Monday, August 19, 2019

The Path to Nirvana (Dhammapada 20)

Acharya Buddharakkhita (Dhp. 20,; Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
Lake in Biogradaska Gora, old growth forest in Europe (
Verse 273.
From virtue, calm. From mindful-calm, insight.
Of all the paths the Ennobling* Eightfold Path is best;
of all the truths the Four Ennobling Truths are best;
of all things passionlessness is best:
of humans the Seeing One (the Buddha) is best.
  • [*Noble = "enlightened, superior, awake"; ennobling = "what makes one enlightened, superior, awake."]
This is the one direct path;
there is none better for the purification of insight.
Tread this path, and bewilder Mara (Death).

Practicing this path
one makes an end of all suffering.
Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of craving,
I make known the path.

You yourselves must strive; Teachers only point the way.
Those practitioners who tread the path,
are released from the bonds of Mara.
  • Alternative rendering: Just this is the path — there is no other — to purify vision. / Follow it, and that will be Mara's bewilderment. / Following it, you put an end to suffering. / I have taught you this path having known — for your knowing — the extraction of arrows. // It's for you to strive ardently. / Tathagatas simply point out the way. / Those who practice, absorbed in jhana, from Mara's bonds they'll be freed (Ven. Thanissaro).
when one sees this with wisdom,
one [is disenchanted and] turns away from suffering.
This is the path to purification.

"All conditioned things are disappointing" —
when one sees this with wisdom,
one turns away from suffering.
This is the path to purification.

"All things are impersonal" —
when one sees this with wisdom,
one turns away from suffering.
This is the path to purification.

The idler who does not exert oneself when one should,
who though young and strong is full of sloth,
with a mind full of vain thoughts —
such an indolent person does not find the path to wisdom.

Let a person be watchful of speech,
well controlled in mind, and commit no harm by bodily action.
Let one purify these three courses of action [speech, mind, body],
and win the path made known by the Great Sage.

Wisdom springs from meditation;
without meditation wisdom wanes.
Having known these two paths of progress and decline,
let a person so conduct oneself that one's wisdom may increase.

Cut down the forest (craving), but not the tree;
from the forest springs fear.
Having cut down the forest and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, O meditators!
  • [Note 20: The meaning of this injunction (Verse 283) is: "Cut down the forest of sensual craving and lust, but do not mortify the body."]
For so long as the underbrush of desire, even the most subtle,
of a person towards another is not cut down,
one's mind is in bondage,
like the sucking calf to its mother.

Cut off your affection in the manner of a person
who plucks by hand an autumn lotus.
Cultivate only the path to peace,
nirvana, as made known by the Exalted One.

"Here shall I live during the rains,
here in winter, here in summer" —
thus thinks the fool.
One does not realize the danger (that Death might intervene).

As a great flood carries away a sleeping village,
so Death seizes and carries away
the person with a clinging mind,
doting on family and riches (cattle).

For one who is assailed by Death
there is no protection by kin.
None there are to save one —
no sons, nor father, nor relatives.

Realizing this fact,
let the wise person,
restrained by morality,
hasten to clear the path leading to nirvana.

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