The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha

ISBN: 0609608886
ISBN 13: 9780609608883
By: Gautama Buddha Thomas Byrom

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About this book

The Dhammapada is one of the most popular and accessible books of Buddhist scripture. Undoubtedly one of the greatest teachers in history, the Buddha has had an immeasurable influence on the human race. He taught that our suffering stems from desire and that the only way to remove desire is to purify the heart. Dhamma means law, discipline, justice, virtue, truth -- that which holds things together. Pada means way, path, step, foot. So, The Dhammapada is the path of virtue, or the way of truth. Thomas Byrom’s lyrical and aphoristic rendering of the Buddha’s teaching reveals its practical and timeless simplicity.Bell Tower’s Sacred Teachings series offers essential spiritual classics from all traditions. May each book become a trusted companion on the way of truth, encouraging readers to study the wisdom of the ages and put it into practice each day.

Reader's Thoughts

Steve Woods

This is the primary text of the Buddhas teachings. A good translation with a very thorough introduction by the author that taught me a lot I didn't know. The texts can often be a bit meaning less for westerners who have no context within which to place them This one is pretty profound, I use it by simply reading one chapter everyday, it helps keep me pointed in the right direction and it's great to have enough familiarity to be able to source the teachings of others on the path whose books I read. Gotta get it if Buddhism has any appeal for you

Naliniprasad

Very good translation of original pali version by Eknath aswaran.Full of wisdom for leading our everyday life painlessly.One of the simplest interpretations of the Buddhist classic.Planning to read it again.Includes exvcellent introduction and commentary by the author.

Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)

A wide-ranging and systematic sampling of Buddhist teachings, particularly in Theravada Buddhism, coming as it does from the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Pali Canon (see the external links section for valuable resources, including the Access to Insight collection of translated material). Highly economical and eminently accessible, these verses are indispensible in addressing the myriad misapprehensions and misrepresentations of concepts like karma, detachment, emptiness, et al. often made in casual lay discourse. From the beginning 'Twin Verses' (or 'Yamaka Vagga') the issues at hand are accorded an epistemic treatment in tandem with the traditional ontological and metaphysical concerns of similar religious sources.The text is not as strong at forwarding the ethical complexities in Buddhist thinking, but establishes the basic tenets very well. That said, not many religions, especially monolithic dogmas, speak of morality as an abstract, likely so as to make the empathy approach they often forward all the stronger, but adherence to general guidelines fashioned on what others take to and are repelled by so as to minimise their suffering doesn't require an emotional attachment at all, this in only one possible motivation- it might as well be accomplished through discipline and the ability to see beyond the trappings of self and its gratification (which is really what emotional attachment comes down to, be it even for 'good' ends; as Freud once put it: "Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."), thus achieving true compassion in worldly intent. Like the Tao Te Ching, the Dhammapada suggests this view of morality, but without setting up and speaking of it in terms of a divine absolute (the Tao in the former).A broader contemporary overview like the Ven. Walpola Rahula thera's What the Buddha Taught is a worthy follow-up for those who would have more detail and elaboration (freely available online).A series of lectures on the Buddha's teaching is found athttp://bodhimonastery.org/the-buddhas...Also see-http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systemati...http://bodhimonastery.org/a-course-in... (a Pali course)The following essay on the teaching of Dependent Origination may be a good starting point if the reader wishes to delve deeper:www.metta.lk/english/cause-effect.htmWhile the Dhammapada is far more precise and clear compared to the Tao Te Ching (reviewed here) and can thus survive many of the turmoils of translation, of those I've encountered in English (being familiar with the original Pali and its Sinhala renderings) the careful effort of John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana (for Oxford World's Classics; they also have an expanded, commentary-laden version here), as well as those of the Ven. Narada Mahathera and the Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya thera have much to commend them to the newcomer (who does well to keep in mind that Eastern teachings tend to be about degrees and measures rather than absolutes).Take care to avoid editions which offer commentary but are too free in their interpretations or attempt to restrict the work's purview to a context of other popular or extant philosophical (eg- Plato- (view spoiler)[ I think it's noteworthy that Plato might be considered an answers man, at times with too easy and (further) reason-numbing answers like those from religious figures from Christ (who tends to pop in when 'Western thought' is mentioned to take credit for modes of thought owed the Greeks) to Muhammad to whatever other 'One Path' prophet- well, that's not entirely fair, but I think he's only a rung or two better in reasoning, though not asking for submission to dogma and open to criticism. Socrates is the more cautious one, almost evasive on the points we desire answers the most, the man we need to find through the facade of Plato's generous offerings- like the Comedian must be found in Alan Moore's Watchmen, with apologies for the jarring, but still moral philosophy related reference, having just reread it (except Socrates doesn't deny agency- that might be Tolstoy). This same Socrates on the other hand has much in common with the Buddha I think, especially for his views on desire and its bleak ends. (hide spoiler)], Kant (not an unreasonable case- see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/american...), phenomenology) or religious (eg- Hinduism and its Upanishads- which try before the Buddha to address (differently) some of the questions he does, but after him seems to have attempted to subsume into Hinduism proper the challenge to the status quo Buddhist thought presented; at least more subtle than Hinduism's portrayal of the Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu come to test the faithful by leading them astray) schools, or attempt to supply the text with fashionable mysticism (for instance, Easwaran's assimilative rendering), often thereby (unwittingly) expurgating the work's psychological depth and its invitation to a revolutionary and rational philosophy. And of course, the Dhammapada is only that- an invitation, a primer; to have the teaching elucidated on further one must attempt hereafter to tackle denser discourses in the Pali Canon.The aforementioned translation by the Ven. Narada Mahathera, though slightly aged, is freely available at http://www.metta.lk/english/Narada/in... and includes the framing stories often omitted elsewhere (though these are unfortunately only summarised, sometimes in a none too illuminating way) and excellent notes (files for offline reading may be found here).A few other online versions are linked here, of which the Acharya Buddharakkhita translation is perhaps the best balanced.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Coyle

