man who harms living beings is not one who is spiritually developed. He is said to be spiritually developed who is harmless towards all living beings.
271 – 272
Without having attained to the destruction of the defilements bhikkhu you should not rest content with rules of conduct and religious observances, the attainment of concentration or in living in seclusion, nor with thinking, “I enjoy the bliss of renunciation, that is unknown to ordinary people.
Fundamentally Buddhism is a path or a way. It is more than an abstract philosophy which one might find intellectually stimulating and interesting and it is more than a lifestyle that one might exhaust by wearing particular clothes or cutting ones hair in a certain style. It is a path that one sets out to follow that transforms all aspects of life. In this chapter reference is made to the eight fold way, to the four noble truths and to the three Trilak?a?a or marks of existence.
Best of ways is the Eightfold way, best of truths are the Four Noble Truths, passionlessness is the best of mental states, a man of vision is the best of bipeds.
This indeed is the way; there is no other that leads to purity of vision. Enter upon the way. This way is the bewilderment of Mara.
Following this way you will make an end of suffering. This indeed is the way claimed by me ever since I knew how to draw out the drafts of craving.
By you must the zealous effort be made. Tathagata’s are only proclaimers of the way. Those who are absorbed in higher meditative states eventually win release from the bondage of Mara.
“All conditioned things are impermanent;” when one sees this with insight, one becomes wary of suffering. This is the way to purity.
“All conditioned things are painful;” when one sees this with insight, one becomes wary of suffering. This is the way to purity.
“All things whatsoever are devoid of unchanging selfhood;” when one sees this with insight, one becomes wary of suffering. This is the way to purity.
One who does not make use of his spiritual opportunities, who though young and strong is lazy, weak in aspiration and inactive; such a lazy person does not find the way to insight.
Guarded in speech as well as controlled in mind, let one do no ethically unskilful thing with the body. Purify these three avenues of action, and let him attain the way made known by the Sages.
From application arises the spiritually great. From lack of application the spiritually great wane. Having known these two avenues of increase and decrease of the great, let him so establish himself that the great may flourish.
Cut down the whole forest, not just one tree. From the forest arises fear. Cutting down both wood and brushwood, be out of the wood, bhikkhu.
To the extent that one has not cut down the last little bit of that brushwood of craving of man for woman, to that extent his mind will be fettered, as the sucking calf to its mother.
Cut off your sticky affection as one plucks with his hand a white lotus. Develop the way of peace, the Nirvana taught by the Happy One.
“Here shall I stay during the rains, here in the cold season and the hot;” thus thinks the spiritually immature. He does not understand the dangers to life.
That infatuated man whose delight is an off spring in cattle, death goes and carries him off as a great flood sweeps away a sleeping village.
Sons are no protection, nor father, nor yet other relatives. Him who is seized by the endmaker death, there is no protection forthcoming by relatives.
Knowing the significance of this, let the spiritually mature person, the man restrained by good conduct, speedily cleans the way leading to Nirvana.
This chapter contains verses of a miscellaneous nature. Mostly these consist in exaltations, similar to those of the rest of the Dharmmapada, but two verses in particular require explanation. Verse 294 reads ‘having slain mother and father, two warrior kings and having destroyed a kingdom together with the kings revenue collector, the Brahmana goes free from sin.’ The language here is complexly symbolic. The mother that is slain is craving, the father self conceit. The two warrior kings are the two wrong views of eternalism and annihilationism, all of which must be removed if we are to attain real intimacy with truth. The kingdom that must be destroyed refers to the need to overcome fixation with senses and the revenue collector is the passion of delight that rises from the senses. Brahmana is here used as a synonym for the enlightened. The succeeding verse also uses such symbolic language. ‘Having slain mother and father and two learned kings and having killed a tiger as the fifth, Brahmana goes free from sin.’ The mother father and learned kings are the same as before, the tiger refers to pernicious doubt, which must be rooted out if we are to live with faith and confidence in our chosen way.
