Lesson 14, first reading:
 
excerpts from Dhammapada ("the path of truth") 
trans. Max Müller and Max Fausböll, [1881], modernized
 

 

Reputed to be sayings of Gotama Shakyamuni, the Buddha

 

 

 

 

1. TWIN-VERSES.

1. We are born from our thoughts, we grow from our thoughts; we result from our thoughts. Evil thoughts are followed by pain, as the wheel follows the hooves  of the ox that draws the carriage.

2. We are born from our thoughts, we grow from our thoughts; we result from our thoughts. Pure thoughts are followed by happiness, like their shadow.

3. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me': in those who carry such thoughts as these, hatred never ends.

4. 'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me': in those who avoid such thoughts as these, hatred ends.

5. For hatred never ceases by hatred; hatred ceases by love. This is an old rule . . .

 

 

2. MEDITATION

21. Meditation is the way to Nirvâna; thoughtlessness is the way to death. Those who meditate overcome death, those who are thoughtless are like the dead already. . .

28. Meditation drives away folly. The meditative climb the terraced heights of wisdom and serenely look down upon the foolish. As mountains look down upon plains, they see the crowd toiling below.

29. Contemplative among the thoughtless, awake among the sleepers, the wise swiftly leave the pack behind.

30. By meditation Maghavan [Indra] arose to the lordship of the gods. Contemplation wins praise; thoughtlessness leads to condemnation . . .

 

 

3. THOUGHT.

 33. As fletchers make their arrows straight, the wise straighten their trembling and unsteady thoughts, which are hard to guard, difficult to hold back.

 34. Like fish out of water and thrown on dry ground, our thoughts flop all over in order to escape the grip of Mâra [the tempter].

 35. The mind is hard to restrain, for it is flighty, rushing wherever it wants, but taming the mind brings happiness.

 36. Thoughts are difficult to catch; they are sneaky, rushing wherever they want: happiness comes to the wise who guard their thoughts well . . .

 

 

4. FLOWERS.

 46. One who knows that this body is like froth, and has learnt that it is as unsubstantial as a mirage, will break the flower-pointed arrow of Mâra, and never see the king of death.

 47. Death carries off the flower pickers, whose minds are distracted, as a flood carries off a sleeping village.

 48. Death takes those pickers, whose minds are distracted, before they are satisfied in their pleasures.

 49. As a bee collects nectar without injuring the flower, without changing its color or scent, so let a sage dwell in his village.

 50. The sage should notice not the wrongs of others, not their sins of commission or omission, but his own misdeeds and negligence . . .

 

 

5. FOOLS

 61. A traveler who does not meet with a superior, or an equal, should keep firmly to a solitary journey; keep no companionship with fools.

 62. 'These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,' with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?

 63. Fools who knows their own foolishness are wise in that understanding. But fools who think themselves wise are complete fools . . .

 73. Let the fool wish for a false reputation, for precedence among the Bhikshus [ascetics], for lordship in the convents, for worship among other people!

 . . . 

 

6. THE WISE (PANDITA).

 80. Well-diggers draw water; fletchers bend arrows; carpenters bend logs of wood; the wise work on themselves.

 81. As rocks are not blown by wind, the wise are not moved by blame or praise.

 82. The wise, after they have learned the laws, become serene as a lake that is deep, calm, and still.

 83. The wise walk at a steady pace, without prattle or longing for pleasure; even when touched by happiness or sorrow, they never appear elated or depressed . . . 

 

 

7. THE FREE (ARHAT).

 90. There is no suffering for those who have finished the journey, and abandoned grief, have freed themselves forever, and thrown off all chains.

 91. They depart from house and home with their thoughts well-collected, they fly like swans leaving their lakes.

 92. Those who have no riches, who live on simple food, who have experienced Nirvâna, their way is like those birds in flight.

 93. Those whose appetites are stilled, who are not absorbed in pleasure, who have experienced Nirvâna, their way is like those birds in flight . . .

 

 

Note: the counter-cultural aspects of minority Buddhism to majority Vedic Hinduism in "the thousands."

 

8. THE THOUSANDS.

 103. One who conquers in battle a thousand thousand men is less great than one who conquers the self.

 104-105. Self conquest is better, for not even a god, a Gandharva, not Mâra with Brahman, could change into defeat that victory. [The Devas (gods), Gandharvas (fairies), and other fanciful beings of the Brahmanic religion, such as the Nâgas, Sarpas, Garudas, &c., were allowed to continue in the traditional language of the people who had embraced Buddhism.]

 106. Better for one brief moment to offer homage to one whose soul is grounded in truth than for a hundred years to offer public sacrifices month after month with thousands in attendance.

 107. Better for one brief moment to offer homage to one whose soul is grounded in truth than for a hundred years to worship Agni (fire) in the forest.

 108. Better to show reverence to the righteous than to make offerings and oblations for a whole year trying to gain merit . . .

 

 

9. Evil.

 119. An evil-doer sees happiness as long as the evil deed has not ripened; but when the deed is ripe, then he sees evil.

 120. A doer of good sees evil days, as long as the good deed has not ripened; but when the deed is ripe, then he sees happiness. . .

