Friday, September 1, 2017

082. Live A Pure And Selfless Life Of Service; Be a Friend To All, Your Own Critic, And Ever Kind; Become One With All Life

Dhammapada Part VII

The final two chapters of the Dhammapada are included in this post. These chapters speak of those who have overcome this world...freeing themselves from every kind of worldly ambition and selfish desire. In Buddhism, one is not judged on their status or external characteristics, but by their spiritual growth. Those who have learned what life has to teach them are not compelled by past karma to take on a body again. The Buddha understood that the most suitable environment for working towards such goals was away from the world, surrounded by others who were engaged in the same quest.

The final two chapters included here are entitled "bhikshu" (monk) and "brahmin" (priest). These terms do not necessarily refer to a member of an established religious order, but to anyone who wholeheartedly commits to a life focused on an inward spiritual journey and practice; who desires to set themselves apart from the world and pursue the things of God above all else. So, when used in the following passages, think of these terms as what yourself, as a spiritual seeker, can become. Such persons accept with an equal mind and heart all that comes their way, they live to give instead of receive, and they exhibit good will toward all life. Although the Buddha attempted the practice of self-depravation of the body early on in his search for enlightenment, he learned for himself that such an approach did not help him progress. Instead, he taught a "middle way", in which self-will was crushed through meditation, doing good, and vanquishing selfish desires, rather than starvation and denying oneself joys that are important to the soul. He rejected asceticism, and it is incorrect to think of the Buddha as a shaved head mendicant who ate only leftovers put into his bowl. Overzealous followers may have starved and tortured their own bodies, just as monks and nuns have done in other religious traditions, but the Buddha himself advocated a long, vigorous, and healthy life dedicated to the service of all.

I hope reading these passages over the past week has been helpful to you in preparing for what lies ahead in your life. God bless you in your quest to overcome this world and to come into contact more fully with God.

The Bhikshu

Train your eyes and ears; train your nose and tongue. The senses are good friends when they are trained. (360) Train your body in deeds, train your tongue in words, train your mind in thoughts. This training will take you beyond sorrow. (361)

He is a true bhikshu who has trained his hands, feet, and speech to serve others. He meditates deeply, is at peace with himself, and lives in joy. (362)

He is a true bhikshu who keeps repeating his mantram (i.e., short prayer), lives simply, and explains the dharma (i.e., law, unity of life, the Way) in sweet words. (363)

He is a true bhikshu who follows the dharma, meditates on the dharma, rejoices in the dharma, and therefore never falls away from the dharma. (364)

He is a bhikshu who is content with what he receives and is never jealous of others. Those who are jealous cannot do well in meditation. (365) 

Even the gods praise the bhikshu who is contented and lives a pure life of selfless service. (366) Free from the desire to possess people and things, he does not grieve over what is not. (367)

Bhikshu, empty your boat. It will go faster. Cast out greed and hatred and reach nirvana. (369)

Overcome the five obstacle, rise above the five selfish attachments, and you will cross the river of life. (370)

Meditate, bhikshu, meditate. Do not run after sense pleasures. Do not swallow a red-hot iron ball and then cry "I am in great pain". (371)

There can be no meditation for those who are not wise, and no wisdom for those who do not meditate. Growing in wisdom through meditation, you will surely be close to nirvana. (372) 

When a bhikshu stills his mind, he enters an empty house; his heart is full of the divine joy of the dharma. (373) Understanding the rise and fall of the elements that make up the body, he gains the joy of immortality. (374) 

Learn to be wise, O bhikshu. Train your senses; be contented. Follow the teachings of the dharma and keep pure and noble friends. (375) Be a friend of all. Perform your duties well. Then, with your joy ever growing, you will put an end to sorrow. (376) 

As the varsika plant sheds its faded flowers, O bhikshu, shed all greed and hatred. (377) He is a bhikshu who is calm in thought, word, and deed, and has turned his back upon the allurements of the world. (378)

Raise yourself by your own efforts, O bhikshu; be your own critic. Thus self-reliant and vigilant, you will live in joy. (379) Be your own master and protector. Train your mind as a merchant trains his horse. (380)

