Buddhist Wisdom Verses

24: Cittavaggo

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The Authority of the Mind

SN 1.1.62 Cittasuttaṁ

Asked three questions by a god, this is how the Buddha responds.

448. Cittena nīyati loko, cittena parikassati,
Cittassa ekadhammassa sabbe va vasam-anvagū.

The world is led on by the mind,
By the mind it is swept away,
All follow the authority
Of one thing: the mind and its thoughts.

The Dangers of a Badly-Directed Mind

Dhp 42 Nandagopālakavatthu

A herdsman offers alms to the Buddha and his disciples for seven days, and soon afterwards is killed by a hunter. The commentary notes that no explanation was given as to why this was so as the monks did not ask.

449. Diso disaṁ yan-taṁ kayirā, verī vā pana verinaṁ,
Micchāpaṇihitaṁ cittaṁ pāpiyo naṁ tato kare.

Whatever an aggressor might
Do to an aggressor, or an
Enemy to an enemy –
A mind that’s badly-directed
Can do far worse than that to him.

The Benefits of a Well-Directed Mind

Dhp 43 Soreyyattheravatthu

A man develops lust for an Arahant and is instantly changed into a woman. Later he asks for forgiveness and he changes back into a man!

450. Na taṁ Mātā Pitā kayirā aññe vā pi ca ñātakā,
Sammāpaṇihitaṁ cittaṁ seyyaso naṁ tato kare.

Mother and father might not do
For him, or other relatives,
As much good as a mind that is
Well-directed can do for him.

An Unagitated Mind sees Clearly

Jā 185 Anabhiratijātakaṁ

A teacher’s mind is overcome by worldly affairs and he begins to forget his teaching. The Bodhisatta advises him thus.

451. Yathodake āvile appasanne,
Na passatī sippisambukaṁ macchagumbaṁ,
Evaṁ āvile hi citte,
Na passatī attadatthaṁ paratthaṁ.

Just as in agitated water, one
Cannot see oyster shells or schools of fish,
So in an agitated mind, one’s own
Or another’s welfare cannot be seen.

452. Yathodake acche vippasanne,
Yo passatī sippi ca macchagumbaṁ,
Evaṁ anāvile hi citte,
So passatī attadatthaṁ paratthaṁ.

Just as in clear, undisturbed water, one
Can see both oysters and a swarm of fish,
So in an unagitated mind, one’s
Own and another’s welfare can be seen.

The Unwavering Mind is Free from Pain

Ud 4.4 Juṇhasuttaṁ

A passing yakkha hits Ven. Sāriputta on the head with a mighty blow, which he hardly feels, but afterwards the yakkha falls into hell.

453. Yassa selūpamaṁ cittaṁ, ṭhitaṁ nānupakampati,
Virattaṁ rajanīyesu, kopaneyye na kuppati,
Yassevaṁ bhāvitaṁ cittaṁ, kuto taṁ dukkham-essati.

For those whose minds are like a rock,
Steady, secure, not wavering,
And not easily excited,
Not easily agitated,
For those whose minds are developed,
How will suffering come upon them?

The Fruit of Careful Thought

Jā 118 Vaṭṭakajātakaṁ

A quail, the Bodhisatta, is caught by a fowler but refuses to take food and no one will buy him. When examined by the fowler he manages to fly away.

454. Nācintayanto puriso visesam-adhigacchati,
Cintitassa phalaṁ passa: muttosmi’ vadhabandhanā.

The unthinking person does not
Attain any distinction, but look
At the fruit of those who can think:
They are free from bondage and death.

True Godliness

Jā 6 Devadhammajātakaṁ

A demon will only release people he has captured if they know what is true godliness. The Bodhisatta is captured, answers correctly and is released, as are his brothers, and the demon renounces his evil ways.

455. Hiri-ottappasampannā, sukkadhammasamāhitā,
Santo Sappurisā loke devadhammā ti vuccare.

Those endowed with a good conscience,
Those endowed with great purity,
Those virtuous and Good People
Are said to have godly nature.


Jā 423 Indriyajātakaṁ

An ascetic falls in love with a courtesan and is admonished by his brother.

456. Dakkhaṁ gahapatiṁ sādhu, saṁvibhajjañ-ca bhojanaṁ,
Ahāso atthalābhesu, atthavyāpatti avyatho.

Being able is good,
Sharing one’s food is good,
Be modest about gains,
And be calm when they fail.

