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The Dhammapada

Choices We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind And trouble will follow you As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with a pure mind And happiness will follow you As your shadow, unshakable. "Look how he abused me and hurt me, How he threw me down and robbed me." Live with such thoughts and you live in hate. "Look how he abused me and hurt me, How he threw me down and robbed me." Abandon such thoughts, and live in love. In this world Hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the law, Ancient and inexhaustible. You too shall pass away. Knowing this, how can you quarrel? How easily the wind overturns a frail tree. Seek happiness in the senses, Indulge in food and sleep, And you too will be uprooted. The wind cannot overturn a mountain. Temptation cannot touch the man Who is awake, strong and humble, Who masters himself and minds the dharma. If a man's thoughts are muddy, If he is reckless and full of deceit, How can he wear the yellow robe? Whoever is master of his own nature, Bright, clear and true, He may indeed wear the yellow robe. Mistaking the false for the true, And the true for the false, You overlook the heart And fill yourself with desire. See the false as false, The true as true. Look into your heart. Follow your nature. An unreflecting mind is a poor roof. Passion, like the rain, floods the house. But if the roof is strong, there is shelter. Whoever follows impure thoughts Suffers in this world and the next. In both worlds he suffers And how greatly When he sees the wrong he has done. But whoever follows the dharma Is joyful here and joyful there. In both worlds he rejoices And how greatly When he sees the good he has done. For great is the harvest in this world, And greater still in the next. However many holy words you read, However many you speak, What good will they do you If you do not act upon them? Are you a shepherd Who counts another man's sheep, Never sharing the way? Read as few words as you like, And speak fewer. But act upon the dharma. Give up the old ways - Passion, enmity, folly. Know the truth and find peace. Share the way. Wakefulness Wakefulness is the way to life. The fool sleeps As if he were already dead, But the master is awake And he lives forever. He watches. He is clear. How happy he is! For he sees that wakefulness is life. How happy he is, Following the path of the awakened. With great perseverance He meditates, seeking Freedom and happiness. So awake, reflect, watch. Work with care and attention. Live in the way And the light will grow in you. By watching and working The master makes for himself an island Which the flood cannot overwhelm. The fool is careless. But the master guards his watching. It is his most precious treasure. He never gives in to desire. He meditates. And in the strength of his resolve He discovers true happiness. He overcomes desire - And from the tower of his wisdom He looks down with dispassion Upon the sorrowing crowd. From the mountain top He looks down at those Who live close to the ground. Mindful among the mindless, Awake while others dream, Swift as the race horse He outstrips the field. By watching Indra became king of the gods. How wonderful it is to watch. How foolish to sleep. The beggar who guards his mind And fears the waywardness of his thoughts Burns through every bond With the fire of his vigilance. The beggar who guards his mind And fears his own confusion Cannot fall. He has found his way to peace. Mind As the fletcher whittles And makes straight his arrows, So the master directs His straying thoughts. Like a fish out of water, Stranded on the shore, Thoughts thrash and quiver, For how can they shake off desire? They tremble, they are unsteady, They wander at their own will. It is good to control them, And to master them brings happiness. But how subtle they are, How elusive! The task is to quieten them, And by ruling them to find happiness. With single-mindedness The master quells his thoughts. He ends their wandering. Seated in the cave of the heart, He finds freedom. How can a troubled mind Understand the way? If a man is disturbed He will never be filled with knowledge. An untroubled mind, No longer seeking to consider What is right and what is wrong, A mind beyond judgments, Watches and understands. Know that the body is a fragile jar, And make a castle of your mind. In every trial Let understanding fight for you To defend what you have won. For soon the body is discarded, Then what does it feel? A useless log of wood, it lies on the ground, Then what does it know? Your worst enemy cannot harm you As much as your own thoughts, unguarded. But once mastered, No one can help you as much, Not even your father or your mother. Flowers Who shall conquer this world And the world of death with all its gods? Who shall discover The shining way of dharma? You shall, even as the man Who seeks flowers Finds the most beautiful, The rarest. Understand that the body Is merely the foam of a wave, The shadow of a shadow. Snap the flower arrows of desire And then, unseen, Escape the king of death. And travel on. Death overtakes the man Who gathers flowers When with distracted mind and thirsty senses He searches vainly for