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Buddhist Wisdom Verses
The Power of Wisdom
Jā 521 Tesakuṇajātakaṁ
A childless King adopts three birds as his children, which his courtiers scorn. To prove their worth he asks them for advice in ruling the Kingdom, and this is part of what his ‘son’ says.
533. Balaṁ pañcavidhaṁ loke purisasmiṁ mahaggate,
Tattha bāhubalaṁ nāma carimaṁ vuccate balaṁ,
These five-fold powers in the world
Are found in a truly great man,
And herein, bodily power
Is the least of all the powers,
534. Bhogabalañ-ca, dīghāvu, dutiyaṁ vuccate balaṁ,
Amaccabalañ-ca dīghāvu, tatiyaṁ vuccate balaṁ.
The power of riches is surely,
Friend, called the second power,
The power of good councillors,
Is said to be the third power,
535. Abhijaccabalaṁ ce va, taṁ catutthaṁ asaṁsayaṁ,
Yāni cetāni sabbāni adhigaṇhāti Paṇḍito.
If he have the power of birth,
That is undoubtedly the fourth,
But one who is wise and learned
Surpasses all of these by far.
536. Taṁ balānaṁ balaseṭṭhaṁ aggaṁ paññābalaṁ varaṁ;
Paññābalenupatthaddho, atthaṁ vindati Paṇḍito.
Out of these powers, the noble
Power of wisdom is the best;
Supported by wisdom’s power,
The Wise One will find true welfare.
537. Paññā va sutaṁ vinicchinī,
Paññāsahito naro idha
Api dukkhe sukhāni vindati.
When true wisdom discriminates,
Wisdom, fame and renown increase,
That person endowed with wisdom
Even in suffering finds happiness.
Four Deserving Respect
SN 1.3.1 Daharasuttaṁ
Questioned by King Pasenadi the Buddha claims to be Fully Awakened, but the King doubts it as he is still so young. The Buddha explains there are four things deserving respect whether young or not.
538. Bhujaṅgamaṁ pāvakañ-ca, Khattiyañ-ca yasassinaṁ,
Bhikkhuñ-ca sīlasampannaṁ: sammad-eva samācare.
A crooked snake, a blazing fire,
A Noble of great, widespread fame,
A monk endowed with pure virtue:
Towards these one should behave well.
One Who Gives is Held Dear
AN 5.34 Sīhasenāpatisuttaṁ
The General Sīha pays a visit to the Buddha at Vesālī and asks him what is the visible result of giving, and the Buddha explains these four benefits.
539. Dadaṁ piyo hoti, bhajanti naṁ bahū,
Kittiñ-ca pappoti yaso hi vaḍḍhati,
Amaṅkubhūto parisaṁ vigāhati,
Visārado hoti naro amaccharī.
A generous person is always dear,
Many people keep company with him,
He becomes well-known, his fame increases,
Confidently he enters assemblies,
That man who is mature and unselfish.
540. Tasmā hi dānāni dadanti Paṇḍitā,
Vineyya maccheramalaṁ, sukhesino,
Te dīgharattaṁ Tidive patiṭṭhitā,
Devānaṁ sahavyagatā ramanti te.
Therefore Wise people give abundant gifts,
Having removed the stain of selfishness,
They are established for long in Heaven,
They delight in fellowship with the gods.
Selfishness and Selflessness
SN 1.1.32 Maccharisuttaṁ
Two verses by two different gods spoken before the Buddha on the subject of generosity. The Buddha commends them.
541. Yasseva bhīto na dadāti maccharī,
Jighacchā ca pipāsā ca, yassa bhāyati maccharī,
Tam-eva bālaṁ phusati asmiṁ loke paramhi ca.
Selfish people are full of fear
Because of that they do not give,
But from not giving there is fear.
Hunger and thirst the selfish fear,
But that is just what the foolish
Attain in this world and the next.
542. Appasmeke pavecchanti, bahuneke na dicchare,
Appasmā dakkhiṇā dinnā, sahassena samaṁ mitā.
Some give from the little they have,
Some do not give from abundance,
Having given from a little,
It is equal to a thousand.
A Person is made by Deeds
MN 98 Vāseṭṭhasuttaṁ
Two brāhmans are discussing what really makes one a brāhman but they cannot settle the question so they go to see the Buddha, and this is part of what he said.
543. Na jaccā brāhmaṇo hoti, na jaccā hoti abrāhmaṇo.
Kammanā brāhmaṇo hoti, kammanā hoti abrāhmaṇo.
One is not a brāhman by birth,
Nor by birth is one not a brāhman,
By one’s deeds one is a brāhman,
By one’s deeds one is not a brāhman.
544. Kassako kammanā hoti, sippiko hoti kammanā,
Vāṇijo kammanā hoti, pessiko hoti kammanā,
One is a farmer through his deeds,
One is a craftsman through his deeds,
One is a trader through his deeds,
And a messenger through his deeds,
545. Coro pi kammanā hoti, yodhājīvo pi kammanā,
Yājako kammanā hoti, Rājāpi hoti kammanā.
A robber is known through his deeds,
A mercenery through his deeds,
A begger is known through his deeds,
And a King is known through his deeds.
546. Evam-etaṁ yathābhūtaṁ, kammaṁ passanti Paṇḍitā,
Seeing this as it really is,
The Wise look at the deed, they see
Who are skilled in deeds and results.
547. Kammanā vattate loko, kammanā vattate pajā,
Kammanibandhanā sattā, rathassāṇīva yāyato.
The world is kept turning by deeds,
By deeds people are kept turning,
Beings, bound by their deeds, roll on
Like chariots on their linchpins.
The Heedful are Happy in both Worlds
SN 1.3.17 Appamādasuttaṁ
King Pasenadi asks the Buddha if there is one thing that is beneficial both for this world and the next.
548. Āyuṁ arogiyaṁ vaṇṇaṁ, Saggaṁ uccākulīnataṁ,
Ratiyo: patthayantena uḷārā aparāparā,
Long-life, health, beauty and Heaven,
A high birth, and gaining delights:
For the one who has desire to
Attain these lofty things quickly,
549. Appamādaṁ pasaṁsanti puññakiriyāsu Paṇḍitā,
Appamatto ubho atthe adhigaṇhāti Paṇḍito:
The Wise always praise heedfulness
In doing meritorious deeds,
The Wise, who are always heedful,
Will soon possess both of these goods:
550. Diṭṭhe dhamme ca yo attho, yo cattho samparāyiko,
Atthābhisamayā dhīro Paṇḍito ti pavuccati.
That which is good in this life now,
And that which is good in the next,
The firm are known as the Wise
Through realisation of both.
The Heedful attain the Deathless
Dhp 21 Sāmavatīvatthu
King Udena’s Queen Sāmavatī and 500 of her court die in a fire started by the Uncle of her rival Māgaṇḍiyā. The King tricks Māgaṇḍiyā and sends for her relatives and has them all slaughtered. The monks ask about their respective fates.
551. Appamādo amatapadaṁ, pamādo maccuno padaṁ,
Appamattā na mīyanti, ye pamattā yathā matā.
The heedful one gains the deathless,
The heedless one the state of death,
Those who are heedful do not die,
But the heedless are like the dead.
The Final Fifty
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last updated: September 2016