86. Those Who Follow The Dhamma Are Liberated
But they who practise Dhamma
according to Dhamma well-told,
from Death’s Domain hard to leave
they’ll cross to the Further Shore.
Explanation: The realms over which Mara has sway, are
difficult to be crossed. Only those who quite righteously follow the way
indicated in the well-articulated Teachings of the Buddha, will be able to
cross these realms that are so difficult to cross.
Verses 85 and 86
Appaka te manussesu
ye jana paragamino
athayam itara paja
Ye ca kho sammadakkhate
te jana paramessanti2
Verse 85: Few among men reach the other shore (Nibbana); all the
others only run up and down on this shore.
Verse 86: But those who practise according to the well-expounded
Dhamma will reach the other shore (Nibbana), having passed the realm of Death
(i.e., samsara), very difficult as it is to cross.
1. tiramevanudhavati: tiram + eva + anudhavati: shore +
only this + run up and down: according to the Commentary ‘only this shore’ in
this context means sakkayaditthi (ego belief).
2. paramessanti: param + essanti: the other shore + will
reach. The other or opposite shore is metaphorically used for Nibbana.
3. maccudheyyam: the realm of Death (or samsara,
round of rebirths).
The Story of Dhamma Listeners
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered
Verses (85) and (86) of this book, with reference to a congregation of people
who had come to listen to a religious discourse in Savatthi.
On one occasion, a group of people from Savatthi made special
offerings to the bhikkhus collectively and they arranged for some bhikkhus to
deliver discourses throughout the night, in their locality. Many in the audience
could not sit up the whole night and they returned to their homes early; some
sat through the night, but most of the time they were drowsy and half-asleep.
There were only a few who listened attentively to the discourses.
At dawn, when the bhikkhus told the Buddha about what happened
the previous night, he replied, “Most people are attached to this
world; only a very few reach the other shore (Nibbana).”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 85: Few among men reach the other shore (Nibbana); all
the others only run up and down on this shore.
Verse 86: But those who practise according to the
well-expounded Dhamma will reach the other shore (Nibbana), having passed the
realm of Death (i.e., samsara), very difficult as it is to cross.