Dhammapada – Chapter 5 – The Fool

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 5 – The Fool

The night is long for the sleepless. The road is long for the weary. The wandering through lives is endless for someone who misses the point of his life; spiritual practice.

If you cannot find your equal or better to go with you, then travel alone rather than spend time with a fool.

“I have children. I have wealth.” Thus the ignorant person thinks she is secure. Indeed, she herself is not permanent. How can her children or wealth be permanent?

Seeing her own foolishness a person becomes wise, while the fool who thinks she is wise remains a fool.

Fools spend their entire lives exposed to wisdom and still do not understand the Dharma any more than a spoon can taste soup.

A wise man, even if he associates with an enlightened person only for a moment, will recognize the Dharma just as the tongue knows the taste of soup.

Fools are their own enemies, performing evil deeds which bear bitter outcomes.

You know when a deed is harmful. You regret doing it and, with tears, reap its fruit.

A deed is good when it is not regretted. Happiness accompanies its fruition. An evil deed may seem as sweet as honey until it is played out. When that happens the fool grieves deeply.

As a form of spiritual practice, for months a fool may fast — eating only as much food as can be balanced on the tine of a fork.

It does not matter. Her effort is worthless compared to the actions of a person who understands the path to peace.

Like milk, evil deeds do not sour immediately. Instead, the souring follows the fool through time, hidden until it ripens.

Knowledge and fame are the ruination of a fool. Pride destroys the fool’s illumination. It destroys her wisdom.

A fool wants recognition, praise for qualities he does not have, authority over others, and honor from people near and far.

“Let people think things happen because of me. Let them obey me in all ways great and small.” These are the thoughts of a fool whose conceit grows.

The truth is that one path leads to worldly gain; another, to enlightenment. Knowing this, those who are students of Buddha train themselves not to delight so much in the favors of the world, but to stay detached.

The night is long for the sleepless. The road is long for the weary. The wandering through lives is endless for someone who misses the point of his life: spiritual practice.

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