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Renoir. In the Garden. 1885. Partial.
A wise man that is wise in the power of a woman, that is delightful.

The maxims below result from Buddhist Proverbs, Book 2, published by a Bangkok university (publication informations is at the bottom of the page). The book is dated BE 2501 (1957), as the Buddhist era prevailing in Ceylon and Buddhist Southeast Asia began in 544 BC.
    The book has served as a textbook for newcomers of the Buddhist Order of Thailand and other interested ones. The book shows which texts the sayings are from. Here all the references are dropped throughout, as that seemed more convenient. However, the order of proverbs is as in the on-line book, in case you want to have a close look at them.
    The proverbs or sayings below seek to present the bare bones of Buddhism. Those marked with a star (*) are changed thoroughly. Other statements may be fragments of longer sayings. Such sayings go unmarked on this page.


Some Buddhist Maxims

Let no man neglect his own profit (spiritual development) for the sake of others, however important they may be. Realizing what is for one's own profit, let him attend to it earnestly.

Behave yourself as you instruct others. Train yourself first before training others, for it is difficult to train one's own self.

Let a wise man establish himself on the proper Path first, then he may instruct others. Such a wise man should not blemish himself.

Being watchful among careless persons, awake among those sleeping, the wise man advances like a strong horse, leaving behind him the weakling.

He who is watchful and has a concentrated mind may attain the highest bliss. [Mod]

The wicked fool . . . will be tormented later on, as if being burnt, by the fruit of such evil deeds of his own.

Those who are deceitful, brusque, prone to babbling, tricky, insolent and have no self-control, cannot make any progress [without difficulty] in following the Doctrine declared by the All-Enlightened One.

He who has forbearance could chance to bring benefit to others as well as to himself. [Mod]

He who is endowed with [the right sort of] forbearance is called the real follower of the Buddha.

A well-directed mind makes a man better than his parents or relatives can do to him.

An immoral person may not have a miserable existence if, after being instructed, he follows the law of Righteousness.

Those who do not cheat nor are given to frivolous talk, who are wise, not brusque, and who are well-poised, may make rapid progress in the doctrine promulgated by the All-Enlighened One. [Modifided, as the methods learnt and practiced determine much, says Buddha too, in the Bhumija Sutta]

Consider the Dhamma wisely.

A shipwrecked person who clings to a scrap of wood alone at sea is in for drowning. *

Great is the power of a woman.

A wise man can sometimes manage his life even though he lacks wealth. *

A careless person talking the Buddha's words without putting any of them to practice himself, is like a hired shepherd counting the cows of someone else.

A sinful person who has come to realize his evil deeds, has to experience regrets both in this life and in the hereafter.

Let a man avoid evil as someone of great wealth avoids a dangerous road. Very few can cross the stream of life and death to the other bank of safety (Nibbana). The rest only run up and down on this side of the bank (of life and death).

You can train your mind to be well-poised. *

The living-place of a Worthy One (Arahat), be it a village or a forest, in the lowland or on the plateau, is always delightful.

A wise man, having obtained wealth, usually helps his relatives.

Never does a wise man commit a sin for the sake of his happiness. Never will he discard morality, even though he may suffer and meet with a failure.

Not only can a man be called wise, but also a wise woman can be called it.

Who is wise, sensible, has clear understanding, and is quick-witted, [could] quickly free himself (from suffering).

When his evil bears fruit, the fool will experience suffering. [Abr]

As the moon merging from the clouds shines brightly, so does a person by doing good leave his past evils behind.

A wicked person betrays his friend.

If a man wants to do good, let him do it again, for happiness is the outcome of the accumulation of good deeds.

No one ought to look down on a small amount of good deeds, thinking that it will not bear fruit. A wise one, gradually accumules merits too.

A man ought to make haste in putting the doctrine to practice.

Only good words should be spoken, never evil ones. Uttering good words is profitable. One who utters evil words will have to regret.

Let him who hopes for real happiness keep away from had company.

You may become more and more like the friend you keep company, for association has such an influence.

It can be a blessing to associate with many who are blessed with wisdom and knowledge. [Mod]


Central Ideas from Buddhism in a Nutshell

Buddhism in a Nutshell by Narada Mahathera first appeared in 1933. A fuller exposition of the subjects is found in his helpful book The Buddha and His Teachings first published in 1980. Some of the utterances below are modifications (abridged), a few are paraphrases, and almost all of them are pure quotations.


