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Sayings of Buddha

Benefit Your Mind and It Should Benefit You

You can develop, cultivate, and protect your mind as you go for great benefits to come, says Buddha. You risk danger, suffering, and possibly harm if you don't. And if you go about in unproductive ways, or dangerous and harmful ways, you could be in for sufferings too. Therefore, for development work the help of a guru in the Self is indispensable after the guru takes charge out of compassion (Pandit 1970, 32, 44). Gracious gurus are not dispensed with in some of the major traditions of Buddhism either.

Now, what is given below in the form of capsules are extracts of basic Buddhist teachings. Even if they may not be perfectly verbatim, all of them, the kernels may be found to be all right. My modifications are shown by the mark #.


When developed, the mind leads to great benefit. When undeveloped, to great harm. [Anguttara Nikaya 1.23-24]

When developed and apparent, the mind leads to great benefit; when undeveloped and unapparent, to great harm. [Anguttara Nikaya 1.25-26]

When developed and cultivated, the mind leads to great benefit and happiness; when undeveloped and uncultivated, it brings about stress, suffering, great harm. [Anguttara Nikaya 1.27-30]

When [suitably cleansed] the mind can lead to great benefit. [Cf. AN 1.32]

The well guarded and protected mind can lead to great benefit; the unguarded mind to danger and even great harm. [Anguttara Nikaya 1.33-36]

The unrestrained mind leads to great harm. [Anguttara Nikaya 1.37]

The mind — when cleansed, well guarded and protected — can lead to great benefit. [Anguttara Nikaya 1.38-40]

Noble Principles

Misery is both mind-detected and mind-felt, and so are you

Buddha, the Enlightened One, said: "The world is enchanted with pleasure." Don't let it be silly pleasure.

Death goes along with suffering.

Accept that getting aged, frail, grey, and with worn out senses shows decay. Can you find delight and mirth enough in old age? Look at the puppet of greediness, eaten by old age later, and a prey of sickness in a putrid body. You cannot escape death, probably.

Rulers of mentally caught people are sources of misery to some. #

By being steadfast of mind, development is got, and some gain deliverance thereby. Yet there is a realm without foothold and development. It is unoriginated. Its Supreme Peace is attractive and can be comprehended by the wise. It is called Nirvana — The Middle Path of avoiding extremes makes one both see and know, it leads to peace, to discernment, to enlightenment, to Nirvana.

I set forth the Truth. And each one has to struggle for himself.

In this very life, get to know the Path. Realize It and make It your own. More than any earthly power is the Entrance to the Stream. A "Stream-Enterer" is one who has entered the stream leading to Nirvana. Some return and some do not.

Think as wholesome thoughts as you can - first

Improper talk can be karmically unwholesome.

Both greed, ill-will, and wrong views are karmically unwholesome.

Greed, unwholesome anger, and delusion are roots of unwholesome karma.

Proper (right) understanding can be "karmically wholesome", especially when acted upon nicely.

Benevolence and wisdom are roots of wholesome karma.

The man who was pierced by an arrow

A man was pierced by a poisoned arrow, and his friends, companions, and near relations sent for a surgeon. But the man said: "I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know what man wounded me, what his name is, and to what family he belongs" - Such a man could die before he could learn all this full well. Therefore, one should pull out the arrow.

Attachment to mere Rule and Ritual is a fetter. Undue Craving and Conceit are fetters too. The heart of an unlearned worldling who is untrained in the noble doctrine seems possessed such as by undue attachment to mere Rule and Ritual. He does not really know. But the learned and noble disciple understands what is worthy of consideration and considers what is worthy.

Fit Understanding

Alms and offerings are not useless. There is fruit and result, that is, consequences and effects, both of good and bad actions.

There are such things as this life, and the next life, and there are some who can explain sides of this life and the next life.

Let mundane, proper understanding bring good results. One should make efforts to overcome wrong understanding and arouse fit understanding. That would be Proper Effort.

