The Dhammapada – Translated by Thomas Byrom
5. The Fool
How long the night to the watchman,
How long the road to the weary traveler,
How long the wandering of many lives
To the fool who misses the way.
If the traveler cannot find
Master or friend to go with him,
Let him travel alone
Rather than with a fool for company.
“My children, my wealth!”
So the fool troubles himself.
But how has he children or wealth?
He is not even his own master.
The fool who knows he is a fool
Is that much wiser.
The fool who thinks he is wise
Is a fool indeed.
Does the spoon taste the soup?
A fool may live all his life
In the company of a master
And still miss the way.
The tongue tastes the soup.
If you are awake in the presence of a master
One moment will show you the way.
The fool is his own enemy.
The mischief is his undoing.
How bitterly he suffers!
Why do what you will regret?
Why bring tears upon yourself?
Do only what you do not regret,
And fill yourself with joy.
For a while the fool’s mischief
Tastes sweet, sweet as honey.
But in the end it turns bitter.
And how bitterly he suffers!
For months the fool may fast,
Eating from the tip of a grass blade.
Still he is not worth a penny
Beside the master whose food is the way.
Fresh milk takes time to sour.
So a fool’s mischief
Takes time to catch up with him.
Like the embers of a fire
It smolders within him.
Whatever a fool learns,
It only makes him duller.
Knowledge cleaves his head.
For then he wants recognition.
A place before other people,
A place over other people.
“Let them know my work,
Let everyone look to me for direction.”
Such are his desires,
Such is his swelling pride.
One way leads to wealth and fame,
The other to the end of the way.
Look not for recognition
But follow the awakened
And set yourself free.