A Precious Treasury of Elegant Sayings
(Legs-bshad rin-po-che’i gter)
by Sakya Pandit
Acquire knowledge though you may die next year.
Although in this life you may not become wise,
In your future birth, if taken with you,
It will become a precious thing.
If you are a talented man,
Everyone gathers around you without being called.
A scented flower, though far distant,
Attracts a cloud of swarming bees.
A wise man, though possessed of immense perfections,
Will learn from others.
By such continual practice,
He will at last become omniscient.
If a wise man behaves prudently,
How can he be overcome by his enemies?
Even a single man, by right action,
Can overcome a host of foes.
A brave, wise, and fortunate man,
Though alone, overcomes all.
The lion, the king of beasts, and
The universal monarch need no assistant.
If you are wise,
You may make a slave of the great—
As the garuda, though a strong and mighty bird,
Is made the vehicle of the god Vishnu.
The wise, when studying, suffer pains;
Without exertion, it is impossible to become wise.
He that is passionate for a small pleasure
Can never reach great peace.
If you are intelligent, though you be weak,
What can a powerful enemy do to you?
The King of the wild beasts, though strong,
Was killed by an intelligent hare.
The ocean is never too full of water.
The king’s treasury is never too full of money.
One is never satisfied with enjoyment.
Wise men overflow with elegant sayings.
Even from children,
Wise men receive fine sayings.
For the sweet scent,
The navel of a musk deer must be opened.
It is always by excellent men
That good qualities are praised most.
The scent of sandalwood is diffused by the wind
Into the ten corners of the world.
If a virtuous man is chosen as Master,
Everyone will find contentment.
When a ceremony is properly performed,
It will be a benefit to all.
When men are injured by a wicked ruler,
Then will they remember a virtuous one.
They that suffer a malignant fever
Think only of cool water.
When a wicked prince does injury,
A virtuous king is ready to defend him.
He who is occupied by an evil spirit
Is cheerfully assisted by a magician.
Even in decline, a virtuous man
Increases the beauty of his behavior.
A burning stick, though turned to the ground,
Has its flame drawn upwards.
A virtuous prince, though far away,
Favorably protects his own followers.
When the clouds in the sky gather together,
The corn of the field increases.
During life, renown is the cause of joy.
In the world, happiness is a man’s delight;
Without these two, a wise man
Can have no pleasure in wealth alone.
Excellent qualities, though not displayed,
Spread and become visible everywhere.
The blossoms of the nutmeg tree, though dried,
Diffuse their sweet scent in all directions.
A king is great only in his dominions,
While a virtuous man is respected wherever he goes;
A flower is beautiful for a day,
A gem is everywhere esteemed.
A hen at rest lays many eggs.
A peacock, when still, has a handsome tail.
A gentle horse has a swift pace.
Quietness is the sign of a sage.
Though equal benefits be conferred
On the excellent and the vulgar, the return is not equal.
Though there is no difference in the seed sown in different fields,
Yet there is immense variety in the crop.
Preserve your noble descent by your conduct-
When your practice is bad, your birth is of no value.
The sandalwood has a fine scent,
But when reduced to ashes, who will buy it?
The great, though sometimes distressed,
Have no reason to be grieved.
The moon, though eclipsed for a while,
Soon appears again.
If a great man treats kindly an enemy,
That very enemy comes under his sway.
The universal monarch, since he protected all,
Was elevated to dignity by everyone.
The holy man, though he be distressed,
Does not eat food mixed with wickedness.
The lion, though hungry,
Will not eat what is unclean.
The holy man, though it may cost him his life,
Will not desist from what is good.
The color of fine gold will not change,
Though it be burnt and broken.
Though low-minded men may be angry with a holy man,
How could that holy man become wrathful in return?
Though the jackal may utter a nonsense language,
The king of the forest mercifully protects him.
People seek to find fault
With the excellent and not with the low.
All look with awe on costly belongings,
But who would notice a fire-brand?
Not to be cheered by praise,
Not to be grieved by blame:
To know well one’s own perfections
Is the characteristic sign of an excellent man.
