Dhamma Verses

25. The Chapter about Monastics

Restraint is good in every way

A group of monks argued about which sense door was the hardest to restrain; the Buddha told them that in a previous life they were unable to restrain their senses and were devoured by an ogress, he then taught them these verses as the way to attain release from suffering.

360.361. Cakkhunā saṁvaro sādhu, sādhu sotena saṁvaro,
ghāṇena saṁvaro sādhu, sādhu jivhāya saṁvaro,
kāyena saṁvaro sādhu, sādhu vācāya saṁvaro,
manasā saṁvaro sādhu, sādhu sabbattha saṁvaro,
sabbattha saṁvuto bhikkhu sabbadukkhā pamuccati.

Restraint of eye is good,
restraint of ear is good,
restraint of nose is good,
restraint of tongue is good,
restraint of body is good,
restraint of speech is good,
restraint of mind is good,
restraint is always good,
a monastic who is
restrained everywhere
is free from suffering.

The true monastic

Two friends retired from the world and became monks together; one day, after bathing, they saw two geese flying through the air, and one of the monks said he could hit one of the geese in both eyes, and threw a pebble which hit its mark and brought the goose down; when the Buddha heard about it he taught them a Jātaka about scrupulous laymen, and then taught them further with this verse.

362. Hatthasaṁyatŏ pādasaṁyato,
vācāya saṁyatŏ saṁyatuttamo,
ajjhattarato samāhito,
eko santusito: tam-āhu bhikkhuṁ.

One who controls his hands, controls his feet,
controls his speech, controls the mind supreme,
with delight, composure, solitary,
content: that one is called a monastic.

The monastic who speaks well

Ven. Kokālika once spent the Rains Retreat with the two Chief Disciples, but was not honoured as they were, and then went about abusing them, saying they were full of defilements; the Buddha tried to restrain him but he fell into the underworld; the Buddha then explained how a monk should behave with this verse.

363. Yo mukhasaṁyato bhikkhu, mantabhāṇī anuddhato,
atthaṁ Dhammañ-ca dīpeti, madhuraṁ tassa bhāsitaṁ.

That monastic who controls mouth,
who speaks well, and who is modest,
who explains the meaning of the
Dhamma, his speech is surely sweet.

Find pleasure in the Dhamma

When Ven. Dhammārāma heard the Buddha declare his intention to finally pass away in four months time, rather than attend on the Buddha, he went to the forest to practice the teaching; the Buddha lauded him and said this is how one truly honours him, and spoke this verse.

364. Dhammārāmo Dhammarato, Dhammaṁ anuvicintayaṁ,
Dhammaṁ anussaraṁ bhikkhu, Saddhammā na parihāyati.

The one who finds pleasure in the Dhamma,
delights in Dhamma, reflects on Dhamma,
the monastic who remembers Dhamma,
does not then abandon the Good Dhamma.

Put aside envy

One monk of Devadatta’s faction persuaded another monk to share in the rich offerings they were receiving; even though he disagreed with Devadatta he joined them for the food; later when he returned to the Buddha he was reproved for not being content, and the Buddha taught the monks with these verses.

365. Salābhaṁ nātimaññeyya, nāññesaṁ pihayaṁ care,
aññesaṁ pihayaṁ bhikkhu samādhiṁ nādhigacchati.

One should not despise one’s own gains,
don’t live envious of others,
the monastic who’s envious
does not attain concentration.

366. Appalābho pi ce bhikkhu salābhaṁ nātimaññati,
taṁ ve devā pasaṁsanti suddhājīviṁ atanditaṁ.

Even if a monk gains little,
he should not despise his gains, for
even the gods will praise the one
of pure life who is diligent.

No fondness for mind or body

A brahmin became well known for giving of the first fruits of the harvest before he would take his own food; one day as he was taking his meal the Buddha appeared at the door, and the brahmin offered him the remainder of his meal and asked him to teach what were the characteristics of a true monk.

367. Sabbaso nāmarūpasmiṁ yassa natthi mamāyitaṁ,
asatā ca na socati, sa ve bhikkhū ti vuccati.

The one who does not have fondness
at all for mind and body, who
grieves not for what does not exist,
is surely called a monastic.

Making an end of suffering

After Soṇa Kūṭikaṇṇa received ordination he recited Dhamma to the Buddha who praised him for it, which also caused the gods to rejoice; on hearing about it, Soṇa’s mother invited her son to teach her Dhamma also, and wouldn’t leave the teaching even when she heard nine hundred thieves had broken into her house; seeing her piety the thieves converted and were admitted to the Saṅgha; this is the teaching the Buddha gave at that time.

368. Mettāvihārī yo bhikkhu, pasanno Buddhasāsane,
adhigacche padaṁ santaṁ, saṅkhārūpasamaṁ sukhaṁ.

That monastic who has loving-kindness,
with faith in the Buddha’s dispensation,
should surely attain to the state of peace,
the joy in the stilling of conditions.

369. Siñca bhikkhu imaṁ nāvaṁ, sittā te lahum-essati,
chetvā rāgañ-ca dosañ-ca, tato Nibbānam-ehisi.

Please bail out this boat, monastic,
when bailed out it will go lightly,
cutting off passion and hatred,
from here one goes to Nibbāna.

370. Pañca chinde, pañca jahe, pañca cuttaribhāvaye,
pañca saṅgātigo bhikkhu oghatiṇṇo ti vuccati.

One should cut off five, abandon
five and then cultivate five more,
the monastic who surmounts five
attachments is called flood-crosser.

