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Buddhist Wisdom Verses
The Good Things in Life
Dhp 331-3 Māravatthu
The Buddha is reflecting on whether it is possible for Kings to rule the world with justice. Māra, finding this out, comes to the wrong conclusion, and tries to tempt him. The Buddha explains what is truly good.
63. Atthamhi jātamhi sukhā sahāyā,
Tuṭṭhī sukhā yā itarītarena,
Puññaṁ sukhaṁ jīvitasaṅkhayamhi,
Sabbassa dukkhassa sukhaṁ pahāṇaṁ.
Friends are good whenever need arises,
Being content with everything is good,
At the break-up of life merit is good,
Abandoning of suffering is good.
64. Sukhā matteyyatā loke, atho petteyyatā sukhā,
Sukhā sāmaññatā loke, atho brahmaññatā sukhā.
Having respect for one’s mother is good,
Having respect for one’s father is good,
Having respect for ascetics is good,
Having respect for true brahmans is good.
65. Sukhaṁ yāva jarā sīlaṁ, sukhā saddhā patiṭṭhitā,
Sukho paññāya paṭilābho, pāpānaṁ akaraṇaṁ sukhaṁ.
Virtuous conduct till old age is good,
The establishing of faith is good,
The acquisition of wisdom is good,
Doing nothing wicked is also good.
Dhp 194 Sambahulabhikkhuvatthu
The monks discuss what is the true good in the world, some say ruling, some say love, some say food. The Buddha explains what is truly good.
66. Sukho Buddhānam-uppādo, sukhā Saddhammadesanā,
Sukhā Saṅghassa sāmaggī, samaggānaṁ tapo sukho.
The arising of the Buddhas is good,
The teaching of the True Dhamma is good,
The harmony of the Saṅgha is good,
And devotion to harmony is good.
Renouncing the Lesser Good for the Greater
Dhp 290 Attanopubbakammavatthu
The Bodhisatta’s son meets some paccekabuddhas and attains Awakening and later dies. His father, when he finds out honours his grave. Afterwards when reborn the Bodhisatta attains Awakening and he is greatly honoured in a similar way.
67. Mattāsukhapariccāgā, passe ce vipulaṁ sukhaṁ,
Caje mattāsukhaṁ Dhīro, sampassaṁ vipulaṁ sukhaṁ.
If, by renouncing a small good,
He might see a good that is large,
The wise should renounce that small good,
Seeing the good that is larger.
The Greatest Things
Dhp 204 Pasenadikosalavatthu
King Pasenadi is always overeating and suffering for it. The Buddha has the King’s nephew learn and recite a verse which reminds the King to be moderate. Later the King is cured and tells him about his good fortune. The Buddha recites the following verse.
68. Ārogyaparamā lābhā, santuṭṭhi paramaṁ dhanaṁ,
Vissāsā paramā ñāti, Nibbānaṁ paramaṁ sukhaṁ.
Health is the supreme gain,
Content the supreme wealth,
Faith is supreme kin,
Nibbāna supreme good.
Four Great Things
SN 1.1.73 Vittasuttaṁ
A God comes to the Buddha and asks four questions to which these are the replies.
69. Saddhīdha vittaṁ purisassa seṭṭhaṁ,
Dhammo suciṇṇo sukham-āvahāti,
Saccaṁ have sādutaraṁ rasānaṁ,
Paññājīviṁ jīvitam-āhu seṭṭhaṁ
Faith is the greatest wealth in the world,
The Dhamma, when practiced, brings happiness,
The Truth is surely the sweetest of tastes,
Living wisely they say is the greatest.
The Rare Things
Dhp 182 Erakapattanāgarājavatthu
A monk in the time of Buddha Kassapa dies and is reborn as a nāga. Eventually he hears that a new Buddha has arisen in the world, and goes and asks why he cannot attain rebirth as a human even after so long a time. This is the Buddha’s reply.
70. Kiccho manussapaṭilābho, kicchaṁ maccāna’ jīvitaṁ,
Kicchaṁ Saddhammasavanaṁ, kiccho Buddhānam-uppādo.
It is rare to be born human,
Rare is the life of the mortals,
It is rare to hear True Dhamma,
Rare the arising of Buddhas.
Four More Good Things
SN 1.1.51 Jarāsuttaṁ
A God asks the Buddha four questions and gets the following replies.
71. Sīlaṁ yāva jarā sādhu, saddhā sādhu patiṭṭhitā,
Paññā narānaṁ ratanaṁ, puññaṁ corehi dūharaṁ.
Virtue that will endure is good,
And faith is good when established,
Wisdom is the people’s treasure,
Thieves cannot carry off merit.
