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Verse 36: The Story of a Certain Disgruntled Bhikkhu

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (36) of this book, with
reference to a young disgruntled Bhikkhu who was the son of a banker.

Once, there lived in Savatthi, the son of a banker. This young man asked the Bhikkhu, who used to
come to his house for alms, what he should do to be liberated from the ills of life. The Bhikkhu
instructed him to divide his property into three parts; one part to do business with, one part to
support the family and one part to give in charity. He did as he was told and again asked what else
should be done next. So he was further instructed; first to take refuge in the Three Gems* and to
observe the five precepts; secondly, to observe the ten precepts; and thirdly, to renounce the
world and enter the Buddhist religious Order. The young man complied with all these instructions
and became a Bhikkhu.

As a Bhikkhu, he was taught the Abhidhamma** by one teacher and the Vinaya by another. Being
taught in this way, he felt that there was too much to be learnt, that the disciplinary rules were
too strict and too many, so much so that there was not enough freedom even to stretch out one's
hands. He thought that it might be better to return to the life of a householder. As a result of
doubt and discontent, he became unhappy and neglected his duties; he also became thin and
emaciated. When the Buddha came to know about this, he said to the young Bhikkhu, "if you can
only control your mind, you will have nothing more to control; so guard your own mind."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 36. The mind is very difficult to see, very delicate and subtle; it moves and lands wherever it
pleases. The wise one should guard his mind, for a guarded mind brings happiness.

* Three Jewels: The Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, (i.e., the Buddha, the
Teaching of the Buddha, and the Buddhist religious Order).

** Abhidhamma: the third great division of the Pitaka comprising the Buddha's philosophical
exposition of ultimate realities...

At the end of the discourse, the young Bhikkhu and many others attained Arahatship.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.

Saved: 24 December 2016  https://What-Buddha-Said.net/Canon/Sutta/KN/Dhammapada.Verse_36.story.htm