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The Dhammapada Essay

1225 words - 5 pages

     The Dhammapada is a Pali version of one of the most popular text of the Buddhist canon. The Dhammapada, or “sayings of the Buddha”, is a collection of 423 verses that tell about the ideals and teachings of the Buddha. When taken together, these verses provide a structured form of teaching within the Buddhist religion. These verses are a kind of guiding voice to the path of true enlightenment.
The Dhammapada is a religious work that is meant to provide a certain set of religious and ethical values, as well as a certain manner of perception of life and the problems that life brings along with the solutions. Although the verses may be looked at as trying to create good or bad people, the verses are actually trying to get people to understand what is good and what is bad in the Buddhist religion. In other words, the book is trying to produce someone who will think and comprehend the ideas of the Buddha. A person who reads the text should be able to form his or her opinions about enlightenment and Nirvana. The same is true for a person who is listening to the text being read. The listener must consider and comprehend what is being spoken.

     Throughout the text, images of virtue are portrayed in the figure of the bhikkhu. According to the text the Buddha describes the bhikkhu as one self-reliant, self-restrained, and one who possess integrity. In verses 360-363 the text tells of how retraining in everything can bring about freedom from all suffering. “The bhikkhu who is restrained in all [the senses], is freed from all suffering” (V. 361). The things that make this person praiseworthy can be found throughout the entire set of verses, but particularly in Chapter 25, The Bhikkhu. The bhikkhu is praiseworthy because he is one who not only studies and understands the Buddha’s sayings but one who practices the teachings of the Buddha. A bhikkhu does not envy, is without self-identification, free from hate and desire. The virtues that a bhikkhu embodies are deemed as positive and morally “wholesome” (kusala) because the bhikkhu has achieved what the Buddha has deemed to be right and the way to enlightenment.

     Within the Dhammapada, the Buddha describes the bhikkhu as one who has wisdom and meditation. “There is no meditative absorption for one who lacks insight; there is no insight for one who is not meditating. In whom there is meditative absorption and insight; truly he is in Nibbana’s presence” (V. 372). This verse states that in order to gain wisdom, a bhikkhu must meditate. However one can not meditate without wisdom. This idea seems to say that the practices of the bhikkhu must include meditation and gaining wisdom. The Buddhist monks engage in these practices because it is the way of the Buddha. Within the text, it is very clear that the Buddha finds meditation of great importance. If not directly speaking about meditation, the Buddha speaks about having a disciplined mind. “It is good to restrain one’s mind, uncontrollable, fast...

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