The gender-neutral translation of the classical text "The Path of Truth" with side-by-side source text in sanskrit, is also known as the Dhammapada: the path of truth. It is one of the central texts of the Pali Canon and is built entirely on the sayings of the Buddha. Considered to be the most succinct of buddhist teaching, it remains to this day an extremely accessible introduction to the philosophy.
This modern interpretation and translation of the Path of Truth provides a side-by-side of the Sanskrit source text from the Sutta Pittaka, the collection of Sanskrit texts on the teachings of the Buddha, and is known for its short and powerful verses to dwell on.
The Third in a series of gender-neutral translations from classical Chinese, Clark Gillian, identifying as non-binary themself, is committed to making classical philosophy accessible to all in their own way.
How can there be laughter, how can there be pleasure when the whole world is on fire? When you've gone so deep into the darkness, wouldn't you ask for a lamp?
को नु हासः क आनन्दो नित्यं प्रज्वलिते सति ।
अन्धकारेणाऽवनद्धाः प्रदीपं न गवेषयथ ॥ १॥
Take a look at your body! A dyed mannequin with hinged limbs, suffering from rashes and ulcers one moment, another full of changeable, inconsistent imaginations.
पश्य चित्रीकृतं बिम्बं अरुष्कायं समुच्छ्रितम् ।
आतुरं बहुसङ्कल्पं यस्य नाऽस्ति ध्रुवं स्थितिः ॥ २॥
This body is decaying. It is a nest of diseases, a whole lot of destruction, a one-way street on the way to decomposition. All life ends in death.
परिजीर्णमिदं रूपं रोगनीडं प्रभंगुरम् ।
भिद्यते पूतिसन्देहो मरणान्तं हि जिवितम् ॥ ३॥
Look at the gray, the white bones. They look like dry and empty gourds, just thrown aside at the end of the summer. Is there anyone who enjoys watching that?
यानिमान्यपथ्यान्यलाबूनीव शरदि ।
कापोतकान्यस्थीनी तानि दृष्ट्वा का रतिः ॥ ४
A house of bones, that is the body, covered in flesh and blood. Pride and hypocrisy like to wander its corridors along with old age and death.
अस्थ्नां नगरं कृतं मांसलोहितलेपनम् ।
यत्र जरा च मृत्युश्च मानो म्रक्षश्चावहितः ॥ ५॥
Meanwhile, the glorious chariots of legendary kings gather dust, and the body wears out and grows old; but the virtue of the good never wears out and never gets old, and so they can learn what is good to those who are good.
जीर्यन्ति वै राजरथा सुचित्रा अथ शरीरमपि जरामुपेति ।
सतां च धर्मो न जरामुपेति सन्तो ह वै सद्भयः प्रवेदयन्ति ॥ ६॥
There are people who avoid learning something, these are the people who grow old just like a cow! The body merely ages while nothing happens to their wisdom.
अल्पश्रुतोऽयं पुरुषो बलीवर्द इव जीर्यति ।
मांसानि तस्य वर्द्धन्ते प्रज्ञा तस्य न वर्द्धते ॥ ७॥
I have gone around and around in vain in circles over many lifetimes, constantly trying to find who built this house of life and death. How great is the sorrow of life that has to die! But now that I have seen You, house builder, I say.
अनेकजातिसंसारं समधाविषं अनिविशमानः ।
गृहकारकं गवेषयन् दुःखा जातिः पुनः पुनः ॥ ८॥
You will never rebuild this house again. The support beams of wickedness have been broken, the pillars of ignorance have been blown up. The feverish hunger has stopped: my mortal spirit has disappeared into the bliss of immortal NIRVANA.
गृहकारक दृष्टोऽसि पुनर्गेहं न करिष्यसि ।
सर्वास्ते पार्श्विका भग्ना गृहकूटं विसंस्कृतम् ।
विसंस्कारगतं चित्तं तृष्णानां क्षयमध्यगात् ॥ ९॥
Those who in their youth did not live in harmony with and on their own, who never got the real treasures of life, are later like sad ewes with long legs in a pond without fish.
