Dhammapada | 2. Appamāda Vagga

2. Appamāda Vagga
Heedfulness

The Heedless Are Like the Dead

1. Appamādo amatapadaṁ, pamādo maccuno padaṁ
Appamattā na mīyanti, ye pamattā yathā matā.
2. Evaṁ visesato ñatvā, appamādamhi paṇḍitā
Appamāde pamodanti, ariyānaṁ gocare ratā.
3. Te jhāyino sātatikā, niccaṁ daḷhaparakkamā
Phusanti dhīrā nibbānaṁ, yogakkhemaṁ anuttaraṁ.

1. Heedfulness is the path to the deathless, heedlessness is the path to death.
The heedful do not die; the heedless are like the dead.

2. Distinctly understanding this, the heedful wise ones rejoice in
heedfulness, delighting in the realm of the Noble Ones.

3. The constantly meditative, the ever steadfast ones
realise the bond-free, supreme nibbāna.

Sāmāvatī and Māgaṇḍiyā

The Buddha rejected Māgaṇḍiyā when her parents offered her hand in marriage, so she hated him. Sāmāvatī was a devout Buddhist. Both were married to the same king.

Māgaṇḍiyā conspired with her relatives to burn Sāmāvatī alive with her attendants. After an investigation, the king had Māgaṇḍiyā and all her relatives cruelly executed.

The monks discussed which of the two queens was alive and which was dead.

The Buddha explained that the heedless should be regarded as dead even if they live a hundred years, while the heedful should be regarded as alive even though they are dead.

The Energetic Prosper

4. Uṭṭhānavato satīmato,
sucikammassa nisammakārino
Saññatassa ca dhammajīvino,
appamattassa yaso’bhivaḍḍhati.

4. The glory of him who is energetic, mindful, pure in deed, considerate, self-controlled, right-living, and heedful steadily increases.

The Millionaire Kumbhaghosaka

For fear of having his great wealth confiscated, a young man pretended to be very poor, living like a labourer. The king realised he was not from a poor family from his voice. When the truth came out, the young man was appointed as the king’s treasurer. The king introduced him to the Buddha, who then described the characteristics of the prosperous.

The Wise Protect Themselves

5. Uṭṭhānenappamādena,
saṁyamena damena ca
Dīpaṁ kayirātha medhāvī
yaṁ ogho n’ābhikīrati.

5. By sustained effort, earnestness, discipline, and self-control let the wise
man make for himself an island, which no flood can overwhelm.

The Elder Cūḷapanthaka

A monk named Cūḷapanthaka could not memorise a verse of four lines despite trying for four months. He was advised by his brother monk to leave the Saṅgha. But he was reluctant to do so.

The Buddha understanding his temperament, gave him a clean piece of cloth and asked him to handle it gazing at the morning sun.

By his constant handling of it with his sweating hands it soon got soiled. This perceptible change made him reflect on the impermanence of life. He meditated and attained Arahantship.

Be Heedful

6. Pamādamanuyuñjanti, bālā dummedhino janā
Appamādañca medhāvī, dhanaṁ seṭṭhaṁ ’va rakkhati.
7. Mā pamādamanuyuñjetha, mā kāmaratisanthavaṁ
Appamatto hi jhāyanto, pappoti vipulaṁ sukhaṁ.

6. The ignorant, foolish folk indulge in heedlessness; the wise man guards earnestness as the greatest treasure.

7. Indulge not in heedlessness; have no intimacy with sensual delights. The earnest meditator obtains abundant bliss.

The Festival of Fools

During a certain seven-day festival it was customary to abuse people for fun. The Buddha and his disciples remained in the monastery.

At the end of the festival the devotees who brought alms remarked that the Buddha must have had an unpleasant time. The Buddha replied that the wise always live heedfully.

Conquer Heedlessness by Heedfulness

8. Pamādaṁ appamādena, yadā nudati paṇḍito
Paññāpāsādamāruyha, asoko sokiniṁ pajaṁ
Pabbataṭṭho’va bhūmaṭṭhe,
dhīro bāle avekkhati.

8. When a wise man discards heedlessness by heedfulness, he, free from
sorrow, ascends to the palace of wisdom and surveys the sorrowing
ignorant folk as a mountaineer surveys those below.

The Elder Mahākassapa

The Elder Mahākassapa once endeavoured to comprehend by his supernormal vision the birth and death of beings. The Buddha appeared before him and said that it was only a Buddha who could comprehend the totality of existences.

The Heedful Far Outstrip the Lazy

9. Appamatto pamattesu, suttesu bahujāgaro
Abalassaṁ ’va sīghasso, hitvā yāti sumedhaso.

9. Heedful among the heedless, wide awake among the slumbering, the wise man advances as does a swift horse, leaving a weak jade behind.

A Story of Two Monks

Two monks retired to a forest to meditate. One was strenuous, the other was not. The Buddha praised the former.

Heedfulness Leads to Sovereignty

10. Appamādena Maghavā, devānaṁ seṭṭhataṁ gato
Appamādaṁ pasaṁsanti, pamādo garahito sadā.

10. By earnestness Maghavā rose to the lordship of the gods.
Earnestness is ever praised; negligence is ever despised.

How the Youth Magha Became Sakka

A Licchavī youth named Mahālī, having heard the Sakkapañha Sutta taught by the Blessed One, wondered whether he had really seen Sakka, the King of the Gods, so he came and asked about it.

The Buddha said that he had indeed seen Sakka, and further explained how Sakka had gained that position:

At one time Sakka was born in the human realm as a youth named Magha. Throughout his life Magha supported his parents, respected the elders, spoke gently, avoided slander, dwelt free from avarice, always ready to listen to requests for help, gave alms freely, spoke the truth, and never become angry.

He did social service by clearing away rubbish, making roads, building bridges, etc. Thirty-three other youths joined him, and together they did many good works.

After death Magha became the king of the gods, along with his companions, and their realm was thus known as the heaven of the Thirty-three (Tāvatiṁsa).

The Heedful Progress Quickly

11. Appamādarato bhikkhu, pamāde bhayadassi vā
Saṁyojanaṁ aṇuṁ thūlaṁ. ḍahaṁ aggī’va gacchati.

11. The monk who delights in heedfulness, and looks with fear on
heedlessness, advances like fire, burning all fetters great and small.

A Certain Monk

Making little progress in his meditation, a forest monk was coming to see the Buddha. On the way he saw a forest fire burning all in its path.

This inspired him to think that he could also progress by burning all the fetters by the heat of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha read his mind and, radiating a ray of light, advised him accordingly.

The Heedful Are Close to Nibbāna

12. Appamādarato bhikkhu, pamāde bhayadassi vā
Abhabbo parihānāya. nibbānass’eva santike.

12. The monk who delights in heedfulness, and looks with fear on
heedlessness, is not liable to fall. He is in near to nibbāna.

The Elder Tissa

A youth brought up in a certain market town became a monk, and dwelt there living off alms from his relatives. He never went to receive lavish offerings given by Anāthapiṇḍika or King Pasenadi.

Some monks thought that he was attached to his relatives, but the Buddha told them that he was frugal and contented.

The Buddha attributed those characteristics to the monk’s close association with him in the past and remarked that monks like him were already close to nibbāna.