Dhammapada – Chapter 24 – Craving

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 24 – Craving

The craving of a person addicted to careless living grows like a runaway vine. Such a person jumps from life to life like a monkey jumping from tree to tree, looking for fruit.

If you are overcome by craving, your sorrows will grow like weeds after a hard rain.

Whoever overcomes this wretched craving will experience her sorrows falling away from her like water dropping from a leaf or a flower. So I say to you: Greetings to all who have assembled here! Dig up your roots of craving, just as someone who wants beautiful flowers digs up weeds. Do not let temptation destroy  you again and again as a flood overwhelms a reed.

In the same way that a felled tree sprouts again if its roots stay strong, suffering will arise again and again if the roots of craving are not completely destroyed.

A person who gives way to pleasure will be swept away by craving. His thoughts will become an ocean of suffering.

The streams of craving flow everywhere, sending out strands like a creeper vine. Seeing your own craving, cut it off at its roots with wisdom.

A person’s joys are always transient, and since we tend to devote ourselves to pleasure, our seeking after happiness leads us to repeated birth and decay.

People controlled by craving become terrified, rabbits caught in snares. A person who wants peace needs to eradicate craving.

Having let go of the forest of desire, a person can take up a forest of practice. Without mindfulness, though, even after freeing ourselves from craving, we can find ourselves rushing back into that very thicket. Prisons made of iron, wood, or stone pale in comparison to the longing for jewels, ornaments, mates, and children. Attachments are far stronger prisons, say the wise.

The bond of attachment ties you completely, even though the knots may feel loose. The wise let go of their longings before they die.

People who are infatuated with lust fall back into the stream of suffering, just like a spider falling into its own web. The wise, cutting off the bonds of craving, walk on resolutely, leaving all sorrow behind.

Let go of the past! Let go of the future! Let go of now! Crossing beyond the shore of existences, with a mind that is free of all conditioned thinking, you will no longer face another birth or death.

Craving builds in one who becomes lustful on seeing beauty. In such a person the bond of desire grows stronger.

On the other hand, the person who understands that the body is merely a collection of organs, and who is constantly mindful — that person will end craving. She will sever desire’s bond.

The man who has freed himself from craving is fearless. He has cut off the thorns of life. This is his final body. The woman who is free from craving, from attachment, who is skilled in language and understands the significance of letting go of desire, is indeed one who has lived her last life — a woman of great wisdom, a great woman.

Having uprooted craving, I have overcome every desire. I understand. I am detached. I have let go. I have freed myself from moral defilements. Truly understanding the Four Noble Truths, who shall I call teacher?

Truth is the best gift of all gifts. The flavor of truth is beyond sweet. The pleasure of truth is the best of all pleasures. The person who has destroyed desire has overcome all sorrow. Wanting wealth destroys the foolish, but not those who seek Nirvana.

By craving riches the fool destroys himself in the same way that he would destroy his enemies.

Weeds can destroy fields. Desire spoil lives. Honor those who have freed themselves from desire.

Weeds can destroy fields. Hatred spoils all beings. Be generous to those who have freed themselves from hatred.

Weeds can destroy fields. Delusion spoils all beings. Honor those who have freed themselves from delusion.

Weeds can destroy fields. Craving destroys all beings. Be generous to those who have freed themselves from craving. Your generosity will be repaid over and over.

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