3. The Chapter about the Mind

Phandanaṁ capalaṁ cittaṁ, In every case in this chapter citta is in the singular, and must mean mind, not thoughts (plural) as many translations have it, which also makes more sense contextually. dūrakkhaṁ dunnivārayaṁ,
An agitated, unsteady mind, difficult to guard, difficult to ward,

ujuṁ karoti medhāvī, usukāro va tejanaṁ. [33]
the sagacious one makes straight, as a fletcher does his arrow.


Vārijo va thale khitto, oka-m-okata ubbhato,
Like a fish thrown up on dry land, pulled out from its watery home, Oka has both meanings: water and home.

pariphandatidaṁ cittaṁ, Māradheyyaṁ pahātave. [34]
the mind is agitated, (one ought) to throw off the sway of Māra. The grammar is not clear here, and words need to be supplied to make good sense, the bold words are added into these translations: Norman: this thought quivers all over in order to escape the dominion of Māra; Carter: This mind flaps; [Fit] to discard [is] Māra’s sway; Burlingame: These thoughts writhe and quiver in their efforts to shake off the power of Māra. I think the ethical force of the verse really demands the imperative interpretation.


Dunniggahassa lahuno yatthakāmanipātino,
* For the mind that is difficult to subdue, flighty, flitting wherever it will,

cittassa damatho sādhu, cittaṁ dantaṁ sukhāvahaṁ. [35]
restraint is good, a restrained mind brings happiness.


Sududdasaṁ sunipuṇaṁ yatthakāmanipātinaṁ,
Hard to see, very subtle, flitting wherever it will,

cittaṁ rakkhetha medhāvī, cittaṁ guttaṁ sukhāvahaṁ. [36]
the sage should guard the mind, a guarded mind brings happiness.


Dūraṅgamaṁ ekacaraṁ, asarīraṁ guhāsayaṁ,
* Those who will restrain the mind that roams far,

ye cittaṁ saññam-essanti, mokkhanti Mārabandhanā. [37]
is lonesome, without a body, hidden, gain release from the bonds of Māra.


Anavaṭṭhitacittassa, Saddhammaṁ avijānato,
For the one with unsettled mind, who does not know the True Dhamma,

pariplavapasādassa, paññā na paripūrati. [38]
whose confidence is wavering, wisdom is unfulfilled.


Anavassutacittassa, ananvāhatacetaso,
For the one with mind free of lust, for the one with mind unperplexed,

puññapāpapahīnassa natthi jāgarato bhayaṁ. [39]
for the one who has abandoned making merit and demerit, for the watchful, there is no fear.


Kumbhūpamaṁ kāyam-imaṁ viditvā,
Knowing this body is (frail) like a jar, I.e. is fragile.

nagarūpamaṁ cittam-idaṁ ṭhapetvā,
establishing the mind like a fortress, Solid and protected.

yodhetha Māraṁ paññāvudhena,
fight Māra with the weapon of wisdom,

jitañ-ca rakkhe, anivesano siyā. [40]
guard your success, and do not be attached. I do not understand Norman’s translation here of anivesano siyā as: one should take no rest, as nivesana never seems to mean taking a rest.


Aciraṁ vatayaṁ kāyo paṭhaviṁ adhisessati,
Before long has passed by, alas, this body will lie on the ground, On the ground, or maybe in the ground, but burial was not common, either the body was discarded at the charnel ground, to be taken care of by animals and insects, or it was burned, and sometimes disposed of in bodies of water.

chuddho apetaviññāṇo, niratthaṁ va kaliṅgaraṁ. [41]
rejected, without consciousness, just like a useless piece of wood.


Diso disaṁ yan-taṁ kayirā, verī vā pana verinaṁ –
Whatever an aggressor might do to an aggressor, or an enemy to an enemy –

micchāpaṇihitaṁ cittaṁ pāpiyo naṁ tato kare. [42]
a mind that is badly-directed can do far worse than that to him.


Na taṁ We would better read: Yaṁ taṁ here, whatever Mother and Father and other relatives might do for him. mātā pitā kayirā, aññe vā pi ca ñātakā,
Mother and father might not do for him, or other relatives,

sammāpaṇihitaṁ cittaṁ seyyaso naṁ tato kare. [43]
as much good as a mind that is well-directed can do for him.

Cittavaggo Tatiyo
The Chapter about the Mind, the Third


Related Verses from the Dhammapada

Yathā agāraṁ ducchannaṁ vuṭṭhī samativijjhati,
Just as the rain penetrates a house with thatching that is poor,

evaṁ abhāvitaṁ cittaṁ rāgo samativijjhati. [13]
so passion penetrates a mind that is undeveloped.


Yathā agāraṁ succhannaṁ vuṭṭhī na samativijjhati,
Just as rain does not penetrate a house with thatching that is good,

evaṁ subhāvitaṁ cittaṁ rāgo na samativijjhati. [14]
so passion cannot penetrate a mind that is well-developed.


Tatrābhiratim-iccheyya, hitvā kāme akiñcano,
One should desire to delight in that place, having given up sense pleasures, and having no possessions,

pariyodapeyya attānaṁ cittaklesehi paṇḍito. [88]
the wise one should purify the self of defilements of mind.


Abhittharetha kalyāṇe, pāpā cittaṁ nivāraye,
Hasten to do wholesome deeds, ward off the mind from wickedness,

dandhaṁ hi karato puññaṁ pāpasmiṁ ramatī mano. [116]
for the mind of the one slow in merit delights in wickedness.


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṁ, kusalassa upasampadā,
The non-doing of anything wicked, undertaking of what is good,

sacittapariyodapanaṁ - etaṁ Buddhāna’ sāsanaṁ. [183]
the purification of one’s mind - this is the teaching of the Buddhas.


Idaṁ pure cittam-acāri cārikaṁ
Formerly this wandering mind wandered

yenicchakaṁ yatthakāmaṁ yathāsukhaṁ,
through desire, pleasure and happiness,

tad-ajjahaṁ niggahessāmi yoniso,
(but) today I will control it wisely,

hatthim-pabhinnaṁ viya aṅkusaggaho. [326]
like one with goad an elephant in rut.


Appamādaratā hotha, sacittam-anurakkhatha,
You should delight in heedfulness, you should always protect your mind,

duggā uddharathattānaṁ paṅke sanno va kuñjaro. [327]
you should raise yourself from this pit like the tusker sunk in the mud.


Jhāya, bhikkhu, mā ca pāmado,
Meditate, monastic, do not be heedless,

mā te kāmaguṇe bhamassu cittaṁ,
do not let your mind swirl around in strands of desire,

mā lohaguḷaṁ gilī, pamatto,
do not, heedless, swallow a (hot) iron ball,

mā kandi: ‘Dukkham-idan’-ti ḍayhamāno. [371]
do not, while burning, cry: ‘This is suffering.’


Suññāgāraṁ paviṭṭhassa, santacittassa bhikkhuno,
For the one who has entered an empty place, a monastic with a peaceful mind,

amānusī ratī hoti sammā Dhammaṁ vipassato. [373]
there is superhuman delight from insight into true Dhamma.