happiness In the pleasures of the world. Death fetches him away As a flood carries off a sleeping village. Death overcomes him When with distracted mind and thirsty senses He gathers flowers. He will never have his fill Of the pleasures of the world. The bee gathers nectar from the flower Without marring its beauty or perfume. So let the master settle, and wander. Look to your own faults, What you have done or left undone. Overlook the faults of others. Like a lovely flower, Bright but scentless, Are the fine but empty words Of the man who does not mean what he says. Like a lovely flower, Bright and fragrant, Are the fine and truthful words Of the man who means what he says. Like garlands woven from a heap of flowers, Fashion from your life as many good deeds. The perfume of sandalwood, Rosebay or jasmine Cannot travel against the wind. But the fragrance of virtue Travels even against the wind, As far as the ends of the world. How much finer Is the fragrance of virtue Than of sandalwood, rosebay, Of the blue lotus or jasmine! The fragrance of sandalwood and rosebay Does not travel far. But the fragrance of virtue Rises to the heavens. Desire never crosses the path Of virtuous and wakeful men. Their brightness sets them free. How sweetly the lotus grows In the litter of the wayside. Its pure fragrance delights the heart. Follow the awakened And from among the blind The light of your wisdom Will shine out, purely. The Fool How long the night to the watchman, How long the road to the weary traveler, How long the wandering of many lives To the fool who misses the way. If the traveler cannot find Master or friend to go with him, Let him travel alone Rather than with a fool for company. "My children, my wealth!" So the fool troubles himself. But how has he children or wealth? He is not even his own master. The fool who knows he is a fool Is that much wiser. The fool who thinks he is wise Is a fool indeed. Does the spoon taste the soup? A fool may live all his life In the company of a master And still miss the way. The tongue tastes the soup. If you are awake in the presence of a master One moment will show you the way. The fool is his own enemy. The mischief is his undoing. How bitterly he suffers! Why do what you will regret? Why bring tears upon yourself? Do only what you do not regret, And fill yourself with joy. For a while the fool's mischief Tastes sweet, sweet as honey. Bit in the end it turns bitter. And how bitterly he suffers! For months the fool may fast, Eating from the tip of a grass blade. Still he is not worth a penny Beside the master whose food is the way. Fresh milk takes time to sour. So a fool's mischief Takes time to catch up with him. Like the embers of a fire It smolders within him. Whatever a fool learns, It only makes him duller. Knowledge cleaves his head. For then he wants recognition. A place before other people, A place over other people. "Let them know my work, Let everyone look to me for direction." Such are his desires, Such is his swelling pride. One way leads to wealth and fame, The other to the end of the way. Look not for recognition But follow the awakened And set yourself free. The Wise Man The wise man tells you Where you have fallen And where you yet may fall - Invaluable secrets! Follow him, follow the way. Let him chasten and teach you and keep you from mischief. The world may hate him. But good men love him. Do not look for bad company Or live with men who do not care. Find friends who love the truth. Drink deeply. Live in serenity and joy. The wise man delights in the truth And follows the law of the awakened. The farmer channels water to his land. The fletcher whittles his arrows. And the carpenter turns his wood. So the wise man directs his mind. The wind cannot shake a mountain. Neither praise nor blame moves the wise man. He is clarity. Hearing the truth, He is like a lake, Pure and tranquil and deep. Want nothing. Where there is desire, Say nothing. Happiness or sorrow - Whatever befalls you, Walk on Untouched, unattached. Do not ask for family or power or wealth, Either for yourself or for another. Can a wise man wish to rise unjustly? Few cross over the river. Most are stranded on this side. On the riverbank they run up and down. But the wise man, following the way, Crosses over, beyond the reach of death. He leaves the dark way For the way of light. He leaves his home, seeking Happiness on the hard road. Free from desire, Free from possessions, Free from the dark places of the heart. Free from attachment and appetite, Following the seven lights of awakening, And rejoicing greatly in his freedom, In this world the wise man Becomes himself a light, Pure, shining, free. The Master At the end of the way The master finds freedom From desire and sorrow - Freedom without bounds. Those who awaken Never rest in one place. Like swans, they rise And leave the lake. On the air they rise And fly an invisible course, Gathering nothing, storing nothing. Their food is knowledge. They live upon emptiness. They have seen how to break free. Who can follow them? Only the master, Such is his purity. Like a bird, He rises on the limitless air And flies an invisible course. He wishes for nothing. His food is knowledge. He lives upon emptiness. He has broken free. He is the charioteer. He