Dhammapada: Chapter 1 Highlights




1:11

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





1:12

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


1:20

If I know just a little of the sacred texts,

But I put those teachings into practice,

Casting off drama, ill-will, and delusion,

Practicing wakefulness and meditation,

Free of attachments (opinions ok, VJ) to anything, here or in the future,

Then I will be enlightened.


The earliest (purported) sayings of Buddha that were written down consist of 432 short verses of practical wisdom for the devout Buddhist. This written compilation of oral teachings appeared in at least four different versions a couple of hundred years after the time of Buddha's life, which was 500ish BC.


The Dhammapada represents the earliest (primitive) stage of Buddhism which was puritanical, fundamentalist and strictly structured. Although containing some inspiration and a few ponderables, it is useful mostly as a historical record and not as a guide for current practice.


Allowing for the difficulty of translating into English the technical language of ancient Indian philosophy and psychology, the Dhammapada is worth a browse. Here is a worthwhile version available to read for free. Click here.


The title Dhamma-pada: dhamma is Pali, for the Sanskrit dharma, which you may know to mean the Teaching of Buddha, or, more generally, the way of nature or natural law. The suffix Pada is related "foot". So Dhammapada means something like traveling along the path of Buddha.