The Fool, the Wise and the Venerable

Extracted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Dhammapada, by Unknown

Translator: F. Max Muller

Chapter V. The Fool

  1. Long is the night to him who is awake; long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law.
  2. If a traveller does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship with a fool.
  3. “These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,” with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?
  4. The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed.
  5. If a fool be associated with a wise man even all his life, he will perceive the truth as little as a spoon perceives the taste of soup.
  6. If an intelligent man be associated for one minute only with a wise man, he will soon perceive the truth, as the tongue perceives the taste of soup.
  7. Fools of little understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies, for they do evil deeds which must bear bitter fruits.
  8. That deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the reward of which he receives crying and with a tearful face.
  9. No, that deed is well done of which a man does not repent, and the reward of which he receives gladly and cheerfully.
  10. As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is like honey; but when it ripens, then the fool suffers grief.
  11. Let a fool month after month eat his food (like an ascetic) with the tip of a blade of Kusa grass, yet he is not worth the sixteenth particle of those who have well weighed the law.
  12. An evil deed, like newly-drawn milk, does not turn (suddenly); smouldering, like fire covered by ashes, it follows the fool.
  13. And when the evil deed, after it has become known, brings sorrow to the fool, then it destroys his bright lot, nay, it cleaves his head.
  14. Let the fool wish for a false reputation, for precedence among the Bhikshus, for lordship in the convents, for worship among other people!
  15. “May both the layman and he who has left the world think that this is done by me; may they be subject to me in everything which is to be done or is not to be done,” thus is the mind of the fool, and his desire and pride increase.
  16. “One is the road that leads to wealth, another the road that leads to Nirvana;” if the Bhikshu, the disciple of Buddha, has learnt this, he will not yearn for honour, he will strive after separation from the world.

Chapter VI. The Wise Man (Pandita)

  1. If you see an intelligent man who tells you where true treasures are to be found, who shows what is to be avoided, and administers reproofs, follow that wise man; it will be better, not worse, for those who follow him.
  2. Let him admonish, let him teach, let him forbid what is improper!—he will be beloved of the good, by the bad he will be hated.
  3. Do not have evil-doers for friends, do not have low people for friends: have virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men.
  4. He who drinks in the law lives happily with a serene mind: the sage rejoices always in the law, as preached by the elect (Ariyas).
  5. Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves.
  6. As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, wise people falter not amidst blame and praise.
  7. Wise people, after they have listened to the laws, become serene, like a deep, smooth, and still lake.
  8. Good people walk on whatever befall, the good do not prattle, longing for pleasure; whether touched by happiness or sorrow wise people never appear elated or depressed.
  9. If, whether for his own sake, or for the sake of others, a man wishes neither for a son, nor for wealth, nor for lordship, and if he does not wish for his own success by unfair means, then he is good, wise, and virtuous.
  10. Few are there among men who arrive at the other shore (become Arhats); the other people here run up and down the shore.
  11. But those who, when the law has been well preached to them, follow the law, will pass across the dominion of death, however difficult to overcome.

87, 88. A wise man should leave the dark state (of ordinary life), and follow the bright state (of the Bhikshu). After going from his home to a homeless state, he should in his retirement look for enjoyment where there seemed to be no enjoyment. Leaving all pleasures behind, and calling nothing his own, the wise man should purge himself from all the troubles of the mind.

  1. Those whose mind is well grounded in the (seven) elements of knowledge, who without clinging to anything, rejoice in freedom from attachment, whose appetites have been conquered, and who are full of light, are free (even) in this world.

Chapter VII. The Venerable (Arhat).

  1. There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, and abandoned grief, who has freed himself on all sides, and thrown off all fetters.
  2. They depart with their thoughts well-collected, they are not happy in their abode; like swans who have left their lake, they leave their house and home.
  3. Men who have no riches, who live on recognised food, who have perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvana), their path is difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air.
  4. He whose appetites are stilled, who is not absorbed in enjoyment, who has perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvana), his path is difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air.
  5. The gods even envy him whose senses, like horses well broken in by the driver, have been subdued, who is free from pride, and free from appetites.
  6. Such a one who does his duty is tolerant like the earth, like Indra’s bolt; he is like a lake without mud; no new births are in store for him.
  7. His thought is quiet, quiet are his word and deed, when he has obtained freedom by true knowledge, when he has thus become a quiet man.
  8. The man who is free from credulity, but knows the uncreated, who has cut all ties, removed all temptations, renounced all desires, he is the greatest of men.
  9. In a hamlet or in a forest, in the deep water or on the dry land, wherever venerable persons (Arhanta) dwell, that place is delightful.
  10. Forests are delightful; where the world finds no delight, there the passionless will find delight, for they look not for pleasures.