Chapter Fifteenth: Dhammapada
Happiness and Absolute Joy
197. Let us live in joy, never hating those who hate us. Let us live in freedom, without hatred even among those who hate.
198. Let us live in joy, never falling ill like those who are ill. Let us live in freedom, without disease even among those who are ill.
199. Let us live in joy, never attached among those who are selflessly attached. Let us live in freedom even among those who are bound by selfish attachments.
200. Let us live in joy, never hording things among those who hoard. Let us live in growing joy like the spirits of light.
201. Victory brings hatred for the defeated live in sorrow. Let us be neither conqueror nor defeated, and live in peace and joy.
202-03. There is no fire like lust, no evil like hatred, no sorrow like separateness, no joy like peace. Greed is the greatest disease, selfish passion the worst sorrow. Know this and seek Nirvana as the greatest joy.
204-05. Health is the greatest gift. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Trust is the greatest friend. Nirvana is the greatest joy. Feel joy of quietness in the solitude of meditation and become free from fear and sin.
206. It is good to meet the wise, even better to live with them. But avoid the company of immature if you want joy.
207-08. Keeping company with the immature is like going on a long journey with an enemy. The company of the wise is joyful, like reunion with one’s family. Therefore, live among the wise, who are understanding, patient, responsible, and noble. Keep their company like the moon moving among the stars.
As I Understand It
Impermanence is the nature of our lives. When we feel happiness it is because certain conditions have been met. During good times we are happy, during bad we feel sorrow. When the situation changes from good to bad we get frustrated. We are desperate to have the good experience again. And on and on it goes. With impermanence comes suffering. Dhammapada teaches that the aim of human life is not so much the worldly happiness but the end of all suffering.
The worldly happiness creates positive bodily sensations. When the object of desire–a thing, a person or a place–is lost the good sensations turn to sorrow in a moment. Happiness and sorrow follow one another like shadow follows the body. This is because genuine happiness is not an external state but an internal one. Worldly happiness is an external state and is momentary.
Outer situations are beyond our control. But the state within-no matter where we are, whom we meet, what we hear or say-is under our control. We can control how we react to the outer stimuli.
When we realize that worldly conditions cannot give us genuine happiness then we become aware that the genuine happiness is within us. If we do not react to changing conditions we can be in a constant state of peace and contentment. Our feelings will not fluctuate whether the outer conditions are sorrowful or happy. When we reach such a stage, we reach the threshold of Nirvana.
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.