“Just as one would look upon a bubble,
just as one would look upon a mirage —
if a person thus looks upon the world,
the king of death sees him not.”
Give Up Base Desires
1. Hīnaṃ dhammaṃ na seveyya, pamādena na saṃvase Micchādiṭṭhiṃ na seveyya, na siyā lokavaḍḍhano.
Do not serve mean ends, Do not live in heedlessness. Do not embrace false views. Do not be a world-upholder.
The Young Monk
Visākhā’s grand-daughter was serving the monks. On seeing her reflection in a water pot she laughed. A young monk looked at the reflection and also laughed. She said, “A skinhead is laughing.” The young monk took offence at being called a skinhead, and abused her. She started crying and told her grandmother. Visākhā and the elder monk were unable to pacify the young monk. The Buddha took his side, asking Visākhā if it was proper to call his disciples ‘skinheads.’ Then the Buddha uttered the above verse.
The Righteous Are Happy
2. Uttiṭṭhe nappamajjeyya, dhammaṃ sucaritaṃ care Dhammacārī sukhaṃ seti, asmiṃ loke paramhi
Dhammaṃ care sucaritaṃ, na naṃ duccaritaṃ care Dhammacārī sukhaṃ seti, asmiṃ loke paramhi
3. Do not be heedless in standing (for alms). Practice this righteous conduct well. One who practices rightly, lives happily in this world and the next.
Scrupulously observe (this) practice. Do not observe it unscrupulously. He who observes this practice lives happily both in this world and in the next.
When the Buddha visited his birthplace, Kapilavatthu, for the first time since his enlightenment, he performed a miracle to subdue the pride of his kinsfolk. As he taught the Dhamma, a shower of rain fell on them, and the Buddha related the Vessantara Jātaka to show that the same had happened before. Having worshipped the Buddha, his relatives departed, but not one of them invited him for the next day’s meal. The king had food prepared, assuming that he would come there. The next day, the Buddha walked for alms in the city. His father, King Suddhodana, who was mortified on hearing that his son was begging for alms, hastened to stop him. Thereupon the Buddha remarked that it was the custom of his lineage to seek alms from door to door, and uttered the above verses. On hearing the verse, the king attained Stream-winning.
Like A Bubble is this World
4. Yathā pubbuḷakaṃ passe, yathā passe marīcikaṃ Evaṃ lokaṃ avekkhantaṃ, maccurājā na passati.
Just as one would look upon a bubble, just as one would look upon a mirage — if a person thus looks upon the world, the king of death sees him not.
Five Hundred Vipassanā Monks
Not making much progress with their meditation, five hundred monks came to the Buddha to request a more suitable meditation object. Reflecting on a mirage and on bubbles of water, they attained Arahantship. Concerning their attainment, the Buddha uttered the above verse.
The Wise Are Not Attached to the World
5. Etha passath’imaṃ lokaṃ, cittaṃ rājarathūpamaṃ Yattha bālā visīdanti, natthi saṅgo vijānataṃ.
This world is like an ornamented royal chariot. Fools flounder in it, but for the wise there is no attachment.
Prince Abhaya was entertained royally as a reward for suppressing a rebellion. He was grief-stricken just as in the story of the minister Santati, on witnessing the death of a dancer, and sought consolation from the Buddha. The Buddha consoled him and uttered the above verse.
The Heedful Illuminate the World
6. Yo ca pubbe pamajjitvā, pacchā so nappamajjati So imaṃ lokaṃ pabhāseti, abbhā mutto’va candimā.
Whoever was heedless before and afterwards is not; such a one illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.
The Sweeping Monk
A monk was constantly sweeping the rooms of the monastery. He criticized the Elder Revata who was always meditating. The elder advised him to sweep the monastery before almsround, and to spend the day in meditation, sweeping again in the evening if he wished. He followed this advice and in due course attained Arahantship. When rubbish started to accumulate, the other monks asked him why he didn’t sweep any more. The elder replied that he was no longer heedless, therefore he didn’t spend all his time sweeping. The monks wondered if he had attained Arahantship and told the Buddha what he had said. Concerning his change of attitude, the Buddha uttered the above verse.
Evil Can Be Erased by Good
7. Yassa pāpaṃ kataṃ kammaṃ, kusalena pidhīyati1 So imaṃ lokaṃ pabhāseti, abbhā mutto’va candimā.
Whoever, by a good deed, covers the evil done, such a one illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.
The Elder Aṅgulimāla
As related in the Aṅgulimāla Sutta of the Majjhimanikāya, Aṅgulimāla was a notorious murderer. One day, after the meal, the Buddha set out to meet him. Though cowherds, goatherds, and farmers warned him not to go on, the Buddha continued walking. On seeing the Buddha, Aṅgulimāla chased him, intending to kill him. However, though he ran as fast as he could, he was unable to catch up with the Buddha, who was only walking. He was amazed that though he could catch an elephant, a horse, a chariot, or a deer, he could not catch up with the Buddha. He stopped, and called out, “Stop recluse!” The Buddha replied, “Aṅgulimāla, I have stopped. You should also stop.” Aṅgulimāla thought, “These recluses who are sons of the Sākyans speak the truth, and are avowed to the truth. I will ask the meaning of this.” So he asked the Buddha what he meant, and the Buddha explained that he had stopped killing and injuring living beings while Aṅgulimāla had not. Aṅgulimāla throw away his sword, worshipped the Buddha, and begged for the going forth. The Buddha said, “Come Monk” and took the new monk back to Sāvatthī.
King Pasenadi, having heard many complaints about Aṅgulimāla, set out with five hundred soldiers to capture him. On the way he stopped to pay respects to the Buddha who asked him if he had quarrelled with King Bimbisāra, or the Licchavīs, or another minor king. The king replied that he was going to capture Aṅgulimāla. Then the Buddha asked the king what he would do to Aṅgulimāla if he had gone forth as a monk, and was dwelling virtuous and well-behaved. The king replied that he would pay homage and support him, but how could such an evil person become so virtuous? Then the Buddha stretched out his right hand, pointing to Aṅgulimāla who was sat nearby. The king became afraid, trembling, and horrified. The Buddha told him not to be alarmed, and the king paid homage to Aṅgulimāla, asked him who his father and mother were, and offered to provide the requisites for him.
Later, Aṅgulimāla attained Arahantship and passed away, attaining parinibbāna. The monks wished to know how such a murderer could have become an Arahant. In reply the Buddha uttered the above verse.