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Dhammapada Chapter 1: Twin Verses

Public Domain Links

  1. Max Muller — http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2017/2017-h/2017-h.htm#link2HCH0001 
  2. Wikisource – https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Dhammapada#Chapter_1:_The_twin-verses

3. Commentary by Bhaddantacariya Buddhaghosa for Chapter 1

My ‘paraphrased’ version of opening:

Even though we have our senses to help organize things outside us, most of our interactions occur inside our minds. Mind is the star and director in our ongoing play starring our thoughts. If I come from a place free from egoistic and judgmental thoughts, then satisfaction will be my lot. If I come from a place clouded in misguided views, then suffering is sure to follow me. ‘I am a victim and was hurt by others.’ Following this mental trap of ‘poor me’ will ensure being stuck in a life of continuous self-loathing and hatred. Refraining from this thought pattern brings us ever closer to peace. Each day we see that a fresh dose of hatred will not solve any perceived wounds and scars. Each day we see examples of unconditional love overcoming hate. Once we know that hatred must end, then our internal and external battles will ebb away and cease.

 Practices

  1. In times of stress, deep calming breaths to soothe the mind. Joseph Goldstein in his talks mentions saying simple verbal phrases such as ‘it is going to be okay’ helps tremendously. In time, you can feel various muscles in your body release their tensions and relax.
  2. Looking at someone especially another driver 🙂 and send them loving thoughts. Or think ‘you are real to me.’
  3. When dealing with mental affliction in some situation, think “Just as I am suffering, so are other beings. May all beings be free from suffering.” Or just “May all beings be free from suffering.” Repeat frequently as many times as needed until the anguish subsides. Or just think, “heal.”
  4. Find a way that works ever briefly or for a lifetime to get away from the mental distractions. It could be listening to contemplative music or mantras. Or a walk. Looking at nature. Or doing tai chi. Unfortunately, these are typically temporary remedies. Perhaps taking up a life of service to others and recharge as needed. There is an approach(es) out there just for you.
  5. Be grateful for the riches and gifts that you already have. They are typically more than you know.
  6. Truly accept what you are given. Coming from a sense of abundance rather than lack in time brings about in time real contentment.
  7. Observe your thoughts without judgement or reactivity. Note when patterns are repeating. See if they are reoccurring because of a sense of lack, a perceived injustice, or some other reason. Calmly and patiently investigate. In time, these thoughts will lose their power and hold on you.
  8. For many of us, it would be impossible to do this all on our own. It it makes sense for you, find one or few kindred beings or a spiritual community that resonates for you. It may take several encounters with the above to determine if they are right for you. This may be supplemented with online resources/communities with talks and documents.
  9. Release the unwanted ‘mental anguish calories’ of ruminating the past, planning for the future, and thoughts of inadequacy, fear, anger, torment, and more. At some point, one comes to a crossroads. You either double down and hold on to these ‘mental movies’, or let go and move on. Just letting go is always an option. But too often, the obvious choice is forgotten or placed in the background. Don’t buy into the drama and get sucked in.
    10. Be kind to yourself and never stop growing your practice. Our lives are one ongoing experiment. Think of the long-term view and reflect on the mental progress that you have each day. Learn from recent emotional and mind-numbing setbacks. Our life journey is rarely a straight line. Then when the lessons have been found, forget dwelling on both any further and take the next steps.