Overcoming Defilements with their Opposites
Dhp 223 Uttarā-Upāsikāvatthu
A wife hires a courtesan to look after her husband’s needs, while she serves the Buddha and his monks. The courtesan gets angry and tries to burn her with boiling ghee, but the power of loving-kindness stops it burning.
72. Akkodhena jine kodhaṁ, asādhuṁ sādhunā jine,
Jine kadariyaṁ dānena, saccenālikavādinaṁ.
Through kindness one should overcome anger,
Through goodness overcome lack of goodness,
Through gifts one should overcome stinginess,
Through truth one should overcome lying speech.
The Dhamma Surpasses All
Dhp 354 Sakkapañhavatthu
The Gods have four questions which none of them is able to answer, they therefore go to the Buddha with their questions and this is his reply.
73. Sabbadānaṁ Dhammadānaṁ jināti,
Sabbaṁ rasaṁ Dhammaraso jināti,
Sabbaṁ ratiṁ Dhammaratiṁ jināti,
Taṇhakkhayo sabbadukkhaṁ jināti.
The gift of the Dhamma surpasses other gifts,
The taste of the Dhamma surpasses other tastes,
The love of the Dhamma surpasses other loves,
Craving’s destruction overcomes all suffering.
Various Reciprical Duties
Jā 537 Mahāsutasomajātakaṁ
The Bodhisatta converts a man-eating King and brings him home, but the people do not feel safe. The Bodhisatta admonishes them with these verses.
74. Na so Rājā yo ajeyyaṁ jināti,
Na so sakhā yo sakhāraṁ jināti,
Na sā bhariyā yā patino vibheti,
Na te puttā ye na bharanti jiṇṇaṁ.
A King does not hurt his parents,
A true friend does not hurt his friends,
A wife should not fear her husband,
Children should support the aged.
75. Na sā sabhā yattha na santi santo,
Na te santo ye na bhaṇanti Dhammaṁ;
Rāgañ-ca dosañ-ca pahāya mohaṁ,
Dhammaṁ bhaṇanto va bhavanti santo.
If the good are absent that is no assembly,
They are not good who do not talk about Dhamma;
Having put away passion, hatred, delusion,
The good will then talk about Dhamma to others.
The Great Defilements
Dhp 251 Pañca-upāsakavatthu
While the Buddha is preaching the Dhamma, of five lay followers one falls asleep, another scratches the earth, one shakes a tree, another looks at the sky and only one listens attentively. The Buddha explains they were a snake, an earthworm, a monkey, an astrologer and a student of the Vedas in their previous births and behave accordingly now.
76. Natthi rāgasamo aggi, natthi dosasamo gaho,
Natthi mohasamaṁ jālaṁ, natthi taṇhāsamā nadī.
There is no fire quite like passion,
Nothing that takes hold like hatred,
There is no snare like delusion,
And there is no flood like craving.
Three Roots of Evil
SN 1.3.2 Purisasuttaṁ
King Pasenadi asks what things when they arise are unbeneficial, unsatisfactory and uncomfortable.
77. Lobho doso ca moho ca, purisaṁ pāpacetasaṁ,
Hiṁsanti attasambhūtā, tacasāraṁ va samphalaṁ.
Greed and hatred and delusion,
When they arise in his mind,
Destroy the person with bad thoughts,
Just as the fruit destroys the reed.
The Long Journey in Saṁsāra
Dhp 60 Aññatarapurisavatthu
King Pasenadi is overcome with desire for another man’s wife and seeks to have him killed. During the night he wakes to the sound of four people screaming. The Buddha explains they were adulterers in their previous lives and did no good deeds.
78. Dīghā jāgarato ratti, dīghaṁ santassa yojanaṁ,
Dīgho bālānaṁ saṁsāro Saddhammaṁ avijānataṁ.
Long is the night for one awake,
Long is a league for one tired,
Long is the round of births and deaths
For fools who know not True Dhamma.
Profiting in Neither Way
Dhp 155 Mahādhanaseṭṭhiputtavatthu
A wealthy youth takes to drink and squanders both his own and his wife’s money and ends up a beggar. The Buddha explains that if he had applied himself as a layman he would have been amongst the chief treasurers; and if he had become a monk he would have attained the paths and fruits.
79. Acaritvā brahmacariyaṁ, aladdhā yobbane dhanaṁ,
Jiṇṇakoñcā ca jhāyanti khīṇamacche va pallale.
Not having lived the holy life,
Not having gained wealth in their youth,
They waste away like the herons
In a small lake devoid of fish.
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last updated: September 2016