Chapter Twelve: Dhammapada | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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Chapter Twelve: Dhammapada

Chapter Twelve: Dhammapada

Chapter Twelve: Dhammapada
Self

157. If you hold yourself dear, guard yourself well.
Of the three watches of the night, keep vigil during one.

158. Learn what is right, then teach others, as the wise do.

159. Before trying to guide others, be your own guide. It is hard to learn to guide yourself.

160. Your own self is your master, who else could be? With yourself well controlled, you gain a master very hard to find.

161-162. The evil done by the selfish people crushes them as a diamond breaks a hard gem. As a vine overpowers a tree, evil overpowers the evildoer, trapping him in a situation only his enemies would wish him to be in.

163. Evil deeds that harm one self are easy to do; good deeds are not so easy. This fact crushes the foolish man as a hard stone grinds the weaker stone.

164. Foolish people who scoff at the teachings of the wise, the noble, and the good follow a false doctrine. They bring about their own downfall like the tree that dies after bearing fruit.

165. By oneself is evil done, by oneself one is injured. Do not do evil, and suffering will not come. Everyone has the choice to be pure or impure. No one can purify another.

166. Don’t neglect your own duty for another, however great. Know your own duty and perform it.
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As I Understand It.
The Buddha urged his followers to rely solely on their selves and seek no other support. When he was asked about what he meant by Self-was it supernatural or transcendental Self, the atman of Upanishads. The Buddha responded with his characteristic Noble Silence.

Most probably by Self the Buddha meant the conventional self (as in “yourself”) and the individual will. He taught that personal will is worthy of strengthening and cultivation. The Self did not in any way effect the practice of his Eightfold Path. His concern was to put an end to the ego-self. He taught his disciples to make greater effort in spiritual practice.

The Buddha prompted his followers to plunge deep in meditation and see for themselves what they discover. In this chapter, his emphasis is on putting forth utmost effort to develop self-reliance and self-awareness.
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Suggested Reading:
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.

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