Month: September 2015

What Makes The World Go ‘Round

Here’s a translation of one of the Buddha’s most famous teachings; perhaps you’ve even read or heard this sutta. The word “dhamma” almost never appears in English translations, although as you’ll see, it’s actually used no fewer than eight times!

“Aṭṭhime, bhikkhave, lokadhammā lokaṃ anuparivattanti, loko ca aṭṭha lokadhamme anuparivattati. Katame aṭṭha? Lābho ca, alābho ca, yaso ca, ayaso ca, nindā ca, pasaṃsā ca, sukhañca, dukkhañca. Ime kho, bhikkhave, aṭṭha lokadhammā lokaṃ anuparivattanti, loko ca ime aṭṭha lokadhamme anuparivattatī”ti.

“lābho alābho ca yasāyaso ca,
nindā pasaṃsā ca sukhaṃ dukhañca.
Ete aniccā manujesu dhammā,
asassatā vipariṇāmadhammā.
“Ete ca ñatvā satimā sumedho,
avekkhati vipariṇāmadhamme.
Iṭṭhassa dhammā na mathenti cittaṃ,
aniṭṭhato no paṭighātameti.
“Tassānurodhā atha vā virodhā,
vidhūpitā atthaṅgatā na santi.
Padañca ñatvā virajaṃ asokaṃ,
sammappajānāti bhavassa pāragū”ti.

Bhikkhus, There are eight worldly things that make the world go ‘round, eight worldly things that keep people on the move. What are the eight? Gain and loss, fame and disgrace, insult and praise, ease and difficulty. Indeed, bhikkhus, those are the eight worldly things that make the world go round, that keep people one the move.

Gain/Loss and Fame/Disgrace,
Insult/Praise and Ease/Difficulty:
These impermanent human things,
Inconstant, changing things.
When the wise one carefully knows
And considers these changing things
Pleasing things won’t disturb the heart and mind
Displeasure won’t cause resentment.
Cooperation nor obstruction,
Scattering nor gathering bring peace.
Having found this place, free from defilement, free from sorrow
The one having seen all these things has gone beyond this world.

AN 8.5


Dew-drop Alarm

Some of the Pali in this verse from the Cariyāpiṭaka is pretty obscure, being beyond the reach of any of my English translation tools. So I turned to some Pali-Burmese resources (which are far more extensive than the ones available in English), and then used Google Translate to render the Burmese into English. Phew!

“Yadāhaṃ amitayaso, rājaputto yudhañjayo.
Ussāvabinduṃ sūriyātape, patitaṃ disvāna saṃvijiṃ.

“taññevādhipatiṃ katvā, saṃvegamanubrūhayiṃ.
Mātāpitū ca vanditvā, pabbajjamanuyācahaṃ…

“Mātāpitā na me dessā, napi me dessaṃ mahāyasaṃ.
Sabbaññutaṃ piyaṃ mayhaṃ, tasmā rajjaṃ pariccajin”ti.


When I was the world-renowned Prince Yudhañjayo,
I grew alarmed as I watched a dewdrop vanish in the heat of the sun.

Taking it as a portent of death, my anxiousness for wisdom grew.
Having paid homage to my mother and father, I asked them for permission to go forth as a sage…

It’s not that I disliked my parents; nor did I dislike having great fame,
But I wanted to be all-knowing, so I left the throne behind.

Yudhañjayacariyā, Cariyāpiṭaka 3.1

To Fill a Wanting Mind

The Cariyāpiṭaka is a less-read and less-translated portion of the Khuddaka Nikaya, the same collection that holds the Dhammapada. The Cariyāpiṭaka is another collection of past lives of the Buddha; as always, these are teaching stories, meant to illustrate the kind of behavior that will lead you toward — or away from — enlightenment.

In this verse, the great king Mahasuddasana explains how his lavish giving was a form of spiritual healing for him:

“Yathāpi āturo nāma, rogato parimuttiyā.
Dhanena vejjaṃ tappetvā, rogato parimuccati.
“Tathevāhaṃ jānamāno, paripūretumasesato.
Ūnamanaṃ pūrayituṃ, demi dānaṃ vanibbake.
nirālayo apaccāso, sambodhimanupattiyā”ti.

Just as one who is ill, wishing to be surely free of disease,
Gives enough money to the doctor, and is freed from sickness,

Knowing this truth, for complete, remainder-less liberation,
To fill a wanting mind, I gave food to the poor wayfarers,
To the homeless children, to gain the mind of complete enlightenment.

Mahāsudassanacariyā, Cariyāpiṭaka 1.4