If by renouncing a limited happiness one will see abundant happiness, let the spiritually mature person having regard for the abundant happiness, sacrifice the limited happiness.
He who contaminated by his association with hatred, seeks happiness for himself by inflicting suffering on others, is not released from hatred.
What is to be done that is neglected. What is not to be done that is done. Of those who are arrogant and heedless, defilements increase.
Those who earnestly practice mindfulness with regards to the body, not following after what is not to be done and steadfastly pursuing what is to be done, of these mindful and fully attentive ones, the defilements come to an end.
Having slain mother and father and two warrior-kings and having destroyed a kingdom together with the kings revenue collector, the Brahmana goes free from sin.
Having slain mother and father and two learned kings and having killed a tiger as the fifth, the Brahmana goes free from sin.
Wide awake they always arise in the morning, the disciples of Gotama, those day and night that are constantly mindful of the virtues of the Buddha.
Wide awake they always arise in the morning, the disciples of Gotama, those who day and night that are constantly mindful of the Dhamma.
Wide awake they always arise in the morning, the disciples of Gotama, those who day and night that are constantly mindful of the characteristics of the Aria Sangha.
Wide awake they always arise in the morning, the disciples of Gotama, those who day and night that are constantly mindful of the transitory nature of the body.
Wide awake they always arise in the morning, the disciples of Gotama, those who day and night delight in non injury.
Wide awake they always arise in the morning, the disciples of Gotama, those whose mind day and night delights in meditation.
It is difficult to go forth from home to the homeless life and difficult to delight therein once one has gone forth. At the same time household life is painful and painful likewise is living together with those who are ones piers. Travellers on the road of birth, death and rebirth, were oppressed by suffering. So, do not be such a traveller, oppressed by suffering.
He who is perfect in faith and good conduct and possessed of fame and wealth, he is honoured everywhere, to whatever country he resorts.
Like the snowy mountain range, the good are visible even from afar. The wicked are not seen, like arrows shot in the night.
He who sits alone, lies down alone, and walks alone, without weariness and who strives all alone to subdue himself. He will take delight in the solitude of the forest.
The woeful state:
The woeful state refers both to hell, the idea of which is a significant spur to practice in many schools of Buddhism and to the prospect of a life characterised by dissatisfaction dissipation. The chapter stresses the need for energy and commitment in living an ethical and a spiritual life. Such a course is not a soft option. It requires vigour to make the most of the precious opportunity of a human birth.
One who tells lies, arises by way of rebirth in a state of woe; as does one who, having done something, says, “I don’t do that sort of thing.” These two sons of Manu, the primeval progenitor, men of base actions, on departing this life have the same painful destiny in the other world.
Many wearers of the yellow robe are of bad qualities or of an evil disposition or uncontrolled. These bad people on account of their bad deeds arise after death in a state of woe.
Better to swallow a flaming red-hot ball of iron, than to be an immoral, uncontrolled man living on the alms food of the land.
A heedless man who resorts to the wives of others, comes by four evil states; acquisition of demerit, not sleeping soundly as desired, thirdly blame, and fourthly, rebirth in a state of woe.
The result is acquisition of demerit and a wretched future course. The short lived enjoyment of an apprehensive man with an apprehensive woman, also the king imposes a heavy penalty. Therefore, let not a man resort to another’s wife.
Just as sharp edged cusa grass wrongly taken hold of cuts the hand, so, the life of the religious, wrongly grasped drags down to a state of woe.
Any unprincipled act, and any sullied religious observance, a slack spiritual life filled with suspicion, this is of little benefit.
If you have something to do, attack it vigorously. One who lives the homeless life half-heartedly, scatters much dust of passion around.
An ill deed is better left undone, for an ill deed torments one afterwards with remorse. Better done is a good deed, having done which one is not so tormented.
Like a frontier city, well guarded within and without, well guard yourself. Let not the fortunate moment of human birth pass you by. Those who allow the fortunate moment to pass by, grieve when they go to the woeful state.