Riches are not in vain
That are gained through knowledge, strength, and skill.
The dog and the cat, though they stand erect,
Are living examples of ignorance.
It adds to the master’s greatness
If his disciples are well satisfied.
The embellishments of a horse-
Are they the master’s own ornaments?
As the master takes care of
And kindly protects his disciples,
So do the disciples
Manage the master’s affairs.
At the place where the great Lord Buddha is present,
Who would acknowledge another man?
Though there be many bright stars in the heaven,
When the sun has arisen none of them can be seen,
A wicked man, though he obtains wealth,
Grows worse in his conduct.
A stream, though turned back,
Endeavors to flow downwards.
Though a wicked man appears good in his conduct,
It is but hypocrisy.
Though a crystal be made to have the color of a gem,
When put in water it shows its own color.
A great man’s wise arrangements
Are destroyed in a moment by wicked men.
A farmer cultivates a corn-field for years and months—
A hail storm suddenly destroys all effort.
A man with bad qualities
A crow, after eating something unclean,
Earnestly rubs its bill on the ground.
If one entrusts his business to a fool,
Both the fool and the business will collapse.
If a fox were elected king,
Both the fox and the king would be destroyed.
The foolish man, in wishing for happiness,
Works only toward his own distress.
Someone under an evil influence,
In wishing to be freed from pain, deprives himself of life.
The action of a man who cares nothing
For the welfare of others is like that of a beast—
Though he may attend the dinner party,
He makes no effort to prepare the food.
He that makes no reflection on what is useful and what is not,
And does not improve his understanding and experience,
Is a swine without hair
That seeks only to fill his belly.
One may boast of his wisdom among the fools,
But before the wise he is silent.
Though one has no hump or fur coat.
He that has fangs is a beast.
One who hastens to where there is food,
But runs away at the first sign of work-
Though he resembles a man by speaking and laughing,
Is more like an old dog without a tail.
It is easy to fill a beast’s footstep with water.
A small treasury may easily be piled full of gold.
To sow a small field with corn requires little labor.
To satisfy the curious, a little knowledge will do.
One who makes many promises because of his pride,
Though he be great, will be defeated.
By promising small plots of ground,
Even the gods will eventually be defeated.
Ignorant people believe a monkey-catcher
To be greater than a wise man.
When great delicacies are served along with bread and meat,
They come back uneaten.
Illiterate men are sometimes more inimical
To learned men than to others.
It is said that if a cornstalk sprouts through the snow,
It is an unlucky omen.
Some who have little knowledge
Will find fault with those who understand.
It is counted a defect on some islands
Not to have a goiter.
They that know only imperfectly the religious rites
Condemn those that perform them well.
In some ancient countries, he who walks on two feet
Is not counted as a man.
Those who act wrongly
But criticize those who do right
Are like homely men who contemptuously say
That he who is handsome is merely effeminate.
Foolish men, though they be many,
Go directly into the power of the enemy.
A whole herd of strong elephants can be subdued
By one intelligent hare.
Riches without understanding
Are of little advantage,
As the cow’s milk can support the calf
For but a limited time.
Foolish men who amass riches
By all manners of wickedness,
Neglecting support of even their families,
Will soon die away like rats.
He who looks always to others for support
Will most certainly fail,
As the tortoise that wanted to be carried by crows
Was eventually dropped to the ground.
Not to understand what is good and bad,
Not to remember a kindness one has received,
Not to marvel at what one has clearly perceived—
These are the characteristics of a foolish man.
When the troops are advancing, he is in the rear,
When they retire, he goes to the front,
Where there is food he endeavors by all means to partake-
Thus are the actions of a fool.
A mean fellow, though he be rich, is outdone
By a little man of noble descent.
When the hungry tiger uttered a deep sound,
The monkey fell from the treetop.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it
sinks to the depths.
Those with little learning have great pride;
Grown wise, they are quiet.
Torrents always make much noise,
But it is seldom that the ocean roars.
