Who shall master the earth and gods,
and conquer the death-realm of Yama?
Who chooses Dhamma,
as an expert chooses a flower?
The earnest seeker shall master the earth and gods,
and conquer the death-realm of Yama.
The earnest seeker chooses Dhamma,
as an expert chooses a flower.
Knowing the body to be as insubstantial as foam,
seeing it has no more substance than a mirage,
one breaks the flower-tipped arrows of Mara
and becomes invisible to the Lord of Death.
One absorbed in plucking the sense-flowers of Mara
is surprised by death and swept suddenly away,
like a sleeping village in the path of a great flood.
One obsessed with plucking the sense-flowers of Mara
is never satisfied,
and all too soon drowns in death.
The sage wanders through life
as the bee wanders from flower to flower.
Nectar is taken, but the beauty and fragrance
of the blossom is untouched.
Do not concerned yourself with the faults of others,
with what they have done or not done.
Think only of what you have done,
and have yet to do.
Elegant words, spoken but not lived,
are beautiful flowers with no fragrance
or promise of fruit.
Elegant words, lived as they are spoken,
are beautiful, fragrant flowers
destined to bear fruit.
Just as many garlands
can be fashioned from a heap of flowers,
so a man can fashion many good things from his life.
The fragrance of flowers
does not travel against the wind.
Nor does the perfume of sandalwood,
rosebay, or jasmine.
Yet the scent of a virtuous life
does travel against the wind.
It imbues the far reaches of everywhere.
The perfumes of sandalwood,
crepe jasmine, blue lotus, flowering jasmine –
none surpass the fragrance of virtue.
The fragrances of sandalwood and jasmine
are barely detectable compared to the perfume
of a virtuous life.
It permeates even the realm of the gods.
Those who abound in virtue,
who live in Awareness, who realize the Real,
are invisible to Mara the Beguiler.
Just as a beautiful, fragrant lotus blooms
in a pile of garbage beside the road,
so does a follower of the Way of Buddha,
blossom in a world of blind ignorance.