To overcoming wrong understanding, practice attentiveness; go for an attentive mind all the way, for Great Awareness is the boon to aim at. Dwelling with attentive mind for proper understanding, that is Right Attentiveness.

Three things accompany and follow right understanding, namely: right understanding, right effort, and right attentiveness.

The Perfect One is free from any theory, for the Perfect One has understood - and has won complete deliverance.

Now there are three kinds of feeling: pleasurable, painful, and a neutral, balanced one. The Ego within contains the faculty of feeling. #

Great clinging causes future suffering.

Fruits of what is done out of greed, anger and delusion can be experienced when they ripen.


Proper-mindedness is brought about by right understanding, right effort, and right attentiveness.

Having thoughts free from debasing lust, from ill-will, and from cruelty brings good results.

Try to coordinate and practice some factual, Right Understanding, Right Effort, and Right-minded Attentiveness to get at Right-mindedness.

Proper Speech

Right Speech is abstaining from lying; abstaining from tale-bearing; abstaining from harsh language; abstaining from vain talk.

The truthful one avoids and abstains from lying, being reliable, worthy of confidence. He speaks the truth, and is devoted to the truth.

The truthful one is not a deceiver of men. At a meeting, or among people, or in the midst of his relatives, or in a society, or in the king's court, and called upon and asked as a witness to tell what he knows.

When called upon and asked, he truthful one answers, "I know nothing" if he knows nothing; and if he knows, he answers: "I know". If he has seen nothing, he answers: "I have seen nothing," and if he has seen, he answers: "I have seen."

The truthful one never knowingly speaks a lie, not for the sake of his own advantage, or for no other person's advantage, or for the sake of any advantage whatever.

The truthful one avoids and abstains from tale-bearing. What he has heard, he hardly uses to cause dissension among good ones. #

He unites those that are divided; and those that are united, he encourages.

Concord gladdens the truthful one, he delights and rejoices in concord.

The truthful one aims for deep concord by his words. #

The truthful man of concord abstains from harsh language. He speaks gentle words that are soothing to the ear, lovingly if he can, words that may go to the heart, courteous and dear, agreeable to many.

Develop your mind to remain undisturbed.

Let no evil words escape from your lips. Remain friendly and full of sympathy, free from any hidden malice.

Penetrate others with dear thoughts that are wide and deep enough. Abstain from vain talk.

Speak at the right time, in accordance with facts. Tell what is useful, tell about the law and the discipline. Speech at the right moment, accompanied by arguments, moderate and full of sense, is a treasure: It is called right speech.

Proper speech is of two kinds: The first is abstaining from lying, from tale-bearing, from harsh language, and from vain talk; this is called the "Mundane Right Speech", which yields worldly fruits and brings good results. The other is "Ultramundane Right Speech", which is not of the world -

In understanding wrong speech as wrong, and right speech as right, one practices Right Understanding. In making efforts to overcome evil speech and to arouse right speech, one practices True Effort. In overcoming wrong speech with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind in possession of right speech, one practices Right Attentiveness.

There are three things that accompany and follow right attentiveness. They are called Right Action, Right Understanding, and Right Effort.

Right Action is abstaining from killing; abstaining from stealing; abstaining from unlawful sexual intercourse. Without stick or sword, conscientious, and full of sympathy, one should avoid and abstain from killing living beings, anxious for the welfare of all living beings.

Drop stealing. What another person owns of goods and chattels in the village or in the wood, do not take it away with thievish intent.

Drop unwholesome sexual intercourse, such as intercourse with anyone who is still under the protection of father, mother, brother, sister or relatives, or with married women, female convicts, or betrothed girls — These modes of Right Action eventually cause good to happen, they bring good results.

Understanding wrong from right, one practices Right Understanding — In making efforts to overcome wrong action and to arouse right action, one practices Right Effort — In overcoming wrong action with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind when doing right, one practices Proper Attentiveness.

