Dhammapada – Chapter 22 – Realms of Woe

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 22 – Realms of Woe

Those who are in the habit of telling lies and those who do things that they then claim they didn’t do are equal after death. Both end up in hell.

Some spiritual leaders have evil dispositions. They are unrestrained in thought, word, and deed. Because of these evil things they are reborn in hell.

It is better to swallow a red-hot iron ball that burns like a flame than to eat food respectfully offered by others if one is immoral and unrestrained in thought, word, and deed.

Four kinds of misfortune come to those who commit adultery: bad karma, disturbed sleep, and a bad reputation are already known are already known. To these add the risk of being reborn in hell.

Trading bad karma and bad destiny for the brief joy of adultery brings heavy punishment. Do not consort with someone else’s partner.

In the same way that a piece of glass grasped carelessly cuts your hand, carelessness about moral behaviour leads to hell.

Loose acts, corrupt practices, questionable holiness: none of these brings good fruit. If you are going to do something, give yourself completely to whatever it is and stick with it steadily. Half-hearted efforts just make more mess.

It is better not to do an evil deed in the first place — it will only torment you later. Better to do a good deed you will not regret.

Like a city on a country’s border guarded both inside and out, guard yourself. Do not waste life. Those who let their lives slip away grieve when they are reborn in hell.

Those ashamed of purity have it all wrong. Those who fear the harmless but see no harm in danger have it all wrong. Embracing wrong views they are reborn in hell.

Those who imagine evil where there is none but do not see evil where it exists have it all wrong. Embracing wrong views, they are reborn in hell.

Those who know wrong is wrong and right is right — embracing right views they fall into bliss.