Dhammapada 18: Impurities Or Taints
Translated by Ven Nārada

235. Like a withered leaf are you now. The messengers of death wait on you. On the threshold of decay you stand. Provision too there is none for you.

236. Make an island unto yourself. Strive quickly; become wise. Purged of stain and passionless, you shall enter the heavenly stage of the Ariyas. 1

237. Your life has come to an end now. To the presence of death you are setting out. No halting place is there for you by the way. Provision too there is none for you.

238. Make an island unto yourself. Strive without delay; become wise. Purged of stain and passionless, you will not come again to birth and old age.

239. By degrees, little by little, from time to time, a wise person should remove his own impurities, as a smith removes (the dross) of silver.

240. As rust sprung from iron eats itself away when arisen, even so his own deeds lead the transgressor 2 to states of woe.

241. Non-recitation is the rust of incantations; 3 non-exertion is the rust of homes; 4 sloth is the taint of beauty; carelessness is the flaw of a watcher.

242. Misconduct is the taint of a woman. Stinginess is the taint of a donor. Taints, indeed, are all evil things both in this world and in the next.

243. A worse taint than these is ignorance, the greatest taint. Abandoning this taint, be taintless, O Bhikkhus!

244. Easy is the life of a shameless one who is as impudent as a crow, back-biting, presumptuous, arrogant, and corrupt.

245. Hard is the life of a modest one who ever seeks purity, is detached, humble, clean in life, and reflective.

246-247. Whoso in this world destroys life, tells lies, takes what is not given, goes to others’ wives, and is addicted to intoxicating drinks, such a one digs up his own root in this world.

248. Know thus O good man: "Not easy of restraint are evil things". Let not greed and wickedness 5 drag you to protracted misery.

249. People give according to their faith and as they are pleased. Whoever therein is envious of others’ food and drink, gains no peace 6 either by day or by night.

250. But he who has this (feeling) fully cut off, uprooted and destroyed, gains peace by day and by night.

251. There is no fire like lust, no grip like hate, no net like delusion, no river like craving.

252. Easily seen are others’ faults, hard indeed to see are one’s own. Like chaff one winnows others’ faults, but one’s own (faults) one hides, as a crafty fowler conceals himself 7 by camouflage. 8

253. He who sees others’ faults, and is ever irritable — the corruptions of such a one grow. He is far from the destruction of corruptions. 9

254. In the sky there is no track. Outside 10 there is no Saint. 11 Mankind delights in obstacles. 12 The Tathāgatas 13 are free from obstacles.

255. In the sky there is no track. Outside there is no Saint. There are no conditioned things 14 that are eternal. There is no instability 15 in the Buddhas.

End Notes

[1] Namely: the Pure Abodes (Suddhāvāsa).

[2] Atidhonacāri = the bhikkhu who lives without reflecting on the necessaries of life. While using the four requisites, namely: robes, food, drink, and lodging, a bhikkhu is expected to reflect on their special usefulness and loathsomeness. If he does not, he transgresses a minor rule by not using them properly. Dhona means the four necessaries.

[3] Mantā mean religious doctrines, arts and sciences. Non-recitation of the scriptures and non-practice of the arts tend to make one forget them.

[4] Ghara is interpreted as householders.

[5] Adhammo is here used in the sense of hatred. The root causes of evil are greed and hatred.

[6] Samādhi, mundane or supramundane concentration.

[7] Kaliā = attabhāva = body.

[8] Kitavā = kitavāya = by means of sham branches etc.

[9] Namely: the Fruit of Arahantship. See note on v. 226.

[10] Outside the Dispensation (sāsana) of the Buddha.

[11] Here samaṇa refers to Saints who have realised the four Paths and four Fruits. They are the Ariya Saints who have attained Nibbāna.

[12] Impediments such as craving, pride, etc.

[13] An epithet of the Buddha. Literally, it means "who thus hath come".

[14] Saṅkhāra means the five aggregates conditioned by causes.

[15] There is no single impediment such as craving, pride, and so on, by means of which the Buddhas regard the conditioned things as eternal.