Translation:Dhammapada/Chapter 1

Dhammapada by Gautama Buddha, translated from Pāli by Wikisource
Chapter 1: The twin-verses

1:1 (1)
The mind is the basis for everything.
Everything is created by my mind, and is ruled by my mind.
When I speak or act with impure thoughts, suffering[1] follows me
As the wheel of the cart follows the hoof of the ox.

1:2 (2)
The mind is the basis for everything.
Everything is created by my mind, and is ruled by my mind.
When I speak or act with a clear awareness, happiness stays with me.
Like my own shadow, it is unshakeable.

1:3 (3)
"I was wronged! I was hurt! I was defeated! I was robbed!"
If I cultivate such thought, I will not be free from hatred.

1:4 (4)
"I was wronged! I was hurt! I was defeated! I was robbed!"
If I turn away from such thoughts, I may find peace.

1:5 (5)
In this world, hatred has never been defeated by hatred.
Only love[2] can overcome hatred.
This is an ancient and eternal law.

1:6 (6)
Everything will end.
When I understand this, all quarrels fade away.

1:7 (7)
As the wind topples a brittle tree
So will temptation[3] topple me
If I am lazy, unrestrained, apathetic, seeking only endless pleasure.

1:8 (8)
The wind cannot uproot a mountain.
Temptation cannot uproot me
If I am alert, self-controlled, devout, unmoved by pleasure and pain.

1:9 (9)
The saffron robe[4] is perfectly clean
But I am not ready to wear it
When I have not cleansed my spirit,
When I disregard truth and neglect to practice self-control.

1:10 (10)
When I have removed all defilements,
When I am filled with self-control and truthfulness,
Then I am truly worthy to wear the saffron robe.

1:11 (11)
When I see the truth as false,
When I believe illusion to be reality,
I am unable to find the truth.

1:12 (12)
I must see the essential reality as real,
And discard illusion.
Only then can I find the truth.

1:13 (13)
As heavy rain will penetrate a poorly-thatched roof,
So passion creeps into an unreflecting mind.

1:14 (14)
The rain will not penetrate a well-thatched roof.
Passion does not enter a tranquil and reflecting mind.

1:15 (15)
I grieve now, and I grieve in the future.
When I do wrong, I am doubly-grieved.
I mourn and suffer when I see the results of my actions.

1:16 (16)
I rejoice now, and I rejoice in the future.
When I am virtuous, I doubly-rejoice.
I smile and give thanks when I see the results of my actions.

1:17 (17)
I suffer now, and I suffer in the future.
When I do wrong, I suffer doubly.
It pains me to know that I have done wrong,
And it pains me even more to see the consequences.

1:18 (18)
I am happy now, and I am happy in the future.
When I am virtuous, I am doubly happy.
I am delighted to know I the good I have done,
And I am even more delighted to see the consequences.

1:19 (19)
Even if I can recite large portions of sacred texts,
If I do not put those into practice
Then I am like a shepherd counting someone else's sheep,
No closer to enlightenment.[5]

1:20 (20)
If I know just a little of the sacred texts,
But I put those teachings into practice,
Casting off desire, ill-will, and delusion,
Practicing wakefulness and meditation,
Free of attachments to anything, here or in the future,
Then I may become enlightened.

  1. The word translated here as "suffering" is dukkha (duhkha), a central concept in the Buddha's teachings. It can also be translated as inadequacy, anguish, discomfort, distress, sorrow, or unsatisfactoriness. It is the understanding that the world as it is is not good enough and is not acceptable.
  2. Love, here, is a translation of metta (maitri). Metta is not a passive, reflective emotion, but is an active verb, often translated as loving-kindness or friendliness. It is best understood as love shown through actions. For multi-cultural perspective on philosophical and spiritual dimensions of these meanings, see also discussion on the Hellenic term agape, often contrasted to erotic love.
  3. Mara is temptation and illusion, the personification the of empty seductiveness of our desires. He is frequently depicted as a demon, or as a mischievous minor god.
  4. The saphron robe is a symbol that one is a follower of the Buddha. Buddhist monks in some traditions wear habit dyed yellow with saffron. Being 'unready to wear the saphron robe' means that one is unready to call oneself a Buddhist.
  5. The verse states that in this case, one is not ready to progress along the four stages toward sainthood. To make the text relevant to a modern audience, this is simplified to progressing toward enlightenment.