Dhammapada – Chapter 25 – The Monk

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 25 – The Monk

Restrain your eyes. Restrain your ears. Restrain your nose. Restrain your tongue.

Restrain your body. Restrain your speech. Restrain your mind. In all instances, restraint is good. The monk is restrained in every way is freed all suffering.

A person whose physical actions are controlled, who controls where she goes and what she says, who delights in meditation, is composed, solitary, and contented — that woman they call blessed.

The monk who controls his tongue, who speaks wisely, mindfully, who explains both words and meaning — sweet is his speech.

The monk who dwells in the Dharma, delights in the Dharma, meditates on the Dharma, and remembers the Dharma well does not fall away from it.

Do not dislike gifts given to you, nor envy the gain of others. A person who envies others cannot concentrate on her spiritual practice.

Even if she gets just a little caught up in gains and losses, rather than sustaining a purity of livelihood, this woman the gods cannot praise.

A person who has no thoughts of “I” and “mine” — who is content — deserves to be called holy.

The monk who personifies lovingkindness, who is pleased with the teaching of the Buddha, attains a state of peace and happiness where all conditioning is stilled.

Empty yourself! This is the way to move swiftly along a spiritual path. Cutting off desire and ill will to Nirvana will you travel.

Cut off all fetters: belief in a permanent personality; skeptical doubt; attachment to rules and rituals; sensual craving; ill will; craving for birth in particular heavens; conceit; restlessness; and psychological ignorance.

Cultivate the five faculties of faith: enterprise, mindfulness, concentration, insight, and wisdom. The monk who moves past the things that bind him is called “one who has crossed over”.

Meditate! Be heedful! Do not let your mind get caught in sensual pleasures. Do not be so careless that you unthinkingly swallow something so harmful to you that you can only cry out in pain.

Concentration is impossible for a person who lacks wisdom. Wisdom is impossible for a person who lacks concentration. When a person can concentrate and is wise, he is in the presence of Nirvana.

The monk who has retreated to an isolated spot, who has calmed her mind, and who clearly understands Buddha’s teaching experiences a joy that transcends worldly happiness.

Whenever she can simply reflect on the rise and fall of all things, she experiences joy and happiness. To “those who know,” such reflection is the deathless state.

The place to begin for a person determined to be wise? Control. Contentment. Restraint. Association with beneficial and energetic friends.

Be with good friends. Be amiable and correct in your own conduct. Then, feeling great joy, you will end the cycle of rebirth.

Just as jasmine sheds its withered petals, so should you cast off desire and ill will.

The monk who is calm in body, calm in speech, and calm in mind, who is well composed and has given up worldly things, is truly peaceful. Constantly monitor yourself. Self-guarded and heedful, you will live happily.

You are your own protector. Indeed, you are your own refuge. Therefore, control yourself just as a skilled rider controls a show horse.

Full of joy, full of confidence in Buddha’s teaching, a person will attain the peaceful state — where all conditioned elements are stilled and there is bliss.

The monk who, while still young, devotes himself to Buddha’s teaching lights up the world like the moon freed from behind a cloud.

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