The Fool

Chapter 5 of the Dhammapada

How long is the night to the watchman; how long is the road to the weary; how long is the wandering of lives ending in death for the fool who cannot find the path!

If on the great journey of life a man cannot find one who is better or at least as good as himself, let him joyfully travel alone: a fool cannot help him on his journey.

'These are my sons. This is my wealth.' In this way the fool troubles himself. He is not even the owner of himself : how much less of his sons and of his wealth!

If a fool can see his own folly, he in this at least is wise; but the fool who thinks he is wise, he indeed is the real fool.

If during the whole of his life a fool lives with a wise man, he never knows the path of wisdom as the spoon never knows the taste of the soup.

But if a man who watches and sees is only a moment with a wise man he soon knows the path of wisdom, as the tongue knows the taste of the soup.

A fool who thinks he is wise goes through life with himself as his enemy, and he ever does wrong deeds which in the end bear bitter fruit.

For that deed is not well done when being done one has to repent; and when one must reap with tears the bitter fruits of the wrong deed.

But the deed is indeed well done when being done one has not to repent; and when one can reap with joy the sweet fruits of the right deed.

The wrong action seems sweet to the fool until the reaction comes and brings pain, and the bitter fruits of wrong deeds have then to be eaten by the fool.

A fool may fast month after month eating his food with the sharp point of a blade of kusa grass, and his worth be not a sixteenth part of that of the wise man Whose thoughts feed on truth.

A wrong action may not bring its reaction at once, even as fresh milk turns not sour at once: like a smouldering fire concealed under ashes it consumes the wrongdoer, the fool.

And if ever to his own harm the fool increases in cleverness, this only destroys his own mind and his fate is worse than before.

For he will wish for reputation, for precedence among the monks, for authority in the monasteries and for veneration amongst the people.

'Let householders and hermits, both, think it was I who did that work; and let them ever ask me what they should do or not do.' These are the thoughts of the fool, puffed up with desire and pride.

But one is the path of earthly wealth, and another is the path Of NIRVANA. Let the follower of Buddha think of this and, without striving for reputation, let him ever strive after freedom.