Dhammapada: Wisdom of the Buddha — trans. Harischandra Kaviratna

Old Age — Canto XI

146. Why laugh, why be jubilant, when all is constantly burning (with desires)? Should you not seek the light of wisdom when you are enveloped by the darkness of ignorance?

147. Behold this illusory human image, embellished (by rich attire and jewels), full of corruptions, a structure of bones, liable to constant illness, full of countless hankerings, in which there is nothing permanent or stable.

148. This frail form is a nest of diseases. It is fragile and putrid. It disintegrates and death is the end of life.

149. These dove-grey bones are like unto the gourds thrown away in the autumnal season. What pleasure is there in looking at them?

150. Here is a citadel built of bones, plastered with flesh and blood, wherein are concealed decay, death, vanity and deceit.

151. The gaily decorated royal chariots wear out. So likewise does this body. But the truth of the righteous does not wear out with age. Thus do the enlightened proclaim it to the wise.

152. The man of little spiritual learning grows like an ox; his flesh increases, but his wisdom does not.

153. For countless births have I passed through this cycle of births and deaths, seeking the builder of this tabernacle, but in vain. Sorrowful indeed is this cyclic repetition of births.

154. O builder of the house, I have seen you; you shall not build the house again. All the rafters are broken; the ridgepole is sundered. Mind has arrived at dissolution (nirvana), having attained the extinction of all cravings (tanha).

155. Those who do not practice self-discipline, who do not acquire wealth in their youth, when they become old, pine away, like old herons in a dried-up lake where there are no fish.

156. Those who do not practice self-discipline, who do not acquire wealth in their youth, lie like broken arrows, lamenting the deeds of the past.

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