Dhammapada – Chapter 4 – Flowers

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 4 – Flowers

Who shall see the true nature of this world of temptation? Who will investigate the Dharma as carefully as an excellent florist chooses flowers?

A person sincere about his spiritual practice will see the true nature of this world of temptation.

Knowing that this body is nothing but a mirage, one should cut the flowers of desire and, through such effort, escape death.

The woman who gathers the flowers of desire, whose mind clings to pleasures, is carried off by death in the same way that a sleeping village is swept away by a great flood.

The man who gathers the flowers of desire, whose mind clings to pleasure, is overpowered by death in the same way.

As a bee gathers nectar from a flower without marring the blossom’s beauty or scent, so should a spiritual seeker wander through the world.

Do not analyze the failings of others. Instead look at your failings. Where have you been responsible?

Where have you been irresponsible? Like those flowers that are beautiful but scentless are the beautiful but empty words of those who do not practice what they say.

Like the flowers that are beautiful and fragrant are the wisdom-filled words of those who practice what they teach.

Like garlands woven from carefully chosen blooms, fashion your life from constant good deeds. The perfumes of sandalwood and jasmine drift with the wind.

Their scents are faint compared to the perfume of the virtuous. It fills the sky even against the wind, even to the heavens.

Temptation never blocks the path of people who practice virtue, paying attention to their thoughts and their actions. The practice of virtue protects them and opens a path to enlightenment.

Just as a sweet-smelling lotus that grows out of the mud of a silty pond, a sincere spiritual seeker outshines those steeped in ignorance with a wisdom that reflects the moon’s bright light.

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