So these three accompany and follow proper action: proper understanding, proper effort, and proper attentiveness. [Retold]

Wise and Foolish Persons

Maintain discernment so that you act well; that is at least to your own advantage. That is the bottom line of the verses below. What words like "transgression" and "rightfully" are to mean, is illustrated by tales and teachings in many other places. But spend some time on this thought too: At times it can be very, very hard to see who are wise and who are fools.


A wise person is characterized by his actions, and a fool by his. It is through the activities of one's life that one's discernment shines. [Anguttara Nikaya 3.2]

A wise person is to be recognized by good bodily, verbal, and mental conduct. A fool can be recognised by bodily, verbal, and mental misconduct. [Anguttara Nikaya 3.2]

Train yourself to avoid the things by which one is to be recognized as a fool. Undertake and maintain what marks a wise person. [Anguttara Nikaya 3.2]

One fool takes up a burden that has not fallen to him, and another fool does not take up a burden that has. [Anguttara Nikaya 2.98]

The fool doesn't see his transgression as a transgression (The fool does not understand it when he has transgressed some code). [Anguttara Nikaya 2.21]

It is a fool who doesn't rightfully pardon another who has confessed his transgression. [Anguttara Nikaya 2.21]

To see his transgression as a transgression, characterises the wise one. [Anguttara Nikaya 2.21]

He who rightfully pardons another who has confessed his transgression, is wise. [Anguttara Nikaya 2.21]


Buddha thoughts, Buddhist teachings, Buddhism collection, Literature  


Powers, John, and James Fieser, eds. Anthology of Scriptures of World Religions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997. ⍽▢⍽ In it, there is a revised version of the chapter "Buddhism, an Introduction" with updated translations.

Gombrich, Richard F. What the Buddha Thought. London: Equinox, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ The remaining question is what Buddha thought 2 600 years ago. Buddhist practitioners could do well to read the book with caution. One difficult issue is how far Buddha was largely borrowing from and responding to Brahmins of their shared Vedic cultre, and was teaching within a Brahminical context in his major sermons on karma, rebirth, and cosmology, or how far it was the other way round. Another hot potato is whether Buddha "borrowed" content from Upanishads - the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads in particular. These Upanishads most likely predate Buddhism (see WP, "Upanishads"). However, seeing and expressing similar things independently or quite independently should also be considered. The third issue is that of No-Soul, No Self. It is the key defining difference between Buddhism and Brahmanical thinking. (p. 60 ff).
    Dr Gombrich explains how the words bliss and suffering are attempts to translate a pair of opposite nouns, sukha and dukkha. Sukha covers the whole positive range from being pleasant, or OK, to bliss, Gombrich informs. Its opposite, dukkha, similarly covers the range from not being quite OK, somehow unsatisfactory, to extreme pain and suffering. It suggests a span that ranges from extremeley positive at one end and its opposite at the other end of a gliding curve of a sort, with room for lots of gradation between the poles.
    A later-developed Buddhist doctrine is that the hallmarks of phenomenal existence are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and no-atman, spirit. Gombrich:

Things are impermanent, i.e., ever-changing, and by that token they are not satisfactory, and by that token they cannot be the atman [spirit] (p. 69).

The third hallmark is very often mistranslated (sometimes by me too, in the past) as 'not having a self or essence'. That is indeed how later Buddhists came to interpret it, but that was not its original meaning - in fact, it is doubly misleading. Both Pali grammar and a comparison with the Vedanta show that the word means 'is not atman' rather than 'does not have atman'. Comparison with the Vedanta further shows that the translation 'self' is appropriate, as the reference is to living beings.' (p. 70) [cf. Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, SN 22.59]

Pandit, M. 1970. Gems from the Tantras. 2nd Series. Madras: Ganesh.

Pali Canon collections:

AN - Anguttara Nikaya (Collection of Discourses arranged according to numbers)

DN - Digha Nikaya (Collection of Long Discourses)

MN - Majjhima Nikaya (Collection of Middle-Length Discourses)

SN - Samyutta Nikaya (Collection of Kindred Sayings)


Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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