It is always the low-minded men
Who speak disdainfully to the holy,
Like the foxes which attack the lion,
Though he be their defender.
The generous, though angry, are gentle when one bows before them.
The mean, yielded to, grow haughty.
Gold and silver, though hard, may be melted.
Dog’s dung stinks when burned.
A wise man consists entirely of perfections.
A fool has only his defects.
With precious metals you may pay all your expenses.
From a venomous serpent expect nothing but distress.
A wicked man, though he abides in a forest, is mean.
A virtuous man, though he resides in a town, is serene.
We see that a wild beast of the forest is fierce,
But a fine horse in the town is gentle.
An excellent man reflects on his own faults alone.
A bad man seeks only those of others.
The peacock judges his own body,
But a bat casts ill omens on others.
An excellent man, by his gentleness, preserves both himself and others.
A bad man causes pain both to himself and to others by his harshness.
A fruit tree nourishes both itself and others.
A dry tree, by its stiffness, cumbers both itself and others.
As long as you have wealth, everyone is your friend;
If your fortune declines, everyone is your foe.
An island of precious metals is visited from afar;
When a lake dries up, everyone leaves.
It is only by narrow-minded men
That such distinctions are made as to friend and enemy.
A liberal man is affectionate towards all,
Since it is uncertain who may yet be useful to him.
Learned men delight in knowledge;
The ignorant do not.
Honey bees resort to flowers;
Not so the fly.
A learned man is beautiful among learned men.
How can the wise be understood by the fool?
See how sandal-wood that is more precious than gold
Is by foolish people reduced to coal.
A wise man guides his own course of action;
The fool follows another’s direction.
When an old dog barks, the others run,
And this for no reason at all.
A wise man, though in decline,
Affords pleasure to others by his elegant sayings.
A fool, grown violent,
Destroys himself and others through quarreling.
Some place perfection in speaking;
Others are silent and penetrate to the meaning.
A stupid dog utters his first fear to the enemy;
A cat catches a mouse without a sound.
When a virtuous man disputes, he benefits all.
A fool causes damage even by his friendship.
Though the gods be angry, they defend all sentient beings.
The Lord of Death may smile, but still kills his enemies.
An excellent man, like precious metal,
Is in every respect invariable.
A villain, like the beam of a balance,
Is always shifting up and down.
As long as one is modest,
He is adorned with the chief quality.
When modesty is gone, good qualities decrease,
And ill rumor spreads about.
A virtuous man gives instructions without hypocrisy;
If you ask a villain, he will misinform you.
Though you slight a Bodhisattva, he is merciful,
Though you bestow praise on the Lord of Death, he is still your destruction.
What is helpful to one
May cause another pain,
As when the moon rises,
The evening flowers open, the lotuses close.
Though by wicked acts one may reach one’s aim,
A wise man never resorts to such means.
The wise are not ashamed if they do not reach their goal,
Provided they have righteously endeavored for it.
It is difficult to cause dissension among the virtuous,
But it is easy to reconcile them.
Low people can easily be separated, but with difficulty reconciled.
See what a difference there is between the sandal-tree and the coal made of its wood.
Though a virtuous man decline for awhile,
Like the increasing moon, he rises again.
If a low man once is decayed,
He will be extinguished like a lamp.
Wealth to a low man is a cause of pride;
To a virtuous man, it is that of humbleness.
The fox, when he has filled his belly, behaves proudly;
The lion, when full, takes his repose.
A virtuous prince shows more affection to his subjects
When he finds them his enemies.
A mother is more grieved
When her child is sick.
A good person, if he associates with a bad man,
Will be infected thereby.
Pure water, though very pleasing to the taste,
When it reaches the sea, smacks of the brine.
If a low-principled man keeps company with a Holy man.
His manners become like those of the sage.
See what a fragrant scent the person gives off
Who has anointed himself with musk.
Mount Sumeru cannot be moved by any creature—
So too the excellent man stands firm.
Just as a small piece of cotton is easily moved—
So the practice of a low-minded man changes greatly.
