Chapter Two: Dhammapada
Chapter Two: Dhammapada
21. Watchfulness is the path of immortality: unwatchful-ness is the path of death. Those who are watchful go beyond death: those who do not watch are already dead.
22. The wise understand the importance of vigilance and rejoice in the wisdom.
23. The wise strive for Nirvana in meditation and attain infinite joy and freedom.
24. The man who meditates earnestly, pure in mind, kind in deed, leading a disciplined life in harmony with the teachings arises in glory.
25. The spiritually disciplined man can make an island for himself that can never be overwhelmed by floods.
26. The foolish are never watchful; but the wise consider watchfulness as their greatest treasure.
27. They never surrender to sloth and carelessness and attain the supreme happiness.
28. The wise overcome sloth through earnestness. They ascend beyond suffering to the peaks of wisdom. From the high terrace they look upon the suffering multitudes as one on a high mountain sees the plains below.
29. Watchful amongst the unwatchful, awake amongst those who slumber, the wise advance like a racehorse, outrunning the sluggish.
30. It was through earnestness that Indra became the chief of the gods. The earnest are always respected; thoughtless despised.
31. A spiritual aspirant, like the monk fears sloth and lust. She advances on her path like a fire, burning all obstacles.
32. Such persons will never fall back; they are nearing Nirvana.
As I Understand It:
Whereas the first chapter of Dhammapada teaches us that our lives are shaped by each thought we have had and every decision we have made up to the present moment; the second chapter cautions us to be ever watchful.
The Buddha was called “The Awakened One.” He taught that one of the reasons of human suffering is lack of vigilance. It is not too late for us to wake up from our slumber and begin to be watchful. What we learnt from the moment-to-moment watchfulness can become our greatest treasure. Be watchful of things that matter, not petty stuff. Gradually, constant vigilance will become a habit and result in supreme happiness.
Through vigilance we overcome sloth, carelessness and lust. Our minds begin to purify, our thoughts become compassionate, our worldview begins to change and we come closer to whom we really are–our authentic selves. As authentic individuals we are able to view, as if from above, those who have not yet adopted the habit of watchfulness.
The watchful stand atop a hill on the island that “no flood can overwhelm.” No obstacle can stop the watchful on their path to the spiritual freedom. They fear lack of vigilance and carelessness; they do not surrender to sloth; they contemplate deeply. Though painstakingly slowly, but surely they attain supreme happiness and advance towards spiritual wisdom.
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.