has tamed his horses, Pride and the senses. Even the gods admire him. Yielding like the earth, Joyous and clear like the lake, Still as the stone at the door, He is free from life and death. His thoughts are still. His words are still. His work is stillness. He sees his freedom and is free. The master surrenders his beliefs. He sees beyond the end and the beginning. He cuts all ties. He gives up all desires. He resists all temptations. And he rises. And wherever he lives, In the city or the country, In the valley or in the hills, There is great joy. Even in the empty forest He finds joy Because he wants nothing. The Thousands Better than a thousand hollow words Is one word that brings peace. Better than a thousand hollow verses Is one verse that brings peace. Better than a hundred hollow lines Is one line of the dharma, bringing peace. It is better to conquer yourself Than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, Not by angels or by demons, Heaven or hell. Better than a hundred years of worship, Better than a thousand offerings, Better than giving up a thousand worldly ways In order to win merit, Better even than tending in the forest A sacred flame for a hundred years - Is one moment's reverence For the man who has conquered himself. To revere such a man, A master old in virtue and holiness, Is to have victory over life itself, And beauty, strength and happiness. Better than a hundred years of mischief Is one day spent in contemplation. Better than a hundred years of ignorance Is one day spent in reflection. Better than a hundred years of idleness Is one day spent in determination. Better to live one day Wondering How all things arise and pass away. Better to live one hour Seeing The one life beyond the way. Better to live one moment In the moment Of the way beyond the way. Mischief Be quick to do good. If you are slow, The mind, delighting in mischief, Will catch you. Turn away from mischief. Again and again, turn away. Before sorrow befalls you. Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, And you will be filled with joy. A fool is happy Until his mischief turns against him. And a good man may suffer Until his goodness flowers. Do not make light of your failings, Saying, "What are they to me?" A jug fills drop by drop. So the fool becomes brimful of folly. Do not belittle your virtues, Saying, "They are nothing." A jug fills drop by drop. So the wise man becomes brimful of virtue. As the rich merchant with few servants Shuns a dangerous road And the man who loves life shuns poison, Beware the dangers of folly and mischief. For an unwounded hand may handle poison. The innocent come to no harm. But as dust thrown against the wind, Mischief is blown back in the face Of the fool who wrongs the pure and harmless. Some are reborn in hell, Some in this world, The good in heaven. But the pure are not reborn. Nowhere! Not in the sky, Nor in the midst of the sea, Nor deep in the mountains, Can you hide from your own mischief. Not in the sky, Not in the midst of the ocean, Nor deep in the mountains, Nowhere Can you hide from your own death. Violence All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in other. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? He who seeks happiness By hurting those who seek happiness Will never find happiness. For your brother is like you. He wants to be happy. Never harm him And when you leave this life You too will find happiness. Never speak harsh words For they will rebound upon you. Angry words hurt And the hurt rebounds. Like a broken gong Be still, and silent. Know the stillness of freedom Where there is no more striving. Like herdsmen driving their cows into the fields, Old age and death will drive you before them. But the fool in his mischief forgets And he lights the fire Wherein one day he must burn. He who harms the harmless Or hurts the innocent, Ten times shall he fall - Into torment or infirmity, Injury or disease or madness, Persecution or fearful accusation, Loss of family, loss of fortune. Fire from heaven shall strike his house And when his body has been struck down, He shall rise in hell. He who goes naked, With matted hair, mud bespattered, Who fasts and sleeps on the ground And smears his body with ashes And sits in endless meditation - So long as he is not free from doubts, He will not find freedom. But he who lives purely and self-assured, In quietness and virtue, Who is without harm or hurt or blame, Even if he wears fine clothes, So long as he also has faith, He is a true seeker. A noble horse rarely Feels the touch of the whip. Who is there in this world as blameless? Then like a noble horse Smart under the whip. Burn and be swift. Believe, meditate, see. Be harmless, be blameless. Awake to the dharma. And from all sorrows free yourself. The farmer channels water to his land. The fletcher whittles his arrows. The carpenter turns his wood. And the wise man masters himself. Old Age The world is on fire! And you are laughing? You are deep in the dark. Will you not ask for a light? For behold your body - A painted puppet, a toy, Jointed and sick and full of false imaginings, A shadow that shifts and fades. How frail it is! Frail and pestilent, It sickens, festers and dies. Like every living thing In the end it sickens