(Commentarial interpretation:
One should cut off the five lower
destinations, abandon the
five lower fetters, cultivate
five spiritual faculties;
the monastic who surmounts the
attachments of passion, hatred,
delusion and conceit and views,
is called one who has crossed the flood.)

371. Jhāya, bhikkhu, mā ca pāmado,
mā te kāmaguṇe bhamassu cittaṁ,
mā lohaguḷaṁ gilī, pamatto,
mā kandi: ‘Dukkham-idan’-ti ḍayhamāno.

Meditate, monastic, don’t be heedless,
don’t let your mind swirl in strands of desire,
don’t, heedless, swallow a hot iron ball,
do not, burning, cry: ‘This is suffering.’

372. Natthi jhānaṁ apaññassa, paññā natthi ajhāyato,
yamhi jhānañ-ca paññā ca sa ve Nibbānasantike.

There’s no meditation for one without wisdom,
there’s no wisdom for one without meditation,
the one who has both meditation and wisdom
is indeed in the presence of Nibbāna.

373. Suññāgāraṁ paviṭṭhassa, santacittassa bhikkhuno,
amānusī ratī hoti sammā Dhammaṁ vipassato.

For the one in an empty place,
a monastic with peaceful mind,
there is superhuman delight
from insight into true Dhamma.

374. Yato yato sammasati khandhānaṁ udayabbayaṁ
labhatī pītipāmojjaṁ, amataṁ taṁ vijānataṁ.

Whoever has right mindfulness
regarding mind and body
gains joy and happiness, that is
the deathless state for one who knows.

375. Tatrāyam-ādi bhavati idha paññassa bhikkhuno:
indriyagutti santuṭṭhī, pātimokkhe ca saṁvaro.

This is the very beginning
for the wise monastic in here;
contentment, guarding the senses,
restraint in the regulations.

376. Mitte bhajassu kalyāṇe suddhājīve atandite,
paṭisanthāravuttassa ācārakusalo siyā,
tato pāmojjabahulo, dukkhassantaṁ karissati.

One should resort to spiritual friends,
ones of pure life, ones who are diligent,
one should be of friendly disposition,
one who will be skilful in his conduct,
having much happiness from that reason,
one will then make an end to suffering.

Casting off defilements

Five hundred monks who had received instructions from the Buddha saw jasmine flowers fading away and determined to attain Awakening before the flowers dropped from the stems; the Buddha projected an image of himself and gave them this teaching, after hearing which, they became Arahats.

377. Vassikā viya pupphāni maddavāni pamuñcati,
evaṁ rāgañ-ca dosañ-ca vippamuñcetha bhikkhavo.

Just as striped jasmine casts
off its withered flowers,
so, monastics, cast off
all passion and hatred.

The stilling of the defilements

Ven. Santakāya was said to have been born from the womb of a lioness, and lions are renowned for the dignity of their bearing; the monks praised him in front of the Buddha for being so calm and composed; the Buddha affirmed that this is just as a monastic should be with this verse.

378. Santakāyo santavāco, santavā susamāhito,
vantalokāmiso bhikkhu upasanto ti vuccati.

Calm in body and calm in speech,
having calmness and composure,
having thrown off worldly gain
the monastic is called one at peace.

Self protects the self

The poor man Naṅgalakula was ordained, but became discontented, and thought to return to the lay life; but finding his previous rags he took them as a meditation subject and soon became an Arahat; the Buddha confirmed it to the monks and spoke these verses.

379. Attanā codayattānaṁ, paṭimāsettam-attanā,
so attagutto satimā sukhaṁ bhikkhu vihāhisi.

By oneself one should censure self,
by oneself one should be controlled,
the one who guards himself, mindful
will live happily, monastic.

380. Attā hi attano nātho, attā hi attano gati,
tasmā saṁyamayattānaṁ assaṁ bhadraṁ va vāṇijo.

Self is the protector of self,
self is the refuge of the self,
therefore one should restrain oneself,
as a merchant his noble horse.

The monk who attains the state of peace

Ven. Vakkali was obsessed with the Buddha’s body and even gave up his meditation to spend his time gazing at the Buddha; the Buddha sent him to spend the Rains Retreat elsewhere, and he was on the verge of suicide when the Buddha appeared to him and his sorrow vanished; the Buddha then taught him with this verse.

381. Pāmojjabahulo bhikkhu, pasanno Buddhasāsane,
adhigacche padaṁ santaṁ, saṅkhārūpasamaṁ sukhaṁ.

The monk, having much happiness,
with faith in the dispensation,
could attain to peace, happy in
the stilling of all conditions.

The monk who shines forth

Ven. Anuruddha gave the young boy Sumana the going-forth and he soon became an Arahat; through his power the novice overcame a nāga who then became his servant; when monks who did not know who he was started making fun of the novice the Buddha decided to let him demonstrate his power and sent him to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas to bring water; the Buddha pointed him out flying through the air and spoke this verse.

382. Yo have daharo bhikkhu yuñjati Buddhasāsane,
sŏ imaṁ lokaṁ pabhāseti, abbhā mutto va candimā.

That young monk who is devoted
to the Buddha’s dispensation,
surely shines forth in this world, like
the moon that is freed from a cloud.

Bhikkhuvaggo Pañcavīsatimo
The Chapter about Monastics, the Twenty-Fifth