Dhammapada – Chapter 12 – Self

The Dhammapada contains the solution to all our sufferings. Within this much-loved text are pearls of wisdom and nuggets of practical advice on how we can reduce and remove the suffering we cause to ourselves and others. 

Altogether there are twenty-six chapters. You will soon notice as you go through all the chapters that training the mind is the solution to end all suffering and it forms the basis of our spiritual cultivation, practice, and sadhana. From thought flows behaviour which then shapes our character. The Buddha’s fundamental teaching is that we are what we think. And all suffering comes from not knowing how to use our minds properly.

Of the many renditions of the Dhammapada, I have decided to share the one from The Still Point Dhammapada by Geri Larkin. I find it to be the most relevant to the struggles we face in our complicated, contemporary lives especially when we live in a city where chances are we build walls more than relationships. People matter and how we behave towards them begins with what goes on in our mind and heart. The only way out of our own suffering is actually to be inclusive. A heart big enough for all.


Chapter 12 – Self

If you love yourself you will guard yourself well. Day and night the wise guard themselves.

Establish yourself as a sincere, spiritual seeker and thus be free from useless pain. Then you can teach others.

Mold yourself in accordance with the precepts. Allow no gap in credibility, no disgrace.

You are your own saviour.

What other saviour could there be? When the saviour and the saved are one, your work is done. In the same way that a diamond can grind all other gems, evil committed by a fool crushes the doer.

Like a vine strangling a tree, a person’s unwholesome actions strangle her, to the delight of her enemy.

It is so easy to do the things that harm us — and so hard to do the things that don’t.

Foolish people cling to wrong views. They mock the teaching of the enlightened ones. And then they reap what they sow. Like a plant that dies when it bears fruit, foolish people bear the fruit of their own destruction.

We create our own evil, you and I. We defile ourselves. We are the only ones who can abandon our evil doings. We are the only ones who can make ourselves pure.

Your purity and your impurity depend on you. Completely. This is not someone else’s work.

Do not neglect your own spiritual efforts for the sake of others’ welfare, even when there is need. Instead, find your own spiritual path and then, seeing it clearly, follow it with earnestness.