As the laughing voice of the night-bird
Is an ill omen, is not born of joy,
So the gracious speech of a cunning man
Arises from self-interest.
If a successful man grows too famous,
Though he endures for a while, he will at last be destroyed.
The ass, covered with a leopard skin, may eat one field of corn
But will be slain by the farmer next door.
Those who have chosen a wicked man for their leader,
Or those who dwell in a house whose roof is decayed,
Or under a rock whose summit threatens to fall,
Are in continual fear.
If a man is by nature wicked,
Avoid him even though he is learned.
Although a venomous serpent has a gem on his head,
What wise man would take him into his heart?
By arrogance, good qualities are diminished.
By lust, modesty is destroyed.
By a continual railing at his disciples,
The master loses his authority.
It is rare to find one who can give good counsel.
It is more rare to find one who listens to advice.
It is difficult to find an expert physician.
Fewer still will take his medicine.
Judge not before you have examined.
It often happens that an upright man, if he loses his cause,
Is thought to be a knave.
He that acts with discretion has many enemies.
In whatever manner you fashion a wicked man.
It is impossible to make his nature good.
You may wash charcoal with zeal,
But you will not make it white.
An ill-principled man, who is fond of riches,
Is not of firm mind, though he may be a friend.
There are many that have been destroyed
By taking bribes from the powerful.
It is easy to overcome those enemies
That announce their plans;
But how are those to be subdued
Who advise a salutary retreat?
If we should be chosen as ruler,
It is unlikely that we would know what to do.
We may look on others with our own eyes,
But we need a mirror to see ourselves.
Though there are many kings,
There are few who govern with righteousness.
Though there are many gods in the heavens,
None shines brighter than the sun or the moon.
He that can do mischief
Can also do good.
A crowned monarch can rule as a tyrant
Or bestow his kingdom on another.
Under the rule of an upright, intelligent minister,
Both the sovereign and the subjects can be contented.
An arrow shot by a skillful archer
Strikes its mark.
When many work together for a goal,
Great things may be accomplished.
It is said a lion cub was killed
By a single colony of ants.
One who lacks energy and is lazy
Shall decay though he is robust and strong.
Though an elephant has much strength,
He is treated by his small driver as a slave.
Even great men can be overpowered
If their arrogance becomes too great.
Though the white tortoise is small,
He can destroy a large crocodile.
The great have no need to be arrogant,
And the arrogance of the lowly is futile.
A true gem wants no recommendation,
But a false jewel goes unwanted, though it be highly praised.
Men are often injured
By men similar to themselves.
At the rising of the sun,
The stars and moon disappear.
Retain those who are helpful, though they may be enemies.
Reject those who hurt you, though they may be relatives.
Buy, at whatever the price, a jewel brought from the sea.
Drive out, by good medicine, the disease in your inward parts.
When a man gains wealth within,
He shows it with pride without.
When the clouds are full of water,
They move and rumble with thunder.
It is rare to find one who is perfect,
But it is rare also to find one who has no good qualities.
A wise man will attend to one
Who leans more to virtue than to vice.
It may be doubtful, at first,
Whether a person is an enemy or friend.
Meat, if not properly digested, becomes poison;
But poison, if used rightly, may turn medicinal.
To be one’s own master is counted as happiness.
To be in the power of others is held to be misery.
Common property is the cause of quarrels.
Promises are the cause of being bound.
You may inwardly possess good qualities,
But if dressed improperly, you will be looked down upon by others.
Though the bat is a prudent animal,
Since he has no feathers, he is rejected by all birds.
A foolish man is pleasing when he speaks but little.
A king is dignified when he maintains seclusion.
Imposing spectacles are impressive if viewed at a distance.
A rare jewel always brings a great price.
Great affection is often
The cause of violent animosity.
The quarrels of men often arise
From too great a familiarity.
It may happen sometimes that a long debate
Becomes the cause of a longer friendship.
Commonly, those who dispute with one another
At last agree.
Though an avaricious man possesses wealth,
An envious man possesses another’s goods,
And an ill-minded man possesses his learning—
None of these can produce lasting pleasure.