अचरित्त्वा ब्रह्मचर्यं अलब्ध्वा यौवने धनम् ।
जीर्णक्रौञ्च इव क्षीयन्ते क्षीणमत्स्य इव पल्वले ॥ १०॥
Those who in their youth did not live in harmony with and on their own, who never received the real treasures of life, are later like broken arches, constantly lamenting what ever happened in the bygone past.
अचरित्वा ब्रह्मचर्यं अलब्ध्वा यौवने धनम् ।
शेरते चापोऽतिक्षीणा इव पुराणान्यनुतन्वन्त्ः ॥ ११॥
Someone who is dear to themselves must guard themselves well. Of your three lookout towers, guard at least one of them.
आत्मान चेत् प्रियं जानीयाद् रक्षेत्तं सुरक्षितम् ।
त्रयाणामन्यतमं यामं प्रतिजागृयात् पण्डितः ॥ १॥
First find what is good for yourself, then you can teach it to others, avoiding unnecessary suffering.
आत्मानमेव प्रथमं प्रतिरूपे निवेशयेत् ।
अथान्यमनुशिष्यात् न क्लिश्येत् पण्डितः ॥ २॥
As soon as you are as good as you teach others to be, then you can speak from personal truth. Self-control is incredibly difficult.
आत्मानं चेत् तथा कुर्यात् यथाऽन्यमनुशासति ।
सुदान्तो वत दमयेद् आत्मा हि किल दुर्दमः ॥ ३॥
Only you can be master of yourself. Who outside of yourself can be your master? Where the master and the servant are one and the same, there lies true service and self-sufficiency.
आत्मा हि आत्मनो नाथः कोहि नाथः परः स्यात् ।
आत्मना हि सुदान्तेन नाथं लभते दुर्लभम् ॥ ४॥
All evil deeds come from within yourself and are caused by yourself; and this crushes the foolish man just as a hard stone shatters the softer stone.
आत्मनैव कृतं पापं आत्मजं आत्मसंभवम् ।
अभिमथ्नाति दुर्मेधसं वज्रमिवाश्ममयं मणिम् ॥ ५॥
And the bad can grow in someone like ivy can wrap around a tree and suffocate it. It can bring you down to the state you just wanted your enemy to stoop to.
यस्याऽत्यन्तदौःशील्यं मालुवा शालमिवाततम् ।
करोति स तथात्मानं यथैनमिच्छन्ति द्विषः ॥ ६॥
It's all too easy to do what's wrong, to do what's bad for you; but it is extremely difficult to do what is right, what is good for yourself.
सुकराण्यसाधून्यात्मनोऽहितानि च ।
यद्वै हितं च साधु च तद्वै परमदुष्करम् ॥ ७॥
The fool who, through juggling all opinions, laughs at and humiliates the buddha's teachings; or people who humiliate a great and generous soul, they all plant the seeds of their own demise.
यः शासनमर्हतां आर्याणां धर्मजीविनाम् ।
प्रतिक्रुश्यति दुर्मेधा दृष्टिं निःश्रित्य पापिकाम् ।
फलानि काष्ठकस्येव आत्महत्त्यायै फुल्लति ॥ ८॥
If you have done something bad, it will also be you who suffers. If you have left something bad for what it is, you will become pure through yourself. Pure and not pure comes only from your own self. There is no one who can make another pure, this is a personal assignment.
आत्मनैव कृतं पापं आत्मना संक्लिश्यति ।
आत्मनाऽकृतं पापं आत्मनैव विशुध्यति ।
शुद्धयशुद्धी प्रत्त्यात्मं नाऽन्योऽन्यं विशोधयेत् ॥ ९॥
Let no one jeopardize one's own duty to oneself, the duty to the good of his or her soul, for the good of another, no matter how great. When you see the good in someone else's soul, follow it in earnest.