Those who are ashamed of what is not shameful and who are not ashamed of what is shameful, such beings taking upon themselves wrong views go to an evil state.
Those who see what morally is not fearful as fearful, and who see what morally is fearful as not fearful, such beings taking upon themselves wrong views, go to an evil state.
Those who think what morally is blameable, not blameable and who see what morally is not blameable as blameable, such beings taking upon themselves wrong views, go to an evil state.
Knowing the morally blameable, as blameable and the morally free from blame as blameless, those beings taking upon themselves right views, go to a happy state.
The figure of the elephant appears is numerous Buddhist texts as the symbol of the dignity, calm, patience and grandeur of the awakened. A tamed elephant is a creature of tremendous power and control, likewise the practitioner must live with energy and discipline and though friends are good in time of need, he or she must be willing to walk alone if good companions on the path are nowhere to be found.
I shall patiently endure abuse just as the trained elephant endures in battle the arrow shot from a bow. The many are indeed ill natured.
The tamed elephant is led to the assembly, the king mounts the tamed elephant. Among men best is the self controlled person who patiently endures abuse.
Trained mules are best also equine thoroughbreds of Sindh, the mighty fighting elephants. But best of all is the self controlled man.
One does not go to the unfrequented realm by such vehicles as these as does the controlled one go to it by means of a well subdued disciplined self.
The elephant called Dhanapalaka is difficult to restrain when his temples are streaming with must in the time of rot. Shackled, he refuses his food. The tusker remembers the delightful elephant forest.
When one is sluggish and gluttonous, given to sleep and a roller about like a great hog fed on grains, such a stupid person goes again and again to a womb to be reborn.
Formerly this mind of mine went wandering about where it wished, as it liked and according to its pleasure. Today I shall control it radically as the wielder of the elephant drivers hook restrains the rutting elephant.
Be delighters in non heedlessness. Keep watch over your mind. Lift yourself clear of the difficult road of the mental defilements as an elephant sunk in a bog of evil, hauls himself out.
If for company you find a wise and prudent friend who leads a good life, you should, overcoming all impediments, keep his company joyously and mindfully.
Should you get a sensible companion, one who is good company to you, who behaves well, and is wise; then go about with him joyous and mindful overcoming all external and internal dangers.
Should you not get a sensible companion, one who is fit company for you, who behaves well, and is wise; then go about alone like a king forsaking a conquered country or like an elephant living solitary in the Muthanga forest. It is better to go alone. There is no companionship with the spiritually immature. Going about alone, one commits no sin like an elephant living unconcerned in the Muthanga forest.
Friends are good in time of need. Contentment is good in every way. At the end of life the store of merit is good. Good is the leaving behind of all suffering.
Here reverence for mother is good, reverence to father is good. Here, reverence for ascetism is good, reverence for holiness is also good.
The lifelong practice of virtue is good. Firmly established faith in the three jewels is good. Good is the getting of wisdom. The non-doing of evil is good.
A creeper which grasps whatever support it can find, and can eventually suffocate a host plant, or damage a strong wall, is a striking image of our subjection to craving. Because we mistake the things of this world as ultimately meaningful and beautiful we are distracted from the spiritual realm. We become enrapped in limited and limiting concerns and so we do not reach our potential and do not experience the delight of release and freedom from suffering.
The craving of the man who lives carelessly increases like the Maluva creeper. He runs from existence to existence like a monkey in the jungle leaping from tree to tree in search of fruit.
Whoever in the world is overcome by this wretched adhesive craving, his sorrows grow like Briana grass that is rained upon.
Whoever in the world overcomes this wretched adhesive craving, so difficult to overcome, his sorrows fall from him like drops of water from a lotus leaf.
I tell you this: Good luck to all assembled here! Dig out the root of craving, like the seeker of the Vipassana digs out the briana grass. Don’t let Mara the evil one, break you again and again, as a river in spate breaks the reed.
Just as a felled tree shoots up again, if the root is uninjured and stout, so the suffering of ours arises again and again if the propensity for craving is not destroyed.