Covetous men delight in wealth;
Ambitious men are pleased when they hear their own praise;
Foolish men rejoice at finding a fool;
Virtuous men rejoice at hearing the truth.
The qualifications of a wicked man,
The imperfect learning of a mighty speaker,
And the kindness of a bad master
Are seldom useful to others.
If a man is wealthy, his voice is easily heard.
A poor man, though he speaks the truth, is not listened to.
A common piece of wood, brought from a distant mountain,
Will bring a high price.
Much talking is the cause of danger.
Silence is the means of avoiding misfortune.
The talkative parrot is shut up in a cage.
Other birds, without speech, fly freely about.
When a man sincerely endeavors to be useful
To an enemy in every respect,
And when the enemy also yields to him without pretension—
These show great character.
Of what avail is a weak man’s anger?
What need is there for a strong man’s wrath?
So there is no need for anger,
Except to mortify oneself.
With gifts, you may gather your enemies about you.
When giving nothing, even your own family will leave.
When the cow’s milk becomes dry,
The calf grows meager and wanders in sorrow.
A master who always treats his servants kindly
May easily find those who work hard.
At lakes where many lotuses blossom
The geese gather together without being called.
When one employs riches,
When one is gentle and learned,
When one protects the lower class of people—
These three make others happy and are useful to oneself.
By depending on the great,
The small may rise high.
See: the little plant ascending the tall tree
Has climbed to the top.
Though a talented man has his defect,
They that delight in learning support him.
Though the atmosphere is obscured by rain,
Beings are made glad by it.
Rich men are numerous among the ignorant.
Valiant ones abide alone with wild beasts.
Elegant sayings proceed from the learned.
But a Saint is rare in this world.
Every man is celebrated
For the thing in which he excels—
The sage as a learned person,
The hero as a valiant man.
What is respected by the great
Is condemned by the lowly.
The precious crown of the gods
Is devoured by the ogre.
Knowledge existing only in books,
Mantras not committed to memory,
And those things which a forgetful man has learned
Often deceive us in a time of necessity.
Offering sweet scents to dogs and pigs,
A light to the blind, meat to those with indigestion,
Or instructions to the foolish—
These actions are senseless.
A talented man and good gold,
A brave soldier and a fine horse,
A skillful physician and a beautiful ornament
Are everywhere esteemed.
If one is intelligent and applies himself well,
What can he not accomplish?
Even small bands of people, I have heard,
Have defeated whole armies.
Though hills and rivers, elephants and horses, sunshine and storms, and men and women
Are the same according to their classes,
They can be distinguished
By being great or lowly.
The chief wealth consists in charity,
The greatest happiness is tranquillity of mind;
Experience is the most beautiful ornament,
The man without desires is the best companion.
No person exists that does-not sometimes desire wealth.
What person is there who is always happy?
Pleasure and sorrow are always changing,
Like summer and winter.
If a slave behaves with great pride,
If the actions of an ascetic are fruitless,
If a ruler does not act according to moral law-
All three have taken a misguided course.
To act indiscreetly, to have rancor against many,
To quarrel with the powerful, to be passionate for women,
To cleave to what is bad—
These five are the causes of quick destruction.
When one is poor and yet desires fine garments,
When one lives on charity and yet behaves haughtily,
When one is ignorant of scriptures, and yet wishes to dispute—
These three make one a laughing-stock among men.
Sovereigns suffer more injury
From their own people than from enemies.
By what other animals is the corpse devoured,
Except by worms in his own body?
When a Master does evil to himself,
Who can defend him against it?
When the sun lights the sky in the daytime,
There is no way to see the stars.
Some malicious men, though they derive no direct benefit,
Like to do wrong to others.
Though a venomous serpent feeds on the air,
When he sees others, he kills them.
Though we believe our lust to cause happiness,
It is actually the root of sorrow.
He that sees happiness in drinking wine
Imagines that only mad men are happy.
Men wish to live long,
But when they grow old, are afraid of old age.
To be afraid of old age and to wish for long life
Is the poor logic of a foolish man.
