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Thag 21.1 From… Vaṅgīsattheragāthā: Vaṅgīsa

“Speak only such words
that do not hurt yourself
nor harm others;
such speech is truly well spoken.

Speak only pleasing words,
words gladly welcomed.
Pleasing words are those
that bring nothing bad to others.

Truth itself is the undying word:
this is an eternal truth.
Good people say that the teaching and its meaning
are grounded in the truth.

The words spoken by the Buddha
for realizing the sanctuary, extinguishment,
for making an end of suffering:
this really is the best kind of speech.”

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Thag 16.4 From… Raṭṭhapāla Theragāthā

…A king who conquered the earth by force,
ruling the land from sea to sea,
unsatisfied with the near shore of the ocean,
would still yearn for the further shore.

Not just the king, but others too,
reach death not rid of craving.
They leave the body still wanting,
for in this world sensual pleasures never satisfy.

Relatives lament, their hair disheveled,
saying ‘Ah! Alas! They’re not immortal!’
They take out the body wrapped in a shroud,
heap up a pyre, and burn it there.

It’s poked with stakes while being burnt,
in just a single cloth, all wealth gone.
Relatives, friends, and companions
can’t help you when you’re dying.

Heirs take your riches,
while beings fare on according to their deeds.
Riches don’t follow you when you die;
nor do children, wife, wealth, nor kingdom.

Longevity isn’t gained by riches,
nor does wealth banish old age;
for the wise say this life is short,
it’s perishable and not eternal.

The rich and the poor feel its touch;
the fool and the wise feel it too.
But the fool lies stricken by their own folly,
while the wise don’t tremble at the touch.

Therefore wisdom’s much better than wealth,
since by wisdom you reach consummation in this life.
But if because of delusion you don’t reach consummation,
you’ll do evil deeds in life after life.…

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Thag 3.7 Vāraṇattheragāthā: Vāraṇa

Anyone among men
who harms other creatures:
that person will fall
both from this world and the next.

But someone with a mind of love,
compassionate for all creatures:
a person like that
makes much merit.

One should train in following good advice,
in attending closely to ascetics,
in sitting alone in hidden places,
and in calming the mind.

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Thag 14.1 Khadiravaniyarevatattheragāthā: Khadiravaniyarevata

Since I’ve gone forth
from the lay life to homelessness,
I’m not aware of any intention
that is ignoble and hateful.

“May these beings be killed!
May they be slaughtered! May they suffer!”—
I’m not aware of having any such intentions
in all this long while.

I have been aware of loving-kindness,
limitless and well-developed;
gradually consolidated
as it was taught by the Buddha.

I’m friend and comrade to all,
compassionate for all beings!
I develop a mind of love,
always delighting in harmlessness.

Unfaltering, unshakable,
I gladden the mind.
I develop the divine meditation,
which sinners do not cultivate.

Having entered a meditation state without thought,
a disciple of the Buddha
is at that moment blessed
with noble silence.

As a rocky mountain
is unwavering and well grounded,
so when delusion ends,
a monk, like a mountain, doesn’t tremble.

To the man who has not a blemish
who is always seeking purity,
even a hair-tip of evil
seems as big as a cloud.

As a frontier city
is guarded inside and out,
so you should ward yourselves—
don’t let the moment pass you by.

I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
I await my time,
like a worker waiting for their wages.

I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
I await my time,
aware and mindful.

I’ve served the teacher
and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.
The heavy burden is laid down,
the conduit to rebirth is eradicated.

I’ve attained the goal
for the sake of which I went forth
from the lay life to homelessness—
the ending of all fetters.

Persist with diligence:
this is my instruction.
Come, I’ll be fully extinguished—
I’m liberated in every way.

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Thag 3.14 Gotamattheragāthā: Gotama (2nd)

Transmigrating, I went to hell,
and to the ghost realm time and again.
Many times I dwelt long
in the animal realm, so full of pain.

I was also reborn as a human,
and from time to time I went to heaven.
I’ve stayed in realms of form and formlessness,
among the neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient, and the non-percipient.

I know well these states of existence are worthless—
conditioned, unstable, always in motion.
When I understood this self-made chain,
mindful, I found peace.