 125. Offending a harmless, pure, and innocent person is like throwing light dust against the wind: the evil falls back upon that fool.

 126. Some are born again, but evil-doers go to hell. The righteous go to heaven, if they are free from all worldly desires and attain Nirvâna . . .

 

 

10. PUNISHMENT.

 129. All tremble at punishment, all fear death; remember that others are like you, and do not kill, or cause slaughter . . .

133. Do not speak harshly to anybody; those who are spoken to will answer in the same way. Angry speech is painful, blow for blow . . .

 

 

11. THE BODY.

 147. Look at this dressed-up lump, covered with wounds, stuck together, sickly, full of cares, which has no strength, no permanence!

 148. This body is wasted, full of sickness, and frail; this heap of corruption breaks to pieces, all life ends in death.

 149. What pleasure is there in looking at those white bones, like gourds thrown away in the autumn?

 150. After a frame of bones is put up, it is covered with flesh and blood, and there dwell in it pride, deceit, old age, and death . . .   
 

 

Counter-cultural also is the notion that one must purify one's self, that a priest cannot perform this service for another.

12. SELF.

 162. Those whose wickedness is great bring themselves down to that state where their enemies wish them to be, as creepers [vines] do with the trees they overtake.

 163. Bad deeds, deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what is beneficial and good, these are hard to do.

 164. The foolish who scorn the rule of the free [Arahat], of the righteous [Ariya], of the virtuous, follow false doctrine: the fruit they bear is their  own destruction, like the fruit of the Katthaka reed.

 165. By oneself the evil is done, by oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone, by oneself one is purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself; no one can purify another . . .

 

 

13. THE WORLD.

 170. Look upon the world as a bubble, look upon it as a mirage: the king of death does not see him who thus looks down upon the world.

 171. Come, look at this glittering world as a royal chariot: the fool is drawn in it, but not the wise . . .

 174. This world is dark, only a few can see: they go to heaven, like birds escaped from the net.

 175. The swans go on the path of the sun, they go through the heavens by their miraculous power; the wise are led out of this world, when they have conquered Mâra and his train . . .

   

 

14. THE BUDDHA (THE AWAKENED).

 181. Even the gods envy those who are awake and not forgetful, who are given to meditation, who are wise, and who delight in the repose of retirement from the world.

 182. Difficult is understanding, difficult is mortality, difficult is the truth, difficult is the awakening [the attainment of Buddhahood].

 183. To avoid wrong, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that is the teaching of all who are awake.

 184. The awake are patient and long-suffering: he is not an anchorite [pravragita] who strikes others, he is not an ascetic [sramana] who insults others.

 185. Not to blame, not to strike, to live restrained under the law, to be moderate in eating, to sleep and sit alone, and to dwell on the highest thoughts, that is the teaching of all who are awake.

  

 

15. HAPPINESS.

 197. Let us live happily then, not hating those who hate us! among those who hate us let us dwell free from hatred!

 198. Let us live happily then, free from sickness among the sick! among those who are sick let us dwell free from sickness!

 199. Let us live happily then, free from greed among the greedy! among those who are greedy let us dwell free from greed!

 200. Let us live happily then, though we call nothing our own! We shall be like the bright gods, feeding on happiness!

 201. Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered are unhappy. Those who have given up both victory and defeat, they are contented . . .

   

 

16. PLEASURE.

 212. From pleasure comes grief, from pleasure comes fear; one who is free from pleasure knows neither grief nor fear.

 213. From affection comes grief, from affection comes fear; one who is free from affection knows neither grief nor fear.

 214. From lust comes grief, from lust comes fear; one who is free from lust knows neither grief nor fear.

 215. From love comes grief, from love comes fear; one who is free from love knows neither grief nor fear.

 216. From greed comes grief, from greed comes fear; one who is free from greed knows neither grief nor fear.

 

 

17. ANGER.

 231. Beware bodily anger; control it! Leave the sins of the body, practice virtue with your body!

 232. Beware anger of the tongue; control it! Leave the sins of the tongue, and practice virtue with your tongue!

 233. Beware anger of the mind, control it! Leave the sins of the mind, and practice virtue with your mind!

 234. The wise control their body, their tongue, and their mind: they are in fact well controlled.

 

 

28. IMPURITY.

 239. Let a wise man blow off the impurities of his self, as a smith blows off the impurities of silver: one by one, little by little, and steadily from time to time.

 240. As the impurity which springs from iron destroys it, so do a transgressor's own evil works . . .

 246. He who destroys life, speaks untruth, takes what is not his, resorts to another man's wife;

 247. And the man who gives himself to drinking intoxicating liquors, he, even in this world, digs up his own root.

 248. O man, know this, that the unrestrained are in a bad state; take care that greed and vice do not bring you to lasting grief!

  

 

19. THE JUST.

 256., 257. A man is not just if he acts by violence; no, he who distinguishes both right and wrong, who is learned and leads others, not by violence, but by law and equity, and who is guided by the law and thoughtfulness, he is called just . . .

