Chapter Three: Dhammapada
Chapter Three: Dhammapada
33. Thoughts are restless, difficult to restrain. The wise straighten their thoughts just as an arrow-maker straightens his arrows.
34. Like a fish on dry land thrashing in agony, a novice meditator agonizes to escape from the power of Mara, the lord of temptations and death.
35. Thoughts are difficult to restrain, they go wherever they want and fancy whatever they wish. But a trained mind is a source of health and joy.
36. The wise can guard their elusive and subtle thoughts wherever and whenever they choose. A well-guarded mind is a source of great joy.
37. He who can guard his thoughts, that wander aimlessly, is free from the bonds of death.
38. He whose mind is unsteady and restless does not know the path to Dharma.
39. But he whose mind in unwavering, unaffected by good or bad is free from fear.
40. The body is as fragile as a clay jar. Make your mind a fortress and conquer Mara with the weapon of wisdom. Guard your conquest well.
41. Soon, this body will lie lifeless on this earth, useless as a burned log.
42. More than all the enemies, more than all those who hate you, an undisciplined mind does you greater harm.
43. More than your mother, more than your father, more than all your family, a well-disciplined mind does you greater good.
As I Understand It
Dhammapada devotes a lot of time to human mind. It says that if we train our thoughts and guard our mind we could live a life without suffering. Trained minds follow the Middle Path. This path that leads to Nirvana begins when we give up clinging and craving.
Until we learn to guard our minds we remain fidgety and fearful. We are unaware that the mind is deeper than the deepest sea and vaster than the immeasurable sky. Deep within the mind lie untapped sources of great power. But we are unable to dive into its depths because worldly temptations and selfish desires keep us at bay. They entice and entangle us into their webs–the realm of Mara, the lord of death. In this realm body never satiates and mind is fickle.
The undisciplined mind is harmful, at times even out of control. The way to free our minds from urges and drives is to train it continuously. But how? By practicing meditation. It is an exceedingly difficult practice but worth our while.
In early stages of meditation we tremble. Our mind agonizes over unfulfilled desires that churn to the surface. We gasp. At this stage we must be patient but persistent. Slowly, the practice makes us see our own-self. We wage battles with ourselves as we train our minds and calm our restless thoughts. In time, the rigid patterns of our behavior and habits dissolve. Our minds become peaceful, our actions simple and our attitude towards ourselves and others begins to change.
When we learn to meditate we can aim our thoughts with the accuracy of a skilled archer. Our thoughts no longer run thither and thither but each time find their mark. Well-targeted thoughts are weapons of wisdom. Such thoughts bring health and joy. Joyous minds are free from fear of death.
Untrained minds can bring the downfall of humanity but one clear headed and compassionate mind can reverse their effect.
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.