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Thag 7.2 Lakuṇḍakabhaddiyattheragāthā: Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya

Bhaddiya has plucked out craving, root and all,
and in a jungle thicket
on the far side of the Wild Mango Monastery,
he practices absorption; he is truly well-favoured.

Some delight in clay drums,
in arched harps, and in cymbals.
But here, at the foot of a tree,
I delight in the Buddha’s teaching.

If the Buddha were to grant me one wish,
and I were to get what I wished for,
I’d choose for the whole world
constant mindfulness of the body.

Those who’ve judged me on appearance,
and those swayed by my voice,
are full of desire and greed;
they don’t know me.

Not knowing what’s inside,
nor seeing what’s outside,
the fool shut in on every side,
gets carried away by a voice.

Not knowing what’s inside,
but seeing what’s outside,
seeing the fruit outside,
they’re also carried away by a voice.

Understanding what’s inside,
and seeing what’s outside,
of unobstructed vision,
they don’t get carried away by a voice.

The Buddha praised this monk in SN 21.6: Lakuṇḍakabhaddiyasutta

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Thag 19.1 Tālapuṭattheragāthā: Tālapuṭa

[NOTE: Today will be the last very long selection for the month. Unlike the deep confidence that was shown by yesterday’s elder, Arahant Sumedhā, here we see the tremendous struggle that many disciples have faced when trying to practice the Dhamma to the end goal.]

Oh, when will I stay in a mountain cave,
alone, with no companion,
discerning all states of existence as impermanent?
This hope of mine, when will it be?

Oh, when will I stay happily in the forest,
a sage wearing a torn robe, dressed in ocher,
unselfish, with no need for hope,
with greed, hate, and delusion destroyed?

Oh, when will I stay alone in the wood,
fearless, discerning this body as impermanent,
a nest of death and disease,
oppressed by death and old age; when will it be?

Oh, when will I live, having grasped the sharp sword of wisdom
and cut the creeper of craving that tangles around everything,
the mother of fear, the bringer of suffering?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I, seated on the lion’s throne,
swiftly grasp the sword of the sages,
forged by wisdom, of fiery might,
and swiftly break Māra and his army? When will it be?

Oh, when will I be seen striving in the assemblies
with those who are virtuous, poised, respecting the Dhamma,
seeing things as they are, with faculties subdued?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I focus on my own goal at the Mountainfold,
free of oppression by laziness, hunger, thirst,
wind, heat, insects, and reptiles?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I, serene and mindful,
understand the four truths,
that were realized by the great hermit,
and are so very hard to see? When will it be?

Oh, when will I, devoted to serenity,
see with understanding the infinite sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts
as burning? When will it be?

Oh, when will I not be distraught
because of criticism,
nor elated because of praise?
When will it be?

Oh when will I discern the aggregates
and the infinite varieties of phenomena,
both internal and external, as no more than
wood, grass, and creepers? When will it be?

Oh, when will the rain clouds in season
freshly wet me in my robe in the forest,
walking the path trodden by the sages?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I rise up, intent on attaining the deathless,
hearing, in the mountain cave,
the cry of the crested peacock in the forest?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I cross the Ganges, Yamunā,
and Sarasvatī rivers, the Pātāla country,
and the dangerous Baḷavāmukha sea,
by psychic power unimpeded? When will it be?

Oh, when will I be devoted to absorption,
rejecting entirely the signs of beauty,
splitting apart desire for sensual stimulation,
like an elephant that wanders free of ties? When will it be?

Oh, when will I realize the teaching of the great hermit
and be content, like a poor person in debt,
harassed by creditors, who finds a hidden treasure?
When will it be?

For many years you begged me,
“Enough of living in a house for you!”
Why do you not urge me on, mind,
now that I’ve gone forth as an ascetic?

Didn’t you entice me, mind:
“On the Mountainfold, the birds with colorful wings,
greeting the thunder, Mahinda’s voice,
will delight you as you meditate in the forest?”

In my family circle, friends, loved ones, and relatives;
and in the world, sports and play, and sensual pleasures;
all these I gave up when I entered this life:
and even then you’re not content with me, mind!