 270. A man is not an elect (Ariya) because he injures living creatures; because he has pity on all living creatures, therefore is a man called Ariya . . .

   

 

The eightfold way is the technical term for the way by which Nirvâna is attained. This is the fourth of the Four Truths, or the four words of truth, viz. Duhkha, 'pain ;' Samudaya, 'origin;' Nirodha, 'destruction;' Mârga, 'road.'

20. THE WAY.

 273. The best of ways is the eightfold; the best of truths the four words; the best of virtues passionlessness; the best person is the one who has eyes to see.

 274. This is the way, there is no other that leads to the purifying of intelligence. Go on this way! Everything else is the deceit of Mâra [the tempter].

 275. If you go on this way, you will make an end of pain! The way was preached by me, when I had understood the removal of thorns (in the flesh).

 276. You yourself must make an effort. The Tathâgatas [Buddhas] are only preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the bondage of Mâra.

   

 

21. DISCIPLES.

 296. The disciples of Gotama [Buddha] are always wide awake, and their thoughts day and night are set on Buddha.

 297. The disciples of Gotama are always wide awake, and their thoughts day and night are set on the law.

 298. The disciples of Gotama are always wide awake, and their thoughts day and night are set on the way.

 299. The disciples of Gotama are always wide awake, and their thoughts day and night are set on their bodies.

 300. The disciples of Gotama are always wide awake, and their minds day and night delight in compassion . . .

 

 

22. BAD MONKS.

 307. Many whose shoulders are covered with the yellow gown are ill-conditioned and unrestrained; such evil-doers by their evil deeds go to hell.

 308. Better it would be to swallow a heated iron ball, like flaring fire, than that a bad unrestrained monk should live on the charity of the land . . .

 311. As a grass-blade, if badly grasped, cuts the arm, badly-practiced asceticism leads to hell.

 312. An act carelessly performed, a broken vow, and hesitating obedience to discipline, all this brings no great reward.

 313. If anything is to be done, attack it vigorously! Careless pilgrims only scatter the dust of their passions more widely.
 

 

23. THE ELEPHANT.

 324. The elephant called Dhanapâlaka, his temples running with sap, and difficult to hold, does not eat a morsel when bound; the elephant longs for the elephant grove . . .

 329. If you find no prudent companion to walk with, none who is wise, and lives soberly, then walk alone, like an elephant in the forest.

 330. It is better to live alone, there is no companionship with a fool; walk alone, commit no sin, hold few wishes, like an elephant in the forest.

 

 

24 THIRST.

 334. The thirst of a thoughtless man grows like a creeper; he runs from life to life, like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest . . .

 352. He who is without thirst and without affection, who understands the words and their interpretation, who knows the order of letters (those which are before and which are after), he has received his last body, he is called the great sage, the great man.

 353. 'I have conquered all, I know all, in all conditions of life I am free from taint; I have left all, and through the destruction of thirst I am free; having learnt myself, whom shall I teach?'

 

 

25. THE BHIKSHU (MENDICANT).

 366. A Bhikshu who, though he receives little, does not despise what he has received, even the gods will praise him, if his life is pure, and if he is not lazy.

 367. He who never identifies himself with name and form, and does not grieve over what is no more, he indeed is called a Bhikshu.

 368. The Bhikshu who acts with kindness, who is calm in the doctrine of Buddha, will reach the quiet place (Nirvâna), cessation of natural desires, and happiness . . .

   

 

26. THE BRÂHMANA (ARHAT).

 396. I do not call one a Brâhmana because of origin or of birth, if arrogant or wealthy: but the poor one, the one free from all attachments, that one I call a Brâhmana . . .

 412. The one I call a Brâhmana in this world is above good and evil, above the bondage of both, free from griefs, sins, and impurities.

 413. The one I call a Brâhmana is bright like the moon, pure, serene, undisturbed, and without gaiety.

 414. The one I call a Brâhmana has traversed this miry road; the impassable world and its vanity, has gone through, and reached the other shore, is thoughtful, guileless, content, free from doubts, free from attachment.

 415. The one I call a Brâhmana in this world, leaving all desires, travels about without a home, and without lust.

 416. The one I call a Brâhmana, leaving all belongings, travels about without a home, and without greed.

 417. The one I call a Brâhmana, leaving all bondage to other people, has risen above all bondage to the gods, and is free from all and every bondage.

 418. The one I call a Brâhmana, leaving what gives pleasure and pain, is free from all future lives, a hero who has conquered all the worlds.

 419. The one I call a Brâhmana knows the destruction and the return of beings everywhere, is free from bondage, and is awake (Buddha).

 420. The one I call a Brâhmana whose path the gods do not know, nor spirits (Gandharvas), nor men, whose passions are dead, is an Arhat (free).

 421. The one I call a Brâhmana calls nothing his own, whether it be before, behind, or between, that one is poor, and free from the love of the world.

 422. The one I call a Brâhmana is the virtuous, noble, heroic, a great sage, conqueror, unsurpassed, accomplished, awake.
 

 

Instructor: gutchess@englishare.net 
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