The currents of his passion based thoughts, carry him away that man of wrong views for whom the thirty-six streams of craving flowing toward what is pleasurable are strong.
The streams of craving flow everywhere. And the creeper of craving having sprung up, remains clasping its objects. Seeing that creeper sprung up, sever its route with a knife of wisdom.
Delights arise for a being, delights that rush on and are saturated with craving, those seekers after pleasure, who are attached to what is agreeable, those men are indeed bound for rebirth and old age.
Attended upon by craving, the race of men run about in terror like a trapped hare. Fettered and bound as they are, suffering befalls them again and again for a long time.
Attended upon by craving, the race of men run about in terror like a trapped hare. Therefore, let him allay craving, the bhikkhu who is desirous of his own freedom from passion.
Just look at him, the man who having been delivered from the jungle of craving and drawn to the life of the jungle, nonetheless having been thus delivered from the jungle of craving, runs from the jungle to the jungle of household life. Freed, he runs back to his former bondage.
354 – 356
That is not a strong bond, said the wise, which is made of iron, wood or platted grass. Passionate fondness for jewelled earrings and longing with regard to sons and wives, that is a strong bond, says the wise. It drags one down, is loose fitting yet difficult to get rid of. This bond, they too, cut off, those longing free ones, who giving up sensual pleasure, go forth from the household life.
The passionately lustful man falls back into the torrent of repeated existence, just as the spider returns to the centre of its web after running out and feeding on a trapped fly. This too the wise man cuts off and renounces. Free from longing he leaves behind all suffering.
Give up what is before in time, give up what is after, give up what is inbetween, and cross to the farther shore of existence and with mind wholly released, you will undergo birth and decay no more.
For the person of disturbed thinking, whose passions are acute and who looks only for what is lovely, craving grows apace.
He who delights in calming down his thinking, who meditates on the lovely as being truly unlovely and who is always mindful, he will cut down bonds of Mara.
The one who has arrived at spiritual perfection, who is devoid of fear, free from craving, and without moral blemish, that person has wrenched out the darts of mundane existence. This is the last body he will wear.
One who is free from craving, not grasping, skilled in the explanation of doctrinal terms and who would understand the words of the Buddhist teachings in context, that person is truly called a wearer of his last body, very wise and a great man.
I am all conquering, all knowing and in all respects unstained, all abandoning, freed through the destruction of craving and having by myself thoroughly comprehended the destruction of craving. Whom should I point out as my teacher?
The gift of Dhamma surpasses all gifts; the taste of the Dhamma surpasses all tastes; the delight in the Dhamma surpasses all delights. The destruction of craving overcomes all suffering.
Possessions strike down the man of evil understanding, but not those who are seekers of the beyond. Because of his craving for possessions, the man of evil understanding, strikes himself down as if he was striking down others.
Weeds are the blemish of cultivated fields, lust of this human race. Hence, what is given to those free from lust is productive of much fruit in the shape of merit.
Weeds are the blemish of cultivated fields, hatred of this human race. Hence, what is given to those free from hate is productive of much fruit in the shape of merit.
Weeds are the blemish of cultivated fields, delusion of this human race. Hence, what is given to those free from delusion is productive of much fruit in the shape of merit.
Weeds are the blemish of cultivated fields, covetousness of this human race. Hence, what is given to those free from covetousness is productive of much fruit in the shape of merit.
The bhikkhu: The qualities described in this chapter of modesty, restraint, tranquillity and the aspirations it encourages to mindfulness, wisdom, loving kindness, spoken of in terms of the life and training of a monk, but they are as relevant to all practitioners to whatever extent we are able to cultivate such virtues we will experience increased happiness and release from suffering and confusion. One verse refers to three sets of five which are to be cut away, abandoned and cultivated. The first two of these are traditionalists of fetters holding us back from awakening. The five to be cultivated are the five spiritual faculties of faith, wisdom, concentration, energy and mindfulness.
