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Dhp 153 - 154

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Hi fellow dharma friends,


Dont mind if i quote this as i want to have fruitful discussion so as to have better understanding of it . Heres the quote :


At the moment of the attainment of Buddhahood,

the Buddha uttered the following two verses:


Verse 153: I, who have been seeking the builder of this house (body), failing to attain Enlightenment (Bodhi nana or Sabbannuta nana) which would enable me to find him, have wandered through innumerable births in samsara. To be born again and again is, indeed, dukkha!




Verse 154: Oh house-builder! You are seen, you shall build no house (for me) again. All your rafters are broken, your roof-tree is destroyed. My mind has reached the unconditioned (i.e., Nibbana); the end of craving (Arahatta Phala) has been attained.


* Kamasukhallikanuyoga and Attakiamathanuyoga.



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To place the 2 verses 153 and 154 from Dhamapada into context, I've here an extract written by Ven. Piyadassi Thera:


Extract from Buddha Net




The Buddha, His Life and Teachings by Ven. Piyadassi Thera


The Final Triumph


Crosslegged he sat under a tree, which later became known as the Bodhi Tree, the "Tree of Enlightenment" or "Tree of Wisdom," on the bank of the river Nerañjarâ, at Gayâ (now known as Buddhagayâ), making the final effort with the inflexible resolution: "Though only my skin, sinews, and bones remain, and my blood and flesh dry up and wither away, yet will I never stir from this seat until I have attained full enlightenment (sammâ-sambodhi)." So indefatigable in effort, so unflagging in his devotion was he, and so resolute to realize truth and attain full enlightenment.


Applying himself to the "mindfulness of in-and-out breathing" (ânâpâna sati), the Bodhisatta entered upon and dwelt in the first meditative absorption (jhâna; Skt. dhyâna). By gradual stages he entered upon and dwelt in the second, third, and fourth jhânas. Thus cleansing his mind of impurities, with the mind thus composed, he directed it to the knowledge of recollecting past births (pubbenivâsânussati-ñâˆa). This was the first knowledge attained by him in the first watch of the night. Then the Bodhisatta directed his mind to the knowledge of the disappearing and reappearing of beings of varied forms, in good states of experience, and in states of woe, each faring according to his deeds (cutûpapâtañâna). This was the second knowledge attained by him in the middle watch of the night. Next he directed his mind to the knowledge of the eradication of the taints (âsavakkhayañâna).n9

He understood as it really is: "This is suffering (dukkha), this is the arising of suffering, this is the cessation of suffering, this is the path leading to the cessation of suffering." He understood as it really is: "These are defilements (âsavas), this is the arising of defilements, this is the cessation of defilements, this is the path leading to the cessation of defilements."


Knowing thus, seeing thus, his mind was liberated from the defilements of sense pleasures (kâmâsava), of becoming (bhavâsava), and of ignorance (avijjâsava).n10 When his mind was thus liberated, there came the knowledge, "liberated" and he understood: "Destroyed is birth, the noble life (brahmacariya) has been lived, done is what was to be done, there is no more of this to come" (meaning, there is no more continuity of the mind and body, no more becoming, rebirth). This was the third knowledge attained by him in the last watch of the night. This is known as tevijjâ (Skt. trividyâ), threefold knowledge.n11

Thereupon he spoke these words of victory:


"Seeking but not finding the house builder,
I hurried through the round of many births:
Painful is birth ever and again.

O house builder, you have been seen;
You shall not build the house again.
Your rafters have been broken up,
Your ridgepole is demolished too.

My mind has now attained the unformed Nibbâna
And reached the end of every sort of craving.


Thus the Bodhisatta n13 Gotama at the age of thirty-five, on another full moon of May (vesâkha, vesak), attained Supreme Enlightenment by comprehending in all their fullness the Four Noble Truths, the Eternal Verities, and he became the Buddha, the Great Healer and Consummate Master-Physician who can cure the ills of beings. This is the greatest unshakeable victory.


The Four Noble Truths are the priceless message that the Buddha gave to suffering humanity for their guidance, to help them to be rid of the bondage of dukkha, and to attain the absolute happiness, that absolute reality, Nibbâna.

These truths are not his creation. He only re-discovered their existence. We thus have in the Buddha one who deserves our respect and reverence not only as a teacher but also as model of the noble, self-sacrificing, and meditative life we would do well to follow if we wish to improve ourselves.


One of the noteworthy characteristics that distinguishes the Buddha from all other religious teachers is that he was a human being having no connection whatsoever with a God or any other "supernatural" being. He was neither God nor an incarnation of God, nor a prophet, nor any mythological figure. He was a man, but an extraordinary man (acchariya manussa), a unique being, a man par excellence (purisuttama). All his achievements are attributed to his human effort and his human understanding. Through personal experience he understood the supremacy of man.

