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Sutta Nipata IV.15

Attadanda Sutta

The Rod Embraced

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

Read an alternate translation

"When embraced,
the rod of violence[1]
    breeds danger & fear:
Look at people quarreling.
    I will tell of how
    I experienced
Seeing people floundering
like fish in small puddles,
competing with one another --
    as I saw this,
    fear came into me.
The world was entirely
    without substance.
All the directions
            were knocked out of line.
Wanting a haven for myself,
I saw nothing that wasn't laid claim to.
Seeing nothing in the end
but competition,
I felt discontent.
            And then I saw
an arrow here,
    so very hard to see,
    embedded in the heart.
Overcome by this arrow
you run in all directions.
But simply on pulling it out
    you don't run,
    you don't sink.[2]

[Here the trainings are recited.] [3]

Whatever things are tied down in the world,
you shouldn't be set on them.
Having totally penetrated
sensual pleasures,
sensual passions,[4]
you should train for your own
Be truthful, not insolent,
not deceptive, rid
of divisiveness.
Without anger, the sage
should cross over the evil
    of greed & avarice.
He should conquer laziness,
shouldn't consort with heedlessness,
shouldn't stand firm in his pride --
    the man with his heart set
        on Unbinding.
He shouldn't engage in lying,
shouldn't create a sense of allure in form,
should fully fathom conceit,
and live refraining from impulsiveness;
shouldn't     delight in what's old,
        prefer what's new,[5]
        grieve over decline,
        get entangled in
            what's dazzling & bright.[6]

I call greed
    a 'great flood';
hunger, a swift current.
Preoccupations are ripples;
sensuality, a bog
    hard to cross over.
Not deviating from truth,
a sage stands on high ground
        : a brahmin.

Having renounced All,[7]
he is said to be at peace;
having clearly known, he
is an attainer-of-wisdom;
knowing the Dhamma, he's
Moving rightly through the world,
    he doesn't envy
    anyone here.

Whoever here has gone over & beyond
sensual passions --
an attachment hard
to transcend in the world,
doesn't sorrow,
doesn't fret.
He, his stream cut, is free
    from bonds.

Burn up what's before,
and have nothing for after.
If you don't grasp
at what's in between,[8]
    you will go about, calm.

For whom, in name & form,
        in every way,
there's no sense of mine,
and who doesn't grieve
over what is not:
    he, in the world,
    isn't defeated,
    suffers no loss.[9]

To whom there doesn't occur
    'This is mine,'
for whom nothing is others',
feeling no sense of mine-ness,
doesn't grieve at the thought
    'I have nothing.'

Not harsh,
not greedy, not
in tune:
    this is the reward
    -- I say when asked --
    for those who are free
    from pre-

For one unperturbed
-- who knows --
there's no accumulating.
Abstaining, unaroused,
he everywhere sees
    The sage
doesn't speak of himself
as among those who are higher,
or lower.
At peace, free of selfishness,
he doesn't embrace, doesn't

            the Blessed One said.


1. Nd.I: The rod of violence takes three forms: physical violence (the three forms of bodily misconduct), verbal violence (the four forms of verbal misconduct), and mental violence (the three forms of mental misconduct). See AN X.176. [Go back]

2. Nd.I: "One doesn't run" to any of the destinations of rebirth; "one doesn't sink" into any of the four floods of sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance (see SN XLV.171 and AN IV.10). [Go back]

3. This phrase, a kind of stage direction, seems to indicate that this poem had a ritual use, as part of a ceremony for giving the precepts. [Go back]

4. "Sensual pleasure, sensual passions": two meanings of the word kama. [Go back]

5. Nd.I: "Old" and "new" mean past and present aggregates. [Go back]

6. Nd.I: "what's dazzling & bright" = craving and other defilements. [Go back]

7. For the definition of All, see the discussion in The Mind Like Fire Unbound, pp. 31-32. [Go back]

8. Nd.I: "Before," "after," and "in between" = past, future, and present. [Go back]

9. "Isn't defeated, suffers no loss" -- two meanings of the Pali phrase, na jiyyati. [Go back]

10. See Ud. II.10. [Go back]

See also: AN III.39
Source: ATI - For Free Distribution Only, as a Gift of Dhamma.

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The Balanced Way by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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