4:6  Old Age

How short this life!

You die this side of a century,

but even if you live past,

you die of old age.

People grieve

for what they see as mine,

for          nothing possessed is constant,

nothing is constantly possessed.1

Seeing this separation

simply as it is,

one shouldn’t follow the household life.

At death a person abandons

what he supposes as mine.

Realizing this, the wise

shouldn’t incline

to be devoted to mine-ness.

Just as a man doesn’t see

on awakening

what he met in a dream,

even so he doesn’t see,

when they are dead

—their time done—

those he held dear.

When they are seen & heard,

people are called by this name or that,

but only the name remains

to be pointed to

when they are dead.

Grief, lamentation, & selfishness

are not let go

by those greedy for mine,

so sages

letting go of possessions,

go about

seeing the Secure.

A monk, living withdrawn,

enjoying a dwelling secluded:

They say it’s congenial for him,

he who wouldn’t, in any realm,

display self.


the sage


makes nothing dear or undear.

In him

lamentation & selfishness,

like water on a white lotus,

do not adhere.

As a water bead on a lotus leaf,

as water on a red lily,

doesn’t adhere,

so the sage

doesn’t adhere

to the seen, the heard, or the sensed;

for, cleansed,

he doesn’t suppose

in connection

with the seen, the heard, or the sensed.

In no other way

does he wish for purity,

for he neither takes on passion

nor puts it away.2

vv. 804–813


1. “Nothing possessed is constant, nothing is constantly possessed”—two readings of the phrase, na hi santi niccā pariggahā.

2. Nd I: An arahant has put passion totally away once and for all, and so has no need to do it ever again.

See also: SN 21:2; AN 4:184; Dhp 21; Sn 5:16