Dhammapada – Chapter 20 – The Path

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 19 – The Path

The spiritual path is the Eightfold Path. The truths are the Four Noble Truths.

This is the path for purity of vision. Following it protects you from temptation.

Following this path leads to the end of suffering. This truth was declared once Buddha learned how to pull the arrow out of suffering.

You must do  your own work. A Buddha can only guide you. By entering the path seekers can transcend all pain.

When, through your own effort, you see that everything arises and passes away, you will see the true nature of suffering and be able to let go of it. This is the path to purity.

When, through your own effort, you see that all dharmas are impersonal, you will be able to go of attachment. This is the path to purity.

The person who does not do the work when she is young and strong — the person who is idle, loose in how he spends his days and in what he thinks — that lazy one will never find the path to freedom.

Be heedful of your words, restrained in your thinking. Do not let your body harm. Do these things sincerely and you will attain freedom just as the Buddha did.

Wisdom grows out of effort. Without effort wisdom wanes. Knowing this, spend your days in a way that will allow wisdom to surface.

Cut down the forest of passions, not just the trees. Attachment grows out of passions and fear. Cutting down both trees and brush frees you from both.

If the roots of your attachments are not completely pulled out, even the smallest remainder will keep you in bondage like a suckling calf that cannot live without its mother. As if they were autumn lilies, cut off your attachments even to yourself. Cultivate the path of peace, the path of Nirvana, the path taught by Buddha.

“Here’s where I’ll live now.” “There’s where I’ll live later.” In this way a fool makes plans, not giving a thought to their own dying.

Death cuts each of us off while we are busy being distracted by our lives. Caring only for our livelihoods and our children, we are like sleeping towns that end up being swept away by flash floods.

Nobody can save us from our own dying: not our parents, not our children, not even our best friend. No one.

Knowing this, be virtuous and wise. Surrender to the spiritual practice that leads to your awakening.

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