Buddhist Wisdom Verses

21: Kāmavaggo

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The Result of Greed

Jā 136 Suvaṇṇahaṁsajātakaṁ

A golden goose goes occasionally and gives his former family one of his golden feathers and they grow rich. But greed overcomes his former wife and she plucks him. The feathers though, when stolen, are gold no more, and they sink back into poverty.

401. Yaṁ laddhaṁ tena tuṭṭhabbaṁ, atilobho hi pāpako,
Haṁsarājaṁ gahetvāna, suvaṇṇā parihāyatha.

Be content with what is received,
Only the wicked have great greed,
Because of grabbing the Goose-King,
You must loose the golden feathers.

Wisdom is the only Cure for Greed

Jā 228 Kāmanītajātakaṁ

A King receives Sakka, the Bodhisatta, disguised as a young brāhman, who promises to help him conquer three cities. But the King is so mean he doesn’t even offer him lodging. In the morning the brāhman is nowhere to be found and the King falls sick thinking of his loss. Sakka preaches to him as the only way to cure his illness of greed.

402. Kaṇhāhi daṭṭhassa karonti heke,
Amanussavaddhassa karonti Paṇḍitā.
Na kāmanītassa karoti koci,
Okkantasukkassa hi kā tikicchā?

Some there are who can cure the cobra’s bite,
And the Wise can cure possession by ghosts.
But no one can cure one led by desire,
What treatment can there be for the impure?

Craving brings on Grief and Fear

Dhp 216 Aññatarabrāhmaṇavatthu

A brāhman farmer wishing for his fields to prosper decides to make the Buddha his partner. Just before the crop is brought in floods wash it all away.

403. Taṇhāya jāyatī soko, taṇhāya jāyatī bhayaṁ,
Taṇhāya vippamuttassa natthi soko, kuto bhayaṁ?

From craving there arises grief,
From craving there arises fear,
For one who is free from craving
There is no grief, how is there fear?

Desires are never Satisfied

Jā 467 Kāmajātakaṁ

A brāhman farmer wishing for his fields to prosper decides to make the Buddha his partner. Just before the crop is brought in floods wash it all away.

404. Kāmaṁ kāmayamānassa tassa ce taṁ samijjhati
Addhā pītimano hoti, laddhā macco yad-icchati.

If the one with desire succeeds
In gaining the desires he craves
He certainly will be joyful,
For he gains what a man desires.

405. Kāmaṁ kāmayamānassa tassa ce taṁ samijjhati,
Tato naṁ aparaṁ kāme, ghamme taṇhaṁ va vindati.

If the one with desire succeeds
In gaining the desires he craves
Then he will have further desires,
Just as there is thirst when it’s hot.

406. Gavaṁ va siṅgino siṅgaṁ vaḍḍhamānassa vaḍḍhati,
Evaṁ mandassa posassa bālassa avijānato
Bhiyyo taṇhā pipāsā ca vaḍḍhamānassa vaḍḍhati.

Just as the two horns of a bull
Develop while he is growing,
Even so for the foolish one,
The one without understanding,
His thirst and craving develop
While they are being satisfied.

407. Pathavyā sāliyavakaṁ, gavassaṁ dāsaporisaṁ,
Datvā pi nālam-ekassa, iti vidvā, samaṁ care.

Even having been given all
The cows, barley and slaves on Earth,
It is not enough for that one,
Understanding this, live in peace.

408. Rājā pasayha pathaviṁ vijitvā
Sasāgarantaṁ mahim-āvasanto,
Oraṁ samuddassa atittarūpo,
Pāraṁ samuddassa pi patthaye ’tha.

A King, having conquered the whole
Of Earth, up to the ocean’s edge,
Will still cross over the ocean,
Because he will wish for what is
On the other side of the seas.

409. Yāva anussaraṁ kāme manasā, titti nājjhagā,
Tato nivattā paṭikamma disvā,
Te ve tittā ye paññāya tittā.

As long as his mind has desires
He will not feel satisfaction,
Seeing the cure he stops desire,
He is satisfied through wisdom.

410. Paññāya tittinaṁ seṭṭhaṁ, na so kāmehi tappati,
Paññāya tittaṁ purisaṁ, taṇhā na kurute vasaṁ.

Best is wisdom’s satisfaction,
Not the suffering of desires,
The one satisfied by wisdom,
Does not have any more craving.

411. Apacinetheva kāmāni appicchassa, alolupo,
Samuddamatto puriso, na so kāmehi tappati.

For he who is not covetous,
Does away with all his desires,
That person is like the ocean,
He does not suffer through desires.

412. Rathakāro va cammassa parikantaṁ upāhanaṁ,
Yaṁ yaṁ cajati kāmānaṁ taṁ taṁ sampajjate sukhaṁ.
Sabbañ-ce sukham-iccheyya, sabbe kāme pariccaje.

Just as the cobbler cuts the skin
So it fits the shoe he’s making,
With the giving up of desires
True happiness can be attained.
Wishing for complete happiness,
He should abandon all desire.

The Snare of Taste

Jā 14 Vātamigajātakaṁ

A gardener named Sañjaya entices a deer into the palace through lining his grass with honey.

413. Na kiratthi rasehi pāpiyo,
Āvāsehi va santhavehi vā.
Vātamigaṁ gehanissitaṁ,
Vasam-ānesi rasehi Sañjayo.

There is nothing worse than taste is,
For our relatives and our friends.
The wind-deer from his jungle home,
Was brought under control by taste.

Confidence is the Taste Supreme

Jā 346 Kesavajātakaṁ

A teacher falls ill while being looked after by the King of Bāraṇāsī and none of his doctors can cure him. He goes to the Himālayas where he is cared for by his beloved pupil, the Bodhisatta, and gets better with his loving care.

414. Sāduṁ vā yadi vāsāduṁ, appaṁ vā yadi vā bahuṁ,
Vissattho yattha bhuñjeyya, vissāsaparamā rasā.

Whether of good taste or bad taste,
Whether there is little or much,
Wherever the faithful one eats,
He finds faith is the taste supreme.

Knowing the Measure

SN 1.3.13 Doṇapākasuttaṁ

King Pasenadi eats too much and is always uncomfortable; the Buddha speaks this verse, which the King has an attendant remember and repeat to him when he eats.

415. Manujassa sadā satīmato,
Mattaṁ jānatŏ laddhabhojane,
Tanukassa bhavanti vedanā,
Saṇikaṁ jīrati, āyupālayaṁ.

For the person who is always mindful,
Knowing the measure in regard to food,
His unpleasant feelings become fewer,
Slowly he ages, protecting his life.

Neither Grieving nor Yearning

SN 1.1.10 Araññasuttaṁ

A short dialogue between a god, who speaks first, and the Buddha in Jeta’s Wood.

416. “Araññe viharantānaṁ, santānaṁ brahmacārinaṁ,
Ekabhattaṁ bhuñjamānānaṁ, kena vaṇṇo pasīdatī?” ti

“Those who are living in the wilds,
Who are peaceful and spiritual,
Eating only one meal a day,
Why are their complexions so clear?”

417. “Atītaṁ nānusocanti, nappajappanti ’nāgataṁ,
Paccuppannena yāpenti, tena vaṇṇo pasīdati.

“They do not grieve over the past,
Nor do they yearn for the future,
They live in the present moment,
Therefore their complexions are clear.

418. Anāgatappajappāya, atītassānusocanā,
Etena bālā sussanti, naḷo va harito luto.” ti

It is through grief over the past,
And through yearning for the future,
That fools dry up, like a green reed
That has been mowed down in the field.”