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1. Attàna¤ ce piya§ ja¤¤à Þ
rakkheyya na§ surakkhita§
Tiõõam a¤¤atara§ yàma§ Þ
pañijaggeyya paõóito. 157.
1. If one holds oneself1 dear, one should protect oneself well. During every one of the three watches the wise man should keep vigil. 157.
A royal couple was childless. The Buddha declared that their childlessness was due to their not having led a harmless and heedful life in a previous birth. Advising them to be vigilant, He uttered this verse.
2. Attànam eva pañhama§ Þ
Ath'a¤¤am anusàseyya Þ
na kilisseyya paõóito. 158.
ADVISERS SHOULD SET THE EXAMPLE FIRST
2. Let one first establish oneself in what is proper, and then instruct others. Such a wise man will not be defiled.2 158.
A greedy monk who was a good preacher went from monastery to monastery, preaching the Dhamma and greedily gathering the gifts offered to him. One day two young monks could not divide between themselves two robes and a costly blanket. This greedy preacher settled the dispute by giving a robe to either of them and himself taking the blanket. The matter was reported to the Buddha. Thereupon the Buddha spoke on the desirability of the advisers themselves setting the example first.
3. Attàna§ ce tathà kayirà Þ
Sudanto vata dammetha Þ
attà hi kira duddamo. 159.
ACT AS YOU INSTRUCT
3. As he instructs others so should he himself act. Himself fully controlled, he should control (others); for oneself, indeed, is difficult to control. 159.
A monk advised others to practise meditation with earnestness, but he himself was heedless, sleeping in the night as he liked. The Buddha advised instructors to act according to their own instruction.
4. Attà hi attano nàtho Þ
ko hi nàtho paro siyà
Attanà' va sudantena Þ
nàtha§ labhati dullabha§. 160.
SELF IS ONE'S REFUGE
4. Oneself, indeed, is one's saviour, for what other saviour would there be? With oneself well controlled one obtains a saviour difficult to find. 160.
A nun prior to her ordination conceived a child and later gave birth to a son. The King adopted him. Having come of age, the boy became a monk and attained Arahantship. The mother nun could not give up her affection towards her son. One day she casually met him on the street going in quest of alms. She approached him with affection but the son did not return the affection. This unexpected attitude on the part of the son induced her to root out her affection towards him and attain Arahantship. Hearing of her realization the Buddha explained that one's saviour or refuge is oneself.
5. Attanà' va kata§ pàpa§ Þ
Abhimanthati dummedha§ Þ
vajira§ v'asmamaya§ maõi§. 161.
ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ONE'S EVIL
5. By oneself alone is evil done; it is self-born, it is self-caused. Evil grinds the unwise as a diamond grinds a hard gem. 161.
A devout layman, hearing the doctrine throughout the night, was washing his face at a pond in the morning. At that time a thief who was being pursued by others, threw his stolen goods near this man and fled. People, mistaking him for the thief beat the innocent man to death. Hearing the sad story, the Buddha stated that although the man was absolutely innocent he had experienced such a tragic death owing to a past evil Kamma and thereafter the Buddha spoke on self-responsibility.
6. Yassa accantadussãlya§ Þ
màluvà sàlam iv' otata§
Karoti so tatha' ttàna§ Þ
yathà na§ icchatã diso. 162.
THE CORRUPT BRING ABOUT THEIR OWN RUIN
6. He who is exceedingly corrupt, like a màluvà creeper strangling a sal tree, does to himself what even an enemy would wish for him. 162.
The Buddha uttered this verse concerning the evil nature of the Venerable Devadatta, who had made several unsuccessful attempts to kill Him.
7. Sukaràni asàdhåni Þ
attano ahitàni ca
Ya§ 've hita¤ ca sàdhu¤ ca Þ
ta§ ve paramadukkara§. 163.
EVIL IS EASY BUT GOOD IS DIFFICULT
7. Easy to do are things that are hard and not beneficial to oneself, but very, very, difficult indeed, to do is that which is beneficial and good. 163.
This verse was uttered by the Buddha when He heard that the Venerable Devadatta has decided to cause a schism in the Order.
8. Yo sàsana§ arahata§ Þ
Pañikkosati dummedho Þ
diññhi§ nissàya pàpika§
Phalàni kaññhakass' eva Þ
attagha¤¤àya phallati. 164.
SCORN NOT THE NOBLE
8. The stupid man, who, on account of false views, scorns the teaching of the Arahants, the Noble Ones, and the Righteous, ripens like the fruit of the kàshta reed, only for his own destruction. 164.
A jealous monk tried to dissuade his woman supporter from hearing the Dhamma from the Buddha. In spite of his attempts at dissuasion the woman went to see the Buddha. The monk, hearing of her visit went to the Buddha and suggested that He modify His sermon and preach on charity and morality. The Buddha, perceiving his bad intention, uttered this verse.
9. Attanà' va kata§ pàpa§ Þ
Attanà akata§ pàpa§ Þ
attanà' va visujjhati
Suddhi asuddhi paccatta§ Þ
n' ƒ¤¤o a¤¤o visodhaye. 165.
PURITY AND IMPURITY DEPEND ON ONESELF
9. By oneself, indeed, is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself indeed, is one purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another. 165.
A devout layman, having listened to the doctrine throughout the night, went in the morning to a pond to wash his face. At that moment a thief, who was being pursued by people, threw his stolen goods near him and fled. People molested him mistaking him for the thief. Some courtesans, who were passing that way, saved him. Hearing his sad story, the Buddha uttered this verse.
10. Attadattha§ paratthena Þ
bahunà' pi na hàpaye
Attadattham abhi¤¤àya Þ
sadatthapasuto siyà. 166.
STRIVE FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE
10. For the sake of others' welfare, however great, let not one neglect one's own welfare.3 Clearly perceiving one's own welfare, let one be intent on one's own goal. 166.
As the Buddha was about to pass away His disciples flocked from far and near to pay their last respects to Him. A monk named Attadattha instead of joining them, retired to his cell and meditated. The other monks reported this matter to the Buddha. When questioned as to his conduct. the monk replied. "Lord, as you would be passing away three months hence I thought the best way to honour you would be by attaining Arahantship during your lifetime itself." The Buddha praised him for his exemplary conduct and remarked that one's spiritual welfare should not be abandoned for the sake of others.
1 According to Buddhism there is no permanent soul or unchanging entity (atta) either created by a God or emanating from a Paramàtma. Here the term atta (self) is applied to the whole body, or one's personality, or mind, or life flux.
2 Will not be blamed by others.
3 Here "welfare" denotes one's ultimate goal, i.e., Nibbàna. Personal sanctification should not be sacrificed for the sake of external homage.
One must not misunderstand this verse to mean that one should not selflessly work for the weal of others. Selfless service is highly commended by the Buddha.