Restraint with the eye is good, good is restraint by the ear; restraint by the nose is good; good is restraint with the tongue.
Bodily restraint is good, good is restraint in speech, restraint of the mind is good; good in all respects is restraint. The bhikkhu who is in all respects restrained is freed from all suffering.
He is truly called a bhikkhu whose hands are controlled, whose feet are controlled, whose speech is controlled, who is controlled in thought, whose delight is within, and who is collected, solitary and content.
The utterance is sweet of that bhikkhu who controls his mouth, who speaks in moderation, who is not puffed up with his knowledge and who explains the meaning of the Buddha’s words and practical application.
The bhikkhu who abides in the teaching, delights in the teaching, reflects on the teaching, and bears the teaching in mind; will not fall away from the true teaching.
Let one not despise what he has gained by way of arms. Let him live not envying the gains of others. The bhikkhu who envy’s the gains of others, does not attain to meditative concentration.
Even if a bhikkhu’s gains by way of arms be very little, let him not despise what he has gained. The gods praise him who has a pure livelihood and unweary.
He is indeed called a bhikkhu for whom nowhere in the mind and body is there anything for which to say, this is mine, and who does not grieve for what does not really exist.
The bhikkhu who dwells in loving kindness and who is happy in the mandate of the Buddha, would attain to the state that is peace, to the quietening of conditioned existence and to bliss.
Bhikkhu, empty this boat. Emptied, it will go more quickly and lightly for you. Having cut out lust and hatred, you shall go to Nirvana.
Cut away five, abandon five, and in addition cultivate five. The bhikkhu who has transcended the five attachments is called one who has crossed the flood.
Be absorbed in higher meditate states, bhikkhu. Don’t be heedless. Don’t allow your mind to whirl about among sensual pleasures. Don’t through heedlessness, swallow a red-hot iron ball, and then when it scorches you, cry out, “What torment!”
There is no absorption in higher meditative states for one who is without wisdom; there is no wisdom for one who is absorbed in higher meditative states. He in whom are found both absorption in higher mental states and wisdom, is truly in the very presence of Nirvana.
For the bhikkhu who enters an empty cottage, who has a peaceful mind, and who perfectly comprehends the Dhamma; there is a joy surpassing that of men.
Howsoever one grasps the facts of the rise and fall of the aggregates of conditioned existence, he attains a joy and delight that to the discerning person is as nectar.
Here in the world, the first thing for the wise bhikkhu is this: control of the senses, contentment, restraint through observance of the bhikkhu’s code of conduct and association with friends who are virtuous, of pure life and energetic.
Let one be hospitable and well mannered, being on this account full of happiness, one will make an end to suffering.
Just as the jasmine creeper sheds its withered flowers, so bhikkhu’s, should you totally get rid of lust and hatred!
He who is tranquil in body, tranquil in speech, and possessed of mental tranquillity, who is well integrated and who has left behind worldly things, such a bhikkhu is said to be at peace.
Yourself reprove yourself. Yourself, examine yourself. Thus, self-guarded and mindful, the bhikkhu will live mindfully.
One is one’s own protector, what other protector should there be? Therefore, control this self of yours, as a trader manages a noble steed.
The bhikkhu who is full of joy and happy in the instruction of the Buddha, will attain to the state of peace, to the blissful allaying of mundane conditions.
A youthful bhikkhu who commits himself to the Buddha’s instruction, lights up the world like the moon when freed from clouds.
The Brahmana: This chapter brings the Dhammapada to a rousing close. In a rhythmic incantation, it expounds the countless positive qualities of the Brahmana, the awakened one, the Buddha. He lives happily. He is peaceful and without anger. He is spotless and pure as the moon. He has accomplished all there is to accomplish.
Exert yourself and cut off the stream. Do away with sense desires, Brahmana. Having known the destruction of mundane conditions things, be a knower of the unmade, Brahmana.
When a Brahmana has crossed over in respect of the two states; calm and insight, then all the fetters of that knowing one come to an end.