आत्मनोऽर्थं परार्थेन बहुनाऽपि न हापयेत् ।
आत्मनोऽर्थमभिज्ञाय सदर्थप्रसितः स्यात् ॥ १०॥
Do not live low to the ground; Forget nothing and remember everything; don't follow ideas you know are wrong; do not sink deeper into the worldly.
हीनं धर्मं न सेवेत प्रमादेन न संवसेत् ।
मिथ्यादृष्टिं न सेवेत न स्यात् लोकवर्द्धनः ॥ १॥
Get up! Behold. Continue on the right path. Someone who follows the right path is not only free and happy in this world, but also in the world beyond all else.
उत्तिष्ठेन्न प्रमाद्येद् धर्मं सुचरितं चरेत् ।
धर्मचारी सुखं शेतेऽस्मिं लोके परत्र च ॥ २॥
Follow the good path: do not continue on the wrong path. Someone who follows the right path is not only free and happy in this world, but also in the world beyond all else.
धर्मं चरेत् सुचरितं न तं दुश्चरितं चरेत् ।
धर्मचारी सुखं शेतेऽस्मिं लोके परत्र च ॥ ३॥
When one views this world as a layer of foam and as a shadow of a reflection, King Death has no power over that person.
यथा बुद्बुदकं पश्येत् यथा पश्येत् मरीचिकाम् ।
एवं लोकमवेक्षमाणं मृत्युराजो न पश्यति ॥ ४॥
Come and look at this planet. It's like a painted car in which fools lock themselves up. Sages don't like locking themselves up.
एन पश्यतेमं लोकं चित्रं राजरथोपमम् ।
यत्र बाला विषीदन्ति नाऽस्ति सङ्गो विजानताम् ॥ ५॥
Whoever may have been rather foolish at first, but later found wisdom, shines light on the planet as when the clouds from before the moon slide away.
यश्च पूर्वं प्रमाद्य पश्चात् स न प्रमाद्यति ।
स इमं लोकं प्रभासयति अभ्रान्मुक्त इव चन्द्रमा ॥ ६॥
Whoever overpowers the bad deeds with the good deeds, shines light on the planet as when the clouds from before the moon slide away.
यस्य पापं कृतं कर्म कुशलेन पिधीयते ।
स इमं लोकं प्रभासयति अभ्रान्मुक्त इव चन्द्रमा ॥ ७॥
This world is completely plunged into darkness, and how few can see the light! Just like birds caught in a net, only a few souls can escape and fly away to the endless freedom of heaven.
अन्धभूतोऽयं लोकः तनुकोऽत्र विपश्यति ।
शकुनो जालमुक्त इवाल्पः स्वर्गाय गच्छति ॥ ८॥
Swans can follow the path of the sun through the miracle of flying. For people who are strong enough to overcome the bad and its legions; they might as well be considered as being able to fly above the world.
हंसा आदित्यपथे यान्ति आकाशे यान्ति ऋद्धिया ।
नीयन्ते धीरा लोकात् जित्वा मारं सवाहिनीकम् ॥ ९॥
Someone who does nothing but lie with words, who does not respect the Great Law, who mocks the higher world — this person is capable of all kinds of evil.
एकं धर्ममतीतस्य मृषावादिनो जन्तोः ।
वितीर्णपरलोकस्य नाऽस्ति पापमकार्यम् ॥ १०॥
The greedy certainly do not go to the heavens of the gods, and fools do not praise generosity; but one who can find joy in giving away and sharing also gives joy to they who live in higher worlds.
न वै कदर्या देवलोकं व्रजन्ति बाला ह वै न प्रशंसन्ति दानम् ।
धीरश्च दानं अनुमोदमानस्तेनैव स भवति सुखी परत्र ॥ ११॥
Even better than power over the whole planet, even better than ascending to heaven and even better than power over all worlds, is the joy of one who has entered the river of life that flows to NIRVANA.
पृथिव्या एकराज्यात् स्वर्गस्य गमनाद् वा ।
सर्वलोकाऽऽधिपत्त्याद् स्रोत आपत्तिफलं वरम् ॥ १२॥