Buddhist Audio Books

Dhammapada
the way of truth
By Sangharakshita
ISBN: 9781899579938
Read by Subhadra

Universal in its message, deep in its teaching, refined simplicity of language.

‘Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind, and produced by mind. If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows like a shadow that never departs.’

The Dhammapada is one of the most popular and influential of Buddhist scriptures. Contained within its short verses are the essential teachings of the Buddha, words to be savoured, reflected upon and revisited.

An Extract from: Dhammapada
From the Preface

That the Pali Dhammapada is at present the best known of this class of Buddhist canonical texts is largely the result of historical accident. Since its appearance in a Latin version in 1855 it has been repeatedly translated into the principal European and Asian languages, 'the depth and universality of its doctrine, the purity and earnestness of its moral teaching, and the sublimity of its spiritual ideal, combined with the refined simplicity and pellucid poetical beauty of its language, winning for it an honoured place in world literature.' Small wonder, then, that the Dhammapada should now be one of the best known and best loved of all Buddhist scriptures, or that for many Western Buddhists, irrespective of school, it should be a perpetual source of inspiration.

For me it has been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and guidance for well over fifty years. Indeed, I sometimes think that the Dhammapada contains, at least in principle, as much of the Buddha's teaching as most of us really need to know in order to progress towards Enlightenment. As the Buddha himself tells us in verse 100, 'Better than a thousand meaningless words collected together (in the Vedic oral tradition) is a single meaningful word on hearing which one becomes tranquil.' There are many such meaningful words in the Dhammapada – words that are of infinitely greater value than the tens of thousands of meaningless words we hear every day of our lives.

Four episodes in the history of my relationship with the Dhammapada stand out with particular vividness.

The first occurred in 1944. I had just arrived in Delhi, and being already a Buddhist went looking for a Buddhist temple. Eventually I found one, the first I had ever seen. Inside the entrance there was a bookstall, and among the books I bought that day was an English translation of the Dhammapada complete with the Pali text in Devanagari script. Thereafter the orange-covered pocket volume accompanied me to Sri Lanka, to Singapore, and then back to India, where it was the constant companion of my years as a freelance wandering ascetic.

It is to those years of wandering that the next episode belongs. I was staying at a Hindu ashram in North Malabar, and during my stay devoted the period of my morning walk to learning the Dhammapada by heart in the original Pali, reciting the verses out loud as I strode along the road. As I knew no Pali, though I had learned the Devanagari script while in Sri Lanka, I had to recite the verses parrot-fashion with only a general idea of their meaning. At that time I was a great believer in the value of learning scriptures and poetry by heart, as I still am today.

The third episode in the history of my relationship with the Dhammapada finds me living in Benares with the venerable Jagdish Kashyap, my first teacher, with whom I studied Pali, Abhidharma, and Logic. One of the texts I studied with him was the Dhammapada. Though I never became a Pali scholar, as Kashyap-ji perhaps hoped I might, I at least managed to acquire from him a knowledge of the language sufficient to enable me, many years later, to attempt a Dhammapada translation of my own.

The last of these episodes took place in Poona, not long before my return to the West in 1964. In 1956 hundreds of thousands of Hindus who had been treated as Untouchables by members of the higher castes converted to Buddhism, and since then I had spent much of my time travelling from place to place throughout Central and Western India teaching them the fundamentals of the Dharma. On one of my visits to Poona I conducted a four-week training course in Buddhism, in the context of which I gave a running commentary on all twenty-six chapters of the Dhammapada. Few, if any, of the participants had encountered the Dhammapada before, and I was deeply moved to see the effect the inspired words of the Buddha had on them all, including the uneducated and even illiterate. They could well have exclaimed, as did so many in the Buddha's own day, that it was as though what was overthrown was raised up, or what was hidden revealed, or the way pointed out to him that wandered astray, or a light held up in the darkness so that those that had eyes might see.




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