Chapter XII - ATTA VAGGA - The Self



Atta dattham paratthena bahuna' pi na hapaye
Atta dattham abhinnaya sadattha pasuto siya.

For the sake of others' welfare, however great, let not one neglect one's ownwelfare.
Clearly perceiving one's own welfare, let one be intent on one's own goal. [166]

XII:10 The story of a diligent monk (Attadatta)

When the Buddha declared that he would attain parinibbana in four months' time, many bhikkhus (i.e. those who had not yet gained Arahanthood) were sad and did not know what to do. So, they kept close to him. A monk named Attadatta, however, did not go to see him and, having resolved to attain Arahanthood during the lifetime of the Buddha, was striving hard in the meditation practice. Other bhikkhus, not understanding him, took him to the Enlightened One and said, 'Venerable Sir! This bhikkhu does not love and revere you as we do. He is egoistic and keeps to himself.' The monk then respectfully explained that the greatest homage he could pay the Buddha was to attain Arahanthood before his parinibbana.

In applauding the monk, the Buddha told the bhikkhus, 'Those who love and revere me should act like Attadatta. You are not paying me homage by coming to see me; you pay me homage only by practising the Dhamma I have taught you.'


  1. Here "welfare" denotes one's ultimate goal, i.e., Nibbana.
    Personal sanctification should not be sacrificed for the sake of external homage.
    One must not misunderstand this verse to mean that one should not selflessly work for the weal of others. Selfless service is highly commended by the Buddha.