Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels.
Just as a storm throws down a weak tree, so does Mara overpower the man who lives for the pursuit of pleasures, who is uncontrolled in his senses, immoderate in eating, indolent, and dissipated.
Just as a storm cannot prevail against a rocky mountain, so Mara can never overpower the man who lives meditating on the impurities, who is controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, and filled with faith and earnest effort.
Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind.
Just as rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion never penetrates a well-developed mind.
The evil-doer grieves here and hereafter; he grieves in both the worlds. He laments and is afflicted, recollecting his own impure deeds.
The doer of good rejoices here and hereafter; he rejoices in both the worlds.
The evil-doer suffers here and hereafter; he suffers in both the worlds. The thought, “Evil have I done,” torments him, and he suffers even more when gone to realms of woe.
The doer of good delights here and hereafter; he delights in both the worlds.
Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others – he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life.
Little though he recites the sacred texts, but puts the Teaching into practice, forsaking lust, hatred, and delusion, with true wisdom and emancipated mind, clinging to nothing of this or any other world – he indeed partakes of the blessings of a holy life. Just as a fletcher straightens an arrow shaft, even so the discerning man straightens his mind – so fickle and unsteady, so difficult to guard.
As a fish when pulled out of water and cast on land throbs and quivers, even so is this mind agitated. Hence should one abandon the realm of Mara.
Wonderful, indeed, it is to subdue the mind, so difficult to subdue, ever swift, and seizing whatever it desires. A tamed mind brings happiness.
Let the discerning man guard the mind, so difficult to detect and extremely subtle, seizing whatever it desires. A guarded mind brings happiness.
Dwelling in the cave (of the heart), the mind, without form, wanders far and alone. Those who subdue this mind are liberated from the bonds of Mara.
Wisdom never becomes perfect in one whose mind is not steadfast, who knows not the Good Teaching and whose faith wavers.
There is no fear for an awakened one, whose mind is not sodden (by lust) nor afflicted (by hate), and who has gone beyond both merit and demerit.
Realizing that this body is as fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying this mind like a well-fortified city, fight out Mara with the sword of wisdom. Then, guarding the conquest, remain unattached.
Ere long, alas! this body will lie upon the earth, unheeded and lifeless, like a useless log.
Whatever harm an enemy may do to an enemy, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind inflicts on oneself a greater harm. Neither mother, father, nor any other relative can do one greater good than one’s own well-directed mind.
Excerpted from The Dhammapada. The 2579th birth anniversary of Gautam Buddha will be celebrated on May 21