The DhammapadaTranslated by Thomas Byrom

23. The Elephant

I shall endure harsh words
As the elephant endures the shafts of battle.
For many people speak wildly.

The tamed elephant goes to battle.
The king rides him.
The tamed man is the master.
He can endure hard words in peace.

Better than a mule
Or the fine horses of Sindh
Or mighty elephants of war
Is the man who had mastered himself.

Not on their backs
Can he reach the untrodden country.
But only on his own.

The mighty elephant Dhanapalaka
Is wild when he is in rut,
And when bound he will not eat,
Remembering the elephant grove.

The fool is idle.
He eats and he rolls in his sleep
Like a hog in a sty.
And he has to live life over again.

“My own mind used to wander
Wherever pleasure or desire or lust led it.
But now I have it tamed, I guide it,
As the keeper guides the wild elephant.”

Be the witness of your thoughts.
The elephant hauls himself from the mud.
In the same way drag yourself out of your sloth.

If the traveler can find
A virtuous and wise companion
Let him go with him joyfully
And overcome the dangers of the way.

But if you cannot find
Friend or master to go with you,
Travel on alone –
Like a king who has given away his kingdom,
Like an elephant in the forest.

Travel on alone,
Rather than with a fool for company.

Do not carry with you your mistakes.
Do not carry your cares.

Travel on alone.
Like an elephant in the forest.

To have friends in need is sweet
And to share happiness.
And to have done something good
Before leaving this life is sweet,
And to let go of sorrow.

To be a mother is sweet,
And a father.
It is sweet to live arduously,
And to master yourself.

O how sweet it is to enjoy life,
Living in honesty and strength!

And wisdom is sweet,
And freedom.