Free Of Worldly Entanglements – Lokavagga


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For a complete understanding of this sutta in the context intended by an awakened human being please read the linked suttas at the end of this article. ([x])

The Dhammapada is a twenty-six chapter volume in the fifth book of the Sutta Pitaka known as the Khuddaka Nikaya. The Khuddaka Nikaya is a fifteen-book collection of short texts difficult to classify within the other volumes. The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse that can be read as a concise though thorough presentation of an awakened human being’s teachings. [1]

The Dhammapada is loosely formatted by topic. The individual topic(s) presented in each chapter mostly stand on their own with the understanding that everything the Buddha taught can only be understood and developed skillfully within the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. [2,3]

The Lokavagga chapter teaches the singular importance of recognizing and abandoning worldly entanglements. This chapter is similar to the Loka Sutta. In the Loka Sutta The newly-awakened Siddartha, now Buddha, was enjoying the peace of release. Established in concentration he observed the world around him. He noticed human beings aflame with the fires born of the defilements of passion, aversion, and deluded consciousness.

Realizing the significance of what he was seeing he thought:

“The world is aflame. Rooted in ignorance the world is afflicted by sensory contact and perceives suffering as ‘self.’ Rooted in ignorance, it misunderstands ‘self’ and becomes anything other than ‘self.’

“Becoming anything other than self, the world clings to becoming, is afflicted by becoming, and yet delights in that very becoming. Where there is delight there is fear. Where there is fear there is stress. [4]

My comments below are in italics.


Lokavagga Free Of Worldly Entanglements

Dhammapada 13

Do not follow those corrupted by the world. Do not live mindlessly. Abandon false views. Abandon worldly entanglements.

Become Rightly Self-Awakened. Do not live mindlessly. Live with heightened virtue. Those established in virtuous thoughts, words, and deeds are always happy and peaceful.

Becoming Rightly Self-Awakened is the purpose of the Buddha’s Dhamma. Awakening is not rewarded to one due to “merit” or rituals, or for any other cause save for one’s own Right Effort. The Buddha consistently referred to himself as Rightly Self-Awakened and taught all those interested to do the same. [5]

Those who know the world is fabricated will never suffer the living death of ignorance.

Fabrications are formed by a mind rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. The Eightfold Path provides the framework and practical guidance to recognize and abandon ignorance in all manifestations. [6]

Look! The world is embellished and ornamented like a royal chariot. Fools are enticed, the wise remain free.

Those that arise from mindlessness to mindfulness illuminate the world like the full moon on a cloudless night.

Those doing good leave hurtfulness behind and illuminate the world like the full moon on a cloudless night.

The most loving and effective action anyone can undertake is to engage with the Dhamma and awaken. In this way one can be mindfully present with others from a mind rooted in wisdom rather than ignorance.

The world is blinded by ignorance, very few develop useful insight. Very few, like birds escaping a net, achieve the cessation of ignorance.

Swans fly towards the sun, some chase psychic powers, the wise follow my Path and vanquish Mara (ignorance.)

Often the malevolent god Mara is used as a metaphor of ignorance and the resulting unstable quality of mind. [7]

Those living by lies with no concern for life unfolding has no limit to the harm they do.

Greed only continues greed, fools scoff at generosity. The wise give freely of the Dhamma and themselves, and live happily and peacefully.

Better than ruling the world, the heavens, or the entire cosmos, is living within the framework of the Eightfold Path.

End Of Chapter


  1. Pali Canon
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  4. Loka Sutta -Becoming
  5. Nagara Sutta – The Buddha Describes His Awakening
  6. Fabrications
  7. Mara And Metaphor

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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

Creative Commons License and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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