and dies. Behold these whitened bones, The hollow shells and husks of a dying summer. And you are laughing? You are a house of bones, Flesh and blood for plaster. Pride lives in you, And hypocrisy, decay, and death. The glorious chariots of kings shatter. So also the body turns to dust. But the spirit of purity is changeless And so the pure instruct the pure. The ignorant man is an ox. He grows in size, not in wisdom. "Vainly I sought the builder of my house Through countless lives. I could not find him... How hard it is to tread life after life! "But now I see you, O builder! And never again shall you build my house. I have snapped the rafters, Split the ridgepole And beaten out desire. And now my mind is free." There are no fish in the lake. The long-legged cranes stand in the water. Sad is the man who in his youth Loved loosely and squandered his fortune - Sad as a broken bow, And sadly is he sighing After all that has arisen and has passed away. Yourself Love yourself and watch - Today, tomorrow, always. First establish yourself in the way, Then teach, And so defeat sorrow. To straighten the crooked You must first do a harder thing - Straighten yourself. You are your only master. Who else? Subdue yourself, And discover your master. Willfully you have fed Your own mischief. Soon it will crush you As the diamond crushes stone. By your own folly You will be brought as low As you worst enemy wishes. So the creeper chokes the tree. How hard it is to serve yourself, How easy to lose yourself In mischief and folly. The kashta reed dies when it bears fruit. So the fool, Scorning the teachings of the awakened, Spurning those who follow the dharma, Perishes when his folly flowers. Mischief is yours. Sorrow is yours. But virtue is also yours, And purity. You are the source Of all purity and impurity. No one purifies another. Never neglect your work For another's, However great his need. Your work is to discover your work And then with all your heart To give yourself to it. The World Do not live in the world, In distraction and false dreams. Outside the dharma. Arise and watch. Follow the way joyfully Through this world and beyond. Follow the way of virtue. Follow the way joyfully Through this world and on beyond! For consider the world - A bubble, a mirage. See the world as it is, And death shall overlook you. Come, consider the world, A painted chariot for kings, A trap for fools. But he who sees goes free. As the moon slips from behind a cloud And shines, So the master comes out from behind his ignorance And shines. The world is in darkness. How few have eyes to see! How few the birds Who escape the net and fly to heaven! Swans rise and fly toward the sun. What magic! So do the pure conquer the armies of illusion And rise and fly. If you scoff at heaven And violate the dharma, If your words are lies, Where will your mischief end? The fool laughs at generosity. The miser cannot enter heaven. But the master finds joy in giving And happiness is his reward. And more - For greater than all the joys Of heaven and earth, Greater still and than dominion Over all the worlds, Is the joy of reaching the stream. The Man Who Is Awake He is awake. The victory is his. He has conquered the world. How can he lose the way Who is beyond the way? His eye is open His foot is free. Who can follow after him? The world cannot reclaim him Or lead him astray, Nor can the poisoned net of desire hold him. He is awake! The gods watch over him. He is awake And finds joy in the stillness of meditation And in the sweetness of surrender. Hard it is to be born, Hard it is to live, Harder still to hear of the way, And hard to rise, follow, and awake. Yet the reaching is simple. Do what is right. Be pure. At the end of the way is freedom. Till then, patience. If you wound or grieve another, You have not learned detachment. Offend in neither word nor deed. Eat with moderation. Live in your heart. Seek the highest consciousness. Master yourself according to the dharma. This is the simple teaching of the awakened. The rain could turn to gold And still your thirst would not be slaked. Desire is unquenchable Or it ends in tears, even in heaven. He who wishes to awake Consumes his desires Joyfully. In his fear a man may shelter In mountains or in forests, In groves of sacred trees or in shrines. But how can he hide there from his sorrow? He who shelters in the way And travels with those who follow it Comes to see the four great truths. Concerning sorrow, The beginning of sorrow, The eightfold way And the end of sorrow. Then at last he is safe. He has shaken off sorrow. He is free. The awakened are few and hard to find. Happy is the house where a man awakes. Blessed is his birth. Blessed is the teaching of the way. Blessed is the understanding among those who follow it, And blessed is their determination. And blessed are those who revere The man who awakes and follows the way. They are free from fear. They are free. They have crossed over the river of sorrow. Joy Live in joy, In love, Even among those who hate. Live in joy, In health, Even among the afflicted. Live in joy, In peace, Even among the troubled. Live in joy, Without possessions. Like the shining ones. The winner sows hatred Because the loser suffers. Let go of winning and losing And find joy. There is no fire like passion, No crime like hatred, No sorrow like separation, No sickness like hunger, And no joy like the joy of freedom. Health, contentment and trust Are your greatest possessions, And freedom your greatest joy. Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment, Know the sweet joy of the way. How joyful to look upon the awakened And to keep company with the wise. How long the road to the man Who travels the road with the fool. But whoever follows those who follow the way Discovers his family, and is filled with joy. Follow then the shining ones, The wise, the awakened, the loving, For they know how to work and forbear. Follow them As the moon follows the path of the stars. Pleasure Do not let pleasure distract you From meditation, from the way. Free yourself from pleasure and pain. For in craving pleasure or in nursing pain There is only sorrow. Like nothing lest you lose it, Lest it bring you grief and fear. Go beyond likes and dislikes. From passion and desire, Sensuousness and lust, Arise grief and fear. Free yourself from attachment. He is pure, and sees. He speaks the truth, and lives it. He does his own work. So he is admired and loved. With a determined mind and undesiring heart He longs for freedom. He is called uddhamsoto - "He who goes upstream." When a traveler at last comes home From a far journey, With what gladness His family and friends receive him! Even so shall your good deeds Welcome you like friends And with what rejoicing When you pass from one life to the next! Anger Let go of anger. Let go of pride. When you are bound by nothing You go beyond sorrow. Anger is like a chariot careering wildly. He who curbs his anger is the true charioteer. Others merely hold the reins. With gentleness overcome anger. With generosity overcome meanness. With truth overcome deceit. Speak the truth. Give whenever you can, Never be angry. These three steps will lead you Into the presence of the gods. The wise harm no one. They are masters of their bodies And they go to the boundless country. They go beyond sorrow. Those who seek perfection Keep watch day and night Till all desires vanish. Listen, Atula. This is not new, It is an old saying - "They blame you for being silent, They blame you when you talk too much And when you talk too little." Whatever you do, they blame you. The world always finds A way to praise and a way to blame. It always has and it always will. But who dares blame the man Whom the wise continually praise, Whose life is virtuous and wise, Who shines like a coin of pure gold? Even the gods praise him. Even Brahma praises him. Beware of the anger of the body. Master the body. Let it serve truth. Beware of the anger of the mouth. Master your words. Let them serve truth. Beware of the anger of the mind. Master your thoughts. Let them serve truth. The wise have mastered Body, word and mind. They are the true masters. Impurity You are as the yellow leaf. The messengers of death are at hand. You are to travel far away. What will you take with you? You are the lamp To lighten the way. Then hurry, hurry. When your light shines Without impurity of desire You will come into the boundless country. Your life is falling away. Death is at hand. Where will you rest on the way? What have you taken with you? You are the lamp To lighten the way. Then hurry, hurry. When you light shines purely You will not be born And you will not die. As a silversmith sifts dust from silver, Remove your own impurities Little by little. Or as iron is corroded by rust Your own mischief will consume you. Neglected, the sacred verses rust. For beauty rusts without use And unrepaired the house falls into ruin, And the watch, without vigilance, fails. In this world and the next There is impurity and impurity: When a woman lacks dignity, When a man lacks generosity. But the greatest impurity is ignorance. Free yourself from it. Be pure. Life is easy For the man who is without shame, Impudent as a crow, A vicious gossip, Vain, meddlesome, dissolute. But life is hard For the man who quietly undertakes The way of perfection, With purity, detachment and vigor. He sees light. If you kill, lie or steal, Commit adultery or drink, You dig up your own roots. And if you cannot master yourself, The harm you do turns against you Grievously. You may give in the spirit of light Or as you please, But if you care how another man gives Or how he withholds, You trouble your quietness endlessly. These envying roots! Destroy them And enjoy a lasting quietness. There is no fire like passion. There are no chains like hate. Illusion is a net, Desire is a rushing river. How easy it is to see your brother's faults, How hard it is to face your own. You winnow his in the wind like chaff, But yours you hide, Like a cheat covering up an unlucky throw. Dwelling on your brother's faults Multiplies your own. You are far from the end of your journey. The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. See how you love Whatever keeps you from your journey. But the tathagathas, "They who have gone beyond," Have conquered the world. They are free. The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. All things arise and pass away. But the awakened awake forever.
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