Dhammapada Chapter 15: Final Words

Introduction

Moments arise and then come to pass. At this very instant, I have started what will become the final chapter of this book. A blank page is staring back at me. I have no idea as to what words will follow or where they will lead me.

Once completed and reviewed, this is it. No overall final edit. No second or third editions. The digital pen is at rest for this work.

What you see before you is in its final form. Yet it is incomplete since not every Dhammapada verse was reviewed. It is imperfect because mere words cannot truly capture the underlying ultimate reality. And like the Japanese ideals of wabi-sabi, beauty lies in its incompleteness. From an initial vision of a collection of short stories, this work grew to the present expanded form. The final result is far better than I could have ever hoped for. Thank you for reading any part of this book. I hope that it provides some insights and peace. Blessings to all of you on your own life journey. May all find the true wisdom that they seek.

H.G.

Commentary

Whether partaking in a yoga or meditation session, reading a book like this, or taking a vacation, at some point most of us return to some sense of ‘normal life’. And that is when the real practice begins. In all those moments that elicit happiness, fear, sadness, anxiety, anger, joy, boredom etc. In each waking or sleeping moment. To us are they just one big blur, a time of incessant sameness and meaninglessness, or a chance to get our act together finally? Your answer will determine how easy or hard will be your life.

Wise Dharma teachers have simply said “Watch out for the areas of resistance in our lives.” Because they are the epicenter of our ego’s domain and a major opportunity for our own personal growth.

In time, we realize that our mind, body, and spirit need to work together in each moment to fulfill our life mission of taming and then freeing our mind and emotions.

And our planets also being imperfect, contradictory, and evolving. Each of us should find a “small patch of ground” to heal and make peaceful. Maybe today we start with one friend, or one garden. Coming from a place of abundance, there is no expectations, no pushing one’s ‘hidden agendas’ on others, and no rushing to accomplish anything. Just the rewards and richness of being open, deliberate, and performing non-judgmental observing. So may it be for all of us.

Practice

At the final practice section, what can I say differently than before? As earlier, these suggestions may not be truly Buddhist-inspired.

  1. There are many different translations of the Dhammapada. Reading other translations can give insights. Also Leo D. Lefebure has written some articles and a book on a Christian Commentary on the Dhammapada. Here is a sample of his article https:/muse.jhu.edu/article/522381 and a review of his book https://muse.jhu.edu/article/522386

Book information: The Path of Wisdom: A Christian Commentary on the Dhammapada. By Leo D. Lefebure and Peter Feldmeier. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2011. 379 pp.

  1. If you wish to read more on what I have written on spiritual matters, then feel free to download https://hallettgermanfiction.ml/download/775/ — Transitions 1 (Theravada)

https://hallettgermanfiction.ml/download/780/ –Transitions 2 (Dhammapada)

Or purchase Spiritual Storms at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/712225 with a book sample available for free reading.

  1. Begin and end the day with your own personal ritual — praying, meditating, singing, or wishing only the best for yourself and all beings.
  2. Investigate the “peace fellowships” for your affiliations. One such group for ‘engaged Buddhists’ is Buddhist Peace Fellowship) — http://www.buddhistpeacefellowship.org/ You may also want to read and think about Gary Synder’s “Buddhist anarchism” — https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/buddhist-anarchism/ which was written back in 1961.
  3. There are a lot of books/works on practice. Here are five I found approachable and helpful:

– Janwillem van de Wetering. — “The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery.” Practice tip — Have a general practice schedule so you always know what you can be doing at any time.

– Eihei Dogen. “Advice for the Cook” https://wwzc.org/dharma-text/tenzo-kyokun-instructions-tenzo Practice tip: Nothing is Hidden. The path to awakening is right in front of us whether it is through cooking or some other “ordinary” activity.

-Yin Kuang.  “Pure-Land Zen, Zen Pure-land” — Letters from Patriarch Yin Kuang.http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/yin_kuang.pdf  This is from a Zen and Pure Land perspective. Unfortunately, the free version leaves out the many insightful footnotes. Practice Tip: Incorporate all the circumstances in your life into your practice.

– Jack Kornfield. “Living Dharma: Teachings and Meditation Instructions from Twelve Theravada Masters.” Theravada Buddhist elder teachers share their thoughts on what practice is. Practice Tip: Making small mental notes of whatever you are doing to bring awareness of your activities to the forefront of your mind.

– Ven. Thubten Gyatso. Transforming Problems Into the Dharma Path —http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/transprobs6.pdf Practice tip: Avoid our aversion to suffering.

  1. Inspire yourself and others through your daily example of speaking, thinking, and acting without harshness, judgment, or ill well.
  2. Watch for those moments when tired, angry etc. This is when you need to mind yourself the most to avoid harmful actions!
  3. Joining/starting a small practice support group of a few kindred spirits can help keep your practice on track.
  4. Being in silence or “just observing” throughout the day can keep your mind on track. It does not have to be that longa period. Just five to twenty minutes.
  5. Avoid emotionally-laden souls and situations as much as you can until you have developed the inner strength to deal with them. Just go a different way.
  6. Leave time in your day to explore and experience without an objective in mind.
  7. It all passes so quickly and circumstances can change dramatically in just a few seconds. Today is always the right day to do practice and encourage others to do the same.
  8. Work especially hard through those moments when you are ‘stuck’ on what happened in the past or planning for the future. Once you understand why you are ‘stuck’ and how temporary it is, the emotional/mental bindings shall free up.
  9. When in doubt, step back and breathe slowly. Let the thoughts arise and then pass. And then continue with your day.

15, Finish the sentence on your intention, “Today I choose not to …” and then follow-up doing just that throughout the day.

  1. All beings are not ‘others’, or threats to us. We all live their lives the best that we can just as you do. Once recognized, act through compassionate eyes.

17. Lastly, never stop practicing. Each day, you are already being more aware of yourself and avoiding harmful actions “in the heat of battle”. Each day, the sense of non-reactivity and spaciousness grows. Have the faith in yourself and the practice. And as Warren Zevon once said in his final days, “Enjoy every sandwich” whether it is your first or last. Because everything happening to ourselves and others are our precious teachers. Embrace their lessons and then move on to the next moment. For the past will never occur again except in our heads. And if we so choose. May we all practice well in each of our present, past, and future moments.

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