Analysis of Sacred Text
The Dhammapada is a collection of the Buddha’s teachings and practices that are designed to be practiced and understood by all humankind. I was drawn to this sacred text because I have been interested and practiced some Buddhism rituals, but I have never read and analyzed any of Buddha’s teachings. While reading the Dhammapada I was able to relate and recognize the value that the passages could have on the transformation of people’s lives. Humans actions are a result of their thoughts, and the action that is placed from that thought will determine a person’s happiness. There is evil everywhere in the world, but being able to acknowledge this evil and not succumb to evil actions or thoughts is one of the hardest tasks humans will face, and to be able to handle this task one must display maturity in their actions and words. The Dhammapada teaches that to have a clear mind, one will live a good life, and I believe everyone could benefit from better understanding what it takes to have a clear mind. In this paper I will discuss my thoughts on how the teachings of the Dhammapada has significant influence recognizing that the quality life is determined by each action and thought a person has. Humans are a product of what they think and the actions they display. Selfish thoughts cause misery while selfless thoughts lead to ultimate happiness. Chapter one in the Twin Verses states, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts” (p.105). These thoughts are then made into actions. These actions whether they are good or bad will ultimately lead to a specific destiny that can be negative or positive. Destiny has two paths, one that is easy an easy path or one that is the hard path. The easy path will ultimately lead to more suffering, while the difficult path will lead to nirvana. I feel that almost all of humankind is only worried about their individual selves and how fast they can get what they need to obtain their belief of self-satisfaction. Everyone is only worried about themselves and how they can benefit themselves while disregarding others needs, thoughts, and actions unless it concerns them. It is a humans natural instinct to be selfish, Dhammapada states, “The mind can be said to be a product of the human being’s evolutionary drive to look out for oneself first” (p.102). The Dhammapada explains to find happiness one must go against the current and against every selfish impulse, and by only looking out for our individual selves genuine happiness is not obtainable. Until I was introduced to Buddhism I would have never had thought that by not thinking of myself, I myself could be happy. I believe that this is result of the society that we live in, and most important the influence of American culture and values of western civilization. The idea that our individual thoughts override those thoughts of others is one that will result in despair. I found that chapter one and two of the Dhammapada had a powerful message about the difference of those who are selfish and those who are selfless. The passage about selfish and selflessness explains how people who are selfish will forever suffer over the mistakes and damages they have done and they will continue to experience increased suffering and travel down the path of sorrow (p.107). While a selfless person will rejoice in the positive of the good they have done in the world and are able to be at peace with ones self, and is capable to grow in that happiness and progress along the path of harmony (p.107). A passage that struck me comes from the passages of Mind and Flowers and it states, “According to the Buddha, we do not need any hell or afterlife to look for the devil” (p.111). I fell that this statement holds great power. I interpreted it as there is great evil in this world and it is all around us. This evil comes from the wandering mind that seeks desires and these desires are what drive these negative actions. This evil is a result of creative thought and this is why there is poisoning of the environment, and use and production of weapons that can destroy all life. I found it interesting that there is a way to train our minds through mediation by shaping the mind of the things that make persons behaviors, which are strong, desires, fears, attitudes, and
Analysis of Sacred Text
aspirations (p.112). The greatest battle that every human will ever face is control over ones mind, and until that control is gained the mind cannot be relied on to avoid harm. I feel that it would be a great burden lifted off of me to be able to be clear-headed and have a trained mind that brings health and happiness and does greater good.
There are two different types of immature people, there are people who recognize that they have made a mistake and there are people who do not recognize that they have made a mistake (p.119). This I feel is true throughout all of life. I constantly see people who are in denial of the mistakes they made, or do not even feel as though they have made a mistake. Not only are there people who do not feel as though they have made a mistake, there are people who do not forgive people for mistakes they have done. Immaturity is often a difficult concept to grasp because of the development is not one that is easy, the Dhammapada states, “The evolution from immaturity to wisdom is a long road, the longest of all for those who do not base their actions on some deeper purpose in life” (p.119, p.120). This passage from the reading made me think about how humankind does not think about the long-term purpose of life, because the mind an all consumed with obtaining instant gratification. I believe people are not worried about what tomorrow brings, because they are not mature enough to recognize the importance of wisdom, and are not willing to grow and learn from others and their life experiences. Those who are capable to see their level of immaturity are able to have enough self-knowledge to address their immaturity, and when they are able to address this immaturity that is the beginning of wisdom (p.120). I agree with the Dhammapada when it explains how people search for opportunities to gain praise, but the wise seek out some one who will help them “reveal the hidden treasure” (p.121). This hidden treasure I believe is the ability to find benefit in constructive criticism. Humankind does not take criticism lightly, and often find it offensive to their character by pointing out weaknesses. Chapter five and chapter six had the most impact on me by its thought provoking passages that I feel are words that all of human kind should live by, and really emphasizes how the Dhammapada is reading for all no matter what religion you are. Two passages that I feel emphasizes this are, “If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone. There is no companionship with the immature” (p.123), and “As a solid rock cannot be moved by the wind, the wise are not shaken by praise or blame” (p.127). These passages say so much in so little words, and it made me realize that I am the only one that can control my actions and I should not be influenced by others negative thoughts or actions. When there are people in your life who do not make you a better person it is best to not have them in your life at all, because by having them in your life it will ultimately lead to misery. If I am capable to stand on my own as a strong individual nothing can break my happiness because I am capable to positively embrace praise and blame.
Actions speak louder than words is a phrase I have lived by in my life for many years and I related it to this passage from Thousands, “Better than a speech of a thousand words is one thoughtful word which brings peace to the mind” (p.135). Less is more and carries greater impact, and I believe this can lead humankind to happiness. People who are evil and perform evil doings are often seen to appear happy and pleased with their actions. I have never understood how or why this could be true, and chapter 9 Evil explains that people who are evil will not suffer until sorrow overcomes them (p.141). Evildoer’s pseudo happiness is only temporary and they will eventually suffer. The only way to be genuinely happy is to not put down or think negatively of who are also seeking happiness (p.143). Buddha always places emphasis on the choices we have as humans and being evil and having evil habits is a choice, but being a good person and making good decisions is just as much of a choice as being evil is.
Analysis of Sacred Text
Every action begins with a thought that humans have. These actions will always lead to a result, and the result is dependent on whether the action or thought was good or bad. To be a good person and live a quality life one must take the difficult path with more suffering. I believe that the Dhammapada could benefit everyone in being able to recognize how there is choice in every decision they make, and that the easy way is not the best way for long term happiness and peace of mind. The teachings are universal, and can benefit all. We must be good people with good actions and thoughts, and if we all do this the world that we all live in will be one that is positive and good.