Chapter Four: Dhammapada
Chapter Four: Dhammapada
44. The garland-maker seeks flowers and gathers the most beautiful ones.
45. As when an aspirant searches for a spiritual path, and chooses the path of dharma. On this path he goes beyond the realms of death and of gods.
46. He who knows that this body is the foam of a wave, the shadow of a mirage, breaks the flower tipped arrows of Mara, the god of death. Death can never touch him.
47 & 48. As a torrent of rushing water sweeps away a slumbering village, death sweeps away those who spend their lives half-awake gathering flowers of sensuous passions.
49. The ones fully awake live without injuring nature, as the bee drinks honey without harming flower’s beauty or perfume.
50. Think not the faults of others, of what they do or fail to do. Think of what you yourself do or fail to do.
51. A beautiful flower that has color but no fragrance is like the fancy words of a man who does not practice what he preaches.
52. But a beautiful flower that has color and fragrance is like a man who practices what he preaches.
53. Many garlands can be made from a heap of flowers. Many good deeds can be done in this life.
54 & 55. The perfume of flowers cannot travel against the wind, but the fragrance of the good spreads everywhere. Neither sandalwood, nor rosebay, neither lotus nor jasmine can come near the fragrance of the virtuous.
56. Faint is the scent of rosebay or of sandalwood; but the fragrance of the good rises high to reach the gods.
57. Mara, the god of death, can never come near the good, the earnest and the enlightened.
58 & 59. A true follower of the Buddha-dharma shines among the blind multitudes. He is like a fragrant lotus that grows on a heap of rubbish, blossoms with its pure perfume and brings joy to passerby.
As I Understand It
As you journey on the Right Path, look at yourself. Think of your shortcomings, and not the shortcomings of others–what they do or do not do. If you overcome your flaws and earnestly practice your virtues, you’ll exude a fragrance that, in comparison, would pale the scent of a rose bouquet. The virtuous one fills the world with the scent of her clear thoughts, good deeds and kind words. Not with her looks or apparel. Like fragrant flowers, the virtuous and wise attracts with her goodness, earnestness and enlightened mind.
The one who walks on the Right Path, the path of the Buddha–the Awakened One knows that this body is like froth on the seashore, a mirage in the desert. She avoids Mara’s flower-tipped arrows because the tips are nothing but dazzling temptations having no substance. Such temptations lead to bottomless delusions and endless fetters.
The fragrance of the awakened one travels far and wide reaching the ends of the world. Mara, the god of death, cannot touch her. Samsara, the cycle of death and birth, cannot bind her. On the path to Nirvana, the fragrant one is like the bee that savors the honey without harming flowers or nature.
Don’t become one of the billions who slumber away their lives in show and color. Arise amongst the slumbering crowd, and like a lotus, please the ones who discern your perfume. Radiate your unique essence.
The Dhammapada: The Path of Perfection, Translation and Introduction by Juan Mascaro, Penguin Books. 1973. Penguin Group, England.
The Dhammapada, Translated for the Modern Reader by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press. 1985. Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, California.