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Dhammapada

The Dhammapada is one of the foremost books on the Buddha's teachings. The gems of universal truth and reality embodied in the text aptly illustrate moral and philosophical teachings of the Buddha. Any truth seeker, he Dhammapada irrespective of his religious beliefs can read this book of Wisdom with profit and interest.



The Dhammapada is the most widely read Buddhist scripture in existence, enjoyed by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. The Dhammapada This classic text of teaching verses from the earliest period of Buddhism in India conveys the philosophical and practical foundations of the Buddhist tradition. The text presents two The Dhammapada distinct goals for leading a spiritual life: the first is attaining happiness in this life (or in future lives); the second goal is the achievement of spiritual liberation, freedom, absolute peace of Dhammapada.

Many of the key themes of the verses are presented in dichotomies or pairs, for example, grief and the Dhammapada suffering versus joy; developing the mind instead of being negligent about one's mental attitude and conduct; virtuous action versus misconduct; and being truthful versus being deceitful. The purpose of these contrasts is, very simply, to describe the difference between what leads to desirable outcomes and what does not. For centuries, this text has been studied in its original Pali, the canonical language of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. This fresh new translation from Insight Mediation teacher and Pail translator Gil Fronsdal is both highly readable and scholarly authoritative. With extensive explanatory notes, this edition combines a rigorous attention to detail in bringing forth the original text with the translator's personal knowledge of the Buddhist path. It is the first truly accurate and highly readable translation of this text to be published in English.

Reader's Comments:
A classic of world religion and philosophy translated by an expert with a gift for language.
The Dhammapada, which literally means "foot," "tool," ,"saying," or "path" (Pali: pada) of "experience" (Pali: dhamma), is a small collection of sayings about the Middle Way, the Path of Awakening which leads to Nirvana and which is embodied by the Buddha, and also about its opposite, the path of unskillful living which leads to a hellish life and which is embodied by the traditional Indian figure of Mara.

Each of us must choose which of these two paths to follow. We cannot avoid choosing: even if we do not choose, we will become subject to forces outside ourselves (media, advertisement, family, friends, enemies, lovers), and so will have chosen the path of unskillful living by default. Only by consciously choosing the Path of Awakening, and by training our minds so that everything we do is free of unhealthy desire, aversion, and delusion, can we be truly enlightened and happy.

The Dhammapada gives voice to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: that suffering exists, that there is a cause to suffering, that suffering has an end, and that there is a means to this end, namely the Noble Eightfold Path. But the Dhammapada focuses mostly on the Noble Eightfold Path, and specifically on the choices we face, at many junctures in our lives, between two starkly contrasting possibilities. It is a message of hope that if we choose wisely, and if we choose now rather than later, we shall find relief for both our own suffering and the suffering of others.

Thus the Dhammapada is similar to other great works of life philosophy, such as Epictetus' Enchiridion. Both focus on the fact that we must choose between two radically different kinds of lives. Both advocate a life of virtue and spiritual practice in order to make progress in life. Both regard training oneself to be mindfully aware of everything one does, and mindfully present at all times, as means for acquiring and exercising virtue, enlightenment and happiness.

Gil Fronsdal, the translator of this perennial classic, holds a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Stanford, where he studied the early Bodhisattva ideal in India as the research topic for his dissertation. He is also an ordained Soto Zen priest. And he is a Vipassana student of Jack Kornfield. He has lived as a monastic in Japan and Southeast Asia. He is the main teacher at the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, California. The website for IMC has all of Gil's dharma talks, plus those of many guest speakers, as well as some written transcriptions, available for free download at insightmeditationcenter.org. He is a gifted and compassionate speaker with some serious insight into the psychology of Buddhism.

This translation, rendered from the Pali version of the Dhammapada, is quite beautiful, and is excellent for memorizing special verses (e.g. the first line, "All experience is preceded by mind, Led by mind, Made by mind..."). Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Buddhism, life philosophy, or insight meditation. My only criticism is that perhaps Gil should also have offered his own commentary in addition to the helpful annotations he gives at the end of the book. He is such an insightful speaker on the Dharma that it is a shame to waste any opportunity to have him share his insight with others!


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