Dhammapada 13: The World

Translated by Ven Nārada

167. Do not serve mean ends, 1 Do not live in heedlessness. Do not embrace false views. Do not be a world-upholder. 2

168. Be not heedless in standing 3 (at people’s doors for alms). Observe (this) practice scrupulously. He who observes this practice lives happily both in this world and in the next.

169. Scrupulously observe (this) practice. Do not observe it unscrupulously. He who observes this practice lives happily both in this world and in the next.

170. Just as one would look upon a bubble, just as one would look upon a mirage 4 - if a person thus looks upon the world, the King of Death sees him not.

171. Come, behold this world 5 which is like unto an ornamented royal chariot, wherein fools flounder, but for the wise there is no attachment.

172. Whoever was heedless before and afterwards is not; such a one illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds.

173. Whoever, by a good deed, 6 covers the evil done, 7 such a one illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds.

174. Blind is this world. Few are those who clearly see. As birds escape from a net few go to a blissful state. 8

175. Swans wing along on the path of the sun. (Men) go through air by psychic powers, 9 The wise are led away from the world, 10 having conquered Māra and his host. 11

176. There is no evil that cannot be done by the liar, 12 who has transgressed the one law (of truthfulness) and who is indifferent to a world beyond.

177. Verily misers go not to the celestial realms. Fools do not indeed praise liberality. The wise man rejoices in giving and thereby become happy thereafter.

178. Better than absolute sovereignty 13 over the earth, better than going to heaven, better than even lordship over all the worlds, is the Fruit of a Stream-Winner. 14

End Notes

1 That is, sensual pleasures.

2 By being subject to repeated births and deaths.

3 This translation is according to the Commentary but owing to the ambiguity of the first word it may be translated, "be alert, be not heedless", etc.

4 This psycho-physical organism is to be regarded as being as empty as a bubble and as illusive as a mirage. The wise man who could so regard it would end the ills of life.

5 This body, composed of the five Aggregates.

6 By the Path of Arahantship.

7 One has to reap the effects of one’s Kamma. But one is not bound to reap the effects of all actions one has done in the course of Saṃsāra. If one were, an escape from birth and death would be impossible. At times it is possible to obliterate one’s evil kamma by performing powerful good kamma.

8 Sagga - blissful states, not eternal heavens.

9 Iddhi. By mental development it is possible to fly through the air, walk on water, dive into the earth, etc. Such kinds of powers are psychic and supernormal, but not miraculous.

10 That is, the Arahants attain Parinibbāna without coming into birth again.

11 The host of Māra, the Evil One, is described as comprising ten kinds of passions (kilesa). They are: 1. material pleasures (kāma), 2. aversion for the Holy Life (arati), 3. hunger and thirst (khuppipāsā), 4. craving (taṇhā), 5. sloth and torpor (thīna-middha), 6. fear (bhaya), 7. doubt (vicikicchā), 8. detraction and obstinacy (makkha-thambha), 9. gain (lābha), praise (siloka) honour (sakkāra) and ill-gotten fame (yasa), 10. Extolling of oneself and contempt for others (attukkaṃsana-paravambhana).

12 An untruthful person, devoid of self-respect, who has no belief in an after life and who has no fear for the attendant consequences of evil, is liable to commit any evil. Such a person does not see earthly bliss or heavenly bliss or Nibbānic bliss (Commentary).

13 Internal purification is far superior to fleeting worldly possessions of transitory heavenly bliss.

14 Sotāpatti. Here Sota means the stream that leads to Nibbāna. It is the noble Eightfold Path. "Ā" means for the first time. "Patti" means attainment. Sotāpatti means the attainment of the stream for the first time. It is the realization of Nibbāna for the first time. This is the first stage of Sainthood. The Stream-Winners are not born in woeful states, but the worldly great are not exempt from them.