One who has a wise teacher
But will not learn from him how to develop good qualities,
Either is occupied by demons,
Or is suffering the ill consequences of his former actions.
One who has wealth but does not enjoy it,
Or give it charitably to others,
Is either a very sick man
Or an accomplished miser.
One who knows what virtue is but does not practice it—
Of what use is his religion?
If a fine crop is harvested,
Do not even the wild beasts rejoice?
One who suffers from the ill consequences of his past bad actions,
Though he has riches, cannot enjoy them.
Though the crow is hungry, if a snare has been laid,
How can he be satisfied?
If you believe a man to be rich
Who can neither enjoy his wealth nor bestow it charitably on others,
It is like considering a man rich
Who fancies a mountain to be solid gold.
Though there be many learned men
Who know and proclaim what virtuous action is,
There are very few in this world
Who would practice it, having thus understood.
Though a man has a youthful appearance,
Without good qualities, he is not handsome.
Though a peacock’s feathers are beautiful,
Are they appropriate dress for a man?
Through no amount of effort can a naturally wicked man
Be turned into an honest one.
However long you boil water,
It is impossible to make it burn like fire.
If there is reason, it is proper to be angry,
And there is also a cure for this anger.
But who knows how to appease
One grown angry without a cause?
When one’s virtues fail, ill-will arises.
When legitimate descent is absent, a bastard is born.
When wealth has been depleted, many desires arise.
When life is spent, the symptoms of death appear.
If one has not committed any wicked action,
The gods cannot lay blame.
Can a spring be blocked by heaping earth on it
When it has not previously gone dry?
Even great minds can be led astray
If guided in an appealing manner.
Those who do not follow the Dharma
Adopt the practices of false teachers.
When a man becomes too famous for his riches,
He is destroyed by his wealth.
It is common that rich men are assaulted,
But beggars pass through without harm.
If a man becomes renowned for his strength and skill,
He merely proposes his own destruction.
Many of those who have been slain in battle
Have been the strong and skillful.
Wealth, wit, and strength will come to you
If you practice virtuous deeds;
But, these actions absent,
Wealth and strength will become your ruin.
A wise man, whenever he acts,
Must consider the moral effects.
Among a hundred persons, it is rare to find
Even one of accomplished moral merits.
When a broken tank is filled with water,
It certainly will leak on every side.
Weak men who grow rich
Seldom leave an inheritance.
Seldom a man has both wealth and children.
One who has both is frequently destroyed.
When one is happy in every respect,
He is often carried off by early death.
A person who is prosperous in every respect
Is one who has acquired merit.
A man who acts wisely increases his virtue,
Which alone results in prosperity.
He who thinks thus, “I will deceive him,”
Actually deceives himself.
If a person has lied even once,
Although later he speaks the truth, he
will be doubted.
He who does not examine what is good and bad,
And injures his neighbor in a fit of anger,
Shall grieve like the swallow
Who loses his companion.
Apply yourself both now and in the next life.
Without effort, you cannot be prosperous.
Though the land be good,
You cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.
An intelligent man must give due consideration
Even to small matters.
If he succeeds, what could be better?
And, if he fails, it is good to have acted prudently.
The minds of men are very different,
And it is hard to satisfy the wishes of all.
But he who is accomplished in all good qualities
Comes closest to fulfilling all desires.
Increase your wisdom, even in your declined age.
In the next life, it will be useful to you.
Without such wisdom,
Even your alms will be of no avail.
Either keep company with those who are accomplished in knowledge
Or converse with ordinary men.
You may carry a bottle with you easily,
Whether it is full or empty.
Of what use is a man
Who has acquired little knowledge?
Who would carry a water-pot on his head
When it is but half-filled?
He that understands well
The difference between an excellent and low man
Knows how to act.
This is the great foundation of prosperity.
Holding a firm resolution for perfection,
A lowly man may become great.
If a parrot is well instructed,
He can learn to distinguish value.
Men of few abilities
May succeed if they depend on the great.
A drop of water is a small thing;
United with a lake it never dries.
