Papavagga Remaining Harmless Dhammapada 9


Related Talks


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 ninth chapter of the Dhammapada is known as the Papavagga. In this chapter, the Buddha provides simple and direct teaching on the importance of recognizing and abandoning wrongdoing in all ways and to integrate the Eightfold Path as the framework for developing a life free of conflict within oneself and towords others. [4]

My comments below are in italics.


Papavagga: Remaining Harmless

Dhammapada 9

Be quick to act wisely and restrain your mind from delusion. The mind delights in delusion for those who are slow to act wisely.

Acting quickly with skill requires a well-concentrated mind able to practice wise restraint at the six-sense-base. [5]

Should a person commit harm to themselves or others let them not repeat the harm over and over. Let them find no pleasure in wrongdoing as wrongdoing always brings pain.

Be mindful of skillful acts and repeat these over and over again. Find pleasure in the well-integrated life and calm and peace will prevail.

Wrongdoing can be ignored but the pain that eventually follows cannot.

Skillful actions will always bring peace and understanding.

These last two lines are a teaching on the true meaning of Karma and Rebirth. [6]

Ignorance of the results of wrongdoing is not protection from pain. A drop at a time fills the pot just as pain fills the wrongdoer.

The painful results of ignorance of Four Noble Truths are cumulative and unavoidable.

Understanding the value of virtue guides one’s actions. A drop at a time fills the pot just as virtue fills one with peace and calm.

The peace that results from developing an understanding of Four Noble Truths are also cumulative and unavoidable.

Just as a trader with little protection avoids a dangerous route, and one desiring long-life avoids poison, the wise Dhamma practitioner avoids wrongdoing.

A person who has developed a well-concentrated mind supporting the refined mindfulness necessary to hold in mind the EightfoldPath as the framework of living one’s life is able to avoid hurtful actions.

A hand with no wounds can carry even poison. The wise Dhamma practitioner avoids (self-inflicted) wounds and remains free of dis-ease.

Understanding suffering as the Buddha teaches understanding is to recognize and accept the suffering inherent with human life and the self-inflicted suffering that can be recognized and abandoned. [7]

Like dust thrown into the wind, pain will return to the fool who offends another.

Born of the womb the wicked suffer forever. The pious enter heaven. The wise Dhamma practitioner abandons ignorance.

Having a human life is a common experience. Individual behavior determines life experience. Wrongdoers always suffer. Blind faith distracts the mind towards self-establishment on imaginary non-physical realms. The Eightfold Path brings understanding and individual release from suffering. [8]

Neither in the heavens or deep-water or a mountain sanctuary can hide the wrongdoer from the results of their actions.

Neither in the heavens or deep-water or a mountain sanctuary can hide the wrongdoer from the living death of ignorance.

Seeking self-establishment in imaginary non-physical reals or hiding from the physical world can end the confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disputing and unsatisfactory experiences. [9]

End Of Chapter


  1. Pali Canon
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  4. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  5. Wisdom Of Restraint
  6. Karma And Rebirth
  7. Sallatha Sutta – Two Arrows
  8. Teaching An Authentic Dhamma
  9. Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas
For All Who Reside In The Dhamma - Agantuka Sutta is free of advertising and ad-tracking. I rely on donations to support the continued restoration, preservation and clear and accessible presentation of the Buddha's authentic Dhamma. 

If you find benefit here please:


Thank You!


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


Subscribe To My Newsletter

Subscribe To My Newsletter

Subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter with the week's Dhamma Talk topics, class and retreat schedule, and updates on new Dhamma articles and audio and video recordings.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This