18. Impurity – The Dhammapada

  1. Impurity

You are as the yellow leaf.
The messengers of death are at hand.
You are to travel far away.
What will you take with you?
You are the lamp
To lighten the way.
Then hurry, hurry.
When your light shines
Without impurity of desire
You will come into the boundless
Your life is falling away.
Death is at hand.
Where will you rest on the way?
What have you taken with you?
You are the lamp
To lighten the way.
Then hurry, hurry.
When you light shines purely
You will not be born
And you will not die.
As a silversmith sifts dust from silver,
Remove your own impurities
Little by little.
Or as iron is corroded by rust
Your own mischief will consume you.
Neglected, the sacred verses rust.
For beauty rusts without use
And unrepaired the house falls into
And the watch, without vigilance, fails.
In this world and the next
There is impurity and impurity:
When a woman lacks dignity,
When a man lacks generosity.
But the greatest impurity is ignorance.
Free yourself from it.
Be pure.
Life is easy
For the man who is without shame,
Impudent as a crow,
A vicious gossip,
Vain, meddlesome, dissolute.
But life is hard
For the man who quietly undertakes
The way of perfection,
With purity, detachment and vigour.
He sees light.
If you kill, lie or steal,
Commit adultery or drink,
You dig up your own roots.
And if you cannot master yourself,
The harm you do turns against you
You may give in the spirit of light
Or as you please,
But if you care how another man gives
Or how he withholds,
You trouble your quietness endlessly.
These envying roots!
Destroy them
And enjoy a lasting quietness.
There is no fire like passion.
There are no chains like hate.
Illusion is a net,
Desire is a rushing river.
How easy it is to see your brother’s
How hard it is to face your own.
You winnow his in the wind like chaff,
But yours you hide,
Like a cheat covering up an unlucky
Dwelling on your brother’s faults
Multiplies your own.
You are far from the end of your
The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.
See how you love
Whatever keeps you from your
But the tathagathas,
“They who have gone beyond,”
Have conquered the world.
They are free.
The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.
All things arise and pass away.
But the awakened awake forever.

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