Interesting to read from a Christian/Western perspective. As an amateur reading his first Buddhist text, this is fairly interesting. I've heard it said that Eastern thought is basically asking the same questions that pre-Socratic Greek thinkers were asking, but is lacking a Plato or a Christ to give answers to those questions. I didn't see anything in this text that disproved that claim, but this is also pretty short and only representative of one Eastern tradition. These seem to be some of the key points: -aristocratic: Particularly offensive to a modern American, the Dhammapada is unashamedly aristocratic. Only the select "few" are raised above the mob. To be fair, the picture of the aristocrat (or "Brahman") is much more generous than we're used to when we think of something like the Hindu caste system- "Brahmanism" is achieved only by hard work and virtue, not simply by being born into the right family. -pacifism: "A man is not one of the Noble (Ariya) because he injures living creatures; he is so called because he refrains from injuring all living creatures." (#270) -achieving Nirvana: This is the goal of the ethical life as laid down in the Dhammapada. The way to achieve Nirvana (though I may not have gotten all of the steps down) are 1) study 2) discipline 3) the mortification of desires This last one seems to be the most at odds with Christian and Western values. The Dhammapada teaches that desire leads to suffering, and that to avoid suffering desire must be eliminated. This includes all kinds of desires: love (including for family), hunger, thirst, guilt, etc. So, #284 says "So long as the love, even the smallest, of man towards woman is not destroyed, so long is his mind in bondage..." And #294 "A (true) Brahman goes scatheless, is free from sorrow and remorse though he have killed father and mother, and two kings of the warrior caste, though he has destroyed a kingdom with all its subjects." This elimination of desires leads to the true delight of Nirvana (though, presumably, one is not permitted to desire this delight). To its credit, the Dhammapada recognizes the problem of evil and the desperate need for change in the individual, but the solution it offers does not actually solve the human dilemma, as it mistakes the symptom (wrongly-focused desires) for the disease (evil). Desires are not inherently bad, they merely reflect the evil within us. As evil beings, we either desire the wrong things, or the right things in the wrong way. The way to correct this is not to eliminate desire (which would do nothing to remove the evil), but to fix the broken person. What we need is not to not feel guilt over the terrible things we have done, but to be forgiven for them, to know that justice has been satisfied. What we need is not the elimination of desires, but the re-setting them upon Him for whom they were intended. What we need, in other words, is the redemptive work of Christ.

Rachel Cotterill

This is one of the world's most influential philosophical texts, and lies at the heart of Buddhism, so it's not surprising that it was an interesting read with plenty to think about. The translation is quite old (hence being freely available online) and it isn't always perfectly clear. There are some ambiguities of language, for example in several places reaching Nirvana is defined as being above good and evil (amongst other things), and yet requiring the avoidance of evil (and sin) to achieve it. I fear I'm missing something here, and possibly the original text has subtly different words for different concepts, but my language skills aren't up to reading this in the original!

Roxana Saberi

Just reread this. Little and big gems of wisdom throughout.

Ahmed Azimov

هو الأعظم انسانية بين جميع الكتب المقدسة التي قرأتها حتى اللحظه، هذا ان جاز تصنيفها تحت فرع العلوم الإنسانية اصلا# كن في الدرب ليشرق فيك النور