This is mine alone, it doesn’t belong to others;
when it is time to don your armor, why lament?
Observing that all this is unstable,
I went forth, seeking the deathless state.

The methodical teacher, supreme among people,
great physician, guide for those who wish to train, said:
“The mind fidgets like a monkey,
so it’s very hard to control if you are not free of lust.”

Sensual pleasures are diverse, sweet, delightful;
an ignorant ordinary person is bound to them.
Seeking to be reborn again, they wish for suffering;
led on by their mind, they’re relegated to hell.

“Staying in the grove resounding with cries
of peacocks and herons, and adorned by leopards and tigers,
abandon concern for the body, without fail!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Develop the absorptions and spiritual faculties,
the powers, awakening factors, and immersion;
realize the three knowledges in the teaching of the Buddha!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Develop the eightfold path for realizing the deathless,
emancipating, plunging into the end of all suffering,
and cleansing all defilements!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Reflect properly on the aggregates as suffering,
and abandon that from which suffering arises;
make an end of suffering in this very life!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Properly discern that impermanence is suffering,
that emptiness is non-self, and that misery is death.
Uproot the wandering mind!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Bald, unsightly, accursed,
seek alms amongst families, bowl in hand.
Devote yourself to the word of the teacher, the great hermit!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Wander the streets well-restrained,
unattached to families and sensual pleasures,
like the full moon on a bright night!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Be a wilderness-dweller and an alms-eater,
one who lives in charnel grounds, a rag-robe wearer,
one who never lies down, always delighting in ascetic practices.”
So you used to urge me, mind.

Mind, when you urge me to the impermanent and unstable,
you’re acting like someone who plants trees,
then, when they’re about to fruit,
wishes to cut down the very same trees.

Incorporeal mind, far-traveler, lone-wanderer:
I won’t do your bidding any more.
Sensual pleasures are suffering, painful, and very dangerous;
I’ll wander with my mind focused only on quenching.

I didn’t go forth due to bad luck or shamelessness,
or due to a whim or banishment,
nor for the sake of a livelihood;
it was because I agreed to the promise you made, mind.

“Having few wishes, abandoning disparagement,
the stilling of suffering: these are praised by good people.”
So you used to urge me, mind,
but now you keep on with your old habits!

Craving, ignorance, the loved and unloved,
pretty sights, pleasant feelings,
and the delightful kinds of sensual stimulation:
I’ve vomited them all, and I won’t swallow them back.

I’ve done your bidding everywhere, mind!
For many births, I’ve done nothing to upset you,
yet this self-made chain is your show of gratitude!
For a long time I’ve transmigrated in the suffering you’ve created.

Only you, mind, make a brahmin;
you make an aristocrat or a royal hermit.
Sometimes we become traders or workers;
and life as a god is also on account of you.

You alone make us demons;
because of you we’re born in hell.
Then sometimes we become animals,
and life as a ghost is also on account of you.

Come what may, you won’t betray me again,
dazzling me with your ever-changing display!
You play with me like I’m mad—
but how have I ever failed you, mind?

In the past my mind wandered
how it wished, where it liked, as it pleased.
Now I’ll carefully guide it,
as a trainer with a hook guides a rutting elephant.

The teacher willed that this world appear to me
as impermanent, unstable, insubstantial.
Mind, let me leap into the victor’s teaching,
carry me over the great flood, so hard to pass.

Things have changed, mind!
Nothing could make me return to your control!
I’ve gone forth in the teaching of the great hermit,
those like me don’t come to ruin.

Mountains, oceans, rivers, the earth;
the four quarters, the intermediate directions, below and in the sky;
the three realms of existence are all impermanent and troubled—
where can you go to find happiness, mind?

Mind, what will you do to someone who has made the ultimate commitment?
Nothing could make me a follower under your control, mind;
there’s no way I’d touch a bellows with a mouth open at each end;
curse this mortal frame flowing with nine streams!

You’ve ascended the mountain peak, full of nature’s beauty,
frequented by boars and antelopes,
a grove sprinkled with fresh water in the rains;
and there you’ll be happy in your cave-home.

