Wednesday, 15 June 2016 14:48

Dhp 01:14 - Learning Without Practice Is Of No Worth

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Dhp 01:14 - Learning Without Practice Is Of No Worth

Though much he recites the Sacred Texts, but
acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a
cowherd who counts others' kine. He has no share
in the fruits of the Holy Life. (19)

Though little he recites the Sacred Texts, but acts
in accordance with the teaching, forsaking lust,
hatred and ignorance, truly knowing, with mind
well freed, clinging to naught here and here after,
he shares the fruits of the Holy Life. (20)



Once there were two bhikkhus of noble family who were good friends. One of them had learned the Tipitaka** and was very proficient in reciting and preaching the sacred doctrine. He taught many other bhikkhus and became the instructor of eighteen groups of bhikkhus. The other bhikkhu after striving diligently and ardently, attained Arahanthood together with extraordinary knowledge in the course of Insight Meditation.

On one occasion, when the second bhikkhu came to pay homage to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery, the two bhikkhus met. Not realising that his friend had already become an Arahant, the Master of the Tipitaka looked down on him, thinking that the old bhikkhu knew very little of the sacred Dhamma. So he decided to ask him some questions on the Dhamma. The Buddha knew about his unkind intention and he also knew that as a result of seeking to ridicule a noble disciple the learned bhikkhu would have to suffer.

So, out of compassion, the Buddha visited the two bhikkhus to prevent the learned bhikkhu from ridiculing his friend. The Buddha himself did the questioning. He put questions on jhanas and maggas (higher achievement through meditation) to the master of the Tipitaka who could not answer them because he had not practised what he had taught. The other bhikkhu, having practised the Dhamma and having attained Arahanthood, could answer all the questions. The Buddha praised the one who had practised and realised the Dhamma but not a single word of praise was spoken for the learned scholar.

The resident disciples could not understand why the Buddha had words of praise for the old bhikkhu and not for their learned teacher. The Buddha explained the matter to them saying that the learned bhikkhu who knows a great deal but does not live in accordance with the Dhamma is like a cowherd, who looks after the cows for wages, while the one who practises Dhamma is like the owner who enjoys the five kinds of produce of the cows. Thus, the scholar enjoys only the services rendered to him by his pupils but not the benefit of Sainthood. The other bhikkhu, though he knows little and recites only a little of the Dhamma, having clearly comprehended the essence of it and having practised it diligently, has eradicated craving, ill-will and ignorance. His mind being totally freed from mental defilements and from all attachments of this world as well as to the next he truly reaps the benefits of Sainthood or Perfection.


Teaching Focus: Some persons may know the words of the Buddha extensively and can repeat it all. But through utter neglect they do not live up to it. In consequence they do not reach any religions attainments. They do not enjoy the fruit of the recluse life. This is exactly like the way of life of a cowherd who looks after another's cattle. The cowherd takes the cattle to the pastures in the morning, and in the evening he takes them back to the owner's house. He gets only the wages. (19) A true seeker of truth through he may speak only little of the Buddha's word. He may not be able to recite extensively from religious texts. But, if he belongs to the teaching of the Buddha assiduously, lives in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha, if he has got rid of passion, ill-will and delusion, he has well penetrated experience and is free from clinging to worldly things, he is a partaker of the life of a renunciate. (20)


Footnotes:** Tipitaka: The Teachings of the Buddha are collectively termed the Tipitaka. It consists of three sections: Vinaya Pitaka: Discipline mainly dealing with rules and regulations for the discipline of the Holy Order, Sutta Pitaka: Discourses mainly on conventional Truth uttered by the Buddha on various occasions, and Abhidhamma Pitaka: Ultimate Truth containing the profound moral psychology of the Buddha's Teaching.


Verse Translation (best effort)
Tiến Việt Nếu người nói nhiều kinh, Không hành trì, phóng dật; Như kẻ chăn bò người, Không phần Sa môn hạnh. (19) Dầu nói ít kinh điển, Nhưng hành pháp, tùy pháp, Từ bỏ tham, sân, si, Tĩnh giác, tâm giải thoát, Không chấp thủ hai đời, Dự phần Sa môn hạnh. (20)
Le Français Quoiqu'il récite beaucoup les textes, il n'agit pas en accord avec eux; cet homme inattentif est comme un gardien de troupeaux qui compte le troupeau des autres ; il n'a aucunement part aux béatitudes de l'ascète. (19) Quoiqu'il récite peu les textes, il agit en accord avec le Dhamma, et se défaisant du plaisir sensuel, de la haine et de l'ignorance, connaissant selon la vérité, avec un coeur totalement libre, ne s'attachant à rien ici et après, il prend part aux béatitudes de l’ascète. (20)
Deutsch Spricht einer viel, stimmt immer überein, doch ist kein Tuer, ist ein träger Mann, dem Kuhhirt gleich, der andrer Kühe zählt, hat er nicht teil an dem Asketentum. (19) Wer wenig spricht, stimmt immer überein, und ist der Lehre lehrentlang Befolger, gibt willig auf Verlangen, Haß und Blendung, versteht das Rechte, ganz befreit im Herzen, ergreift nicht mehr das Hier und nicht das Jenseits, der hat wohl teil an dem Asketentum. (20)
Español Aunque uno recite muy a menudo las escrituras, si es negligente y no actúa en consecuencia, es como el vaquero que cuenta las vacas de los otros. No obtiene los frutos de la Vida Santa. (19) Aunque uno recite poco las escrituras, si se conduce según la Enseñanza, abandonando el deseo, el odio v la ilusión, provisto con una mente bien liberada y no apegándose a nada ni aquí ni después, obtiene los frutos de la Vida Santa. (20)
Pу́сский язы́к Если даже человек постоянно твердит Писание, но, нерадивый, не следует ему, он подобен пастуху, считающему коров у других. Он непричастен к святости. (19) Если даже человек мало повторяет Писание, но живет, следуя дхамме, освободившись от страсти, ненависти и невежества, обладая истинным знанием, свободным разумом, не имея привязанностей ни в этом, ни в ином мире, – он причастен к святости. (20)
Magyar Nyelv Hiába hirdet sok ezer nemes szót a férfi, ha nem aszerint cselekszik. A szerzetesség haszontalan annak; pásztor, ki mások nyáját veszi számba. (19) Ha csak kevés szót mond is ki a férfi, de törvényben jár, aszerint cselekszik, a szenvedélyt és bűnt messzire vetve helyes tudással, igaz ismerettel, sem itt, sem ott túl semmire se vágyva, a szerzetesség hasznára van annak. (20)
Read 894 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2016 17:19
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

Website: www.wermske.com
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