Dhammapada chp 6: The Astute (76-89)

A series of posts for my draft translation of the Dhammapada, for feedback and discussion. Final version will be on SuttaCentral.

Regard one who sees your faults
as a guide to a hidden treasure.
Stay close to one so wise and astute
who corrects you when you need it.

If you stay close to one such as this,
things get better, not worse.
One who would advise and instruct,
shielding you from what is bad,
is beloved by the good,
but disliked by the bad.

Don’t stay around bad friends,
nor with the worst of men.
Associate with spiritual friends,
and with the best of men.

Through joy in the teaching you sleep at ease,
with clear and confident heart.
An astute person always delights in the teaching
proclaimed by the noble one.

While irrigators guide water,
fletchers straighten arrows,
and carpenters carve timber—
the astute tame themselves.

As the wind cannot stir
a solid mass of rock,
so too praise and blame
do not affect the wise.

Like a deep lake,
clear and unclouded,
so clear are the astute
when they hear the teachings.

Good people give up everything,
they speak not of the things they desire.
Though touched by sadness or happiness,
the astute appear neither depressed nor elated.

Never wish for success by unjust means,
not for your own sake or that of another,
nor wishing for children or wealth or nation;
rather, one should be virtuous, wise, and just.

Few are those among humans
who cross to the far shore.
The rest just run around
on the near shore.

When the teaching is well explained,
those who practice accordingly
are the ones who will cross over
Death’s domain so hard to pass.

Rid of dark qualities,
an astute person should develop the bright.
Leaving home behind
for the seclusion so hard to enjoy,
find delight there,
having left behind sensual pleasures.

With no possessions, an astute person
would cleanse themselves of mental corruptions.
Those whose minds are rightly developed
in the awakening factors;
who, letting go of attachments,
delight in not grasping:
with defilements ended, brilliant,
they in this world are quenched.


:heart_eyes: Wow! You really brought out the renounciation aspect of this verse in a way I haven’t heard before. sādhu!

This sounds confusing to me. Wait, so I shouldn’t wish for good things for my children or country? Compare to Bhikkhu Pesala:

one should not desire sons, wealth, or a kingdom

Seems “are the ones who” is unnecessarily verbose here



How about this:

Never wish for success by unjust means,
for your own sake or that of another,
desiring children, wealth, or nation;
rather, be virtuous, wise, and just.

Indeed, I was sticking too close to the Pali syntax.


This time I skipped right over the “;” and thought it was instructing us to desire those things! :joy:

Also, it still feels weird to me to say “desiring a nation”… It sounds like you’re admonishing refugees to be okay with being stateless. :grimacing:


Yeah, there should probably be another negative in there.

Indeed. I guess it’s saying not to desire kingship?


Yeah, that was my impression as well.

Perhaps “children, wealth, or power” would be clearer if you are okay being loose and modern; but perhaps that strays too far from the literal Pāli (depending on how metaphorical we take a “kingdom / domain [of one’s own]” to be)


Na attahetu na parassa hetu, na puttamicche na dhanaṃ na raṭṭhaṃ;
Na iccheyya adhammena samiddhimattano, sa sīlavā paññavā dhammiko siyā.

Something like:
The one who doesn’t wish for a child nor wealth nor a country nor the prosperity by unjust means;
for his own sake or for the sake of others
is the virtuous, wise and righteous.


Hmm, that sounds quite nice, I will revise it again!

I notice that in your renderings you are a little more confident than I in shifting the Pali syntax to a more “logical” form in English. I tend to lean a little more towards retaining something of the word order where possible, as I feel there can be a certain emphasis or pattern of ideas there, even if it doesn’t affect the literal meaning. So your perspective is valuable to me as it shows a different way. :pray:


Of cause Bhante,
There may be few different possiblilies to give meanings. But putting it line by line, as it is in the Pāli gives more confusing verses.