I call him a Brahmana, for whom there exists neither the further shore nor the hither shore, nor both, and who is without distress and free from all bonds.
I call him a Brahmana, who is absorbed in higher meditative states, who is unstained by passion, whose task is done, who is free from the defilements and who has reached the ultimate goal.
The sun shines bright by day, the moon shines at night. The armed warrior shines bright, the Brahmana who is absorbed in higher meditative states, shines bright. But the Buddha shines bright by day and by night, shining with splendour.
Brahmana means one who bars out evil. He is said to be an ascetic who lives in quiet. He is said to be an ascetic who goes forth from the household life, who has sent forth into banishment, his own impurities.
One should not strike a Brahmana, nor should the Brahmana who is struck, vent to anger. Shame on him who strikes a Brahmana, and more shame on him who gives vent to anger.
For a Brahmana there is nothing better than a mind restrained from its likings. To the extent that the harming mind turns back from harming, to that extent suffering is stopped.
I call him the Brahmana, by whom no evil is done, by the body, by speech or by the mind and who with regard to these three is restrained.
As a Brahman worships the sacrificial fire, so let one pay homage to the person from whom one comes to know the truth taught by the perfectly enlightened one.
One is not a Brahmana on account of matted hair, or ones clan, or birth. He in whom there exists both truth and principle; he is pure, he is a Brahmana.
What use your matted hair, you man of evil understanding? What use your dearskin garment? Within you are a dense jungle of passions, yet you touch up the outside
The man who wears rags from a dust heap, who is lean, whose veins stand out all over the body, and who alone and in the forest is absorbed with higher meditative states; him I call a Brahmana.
I do not call him a Brahmana who is merely womb born, or sprung from a Brahman mother. If he is a man of possessions, he is simply called one who addresses others familiarly. I call him a Brahmana who is free from attachment and without possessions.
I call him a Brahmana who having severed all bonds, does not tremble and who has unburdened himself of all attachments.
I call him a Brahmana who has severed the bond of hatred, the thong of craving, and the chord of wrong views, together with its concomitance who has littered the crossbar of ignorance and who is enlightened.
I call him a Brahmana who being good, patiently endures abuse, flogging and imprisonment, whose strong army is the strength of patience.
I call him a Brahmana who is without anger, who scrupulously observes religious vows, who is ethical free from lust, and controlled, who wears his last body.
I call him a Brahmana who like a drop of water on a lotus leaf, or a mustard seed on the point of an awl, does not cling to sensuous pleasures.
I call him a Brahmana who in this very life has personally known the destruction of suffering, who has laid down the burden of conditioned existence and who is detached from the world.
I call him a Brahmana whose knowledge is deep, who is a man of understanding, who knows what is and what is not the way and who has reached the supreme goal.
I call him a Brahmana who socialises with neither householders nor homeless ones, who lives free from attachment and who desires little or nothing.
I call him a Brahmana who has abandoned violence towards living beings, be they moving about or stationary, whether trembling and afraid or form minded, who neither slays or causes others to slay.
I call him a Brahmana who is conciliatory amongst the antagonistic, peaceful among those who have recourse to violence, and who is unattached among the attached.
I call him a Brahmana from whom lust, hatred, pride and hypocrisy have fallen off like a mustard seed from the point of an awl.
I call him a Brahmana who utters gentle, instructive, true speech, by which one would give offence to no one.
I call him a Brahmana who takes in this world nothing that is not given to him, be it long or short, small or great, pleasant or unpleasant.
I call him a Brahmana in whom are found no longings, either for this world or the other, who is utterly free from longings and who is released from all defilements.
I call him a Brahmana who through perfect knowledge is free from doubts and who has achieved the plunge into the Deathless.
I call him a Brahmana who here, in this world has transcended the ties of both good and bad, together with attachment and who is free from sorrow, without passion and pure.
I call him a Brahmana who is spotless and pure as the moon, clear minded and undisturbed by the defilements and in whom delight in conditioned existence has been extinguished.