Though a man is not intelligent,
He may prudently consult the wise.
The hand cannot kill an enemy,
Unless it takes a weapon in firm grasp.
Even a dangerous enemy can be made into an ally
If the proper means are known.
A large quantity of poison harms the body,
But the right mixture of even poison works towards health.
Accept humbly the food and money offered to you for your learning.
Listen to others and leave behind pride.
You may take the fruit from the top of a tree,
But if you reach farther, you will fall.
As long as you have not sufficient strength,
Bear patiently with your enemy.
When you are strong enough,
Then do what seems to be best.
Treat with due respect
And reward liberally those around you.
It is said that with sacrifices and offerings
One receives fully from the gods as well as other beings.
When done correctly,
A prince may tax his subjects without oppressing them.
A sal-tree becomes dry
If too much fragrant juice issues from it.
Carefully conceal the manner of your actions;
Often it is a weakness to plainly show intentions.
Had the thief’s eyes not been found devising,
Would a rope have been tied around his neck?
Of what use are food and goods
Which have been rejected by others?
What wise man would touch such dirty things
As are eaten by dogs and swine?
We should never use expressions
Which might hurt even an enemy.
They immediately will return to us
Like an echo from a rock.
If you wish to injure an enemy,
Make yourself perfect in all good qualities.
Thus, your enemy will be mortified,
And your yourself shall improve in virtue.
Only a fool is kind-hearted to an enemy,
After being treated harshly by him.
He who wishes to cure his body of cancer,
Must have the malignant portion removed with a knife.
Though our allies are angry with us, we should not desert them.
Though an enemy treats us with kindness, we should not embrace his cause.
Though a crow hurts another crow,
They do not side with an owl.
A wise man, in great or small matters,
Must act with due consideration.
Whether attacking a hare or an elephant,
The lion has no time for indecision.
By residing with excellent men,
We may profit thereby,
Like birds of Sumeru
Who shine like gold.
If you depend on a great but envious man,
You never shall obtain renown.
See how the moon declines
After coming too near the sun.
Who can associate with a man
Who keeps no friendship?
Though a rainbow is beautiful,
Only a fool would mistake it for a jewel.
What we do not like for ourselves,
We should never do for others.
When we are injured by others,
We should reflect what we think of ourselves.
If one does to others
What is agreeable to oneself,
Others, in the same manner,
Will return the kindness.
Weak-minded men think
That everything they say is wrong.
Those who think thus and speak little
Are very much suspected by others.
He is continually happy
Who has the opportunity of depending on the excellent,
Of consulting the learned,
And of conversing with the good-natured.
Speak only at the proper place and time,
After having given due consideration.
If you utter elegant sayings too often,
Even they lose their value.
The defects of a learned man
Are seldom taken as imperfections.
Those who confess such defects
Are often faulty men.
If it has a wise friend for a companion,
A beast can accomplish useful actions.
Even if he has no wealth or servants,
How much more could be done by a man?
We should not join with an enemy who has fought long against us,
Even though he wants our friendship.
If fire meets with hot water,
Will it not be extinguished?
We may rely upon an enemy
If he is good-natured, righteous, and honest.
I have heard that, by resorting to a good-tempered enemy for protection,
One has been defended by him to life’s end.
Though you be well acquainted with the subject,
Do everything with due consideration.
He that neglects this
Shall dearly pay for his indiscretion.
If you resort to an enemy for protection,
Show him every respect and reverence.
The raven, by depending on a rat,
According to the Puranas, was saved.
How is it possible to fail in your affairs,
As long as you act with discretion?
If a clear-sighted man walks discreetly,
Will he not avoid the precipice?
The more you desire to be exalted,
The more you should endeavor to be useful to others.
Those who wish to apply make-up
First clean the looking-glass.
If you endeavor to conquer an enemy,
Exert all your good qualities.
See how they are confounded
Who watch their enemy prepare his weapons.
It is impossible in this world
To obtain your wish through abuse.
Though selfish in your mind,
Be affable to all in speaking.