A Follower of the Path

Jā 545 Vidhurajātakaṁ

The Bodhisatta is captured by a yakkha who has been convinced to tear out his heart and give it to a nāga queen. He offers to teach the Dhamma of Good People before he dies. The nāga agrees and this is the exchange.

457. “Yātānuyāyī ca bhavāhi, māṇava,
Allañ-ca pāṇiṁ parivajjayassu.
Mā cassu mittesu kadāci dubbhi,
Mā ca vasaṁ asatīnaṁ nigacche.”

“Young man, please follow good customs,
And avoid burning the clean hand.
Do nothing to deceive your friends,
Do not be moved by bad women.”

458. “Kathaṁ nu yātaṁ anuyāyi hoti?
Allañ-ca pāṇiṁ dahate kathaṁ so?
Asatī ca kā, ko pana mittadubbho,
Akkhāhi me pucchito etam-atthaṁ.”

“How do we follow good customs?
And just how is the clean hand burned?
Who is a very bad woman?
Who is a deceiver of friends?
Answer me when questioned about this.”

459. “Asanthutaṁ no pi ca diṭṭhapubbaṁ,
Yo āsanenāpi nimantayeyya,
Tasseva atthaṁ puriso kareyya,
Yātānuyāyī ti tam-āhu Paṇḍitā.

“He who would invite to a seat
Even a stranger unseen before,
He who works for his own welfare,
Is one who follows good customs.

460. Yassekarattim-pi ghare vaseyya,
Yatthannapānaṁ puriso labhetha,
Na tassa pāpaṁ manasā pi cetaye,
Adubbhapāṇiṁ dahate mittadubbho.

For he who spends a night as guest,
Let him receive good food and drinks,
You should not think bad about him,
He who scorches an honest hand
Is a great deceiver of friends.

461. Puṇṇam-pi cemaṁ pathaviṁ dhanena,
Dajjitthiyā puriso sammatāya,
Laddhā khaṇaṁ atimaññeyya tam-pi,
Tāsaṁ vasaṁ asatīnaṁ na gacche.

Let a man give the whole earth’s wealth
To the woman he will marry,
Even so, she might despise him –
By bad women do not be moved.

462. Evaṁ kho yātaṁ anuyāyi hoti,
Allañ-ca pāṇiṁ dahate punevaṁ,
Asatī ca sā, so pana mittadubbho.
So Dhammiko hoti pahass’ adhammaṁ.”

Like this we follow good customs,
In this way the clean hand is burned,
This is a very bad woman,
This is a deceiver of friends.
He who lives his life by Dhamma
Must give up what is not Dhamma.”

Those who are Not Good

Jā 332 Rathalaṭṭhijātakaṁ

A King judges a case without considering both sides and his councillor, the Bodhisatta, reproves him.

463. Alaso gihī kāmabhogī na sādhu,
Asaññato pabbajito na sādhu,
Rājā na sādhu anisammakārī,
Yo paṇḍito kodhano taṁ na sādhu.

A lazy, sensual layman is not good,
An unrestrained monk is also not good,
An inconsiderate King is not good,
He who is wise but angry is not good.

The Four Great Powers

Jā 431 Hāritajātakaṁ

A sage who has great attainments is beguiled by the sight of a naked Queen and falls into wrong thereby losing his attainments. When questioned by the King he cannot lie, and admits he was overcome by defilements.

464. Cattārome, Mahārāja, loke atibalā bhusā,
Rāgo doso mado moho, yattha paññā na gādhati.

There are four very strong powers,
Great King, that are found in the world,
Passion, hatred, pride, delusion,
Where true wisdom finds no footing.

465. Medhāvinam-pi hiṁsanti Isiṁ Dhammaguṇe rataṁ
Vitakkā pāpakā, Rāja, subhā rāgūpasaṁhitā.

The intelligent Sage, who takes
Delight in the Dhamma’s virtue,
Is harmed by wicked thoughts, O King,
And by the passion for beauty.

Craft brings Reward

Jā 107 Sālittakajātakaṁ

A King hires a disabled man who is skilled in shooting pellets to fill up the belly of his talkative Family Priest, who thereby learns his lesson. The King gives him a village in each of the four directions.

466. Sādhu kho sippakaṁ nāma, api yādisa’ kīdisaṁ,
Passa khañjappahārena – laddhā gāmā catuddisā.

Having a craft is good,
See the disabled man
Who shot the pellets –
He received four villages!