Buddhist Maxims and Proverbs
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The eighty maxims below are gleaned 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.
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.
There is a steady increase in the reputation of him who is energetic, mindful blameless in deeds, who is careful in his actions, and who is self-controlled, righteous in living and also earnest,
He who is watchful and has a concentrated mind will attain the highest bliss.
"Too cold, too hot, too late" can always be the excuses to those who do not want to work. They let their chance pass by.
The wicked fool . . . will be tormented later on, as if being burnt, by the fruit of such evil deeds of his own.
One reaps whatever one has sown. Those who do good receive good and those who do evil reveive evil.
Happiness and suffering experienced through the previous accumulated Kammas (action) are like the settling of the old accounts wherein one has to pay for the balance.
All sentient beings are seekers after happiness. He who does not violate other persons for the sake of his happiness will attain happiness later.
Those who are deceitful, brusque, prone to babbling, tricky, insolent and have no self-control, cannot make any progress in following the Doctrine declared by the All-Enlightened One.
He who has forbearance brings benefit to others as well as to himself. He is also treading on the path to.
He who is endowed with forbearance is called the real follower of the Buddha. He is said to revere the Buddha with the highest kind of worship.
Forbearance is the chief cause of all virtues such as morality and concentration. All other virtues increase with the development of forbearance.
A well-directed mind makes a man better than his parents or relatives can do to him.
In every birth he who gives out what is excellent, nicest and choicest will be endowed with long life and nobility.
A tree bears fruit at its top after the roots have been watered.
An immoral person may not have a miserable existence, if, after being instructed, he follows the law of Righteousnees.
Far are the shores of the oceans from each other. But much farther still, it is said, is the nature of the virtuous one from that of the wicked.
Those who do not cheat nor is given to frivolous talk, who is wise, not brusque, and who is well-poised, will make rapid progress in the doctrine promulgated by the All-Enlighened One.
Buddha's doctrine is delicate, profound, very difficult to understand, and subtle.
Those who wish for divine wealth, life, glory and happiness should avoid doing all kinds of evil and should also practise the three phases of Right Conduct (physical, verbal and mental)
One who has the intuitive experience of the Dhamma though he listens to it but little, and who does not neglect it is the maintainer of the Dhamma.
Consider the Dhamma wisely. Only through wisdom can the realization of its meaning be attained.
The Sage who is absolutely released from the mental compound, cannot be described full well. *
Human sense-organs can be useful. Those that are well maintained, should do well.
Do not be overpowered by covetousness, but try to get rid of it.
A shipwrecked person who clings to a scrap of wood alone at sea is in for drowning. *
Great is the power of a woman.
All who follow Buddha's Doctrine, women and men, are to benefit.
Do not expect people to give you due respect when you are in a place where your birth and qualifications are not recognized.
Be wise in the Dharma. *
A wise man can sometimes manage his life even though he lacks wealth. *
Having got power, a fool may corrupt himself and hurt others too through his actions.
A long time of ignorant, wavering living may not equal one day of wisely focused living. *
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. *
Those Sages who practise the virtue of non-violence and who are always self-restrained, will attain the everlasting state where they will be perfectly free from sorrow.
Benefits of Gret Buddhist living: To be free from fear, fright, and being startled.
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 man who is under a woman's influence enjoys no brightness or splendour, though he may be influential, wise, respected and worshipped by the public.
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, can very quickly free himself (from suffering).
As long as an evil does not bear fruit, so long will the fool imagine it as sweet. But when it bears fruit, he will experience suffering.
An ill-fated person may accumulate wealth, but a fortunate person - skilful or not - may eventually benefit from it.
You can worship him by whom the doctrine, well-preached by the All-Enlightened one, is made known to you.
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.
He who is self-extolling and treats other with contempt, degrades himself through his own conceit. He should be known as a wretch.
A fool has to suffer through his unwise management throughout.
A wise man who is grateful, faithfully keeps good company, and duly gives a helping hand to those who are in trouble, is called a virtuous one.
After borrowing and spending other's money, a wretch runs away or refuses the debt.
I have sought through all directions for one whom I can love more than myself, but in vain.
It is good not to look down on one's own, righteous gains.
Who is gentle and ready-witted is not credulous or overstepping.
Fishes, not knowing their overstepping, suddenly enter into a trap.
He who has done meritorious deeds rejoices both in his present life and in the hereafter.
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.
One should speak a word which does not cause regret to himself and is not harmful to others. That kind of words is well-spoken.
You can speak what is pleasant and cheerful.
He is a vicious person who gives false witness either for his own sake or for others' or for wealth.
He collects evil with his own mouth when he praises one who should be blamed or blames one who should be praised.
Someone of wisdom and discernment can make money even from a small investment.
He can safeguard his wealth who is industrious, careful, clever at managing his affairs and moderate in his mode of living.
A firm one has his words, deeds and thoughts well controlled.
Flawless or great morality can bring about happiness in the hereafter. *
If a wise man hopes for the threefold enjoyment of fame, wealth and happiness in the hereafter, let him sincerely practise morality.
Let not a wise man associate with the vicious. Let him associate with the virtuous. The virtuous ones will lead toward higher levels of being.
Let him who hopes for real happiness keep away from had company. Let him associate with the virtuous persons, and respectfully follow their instructions.
You may become more and more like the friend you keep company, for association has such an influence.
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. - TK
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!"
Mahathera, Narada. Buddhism in a Nutshell. Colombo: Buddhist Publication Society, 1982. Access to Insight edition, 1995 (on-line).
Sapha Kansksa, coll. Buddhist Proverbs, Book 2. Bangkok: Mahamakut Educational Council, Buddhist University of Thailand, BE. 2501 
Thera, Narada. The Buddha and His Teachings. 4th ed. Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society, 1988.
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