Buddhism teaches "Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything merely because it seems acceptable - But when you know for yourselves [what] things are moral, [really, deeply] blameless, praised by the wise, and that such things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to well-being and happiness - then incorporate them in your daily life - live accordingly." [Abridged from the Kalama Sutta, online here]

An understanding Buddhist, in offering flowers and incense to an image, may gain gentle inspiration from it. Yet Buddha says - "He honors me best who practices my teaching best."

Sex is no barrier to developing within. On one occasion Buddha said to a king who was displeased on hearing that a daughter was born to him: "A woman child may prove even a better offspring than a male." [Mod]

A Buddhist is not to sacrifice his freedom of thought by becoming a follower of the Buddha. He can exercise his own free will and develop his knowledge even to the extent of becoming a Buddha himself.

Buddha did not preach all that He knew. On one occasion while the Buddha was passing through a forest He took a handful of leaves and said: "Bhikkhus, what I have taught is comparable to the leaves in my hand. What I have not taught is comparable to the amount of leaves in the forest."

The Buddhas point out the path, and it is left for us to follow that path to obtain our purification.

Buddhism contains a teaching which enables those who give it heed to face life much better. [Cf.]

He did not force His followers to be slaves either to His Teachings or to Himself but granted complete freedom of thought.

The Buddha was tolerant to the point that he did not give commandments to His lay followers. Instead he said: "It behooves you to do this - It behooves you not to do this." He does not command this and that, but exhorts.

Buddha exhorts His disciples to depend on themselves for their deliverance, saying "You should exert yourselves, the Tathagatas are only teachers."

In exhorting His disciples to be self-dependent the Buddha says in the Parinibbana Sutta: "Be islands unto yourselves, be a refuge unto yourselves, seek not for refuge in others."

Buddha proclaimed to the world the latent inconceivable possibilities and the creative power of man.

Wherever His teachings penetrated it left an indelible impression upon the character of the respective peoples.

Buddha advocates a golden mean that guides a disciple through pure living and pure thinking to the gain of supreme wisdom and deliverance from all evil.

Most of Buddha's recorded sermons were intended mainly for the benefit of Bhikkhus (mendicants). But there are also several other discourses which deal with both the material and moral progress of His lay followers.

In the Tipitaka [literature] one finds milk for the babe and meat for the strong, for the Buddha taught His doctrine both to the masses and to the intelligentsia.

Buddhism lays special emphasis on practice and realization. It is not a religion in the sense of "a system of faith and worship owing any allegiance to a supernatural being."

Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents, but a certain confidence based on knowledge, like that of a sick person in a noted physician.

Buddhism has neither a system of faith and worship.

As for Dhamma (Righteousness) - Buddha exhorts: "Abide with oneself as an island, with oneself as a Refuge. Abide with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a Refuge. Seek no external refuge." [Parinibbana Sutta]

Buddhism is concerned more with the character of the devotees than with their numerical strength.

Buddha sought to abolish slavery and protested against the degrading caste system of ancient India. It is not by mere birth one becomes an outcast or a noble, but by one's actions, tells Buddha.

Buddha raised the status of women. He did not humiliate women. He saw the innate good of both men and women.

Buddhism is not confined to any country or any particular nation. It is universal.

Some modern thinkers state that man created God in his own image.

We ourselves are much responsible for our own deeds, happiness and misery. At least we take part in building what becomes our own hells or heavens.

It is taught that great ignorance clouds all right understanding.

Nibbana [Nirvana] is a Dhamma which is "unborn, unoriginated, uncreated and unformed." It is eternal (Dhuva), desirable (Subha), and happy (Sukha).

The Buddha is said to have practiced concentration on respiration before He attained Enlightenment. In some discourses a simple and harmless method of respiration is described.

Affirm as you can: "May I be well and happy! Self-confident, healthy and peaceful! Well-disciplined and refined in manners! Pure and clean in my dealings, words, and thoughts! Gain a balanced mind!"


Buddhist maxims and proverbs of Buddhism, Literature  

Mahathera, Narada. Buddhism in a Nutshell. Colombo: Buddhist Publication Society, 1982. Access to Insight edition, 1995. Online.

Sapha Kansksa, coll. Buddhist Proverbs, Book 2. Bangkok: Mahamakut Educational Council, Buddhist University of Thailand, BE. 2501 (1957)

Thera, Narada. The Buddha and His Teachings. 4th ed. Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society, 1988.

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