Itivuttaka 91

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “Monks, this is a lowly means of livelihood, alms gathering. It’s a form of abuse in the world [to say], ‘You go around as an alms gatherer with a bowl in your hand!’ Yet reasonable young men of good families have taken it up for a compelling reason. They have not been forced into it by kings or robbers, nor through debt, through fear, nor through the loss of their livelihood, but through the thought: ‘We are beset by birth, aging, & death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress. O, that the end of this entire mass of suffering & stress might be known!’ But this young man of good family, having gone forth in this way, may be greedy for sensual pleasures, strong in his passions, malevolent in mind, corrupt in his resolves, his mindfulness muddled, unalert, uncentered, his mind scattered, & his faculties uncontrolled. Just as a firebrand from a funeral pyre–burning at both ends, covered with excrement in the middle–is used as fuel neither in a village nor in the wilderness: I tell you that this is a simile for this person. He has missed out on the householder’s enjoyments and does not fulfill the purpose of the contemplative life.”

He’s missed out

on the householder’s enjoyment

& the purpose of the contemplative life

–unfortunate man!

Ruining it, he throws it away,


like a firebrand used at a funeral.

Better to eat an iron ball

–glowing, aflame–

than that, unprincipled &


he should eat the alms of the country.1


1. This last verse = Dhp 308.