Dhammapada 24: Craving

Translated by Ven Nārada

334. The craving 1 of the person addicted to careless living grows like a creeper. He jumps from life to life like a fruit-loving monkey in the forest.

335. Whomsoever in this world this base clinging thirst overcomes, his sorrows flourish like well-watered bīraṇa grass.

336. Whoso in the world overcomes this base unruly craving, from him sorrows fall away like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.

337. This I say to you: Good luck to you all who have assembled here! Dig up the root of craving like one in quest of bīraṇa’s sweet root. Let not Māra 2 crush you again and again as a flood (crushes) a reed.

338. Just as a tree with roots unharmed and firm, though hewn down, sprouts again, even so while latent craving is not rooted out, this sorrow springs up again and again.

339. If in anyone the thirty-six streams (of craving 3) that rush towards pleasurable thoughts 4 are strong, such deluded person, torrential thoughts of lust carry off.

340. The streams (craving) flow everywhere. The creeper (craving) sprouts 5 and stands. 6 Seeing the creeper that has sprung up, with wisdom cut off root.

341. In beings there arise pleasures that rush (towards sense-objects) and (such beings) are steeped in craving. Bent on happiness, they seek happiness. Verily, such men come to birth and decay.

342. Folk enwrapt in craving are terrified like a captive hare. Held fast by fetters and bonds, 7 for long they come to sorrow again and again.

343. Folk, enwrapt in craving, are terrified like a captive hare. Therefore a bhikkhu who wishes his own passionlessness (Nibbāna) should discard craving.

344. Whoever with no desire (for the household) finds pleasure in the forest (of asceticism) and though freed from desire (for the household), (yet) runs back to that very home. Come, behold that man! Freed, he runs back into that very bondage. 8

345. That which is made of iron, wood or hemp, is not a strong bond, say the wise; the longing for jewels, ornaments, children, and wives is a far greater attachment.

346. That bond is strong, say the wise. It hurls down, is supple, and is hard to loosen. This too the wise cut off, and leave the world, with no longing, renouncing sensual pleasures.

347. Those who are infatuated with lust fall back into the stream as (does) a spider into the web spun by itself. This too the wise cut off and wander, with no longing, released from all sorrow.

348. Let go the past. Let go the future. Let go the present 9 (front, back and middle). Crossing to the farther shore of existence, with mind released from everything, do not again undergo birth and decay.

349. For the person who is perturbed by (evil) thoughts, who is exceedingly lustful, who contemplates pleasant things, craving increases more and more. Surely, he makes the bond (of Māra) stronger.

350. He who delights in subduing (evil) thoughts, who meditates on "the loathesomeness" 10 (of the body) who is ever mindful - it is he who will make an end (of craving). He will sever Māra’s bond.

351. He who has reached the goal, is fearless, is without craving, is passionless, has cut off the thorns of life. This is his final body.

352. He who is without craving and grasping, who is skilled in etymology and terms, 11 who knows the grouping of letters and their sequence - it is he who is called the bearer of the final body, one of profound wisdom, a great man.

353. All have I overcome, all do I know. From all am I detached. All have I renounced. Wholly absorbed am I in "the destruction of craving". 12 Having comprehended all by myself, whom shall I call my teacher?

354. The gift of Truth excels all (other) gifts. The flavour of Truth excels all (other) flavours. The pleasure in Truth excels all (other) pleasures. He who has destroyed craving overcomes all sorrow.

355. Riches ruin the foolish, but not those in quest of the Beyond (Nibbāna). Through craving for riches the ignorant man ruins himself as (if he were ruining) others.

356. Weeds are the bane of fields, lust is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those lustless yields abundant fruit.

357. Weeds are the bane of fields, hatred is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those rid of hatred yields abundant fruit.

358. Weeds are the bane of fields, delusion is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those rid of craving yields abundant fruit.

359. Weeds are the bane of fields, craving is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those rid of craving yields abundant fruit.

End Notes

1 Craving is threefold, viz: craving for sensual pleasures (kāmataṇhā), craving connected with the notion of eternalism (bhavataṇhā), and craving connected with the notion of nihilism (vibhavataṇhā).

Craving for personal sense-fields, such as eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind, and for external sense-fields, such as form, sound, scent, taste, contact, and dhammas (mental objects), when viewed in the foregoing three aspects, divides itself into thirty-six varieties. When they are viewed according to past, present, and future they become one hundred and eight.

Bhavataṇhā may also be interpreted as attachment to life or Realms of Form, and vibhavataṇhā as attachment to annihilation or Formless Realms.

2 Passions.

3 See note on v. 334.

4 Through the six sense-doors.

5 That is, from the six sense-doors.

6 Resting on the six sense-objects.

7 There are five kinds of bonds (saṅga) - namely: lust, hatred, delusion, pride, and false views.

8 Here is a pun on the two meanings of vana, forest and desire.

9 That is, attachment to the past, present, and future Aggregates.

10 This is the meditation on the impurities of the body by practising which one can get rid of attachment to the body.

11 Niruttipadakovido - versed in the four kinds of analytical knowledge (paṭisambhidā) - namely: meaning (attha), text (dhamma), etymology (nirutti), and understanding (paṭibhāna).

12 Arahantship.