Fourteenth Chapter: Dhammapada
Chapter Fourteenth: Dhammapada
The Awakened One
179-180. By what path can you reach him, the Buddha, the awakened one, whom no one can conquer? How can you describe him, the Buddha, the awakened one, free from desires and passions, free from all conditioning?
181. Even the gods emulate the awakened ones, the Buddhas. In the peace of contemplation they live in freedom.
182. It is hard to be born as a human, harder to live like a human being, harder still to understand the Truth, but hardest of all is to awaken and attain enlightenment.
183. Do no evil. Do good. Purify your mind. This is the teaching of the Buddhas.
184-185. Cultivate enduring patience and attain the highest goal in life, Nirvana. Do not hurt others or cause pain; that is not the way of spiritual aspirant. Do not find fault with others. Live in accordance with the Dharma. Eat and sleep in moderation. Meditate on the highest. This is the teaching of the Buddhas.
186-187. Even a shower of gold cannot satisfy cravings. They are wise who know that passions are passing and bring pain. Those who conquer desires are true followers of the Buddhas.
188-189. Driven by fear, people run for security to mountains or forests, to sacred groves or shrines. But none of these can be safe refuge, because they cannot free man from fear or from sorrow.
190-192. Take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha and you’ll grasp the Four Noble Truths: Suffering, the cause of Suffering, the end of Suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path that takes you beyond Suffering. That is your best refuge, your only refuge. When you reach it, all sorrow falls away.
193. One, like the Buddha is hard to find, such a one is not born everywhere. Happy are the people where such a man is born.
194-196. Blessed is the birth of a Buddha, Blessed is the teaching of Dharma, Blessed is the community of his followers, where all live in harmony. Happy are those who pay reverence to those worthy of reverence: to the Buddha and his disciples. They have gone beyond evil, shed all fear and crossed the river of sorrow to the other shore.
As I Understand It
The literal meaning of the Buddha is “The Awakened One.”
The one who was enlightened by his own efforts taught his followers to “be your own lamps.” Dhammapada teaches to look within ourselves and take our spiritual growth into our own hands, independent of any outside influence.
This chapter eulogizes the qualities that the Buddha himself cultivated and perfected, qualities of moderation, purity of mind, non-violence and meditation.
Most important of all the qualities is enduring patience. Patience is a spiritual discipline. It is understood not in the ordinary sense of the word but as a deep-rooted resolution. Making a resolve so as not to veer off even in the face of a threat to life as one does good for all creatures in all circumstances.
This patience is illustrated in Jataka stories. The stories exemplify how humans can use the life’s precious opportunities for the spiritual growth. How to put the welfare and safety of others before our own? How we must strengthen our emotional and spiritual capacities with one pointed determination.
We are driven by fear and tend to seek reassurance from the world out side us but in this flowing river, we call life, no refuge is safe. Develop self-reliance. The best refuge is within. Turn inward. Depend on yourself. That is the path to freedom from fear.
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.