Depending on his own unremitting energy, unaided by any teacher, human or divine, he achieved the highest mental and intellectual attainments, reached the acme of purity, and was perfect in the best qualities of human nature. He was an embodiment of compassion and wisdom, which became the two guiding principles in his Dispensation (sâsana).

The Buddha never claimed to be a saviour who tried to save "souls" by means of a revealed religion. Through his own perseverance and understanding he proved that infinite potentialities are latent in man and that it must be man’s endeavour to develop and unfold these possibilities. He proved by his own experience that deliverance and enlightenment lie fully within man’s range of effort.

"Religion of the highest and fullest character can coexist with a complete absence of belief in revelation in any straightforward sense of the word, and in that kernel of revealed religion, a personal God. Under the term personal God I include all ideas of a so-called superpersonal god, of the same spiritual and mental nature as a personality but on a higher level, or indeed any supernatural spiritual existence or force." (Julian Huxley, Religion Without Revelation, pp. 2 and 7.)


Each individual should make the appropriate effort and break the shackles that have kept him in bondage, winning freedom from the bonds of existence by perseverance, self-exertion, and insight. It was the Buddha who for the first time in the world’s history taught that deliverance could be attained independently of an external agency, that deliverance from suffering must be wrought and fashioned by each one for himself upon the anvil of his own actions.

None can grant deliverance to another who merely begs for it. Others may lend us a helping hand by guidance and instruction and in other ways, but the highest freedom is attained only through self-realization and self-awakening to truth and not through prayers and petitions to a Supreme Being, human or divine. The Buddha warns his disciples against shifting the burden to an external agency, directs them to the ways of discrimination and research, and urges them to get busy with the real task of developing their inner forces and qualities.



The obvious question is who or what is this builder of the house or house-builder. Perhaps the Buddha is referring to the Creator-God or the Cause of Samaric Cycles. Rafters, then are the binding factors that bind the various constituents of Life together. With this, you may like to refer to Dependent Origination for a comprehensive understanding.

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Hi, thanks for your reply,


The verses in pali :


Dhammapada Verses 153 and 1541

Udana Vatthu



sandhavissam anibbisam

gahakaram gavesanto2

dukkha jati punappunam3.


Gahakaraka ditthosi4

puna geham na kahasi5

sabba te phasuka bhagga6

gahakotam visankhatam7

visankharagatam cittam8

tanhanam khayamajjhaga9.


In reply to ur last paragraph, firstly,i dont think the Buddha was referring to a Creator-God, as the tradition attributed (or so i thinks) this housebuilder to ignorance.If Creator is responsible for building this house,then it only make sense he (alone) will be having the power to " break the rafter ".If he cannot and it takes human effort (prince Siddharta) to do this, then what an impotent creator he is ☺


Buddhist tradition places huge emphasis on ignorance and non clinging as cause(or condition) of suffering.I do not want to discuss ignorance first,as it is still beyond my understanding why ignorance(not knowing) should have such primary importance in ending suffering.Prefer to discuss something when one personally has some experience of.


As it is easier to see that non attachment leads to a reduced suffering,that is a good starting point, - nonclinging.


Earlier i was having PM discusion with someone and the topic of not clinging came up.The pali verse in the exclamation is ' tanha ' . ( theres another one -upadana)


Not having the urge to say anything further for now,i will stop here.


Thanks again

Edited by taoteching99

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Here's now Gil Fronsdal translates these verses:


House-builder, you are seen!

You will not build a house again!

All the rafters are broken,

The ridgepole destroyed;

The mind, gone to the Unconstructed,

Has reached the end of craving!


In the notes, he comments:


According to the commentarial tradition, these two verses were the first words the Buddha spoke after his Awakening. The commentaries explain that "house" refers to individuality, selfhood or the body. The builder is one's craving. The rafters are the defilements. The ridgepole is ignorance. Interestingly, there is no canonical evidence that the Buddha spoke this verse. The verse does appear in the Theragatha, a collection of verses spoken by the liberated disciples of the Buddha. There the verse is attributed to a monk named Sivaka (Theragatha 183-184).


I think one of the most interesting things here is that the house-builder, craving, is stopped through being seen. In the suttas, Mara is often dispelled when people say 'I see you, Mara,' and he vanishes. IMHO craving is stopped not by force of will to let go, but by seeing it, understanding it, getting the mind to see that it causes dukkha and so freely let it go. Craving relies on our ignorance of what it's really doing.

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