Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 03/01/2021

Dhammapada Memorization: Verse 13

13. Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind.

Please find the audio recording of this verse below. Please take the time to recite the following three times before reading the words of Lord Buddha:

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambudhassa (3 times).

Homage to the blessed One, the Perfected One, the Fully Awakened One (3 times).

Be sure to repeat the verse, with the verse number at least ten times out loud. It helps if you can do this multiple times a day and use as many different techniques (writing, repetition, listening) as possible.

The Illustrated Dhammapada, Treasury of Truth, gives the following context and explanation for this verse of the Dhammapada:

Verse 13. Lust Penetrates Untrained Mind

Even as the rain does penetrate
a house that’s badly thatched,
likewise lust does penetrate
the mind uncultivated.

Explanation: It is quite necessary that a house should have a well-thatched roof. If the thatching is weak, rain seeps through the house. Just as a badly thatched roof lets in the rain, the uncultured temperament too is open to passions. The temperament that is not cultured is penetrated easily by lust.

From the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies:

The notion of developing the mind lies at the heart of the Buddhist tradition. Development (literally “causing to be”) has to do with strengthening the ability to focus, to stabilize, and to direct the mind, rather than allowing it to be carried off by whatever breezes waft in upon it from the senses or from its own unconscious. The question is whether your mind controls you or you control your mind. If your intention is to keep your attention on the breath, but it wanders off at the slightest provocation, then your ability to focus the mind is undeveloped. Yet remaining focused on a chosen object is a skill that can be learned, like any other, by practice, patient repetition, and gradual development.


In this case the skill developed is the ability to resist or deflect the influence of passion (raga), a word used more or less synonymously with desire, craving, attachment, etc. and thus the core cause of suffering. The effectiveness of a well-thatched roof (as they all were in those days) lies in its ability to deflect moisture and protect the contents of the house from getting soaked. By analogy, a well-developed mind will be aware of an unwholesome emotion that has arisen, for example, or a provocative sense input, but will allow these to roll off the mind and not penetrate into ensuing mind moments to drench the mind with clinging. A similar image often used in early Buddhist literature is of water rolling off a lotus leaf or the feathers of a duck.

When mindfulness of the body is well developed, conceptual thoughts will not penetrate; when loving kindness is well developed, aversion will not penetrate; when insight is well developed, ignorance and confusion will not penetrate. In short, when the mind is well developed, all its functions will be well shielded from the intrusion of suffering.


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