Book: The Tree of Wisdom
Author: Nargarjuna

The Tree of Wisdom By Nargarjuna

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 39
Publication Date: This translation by W. L. Campbell, 1919

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The She-rab Dong-bu is an ethical treatise written by Nargarjuna. Although he is celebrated as one of the most subtle thinkers that Buddhism, and indeed the world, has ever produced, this work is fairly simple and intended for a broad audience. Particularly striking is the nearly rabid misogyny, a feature fully in keeping with the time and place of composition, but one that we might wish not to see in the writing of the grand formulator of the Madhyamika School of philosophy.

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1. Evil persons should be brought under control.
The wise should be reverenced.
Fill your treasury with honest deeds
(And) protect your own countrymen.

2. (As regards) your own secrets and those of others,
If you guard these as your own dear child
He for whom all earthly things are equal
Will make love for man the principal affection.

3. If your wife is evil and your friend evil,
If the King is evil and your relatives evil,
If your neighbour is evil and the country evil,
(Then) abandon them for a distant (land).

4. Avoid that friend who is greedy for wealth.
Avoid a wife who is fond of fornication.
If unskilful in curing and hard to please (or respect)
Avoid such a doctor.

5. Although you know the difference between good and bad deeds
You should carry out your work after consultation.
Although you may only succeed partially
Even without succeeding you are to be admired.

6. The steadfast who speak in few words and politely
Are very much respected by mankind.
As the sun which coming out from the shadow
By his rays creates great heat.

7. (As regards) these doctriries, though you may suffer
(Yet) be not anxious in your mind.
When the moon has been eclipsed
Will it not shine again?

8. Just as for the garlands on the altars
Only full-blown flowers are gathered,
So a gardener, in the same way,
Does not uproot the plant.

9. Rewards and royal favours,
The price of prostitution and praise (from pupil),
The hire of a boat and the rent of a dwelling,
These may be asked for at once
For these six are not to be had after a long interval.

10. A magic spell misunderstood is poison.
Indifference to illness is poison.
An old man keeping company with woman is poison.
A poor man's sleep in the daytime is poison.

11. Worthy men who do not make many promises,
But if a promise is made under pressure
Then it is like a carving on stone.
Even should they die it is not altered.

12. You will come to terms with your enemy on occasion
And on occasion you will quarrel with your friends.
Having learned to distinguish what should be done and what not,
The clever man will always select his opportunity.

13. If you sin in speech you will be damned.
The parrot, the singing bird and the waterhen,
The silent waterduck which man does not catch--
Their entire accomplishment is keeping silence.

14. If you keep your weapons in order your enemy will be subdued.
By wearing poor clothes a woman will be subdued.
By treatment illness will be subdued.
Ignorance will be subdued (overcome) by effort.

15. Keep your resolves to yourself as a secret,
Like the body which lies (hid) in the mud.
If it were not that the sprouts attract attention
Who would find the lotus root?