Peacocks with beautiful necks and crests,
colorful tail-feathers and wings,
crying out at the resounding thunder:
they’ll delight you as you meditate in the forest.

When the sky has rained down, and the grass is four inches high,
and the grove is full of flowers like a cloud,
in the mountain cleft, like the fork of a tree, I’ll lie;
it will be as soft as cotton-buds.

I’ll act as a master does:
let whatever I get be enough for me.
And that’s why I’ll make you as supple
as a tireless worker makes a cat-skin bag.

I’ll act as a master does:
let whatever I get be enough for me.
I’ll control you with my energy,
as a skilled trainer controls an elephant with a hook.

Now that you’re well-tamed and reliable,
I can use you, like a trainer uses a straight-running horse,
to practice the path so full of grace,
cultivated by those who take care of their minds.

I shall strongly fasten you to a meditation subject,
as an elephant is tied to a post with firm rope.
You’ll be well-guarded by me, well-developed by mindfulness,
and unattached to rebirth in all states of existence.

You’ll use understanding to cut the follower of the wrong path,
curb them by practice, and settle them on the right path.
And when you have seen the cause of suffering arise and pass away,
you’ll be an heir to the greatest teacher.

Under the sway of the four distortions, mind,
you dragged me around like a bull in a pit;
but now you won’t associate with the great sage of compassion,
the cutter of fetters and bonds?

Like a deer roaming free in the colorful forest,
I’ll ascend the lovely mountain wreathed in cloud,
and rejoice to be on that hill, free of folk—
there is no doubt you’ll perish, mind.

The men and women who live under your will and command,
whatever pleasure they experience,
they are ignorant and fall under Māra’s control;
loving life, they’re your disciples, mind.

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Thag 10.2 Ekavihāriyattheragāthā: Ekavihāriya

If no-one else is found
in front or behind,
it’s extremely pleasant
to be dwelling alone in a forest grove.

Come now, I’ll go alone
to the wilderness praised by the Buddha.
It’s pleasant for a mendicant
to be dwelling alone and resolute.

Alone and self-disciplined,
I’ll quickly enter the delightful forest,
which gives joy to meditators,
and is frequented by rutting elephants.

In Sītavana, so full of flowers,
in a cool mountain cave,
I’ll bathe my limbs
and walk mindfully alone.

When will I dwell alone,
without a companion,
in the great wood, so delightful,
my task complete, free of defilements?

This is what I want to do:
may my wish succeed!
I’ll make it happen myself,
for no-one can do another’s duty.

Fastening my armor,
I’ll enter the forest.
I won’t leave
without attaining the end of defilements.

As the cool breeze blows
with fragrant scent,
I’ll split ignorance apart,
sitting on the mountain-peak.

In a forest grove covered with blossoms,
in a cave so very cool,
I take pleasure in the Mountainfold,
happy with the happiness of freedom.

I’ve got all I wished for
like the moon on the fifteenth day.
With the utter ending of all defilements,
now there’ll be no more future lives.

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Thag 7.4 Sopākattheragāthā: Sopāka (2nd)

I saw the supreme person
walking mindfully in the shade of the terrace,
so I approached,
and bowed to the supreme among men.

Arranging my robe over one shoulder
and clasping my hands together,
I walked alongside that stainless one,
supreme among all beings.

The wise one, expert in questions,
questioned me.
Brave and fearless,
I answered the teacher.

When all his questions were answered,
the Realized One congratulated me.
Looking around the mendicant Saṅgha,
he said the following:

“It is a blessing for the people of Aṅga and Magadha
that this person enjoys their
robe and almsfood,
requisites and lodgings,
their respect and service—
it’s a blessing for them,” he declared.

“Sopāka, from this day on
you are invited to come and see me.
And Sopāka, let this
be your ordination.”

At seven years old
I received ordination.
I bear my final body—
oh, the excellence of the teaching!

“Supreme person,” “the supreme among men,” “stainless one,” etc are all names of the Buddha.

There is a great story involving Ven. Sopāka and three other seven year old arahants in the background story to Dhammapada verse 406.

For thoughts on young people with wisdom, read SN 3.1, Dahara Sutta.

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