Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The Dhammapada opens with a clear assertion that the mind is the forerunner of all that we are, the maker of our character, the creator of our destiny. The entire Buddhist discipline, from basic morality to the attainment of arahantship, hinges upon training the mind. A wrongly directed mind brings greater harm than any enemy; a rightly directed mind brings greater good than any relative or friend (vv. 42-43). The mind is unruly, fickle difficult to subdue, but by effort, mindfulness and self-discipline, one can master the mind, escape the flood of passions, and find "an island which no flood can overwhelm" (v. 25). The person who conquers himself, the victor over his own mind, achieves a conquest that can never be undone, a victory greater than that of the mightiest warriors (vv. 103-105).

What is needed most to train and subdue the mind, according to the Dhammapada, is a quality called HEEDFULNESS (appamada). Heedfulness combines critical self-awareness and unremitting energy in a process of constant self-observation in order to detect and expel the defilements whenever they seek an opportunity to come to the surface. In a world where we have no savior except ourselves, and where the means to deliverance lies in mental purification, heedfulness becomes the crucial factor for ensuring that we keep straight to the path of training without deviating due to the seductive lure of sense pleasures or the stagnating influences of laziness and complacency. The Buddha declares that heedfulness is the path to the Deathless, and heedlessness the path to death. The wise who understand this distinction abide in heedfulness and attain Nibbana, "the incomparable freedom from bondage" (vv. 21-23).

Bhikkhu Bodhi

More readings:
The Living Message of the Dhammapada

The Dhammapada

What Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula @ Amazon

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