Sirimanda Thera: Beaten Like a Thief


This is the kind of literature that leads some to view Buddhism as holding a pessimistic outlook on the world. But in fact it is merely expressing in a forthright and dramatic manner some facts with which we are all quite familiar. Perhaps we would prefer to ignore the facts of aging and death; but the Buddha’s compassion is manifest in his not leaving the world to wallow in the shallow happiness that comes from ignoring our danger. ~ Andrew Olendzki

The world is assailed by death
And smothered by old age;
Pierced with the arrow of craving
And always obscured by desires.

The world is assailed by death
And besieged by old age;
Eternally beaten, with no relief–
Like a thief beneath the rod.

Old age, illness and death approach
Like three great masses of fire.
No strength can resist them.
No speed can out-run them.

Spend your days without confusion,
Whether few or many [remain].
For every night that slips away,
There is that much less of life left.

Whether walking or atanding,
Sitting or lying down
—Your final night is drawing near.
You have no time to be lazy.

“Sirimanda Thera: Beaten Like a Thief” (Thag 6.13), translated from the Pali by Andrew Olendzki. Access to Insight, 8 August 2010,


2 thoughts on “Sirimanda Thera: Beaten Like a Thief

  1. I’ve noticed you been reading and citing the Pali canon quite a bit lately. It is a rich and varied fountain of material, isn’t it?

  2. Yes. Definitely plenty of material if not slightly (understatement) overwhelming. I find that just popping into it for a sutta or two keeps me in Dharma thoughts for a week.

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