Dhamma Verses

3. The Chapter about the Mind

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The wise steady their minds

The Buddha’s attendant Meghiya left the Buddha alone against his wishes, and went and meditated in a mango grove; his mind was overcome with defilements and the Buddha taught him with these verses at the conclusion of which he attained stream-entry.

33. Phandanaṁ capalaṁ cittaṁ, dūrakkhaṁ dunnivārayaṁ,
ujuṁ karoti medhāvī, usukāro va tejanaṁ.

An agitated and unsteady mind,
difficult to guard, difficult to ward,
the sagacious one will make straight,
as a fletcher does his arrow.

34. Vārijo va thale khitto, oka-m-okata ubbhato,
pariphandatidaṁ cittaṁ, Māradheyyaṁ pahātave.

Like a fish thrown up on dry land,
pulled out from its watery home,
mind is agitated, one ought
to throw off the sway of Māra.

The mind should be restrained

A female lay disciple supported some monks during the Rains Retreat and was given a meditation subject herself, with which she attained the third stage of Awakening; later a monk went to her and realised she knew his every thought, and was scared by that, but the Buddha told him to reside near her, and he taught him about the mind with this verse; soon he became an Arahat.

35. Dunniggahassa lahuno yatthakāmanipātino,
cittassa damatho sādhu, cittaṁ dantaṁ sukhāvahaṁ.

For the mind that is difficult
to subdue, flighty, and flitting
where’er it will, restraint is good,
a restrained mind brings happiness.

The mind should be well guarded

Anupubba was a faithful householder who fulfilled his duties to the monastics, and later was ordained himself, but became weary with all the rules and regulations; the Buddha told him his real duty was only to guard his mind, and further taught him with this verse.

36. Sududdasaṁ sunipuṇaṁ yatthakāmanipātinaṁ,
cittaṁ rakkhetha medhāvī, cittaṁ guttaṁ sukhāvahaṁ.

Hard to see and very subtle,
and flitting wherever it will,
the sage should surely guard the mind,
a guarded mind brings happiness.

Controlling the mind leads to escape

Saṅgharakkhita ordained as a monk and received robes, one of which he wished to give to an elder, his Uncle; the elder had no need for it though and refused it; Ven. Saṅgharakkhita daydreamed about returning to the household life, and was distressed when his daydream was exposed, but the Buddha taught him as follows.

37. Dūraṅgamaṁ ekacaraṁ, asarīraṁ guhāsayaṁ,
ye cittaṁ saññam-essanti, mokkhanti Mārabandhanā.

Those who will restrain the mind that
roams far away, and is lonesome,
without a body, hidden, gain
release from the bonds of Māra.

Develop a mind free from perplexity

Cittahattha wavered continually between being a monk and a householder, but eventually he saw into the truth of impermanence, ordained yet again and became an Arahat; the Buddha spoke these verses about him.

38. Anavaṭṭhitacittassa, Saddhammaṁ avijānato,
pariplavapasādassa, paññā na paripūrati.

For the one with unsettled mind,
who does not know the True Dhamma,
whose confidence is wavering,
wisdom is surely unfulfilled.

39. Anavassutacittassa, ananvāhatacetaso,
puññapāpapahīnassa natthi jāgarato bhayaṁ.

For the one with mind free of lust,
with mind unperplexed,
for the one who has abandoned
making merit and demerit,
for the watchful, there is no fear.

Understanding and wisdom overcome Māra

Five hundred monks were invited to stay in a forest for the Rains Retreat, but the tree spirits were not happy, and drove them away; the Buddha taught the monks the discourse about loving-kindness, they returned, and the spirits served their needs; the monks developed insight and the Buddha then gave this teaching.

40. Kumbhūpamaṁ kāyam-imaṁ viditvā,
nagarūpamaṁ cittam-idaṁ ṭhapetvā,
yodhetha Māraṁ paññāvudhena,
jitañ-ca rakkhe, anivesano siyā.

Knowing this body is frail like a jar,
establishing the mind like a fortress,
fight Māra with the weapon of wisdom,
guard your success, and do not be attached.

The body is impermanent

Someone who had been a fowler in a previous life ordained, and became known as Ven. Tissa, but not long after his body developed all kinds of sores; the Buddha washed his body, taught the following verse and he became an Arahat, before dying for the last time.

41. Aciraṁ vatayaṁ kāyo paṭhaviṁ adhisessati,
chuddho apetaviññāṇo, niratthaṁ va kaliṅgaraṁ.

Before long has passed by, alas,
this body will lie on the ground,
rejected, without consciousness,
just like a useless piece of wood.

The dangers of a badly-directed mind

When the Buddha saw the cow-herder Nanda was ready he taught him the gradual path, and he attained stream-entry, but shortly afterwards he was shot by a hunter and died; the Buddha then taught this verse.

42. 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

A merchant’s son, Soreyya, developed lust for Ven. Mahākaccāyana and was transformed into a woman; later, after asking pardon, he became a man again, ordained and soon became an Arahat; the Buddha explained what a well-directed mind can do for one.

43. 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.

Cittavaggo Tatiyo
The Chapter about the Mind, the Third