1 Human life is as frail as a drop of water trembling on the tip of a leaflet. Life breaking loose from its bodily imprisonment out of its proper season is as irrepressible as a raving madman. 2 The lives of those whose minds are infected by the poison of worldly affairs, and who are incapable of judging for themselves, are only causes for their torment.
3 Those knowing the knowable, and resting in the all-pervading spirit, and acquiescing alike to their wants and gains, enjoy lives of perfect tranquility. 4 We who have a certain belief that we are only limited beings can have no enjoyment in our transient lives, which are only flashes of lightning in the cloudy sky of the world. 5 It is as impossible to confine the winds or tear the sky to pieces or wreathe waves into a garland as it is to place any reliance upon our lives. 6 Fast as the fleeting clouds in autumn, and short as the light of lamp without oil, our lives appear to pass away as impermanent as rolling waves in the sea. 7 Rather attempt to lay hold of the moon’s shadow on the waves, or the fleeting lightening in the sky, or the ideal lotus blossoms in the ether, than ever place any reliance upon this unsteady life. 8 Men of restless minds, desiring to prolong their useless and toilsome lives, resemble the barren she-mule conceived by a horse.
9 This world (samsara) is as a whirlpool in the ocean of creation, and every individual body is as impermanent as foam, froth or a bubble, which can give me no relish in this life. 10 True living is gain which is worth gaining, which has no cause of sorrow or remorse, and which is a state of transcendental tranquility. 11 There is a vegetable life in plants, and an animal life in beasts and birds. Man leads a thinking life, but true life is above thoughts. 12 All those living beings who being born here once do not return are said to have lived well in this earth. The rest are no better than old asses.
13 Knowledge is a burden to the unthinking, and wisdom is burdensome to the passionate. Intellect is a heavy load to the restless, and the body is a ponderous burden to one ignorant of his soul. 14 A good person possessed of life, mind, intellect and self-consciousness and its occupations, is of no benefit to the unwise, but seem to weigh down on the unwise as if he were a porter. 15 The discontented mind is the great arena of all evils, and the nesting place of diseases which alight upon it like birds of the air. Such a life is the abode of toil and misery.
16 As a house is slowly dilapidated by the mice continually burrowing under it, so is the body of the living gradually corroded by the teeth of time boring within it. 17 Deadly diseases breed within the body, feed upon our vital breath, like poisonous snakes born in caves of the woods consume the meadow air. 18 As the withered tree is perforated by small worms residing in them, so our bodies are continually wasted by many inborn diseases and harmful secretions. 19 Death is constantly staring and growling at our face, as a cat looks and purrs at a mouse in order to devour it. 20 Old age wastes us as soon as a glutton digests his food, and it reduces one to weakness as an old harlot left with no charm other than her make-up and perfumes.
21 Youth forsakes us as soon as a good man who, after a few days learns of his wicked friend’s faults, abandons him in disgust. 22 Death, the lover of destruction and friend of old age and ruin, likes the sensual man, as a lecher likes a beauty.
23 Thus there is nothing so worthless in the world as this life, which is devoid of every good quality and ever subject to death, unless it is attended by the permanent joy of liberation.