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My Dhammapada practice

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This is going to be highly subjective, but I'll aspire to make sense.  Beside the Vimalakirti Sutra,  the how-to manual of spiritual practice for secular life, the Dhammapada is the closest thing to having a Buddha walking beside you 24/7, constantly guiding your actions. I keep a CD in the car and the Shambhala Pocket Edition on my person.

My responses follow each entry.. 



1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

Yep, the first 55 years of my life pretty much corroborates this.


2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

I'm a less-than-stellar Buddhist.  And I use zen12 because I'm lazy to boot.  But 10 years of brain entrainment tech has made me vastly happier and I can focus much better. 


3. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.

Hey listen, the 20th century was rough on humans. The amount of trauma we unleashed on each other will take a while to process, and some will never begin, being too wounded from the start. 


4. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred.

I didn't get to deep forgiveness until I had a deep understanding of the cycle of trauma.  I couldn't forgive what I didn't understand.  We're all in this together and we will all be forgiving each other at the end of time.    


5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

True enough, but it's hard to let go of righteous anger.  I'm surrounded by the new American fascists.  But I really can't shoot them all; interdependence makes this impossible... and I don't have it in me right now.


6. There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels.

There are a handful of people I have treated badly, those who were on the receiving end of my passive-aggressive bullshit because I wasn't skilled enough to express my shades of discontent.  If I am to be forgiven, I have to forgive everyone else, no exceptions. 


7. Just as a storm throws down a weak tree, so does Mara overpower the man who lives for the pursuit of pleasures, who is uncontrolled in his senses, immoderate in eating, indolent, and dissipated.

Well, age does help.  I'm not the ravenous fool I once was. How much reefer and porn can you consume before you get indigestion?  Take less, use less, need less, and show some class.  Save your sugar for chocolate cheesecake.


8. Just as a storm cannot prevail against a rocky mountain, so Mara can never overpower the man who lives meditating on the impurities, who is controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, and filled with faith and earnest effort. 

For the first time in history, our future is up for grabs.  We must be lean in body and mind lest we get rounded up by the purveyors of hate.


9. Whoever being depraved, devoid of self-control and truthfulness, should don the monk's yellow robe, he surely is not worthy of the robe.

Oh, but it's so much fun acting like an enlightened being, right?  Spiritual materialism is really vulgar... and there's always someone in the room who is more spiritually mature than you are, ready for the opportunity to reveal your quackery.  

At the very least, keep your lips from moving and you'll go to bed with less regret.


10. But whoever is purged of depravity, well-established in virtues and filled with self-control and truthfulness, he indeed is worthy of the yellow robe.

For me, it's mostly been a struggle for emotional maturity.  I know the Buddha said that we are all capable of becoming enlightened, but human beings are deeply deluded these days.  Trauma and ever-present forms of propaganda are creating millions of depraved and wounded souls. I sometimes wonder if the amount of negative, unconscious conditioning can become so vast that there's truly no chance for some of us to wake up. Lot's of work ahead.  More than we can imagine.  Lot's of work.

11. Those who mistake the unessential to be essential and the essential to be unessential, dwelling in wrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential.

Say YES to the ONE thing,  NO to the millions of trivialities.  Hard to do in a socio-economic systems that has basically replaced the pursuit of genuine happiness with the pursuit of cheap pleasure.  It's the victory of dopamine over seratonin.  May the gods render their assistance. 


That's enough to chew on for now. 



12. Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential.

13. Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind.

14. Just as rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion never penetrates a well-developed mind.

15. The evil-doer grieves here and hereafter; he grieves in both the worlds. He laments and is afflicted, recollecting his own impure deeds.

16. The doer of good rejoices here and hereafter; he rejoices in both the worlds. He rejoices and exults, recollecting his own pure deeds.

17. The evil-doer suffers here and hereafter; he suffers in both the worlds. The thought, "Evil have I done," torments him, and he suffers even more when gone to realms of woe.

18. The doer of good delights here and hereafter; he delights in both the worlds. The thought, "Good have I done," delights him, and he delights even more when gone to realms of bliss.

19. Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others — he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life.

20. Little though he recites the sacred texts, but puts the Teaching into practice, forsaking lust, hatred, and delusion, with true wisdom and emancipated mind, clinging to nothing of this or any other world — he indeed partakes of the blessings of a holy life.

Edited by Encephalon
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