حمدي

" لن تقتلعَ الريحُ ، الجبلَ.والإغواءُلن يلمُسَ مَن كان قوياً ، يَقِظاً ، وحَـيِـيّــاًلن يلمُسَ مَنْ يتحكّمُ بالنفسِ ، ويَتَّبِعُ الدرب. " " لِنَعِشْ فرِحينَ ، لانكرهُ مَنْ يكرهوننــا.وبينَ مَن يكرهوننــا ، نعيشُ أحراراً من الكُرْهِ . " " إن لقي أحمقُ ، امرءا حكيما، طيلة حياةفلن يدرك الحقيـــقة تماما ، كما لا تدرك الملعقة طعــم الحساء "" أبصــر العالم فقاعة . أبصـــره ســـرابا . من رأى العالم هــكذا خَفِيَ ، فلن يراه ملك الموت . "" أفرغ القــارب ، أيها الســائل . إن أنت أفرغـــته ، إنطلق سريعا . تخلص من الرغبة والكره . تنل الحرية . "

Surgat

It's mostly just an assortment of platitudes. Examples: Ch. VI, 78.>>"Let one not associate With low persons, bad friends.But let one associate With noble persons, worthy friends."Ch. VIII, stanza 100.>>"Though a thousand the the statements, With words of no avail, Better is a single word of welfare, Having heard which, one is pacified."Ch. XXI, stanza 290.>>"If by sacrificing a limited pleasure An extensive pleasure one would see,Let the wise one beholding extensive pleasure, A limited pleasure forsake."Thanks, I couldn't figure that out for myself.Some of the passages are pretty cool though. Example: Ch. XI, stanza 153-154."I ran through samsara, with its many births, Searching for, but not finding, the house-builder. Misery is birth again and again. House-builder, you are seen!The house you shall not build again! Broken are your rafters, all,Your roof beam destroyed.Freedom from the samkharas has the mind attained.To the end of cravings has it come."The main theme, that since feelings of attachment and holding things dear (ch. XVI) are conditions necessary to create suffering, and that since unlike things' tendencies to decay and end it's possible to eliminate these conditions, you should not hold things dear or get attached to anything, is somewhat interesting. It also doesn't require a belief in a cycle of soul transmigration. This might be problematic in a way, since the degree to which one is successful at this may reduce motivations or reasons for being good. For example, someone who holds their reputation dear will have more reason to avoid acting wrongly than one who doesn't, since "severe slander" (the book itself includes this as a reason for being good at ch. X, stanza 139) will affect them more strongly. The introduction/commentary/historical criticism is very general and short, but otherwise okay. The annotations were helpful in explaining metaphors, connotations lost in translation, the religious tradition's take on some verses, a few of the assumptions common to the compilers, and untranslated terms.

Paul

It's not up for review.

Warun

this was a spiritually fulfilling book.it helped me understand the life of the Buddha and the reasoning behind his actions and spiritual life decisions.Siddhartha is the son of a Brahmin's sun who ventures of because he wanted to live the life of samana who are wondering monks who live their life with our possessions and try to find eternal peace.he romeos the earth and ends up running into this man they called the Buddha ,which means enlightened one .he has lived for centuries and will finally be one with the universe.as every other samana so did Siddhartha.on the path of enlightenment Siddhartha faces life's many deadly sines such as lust, gluttony, greed, sloth , wrath , envy ,pride.and he over came them all and at the end of the book he sees that all these adventures took him in a complete circle and he finally reaches enlightenment.my favorite quote is "knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom".p.124because it makes you really think about and you finally see that its is true and very wise.i that this was a very wise and spiritually satisfying. I would want to spend the rest of my life listening to the teachings of the Buddha.

Abailart

To read forever.

Janie Cakes

This is a book filled with Buddhist quotes, and only quotes. These quotes are meant to inspire, and to teach a person morals. Some of these quotes were religiously biased, and some quotes were too repetitive. Pretty much, you'd have the same quote for a whole page, or up to 2 pages i.e. "'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me' -- in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease." "'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me' -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease."...notice how only a few words change? There are plenty of quotes that do that in this book. There are even a few quotes that are just too old for this time period, very old fashioned. Despite all that, every 6 quotes i could find 1 or 2 really amazing quotes. Those quotes are enough to make you keep on reading and hoping to stumble upon the next one. I recommend this if you are trying to be a better Buddhist [FYI I'm not Buddhist], but you could read it just to gain some insight to life.here's a couple of my favorite quotes,"let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to perceive, very artful, and they rush wherever they list: thoughts well guarded bring happiness""a man is not an elder because his head is gray; his age may be ripe, but he is called 'Old-in-vain'"

Roumissette

Definitely a good read - the translation is really pure, and the message of the Buddha feels very powerful and inspiring, and still applicable to today's world. I really appreciate this book, and find a lot of inspiration from reading a chapter or even a certain passage.The Dhammapada talks a lot about mastering the mind - but one thing against it, is that though it describes beautifully what is and what is not a truly concentrated mind, it does not tell me how to reach such a state, nor does it explain about how to understand the mind, which in my eyes is so important and a critical step to achieve enlightenment. For example, it talks about meditation but does not actually teaches how to meditate, it describes very poetically virtues and sins, but not how to understand the self. But this book can be very inspiring to read and reflect upon.

Karey

There is always room for compassion.

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