Twentieth Chapter: Dhammapada | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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Twentieth Chapter: Dhammapada

Twentieth Chapter: Dhammapada

Twentieth Chapter: Dhammapada
The Path

273. The best path is the Eightfold Path. The best truth is the Fourfold Truth. The best mental state is detachment. The best man is the illumined one.

274-75. This is the path; there is no other that leads to the purification of mind. Follow this path and conquer Mara. This path will lead to the end of suffering. I showed this path after the arrows of sorrow fell away.

276. All the efforts must be made by you; Buddhas only show the way. Those who follow this path and practice meditation, go beyond the bondage of Mara.

277. All created things are transitory; those who realize this are freed of suffering. This is the path that leads to pure wisdom.

278. All created things are involved with sorrow; those who realize this are freed from suffering. This is the path that leads to pure wisdom.

279. All states are without self; those who realize this are freed from suffering. This is the path that leads to pure wisdom.

280. It is time to wake up, when you are young and strong. Those who wait and waver are lazy and lack determination. They will never find the path of pure wisdom.

281. Guard your thoughts, words and deeds. These three disciplines will speed you along the path to pure wisdom.

282. Meditation brings wisdom; with lack of meditation you stay in darkness. Know what leads you forward and what holds you back. And choose the path that leads to wisdom.

283. Cut down the forest of selfish desires, not just one tree. Cut down the forest and its undergrowth and you will be free on your way to liberation.

284-85. If there is any trace of lust in your mind, you are bound to life like a suckling calf to its mother. Pluck out every selfish desire as you would an autumn lotus with your hand. Follow the path to Nirvana with a guide who knows the way.

286-87. “I will dwell here in winter, live there in monsoon, and make this my home in summer”-lost in such fancies the fool forgets his final destination. Death comes and carries off such a man absorbed in his family and possessions as the monsoon flood sweeps away a sleeping village.

288-89. Neither parents nor children can rescue one whom death has seized. Remember this and follow without delay the path that leads to Nirvana.

As I Understand It:
The Buddha’s foremost gift to mankind is his simple teachings: The Fourfold Truth and The Eightfold Path.

The Fourfold Truth:
Life is suffering.
The cause of suffering is human cravings.
The cure lies in overcoming the cravings.
The Eightfold Path helps overcome the cravings.

The Eightfold Path
Right Views. (Understanding the Fourfold Truth)
Right Intent. (Single Mindedness)
Right Speech. (Watching what we say)
Right Conduct. (Watching how we act)
Right Livelihood. (A profession that promotes life)
Right Effort. (A steady will towards one’s goal)
Right Mindfulness. (Self-Awareness)
Right Concentration. (Meditation)

The Buddha had mastered the path when he began to teach how to overcome suffering. The dazzling insights and wisdom of the Buddhist philosophers who followed him were based on these simple teachings.

The path may be simple but it is not easy. It takes a lifetime to learn and steadily follow it. The path is austere. But once one begins it, it is difficult to stop. Overcoming selfish desires and fear of death ushers personal wellbeing.

No one can save us from death. In time, it is certain to arrive. It may seem odd but meditating on the inevitability of death lessens our fears and anxieties. The practice leads to awakening.

This chapter not only underlines the simplicity of the master’s teachings but also focuses on three significant characteristics of all living things: impermanence, suffering and absence of a personal self, atman.

Awaken self through the practice of meditation and overcome suffering.

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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