Dhammapada, Stanza 1

Version 1:

Preceded by perception are mental states,
For them is perception supreme,
From perception have they sprung.
If, with perception polluted, one speaks or acts,
Thence suffering follows
As a wheel the draught ox’s foot.

Version 2:

Phenomena are preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a corrupted heart,
then suffering follows you —
as the wheel of the cart,
the track of the ox
that pulls it.

Version 3:

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

(Note: Version 1 is from the John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana translation.  Version 2 is from the Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation.  Version 3 is from the Acharya Buddharakkhita translation.)

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2 thoughts on “Dhammapada, Stanza 1”

    1. Agreed. In fact, the one thing that I find “clear” throughout, in a sense, is the metaphor of the ox pulling the cart! I love it when metaphors are closer to what is than our everyday “non-metaphorical” descriptions…

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