Dhammapada – Chapter 19 – The Just

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.

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Chapter 18 – The Just

The person who settles matters hastily is not just. A woman is wise only when she first considers what is right and what is wrong, truthful and non-truthful, peaceful and not peaceful, before making a decision.

The wise man is not arbitrary. He is impartial, judging according to the law of the Dharma. The just man guards Dharma and abides by it.

Talking a lot does not make us wise. Being free of hate, being fearless, and refusing to do harm — these make us wise. A woman cannot be considered well versed in the Dharma just because she talks about it.

On the other hand, a person who has never heard the teachings of the Buddha but knows the truth of the Dharma from her own experience is well versed in the teachings.

Just because his head is gray does not mean a man is necessarily wise. Ripe in age we are only old men.

One who is inoffensive, virtuous, honest, self-restrained, free of flaws — this is a person who can be honored.

Good looks and a honeyed tongue do not make a woman attractive if she is — jealous, deceitful, and selfish.

On the other hand, the person who has refused to give in to envy, lying, and ego is deeply attractive.

A shaven head does not make a monk if one is undisciplined, tells lies, is full of desire and greed. Who are you trying to kid? A monk is a person who has subdued his unwholesome tendencies, large and small. This  one is a monk because evil has been overcome.

Just because a man knows how to use a begging bowl does not make him a monk. Only by leading a moral life do we become holy.

And a woman is not wise simply because she has taken a vow of silence. Awareness, clarity, and a willingness to do the work to choose wisely make a sage.

Discernment. Choosing good over evil. With these wisdom is uncovered. If you harm others you are not noble. Noble ones do not hurt living beings. Period.

Not through scholarly accomplishment, not by simply keeping the precepts, not by observing ritual, not with the attainment of meditative absorption, not by solitude is the bliss of wisdom found. A wise person will not rest content until all of her mind’s defilements have been uprooted. This is wisdom.

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