Dhammapada 14: The Buddha

Translated by Ven Nārada

179. Whose conquest (of passion) is not turned into defeat, 1 no conquered (passion) of his in this world follows him 2 — that trackless 3 Buddha of infinite range, 4 by which way will you lead him?

180. Him in whom there is not that entangling, 5 embroiling craving to lead (to any life), him the trackless Buddha of infinite range — by which way will you lead him? 6

181. The wise ones who are intent on meditation, 7 who delight in the peace of renunciation 8 (i.e., Nibbāna), such mindful perfect Buddhas even the gods hold (most) dear.

182. Rare is birth as a human being. Hard is the life of mortals. Hard is the hearing of the Sublime Truth. Rare is the appearance of the Buddhas.

183. Not to do any evil, 9 to cultivate good, to purify one’s mind, this is the Teaching of the Buddhas. 10

184. Forbearing patience is the highest austerity. Nibbāna is supreme, say the Buddhas. He, verily, is not a recluse 11 who harms another. Nor is he an ascetic 12 who oppresses others.

185. Not insulting, not harming, restraint according to the Fundamental Moral Code, 13 moderation in food, secluded abode, intent on higher thoughts, 14 — this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.

186-187. Not by a shower of gold coins does contentment arise in sensual pleasures. Of little sweetness, and painful, are sensual pleasures. Knowing thus, the wise man finds no delight even in heavenly pleasures. The disciple of the Fully Enlightened One delights in the destruction of craving.

188. To many a refuge fear-stricken men betake themselves — to hills, woods, groves, trees, and shrines.

189. Nay no such refuge is safe, no such refuge is supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one freed from all ill.

190-192. He who has gone for refuge 15 to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, sees with right knowledge the four Noble Truths — Sorrow, the Cause of Sorrow, the Transcending of Sorrow, and the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to the Cessation of Sorrow. This, indeed, is refuge secure. This, indeed, is refuge supreme. By seeking such refuge one is released from all sorrow.

193. Hard to find is a man of great wisdom: 16 such a man is not born everywhere. Where such a wise man is born, that family thrives happily.

194. Happy is the birth of Buddhas. Happy is the teaching of the sublime Dhamma. Happy is the unity of the Sangha. 17 Happy is the discipline of the united ones.

195-196. He who reverences those worthy of reverence, whether Buddhas or their disciples; those who have overcome the impediments 18 and have got rid of grief and lamentation — the merit of him who reverences such peaceful 19 and fearless Ones 20 cannot be measured by anyone as such and such.

End Notes

1 As the Buddha had eradicated all passions of lust, hatred, and delusion they could not arise in Him any more. His spiritual victory was unconquerable.

2 Because the eradicated passions do not arise again.

3 Since the Buddha is devoid of the tracks (pada) of lust, hatred, and delusion.

4 Being omniscient.

5 Of lust, hatred, and delusion.

6 Nessatha = will lead to temptation by bringing under the sway of the tempters.

7 Here Jhāna means both concentration (samatha) and insight (vipassanā).

8 Nekkhamma implies Nibbāna, which is gained by the subjugation of passions.

9 What is associated with the three immoral roots of attachment (lobha), ill-will (dosa), and delusion (moha) is evil. What is associated with the three moral roots of generosity (alobha), goodwill or loving-kindness (adosa) and wisdom (amoha) is good.

10 The religion of the Buddha is summarised in this verse.

11 Pabbajito, one who casts aside his impurities and has left the world.

12 Samaṇo, one who has subdued his passions, an ascetic.

13 Pātimokkha, these are the 220 chief rules (excluding the seven ways of settling disputes) which every bhikkhu is expected to observe.

14 Adhicitta, namely: the eight attainments (aṭṭhasamāpatti), the four rūpa jhānas and the four arūpa jhānas. They are higher stages of mental concentration which enable one to gain supernormal powers.

15 One’s best refuge is oneself. A Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha as the Teacher, the Teaching and the Taught in order to gain his deliverance from the ills of life. The Buddha is the supreme teacher who shows the way to deliverance. The Dhamma is the unique way. The Sangha represents the Taught who have followed the way and have become living examples. One formally becomes a Buddhist by intelligently seeking refuge in this Triple Gem (Tisaraṇa). A Buddhist does not seek refuge in the Buddha with the hope that he will be saved by a personal act of deliverance. The confidence of a Buddhist in the Buddha is like that of a sick person in a noted physician, or of a student in his teacher.

16 That is, a Buddha.

17 Sangha is the oldest, democratically constituted, historic, celibate Order, founded by the Buddha. Strictly speaking, the Sangha denotes those noble disciples who have realized the four Paths and four Fruits. The ordinary bhikkhus of the present day are merely their representatives.

18 Papañca = impediments or obstacles such as attachment, false views and pride.

19 Those who have extinguished the fire of lust.

20 The passionless are fearless.