Dhamma Verses

13. The Chapter about the World

What not to do

Visākhā’s granddaughter called a young monk a cut-head and he took offence at the insult; the Buddha first appeased him and then gave the teaching found in this verse.

167. Hīnaṁ dhammaṁ na seveyya, pamādena na saṁvase,
micchādiṭṭhiṁ na seveyya, na siyā lokavaḍḍhano.

One should not follow lowly things,
one should not abide heedlessly,
one should not follow a wrong view,
one should not foster worldliness.

One should live by Dhamma

The Buddha returned to his home town, Kapilavatthu, and was received with great honour, but no one invited him for a meal, so the next day he went on almsround, which upset his father, the King, as being beneath his dignity; the Buddha explained that in the lineage of the Buddhas they always go on almsround, and then he spoke these verses.

168. Uttiṭṭhe nappamajjeyya, Dhammaṁ sucaritaṁ care,
Dhammacārī sukhaṁ seti asmiṁ loke paramhi ca.

One should strive and not be heedless,
live by Dhamma, with good conduct,
living by Dhamma one will live
at ease in this world and the next.

169. Dhammaṁ care sucaritaṁ, na naṁ duccaritaṁ care,
Dhammacārī sukhaṁ seti asmiṁ loke paramhi ca.

One should live by Dhamma, with good
conduct and not with bad conduct,
living by Dhamma one will live
at ease in this world and the next.

Death does not see one who sees impermanence

Five hundred monks were given a subject for meditation but did not attain, so they determined to return to the Buddha; on the way they saw a mirage, and then bubbles bursting, and they realised the self had the same characteristics of impermanence; the Buddha then projected an image of himself and taught them with this verse.

170. Yathā bubbulakaṁ passe, yathā passe marīcikaṁ,
evaṁ lokaṁ avekkhantaṁ Maccurājā na passati.

One should see it as a bubble,
one should see it as a mirage,
looking on the world in this way
the King of Death does not see one.

There are no bonds for one who knows

Prince Abhaya was given a rich reward by the King, including a dancing girl, but later she died, and the prince went to the Buddha who gave him a teaching about how many times, in life after life, he had wept for this woman, and explained that only fools allow themselves to grieve, and then he spoke this verse.

171. Etha passathimaṁ lokaṁ cittaṁ rājarathūpamaṁ,
yattha bālā visīdanti – natthi saṅgo vijānataṁ.

Come, look upon this world adorned
like a king’s gilded chariot,
where fools become depressed – there is
no bond for those who understand.

The heedful shine forth

Ven. Sammuñjani spent all his time sweeping the monastery and never meditated, but Ven. Revata admonished him to spend some time in meditation, which he did and became an Arahat; the Buddha confirmed to the monk his attainment and spoke this verse.

172. Yo ca pubbe pamajjitvā, pacchā so nappamajjati,
sŏ imaṁ lokaṁ pabhāseti abbhā mutto va candimā.

Whoever was heedless before,
but then later is not heedless,
that one shines brightly on this world
like the moon released from a cloud.

Good deeds cover bad ones

Aṅgulimāla was misled into killing many hundreds of people, but later met the Buddha who converted him, and he soon became an Arahat; later he was recognised as the former killer and was stoned to death; the monks asked where he was reborn, and the Buddha explained he was not reborn at all, and spoke this verse about him.

173. Yassa pāpaṁ kataṁ kammaṁ kusalena pithīyati –
sŏ imaṁ lokaṁ pabhāseti abbhā mutto va candimā.

The person whose wicked deed is
covered over by a good deed –
that one shines brightly on this world
like the moon released from a cloud.

Only a few go to heaven

A weaver’s daughter heard the Buddha teach on contemplation of death and undertook the practice herself; after three years the Buddha returned to her home town and asked her four questions which she sagely answered, but no one understood her answers except the Buddha; he then spoke this verse, hearing which, she attained stream-entry.

174. Andhabhūto ayaṁ loko, tanukettha vipassati,
sakunto jālamutto va appo saggāya gacchati.

This world is blind, few here
have true insight, as few
go to heaven as birds
that escape from the net.

The wise go out of the world

Ven. Ānanda waited while thirty monks met with the Buddha, who brought them all the way to Arahatship, after which they flew away; seeing they were no longer there Ven. Ānanda asked where they had gone and the Buddha explained they had left in the same way as the geese who they saw flying in the air at that moment.

175. Haṁsādiccapathe yanti, ākāse yanti iddhiyā,
nīyanti dhīrā lokamhā, jetvā Māraṁ savāhanaṁ.

Geese go through the path of the sky,
through the heavens by their power,
the wise are led out of the world,
defeating Māra and his host.

The liar is capable of all wrong-doing

Ciñcā Māṇavikā falsely accused the Buddha of impregnating her; the gods helped reveal the lie, and Ciñcā fell into Avīci, the hell of relentless suffering; the Buddha explained the matter with this verse.

176. Ekaṁ dhammaṁ atītassa, musāvādissa jantuno,
vitiṇṇaparalokassa, natthi pāpaṁ akāriyaṁ.

For the person speaking falsely
who transgresses in this one thing,
who has abandoned the next world,
there is no bad thing left undone.

The wise are generous

King Pasenadi gave gifts beyond compare to the Saṅgha with the Buddha at its head, something which happens only once in a lifetime; one of the King’s ministers rejoiced, but another regretted the expenditure; the first was richly rewarded and the second was banished from the Kingdom; the Buddha then spoke this verse about the situation.

177. Na ve kadariyā devalokaṁ vajanti,
bālā have nappasaṁsanti dānaṁ,
dhīro ca dānaṁ anumodamāno,
teneva so hoti sukhī parattha.

The miserly go not to the world of
the gods, fools surely do not praise giving,
but the wise one rejoices in giving,
and through that he is happy hereafter.

Stream-entry surpasses worldly success

Anāthapiṇḍika had a son, who was interested in wealth, but not in listening to Dhamma; the householder therefore offered his son a thousand pieces of money if he would go to the monastery, take the fast-day duties on himself, and learn a verse from the Buddha; he did so and attained stream-entry, and later refused his Father’s money; the Buddha explained his decision with this verse.

178. Pathavyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā,
sabbalokādhipaccena – sotāpattiphalaṁ varaṁ.

Having sole sovereignty over
the earth, or going to heaven,
or lordship over the whole world –
better, the fruit of stream-entry.

Lokavaggo Terasamo
The Chapter about the World, the Thirteenth