I call him a Brahmana who has passed over this dangerous track of the passions, this fortress of delusion of this repeated existence, who has crossed the flood and reached the further shore; who is absorbed in higher meditative states, who is passionless and free from doubts, and who being without further clinging is at peace in Nirvana.
I call him a Brahmana who having here in the world given up the pleasures of sense, goes forth as a homeless and who has destroyed craving for sensuous existence.
I call him a Brahmana who having discarded human bonds, having transcended celestial bonds, is delivered from all bonds whatsoever.
I call him a Brahmana who has given up attachment and aversion, become tranquil and free from the substrates of conditioned existence and who thus is a hero, victorious over the whole world.
I call him a Brahmana who knows in every way, the passing away and arising of living beings, who is unattached, living happily and enlightened.
I call him a Brahmana whose track, gods, celestial musicians and humans beings do not know; that supremely worthy one who has destroyed the defilements.
I call him a Brahmana for whom there is nothing before, or after, or inbetween, who is without material or mental possession and who is unattached.
I call him a Brahmana who is foremost among men, excellent, heroic, a great sage, the victorious one, the one who is passionless, washed clean of the defilements and enlightened.
I call him a Brahmana who knows his previous lives, who sees heaven and the state of woe, who has reached the extinction of births, who is a silent sage, a master of the higher knowledge and who has accomplished all that is to be accomplished.
Other Important quotes from the Buddha
“One who is virtuous and wise shines forth like a blazing fire; like a bee collecting nectar he acquires wealth by harming none.”
“Wisdom is man’s most precious gem, merit no thief can ever steal.”
“In every virtue all-accomplished, with wisdom full and mind composed, looking within and ever mindful – thus one crosses the raging flood.”
“Were there a mountain all made of gold, doubled that would not be enough to satisfy a single man: know this and live accordingly.”
“Here in the world one should train carefully to purify virtue; for virtue when well cultivated brings all success to hand.”
“Virtue is the foundation, the forerunner and origin of all that is good and beautiful; therefore one should purify virtue.”
“Honour the man who is awake and shows you the way. Honour the fire of his sacrifice.”
“One who is wise, having understood, will always cherish and serve true friends just as a mother tends her only child.”
“A friend who always lends a hand, a friend in both sorrow and joy, a friend who offers good counsel, a friend who sympathises too.”
“For one whose friend has passed away, for one whose teacher no more lives, there is no other friend in this world like mindfulness of the body.”
“Desire to learn increases learning; learning makes wisdom increase. By wisdom is the goal known; knowing the goal brings happiness.”
“Wonderful it is to train the mind so swiftly moving, seizing whatever it wants. Good is it to have a well-trained mind, for a well-trained mind brings happiness.”
“As a fletcher straightens an arrow, even so one who is wise will straighten out the fickle mind, so unsteady and hard to control.”
“This type of person is like a giant cloud filled with rain, thundering and pouring down refreshing water everywhere, drenching the highlands and lowlands too, generous without distinctions.”
“With his wealth collected justly, won through his own efforts, he shares both food and drink with beings who are in need.”
“Giving food one gives strength, giving clothes one gives beauty, giving lamps one gives sight, giving transport one gives delight.”
“He has come to the end of the way. All that he had to do he has done. And now he is one.”
“Whoever acts, strives and toils shall acquire wealth; by truthfulness one gains good repute, and by giving one binds friends.”
“The wise man continues to live even if he should lose his wealth. But the rich man without wisdom is not alive even now.”
“Knowing that the other person is angry, one who remains mindful and calm acts for his own best interest and for the other’s interest, too.”
“Possessed of energy and perseverance, be always earnest in applying yourself. The wise one should not be confident until the end of suffering is reached.”
“One should utter only words which do no harm to oneself and cause no harm for others: that is truly beautiful speech.”
“When alive, the body is supple, yielding. In death, the body becomes hard, unyielding. Living plants are flexible, In death, they become dry and brittle. Therefore, stubborn people are disciples of death, but Flexible people are disciples of life.”