Full of peace and joy is the bhikshu who follows the dharma and reaches the other shore beyond the flux of mortal life. (381) Full of light is the young bhikshu who follows the dharma. He lights up the world as the moon lights a cloudless sky. (382)

The Brahmin

Cross the river bravely; conquer all your passions. Go beyond the world of fragments and know the deathless ground of life. (383)

Cross the river bravely; conquer all your passions. Go beyond your likes and dislikes and all fetters will fall away. (384)

Who is a true brahmin? That one I call a brahmin who has neither likes nor dislikes and is free from the chains of fear. (385)

Who is a true brahmin? That one I call a brahmin who has trained the mind to be still and reached the supreme goal of life. (386)

That one I call a brahmin who has shed all evil. I call that one a recluse whose mind is serene; a wanderer, whose heart is pure. (388)

That one I call a brahmin who is never angry, never causes harm to others even when harmed by them. (389)

That one I call a brahmin who clings not to pleasure. Do not cause sorrow to others; no more sorrow will come to you. (390)

That one I call a brahmin who does not hurt others with unkind acts, words, or thoughts. Both body and mind obey him. (391)

It is not matted hair nor birth that makes a brahmin, but truth and the love for all of life with which one's heart is full. (393) What use is matted hair? What use is a deerskin on which to sit for meditation if your mind still seethes with lust? (394)

Saffron robe and outward show do not make a brahmin, but training of the mind and senses through practice of meditation. (395) Neither riches nor high caste makes a brahmin. Free yourself from selfish desires and you will become a brahmin. (396)

The brahmin has thrown off all chains and trembles not in fear. No selfish bonds can ensure such a one, no impure thought pollute the mind. (397)

That one I call a brahmin who has cut through the strap and thong and chain of karma. Such a one has got up from sleep, fully awake. (398)

That one I call a brahmin who fears neither prison nor death. Such a one has the power of love no army can defeat. (399)

That one I call a brahmin who is never angry, never goes astray from the path who is pure and self-controlled. This body is the last. (400)

That one I call a brahmin whose wisdom is profound and whose understanding deep, who by following the right path and avoiding the wrong has reached the highest goal. (403)

That one I call a brahmin who has put aside weapons and renounced violence toward all creatures. Such a one neither kills nor helps others to kill. (405)

That one I call a brahmin who is never hostile to those who are hostile toward him, who is detached among those who are selfish and at peace among those at war. (406)

That one I call a brahmin from whom passion and hatred, arrogance and deceit, have fallen away like mustard seed from the point of a needle. (407)

That one I call a brahmin who is ever true, ever kind. (408) Such a one never asks what life can give, only "What can I give life?" (409)

That one I call a brahmin who has found his heaven, free from every selfish desire, free from every impurity. (410) Wanting nothing at all, doubting nothing at all, master of both body and mind, such a one has gone beyond time and death. (411) 

That one I call a brahmin who has risen above the duality of this world, free from sorrow and free from sin. Such a one shines like the full moon with no cloud in the sky. (413)

That one I call a brahmin who has crossed the river difficult and dangerous to cross, and safely reached the other shore. (414)

That one I call a brahmin who has turned his back upon himself. Homeless, such a one is ever at home; egoless, he is ever full. (415)

Self-will has left his mind; it will never return. Sorrow has left his life; it will never return. (416)

That one I call a brahmin who has overcome the urge to possess even heavenly things and is free from all selfish attachments. (417)

That one I call a brahmin who is free from bondage to human beings and to nature alike, the hero who has conquered the world. (418)

That one I call a brahmin who is free from I, me, and mine, who knows the rise and fall of life. Such a one is awake and will not fall asleep again. (419)

That one I call a brahmin whose way no one can know. Such a one lives free from past and future, free from decay and death. (420)

Possessing nothing, desiring nothing for their own pleasure, their own profit, they have become a force for good, working for the freedom of all. (421)

That one I call a brahmin who is fearless, heroic, unshakable, a great sage who has conquered death and attained life's goal. (422)

Brahmins have reached the end of the way; they have crossed the river of life. All that they had to do is done: they have become one with all life. (423)

The End