Thirteenth Chapter: Dhammapada
Chapter Thirteenth: Dhammapada
167. Don’t follow wrong path nor believe false doctrines or follow the way of the world. Most importantly don’t be heedless.
168-169. Pay attention! Don’t be lazy! Be meticulous. People who are heedful are happy in this lifetime and in the world beyond.
170-171. Follow the path of wisdom. Look! This world seems pleasurable, even heavenly but it is only a bubble of froth, a mirage. The wise see through it, but not the foolish. Death has no power over the wise.
172-173. When a foolish man stops being lazy and ignorant he lights up the world just like the moon breaking free from the clouds. When his bad deeds are replaced by good deeds and spiritual efforts, he gives light to the whole world like the moon coming out from behind the clouds.
174-175. In this dark world, few can see what is real. They are like the birds that free themselves from the trapper’s net and fly to the heavens. Swans fly in the path of the sun; similarly the wise, who have conquered desire, rise to the heavens when they leave this world.
176. A man who transgresses the law of truth, who lies or scorns this world and hereafter is capable of any evil.
177. Misers make fun of generosity; they do not go to the heavens. Wise rejoice in generosity, and go to a happier world.
178. Better than ruling the earth, better than going to heaven, better than being lord of all existing worlds is the fruit of the sincere spiritual effort.
As I Understand It
Dhammapada is a guiding voice for those who make sincere efforts on the spiritual path to the true enlightenment. The Buddha says that the wise are as unattached to the pleasures of the world as they are detached from its sufferings. Because of this attitude they rise above the law of physical decay and death.
There are three levels of consciousness: everyday life, the next world and the realm of the gods. The reality of everyday life changes moment to moment and then vanishes into nothingness. But beneath this constantly changing level is a permanent ground of being that is unaffected by change. It is a higher reality and it feels like dreams do. In the everyday world, the vast majority of people are unaware of this reality.
Those few who have glimpsed into the higher reality are like “the birds that have freed themselves from the trapper’s net.” The know how to weave the reality of this life with the Reality of that one.
The Buddhist ideal is to remain in this world but at the same time attain an awareness of the Truth that underlies everyday reality. The awareness of the temporariness of our lives helps us to remain free of earthly fetters and persuades us to help others to free themselves.
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.