Using harsh and gentle means matters not
If our concern be for the welfare of others.
The Buddha has not called it craftiness
To employ wise means in our actions.
When a prudent man hangs down his head,
The fault falls on the one who abuses.
When a candle is held downwards,
It burns the hand of the holder.
Each thing should be placed
According to its proper use.
A hat is not worn on the feet,
And shoes do not make good hats.
When doing important work,
Find a good associate.
If you wish to burn a forest,
You need the aid of the wind.
Do not be grieved if you are poor,
Or be elated with joy if you are rich.
Rather, consider the consequences
Of your deeds.
One who pays homage to another teacher
When the Buddha, patron of men, lives near,
Is like a man who digs a well
On the bank of a clear-flowing river.
Actions to which we are well accustomed
Pose no difficulty.
As we have learned well our worldly skills,
So we may practice virtues without difficulty.
For a man who is contented with little,
Wealth is inexhaustible.
He who continually seeks and is never satisfied
Will experience a constant rain of sorrow.
Give the goods you have received
To others according to their need.
Like the bee’s honey,
All hoarded treasures are eventually
enjoyed by others.
If you lend money, it is uncertain
Whether you shall be repaid;
But if you bestow alms, though they be small,
Your return will be a hundred-fold.
Fearing his family’s impoverishment,
A narrow-minded man anxiously hoards what little he has.
A wise man, hoping for a good position,
Bestows his alms on others, like bribes.
Though children are loved by their parents,
They do not return love with respect.
After parents have long cherished their children,
They are despised when they grow old.
Those who have become the slaves of the world
Run after riches at the price of destruction.
The wise man, though he obtains wealth,
Is contented to give it to others.
If you would fight an enemy who harms you,
Then subdue your own passions.
Thus, you shall be perfectly free from harm;
For it is on account of your passions that
From the beginning you have been wandering in the world.
If you wish to destroy all your enemies,
You never shall find the end of killing.
But if you can subdue your own desire,
Every enemy is at once destroyed.
If you are angry with powerful and malicious men,
You will only hurt yourself.
What reason is there to be angry
With the virtuous and the wise?
Herbs which grow in the same garden
Are dispersed by the wind in the ten directions.
Men who are born together
Are separated by the effects of their deeds.
If you earnestly desire your own welfare,
First seek that of others.
He that seeks only his own benefit
Will not succeed in his purpose.
A foolish man who will not learn
believes everything a miracle.
A wise man, having studied, admires all,
And, though grown old,
Acquires knowledge for his future birth.
The fool seeks not to acquire knowledge,
Having no mind for understanding.
For this very reason, he should endeavor
To improve his understanding.
One that has not gained knowledge in his former birth
Is ignorant in the present life.
He who fears ignorance in his next life,
Must study assiduously in this one.
“Meditate! There is no need to learn by instructions,”
Says the shallow-minded fool.
Contemplation without previous instruction,
Though diligently pursued, is the way of the beast.
It is by the perfection of wisdom
That omniscience differs from common knowledge.
How would this infallible doctrine be true,
If, without learning, one could become all-knowing?
Meditation without hearing,
Though it succeeds for a while, will soon fail.
You may melt gold and silver,
But, taken from the fire, they harden anew.
Though a literary work is excellent,
He that lacks understanding will not appreciate it.
Though an ornament of gold beset with jewels is beautiful,
Would an ox look closely upon it?
Know well what is true-
That which is expressed in the elegant sayings of learned men.
If you do not understand and practice these,
Of what use are other studies?
Though an intelligent man knows much by himself,
He studies the texts of a learned teacher.
Though precious metal is very fine,
Its value greatly increases after it has been cast.
Though there be many forests,
Sandalwood grows only in rare places.
Though there be many learned men,
Elegant sayings are seldom found.
The qualities of gold and silver are seen when they are melted.
An elephant’s goodness appears when he enters the field of battle.
A learned man may be judged
By his composition of elegant sayings.
He that is acquainted with the manners of the world
Will exercise true religion.
He that practices virtue
Is the living biography of a saint.