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In this verse of the Dhammapada,

Those who in youth have not led the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, languish like old cranes in the pond without fish. Dhammapada 155.

Do those who have failed to acquire wealth refer to those who have decided to remain householders and didn't manage to properly earn a living, in order to for example raise a family, or does wealth refer here to spiritual qualities and virtues ?

With metta.

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does wealth refer here to spiritual qualities and virtues ?

Wealth here literally means the wealth from householders. The background story to the verse might be helpful here: https://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/verseload.php?verse=155

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  • Thank you for your answer. Yet wouldn't someone striving on the path and not necessarily being a monk or a successful householder still live a worthwhile life ? Apr 14 '20 at 21:48
  • I think the context of the verses are quite clear: a householder who squandered his massive wealth in its entirety and fell into such destitute that he had to survive on the monks' alms food must've been absolutely 100% living a terribly un-worthwhile life.
    – santa100
    Apr 14 '20 at 23:44
  • @Fedeverovitch Perhaps so; but the case in the story was of someone who was born rich and did nothing worthwhile during their life, lived an aimless life of pleasure.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 15 '20 at 7:04
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    Without further context I would interpret 'wealth' as 'spiritual' attainment, and the 'pond without fish' as the poverty of old age without such attainment. I see no mention of householders or monks but just a general observation applicable to anyone. .
    – user14119
    Apr 22 '20 at 10:26

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