Ja 96 The Story about the Bowl of Oil

In the present the Buddha gives a teaching on how mindfulness would be established in one threatened by death, and exhorts the monks to do likewise. He then tells a story of how he once guarded himself even from heavenly charms and gained a kingdom, while others, lacking mindfulness perished (full story).

1. Samatittikaṁ anavasekaṁ,
Telapattaṁ yathā parihareyya,
Evaṁ sacittam-anurakkhe,
Patthayāno disaṁ agatapubban-ti.

Like one would take care of a bowl of oil, one which is completely full to the brim, so should one protect one’s own mind, like one wishing for a goal not gone to before.

In this connection, full to the brim means evenly filled, having reached the rim on the inside.

Completely means without having made it overpour, overflow. This translation is based on a comment in PED: Ja.i.400 (so read for ˚ssavanaka). Or is it “not overflowing”? fr. parissāvana.

A bowl of oil means a bowl into which sesame oil is dropped.

Would take care means would care for it, would depart, having taken it up.

So should one protect one’s mind means just as that bowl is filled with oil, one should protect one’s own mind, should watch over The verbs are at the end of the sentence, rakkheyya gopeyya. it with mindfulness related to the body, being connected to mindfulness in one’s environment, having established both on the inside, like someone who is not scattered even for a moment by the outside, just like a wise meditator would guard and watch over.

What is the reason? For this reason:

For the mind, difficult to subdue, The next five verses equal Dhp 35-39, which is followed by Dhp 33. flighty, flitting where it will, restraint of the mind is good, for a restrained mind brings happiness.


It is difficult to see, very subtle, flitting where it will, the intelligent should guard the mind, a guarded mind brings happiness.

Because of this:

Those who will practice control of the mind that roams far, is lonesome, bodiless, laying hidden, gain release from the bonds of Māra.

But for the other:

For the one with unsettled mind, who does not know the True Dhamma, whose confidence is wavering, their wisdom remains unfulfilled.

But for the one firm in his meditation object:

For the one with mind free of lust, for the one with mind unperplexed, for the one who has abandoned making merit and demerit, for the watchful, there is no fear.

Therefore this:

An agitated, unsteady mind, which is hard to guard, hard to ward, the intelligent one makes straight, just as a fletcher his arrow.

So should one protect one’s mind, making it straight.

Like one wishing for a goal not gone to before, having undertaken the work in this meditation subject on mindfulness related to the body, wishing for, yearning for a goal not gone to before in this endless transmigration, he would protect his own mind in the way described, this is the meaning.

But what are known as the directions? DN 31 Siṅgālasutta. The text plays on the various meanings of disā in Pāḷi, which can means direction, region, as well as goal.

Parents are the east direction, teachers are the south direction, children and wife the west direction, friends and advisors the north. Servants and workers are below, ascetics, brahmins are above, the able householder in his clan should honour these directions.

Here your children, wife and so on are said to be the direction.

Four directions, Ja 514 Chaddantajataka, vs 8. and four median directions, above and below, these are the ten directions, at which direction stands the king of elephants, having six tusks, which you saw in a dream?

Here, dividing into the east direction and so on, these are said to be the directions.

The lay man Ja 377 Setaketujātaka, vs. 2. who gives food and drinks and clothes, who invites, this they say is the goal, these goals are the highest of white ensigns, attaining which, out of suffering they become happy.

But here Nibbāna is said to be the goal. Here also this is the intention.

Indeed: “Pollutants’ end, dispassion,” Khp 6, Snp 2.1 Ratanasutta. and so on is seen and pointed out therefore the goal is said. But in this endless transmigration any foolish worldly person’s dream is also known as a direction not gone to before, out of those not gone to, this is what is said. Because of wishing for this, the meditator should do mindfulness related to the body.