Panditavagga: Heartwood For The Wise Talks

These are the most recent talks on this subject. As of December, 2019, There are more than 600 Dhamma talks on this and other teachings of the Buddha in my audio and video archives:




Heartwood For The Wise – Panditavagga Dhammapada 6



For a complete understanding of this sutta in the context intended by an awakened human being please read the linked suttas at the end of this article. ([x])

The Dhammapada is a twenty-six chapter volume in the fifth book of the Sutta Pitaka known as the Khuddaka Nikaya. The Khuddaka Nikaya is a fifteen-book collection of short texts difficult to classify within the other volumes. The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse that can be read as a concise though thorough presentation of an awakened human being’s teachings. [1]

The Dhammapada is loosely formatted by topic. The individual topic(s) presented in each chapter mostly stand on their own with the understanding that everything the Buddha taught can only be understood and developed skillfully within the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. [2,3]

In the Panditavagga the Buddha emphasizes the importance of developing true wisdom of how ignorance is established from misunderstanding Three Marks Of Existence. [4]

Rather than clinging to rituals and practices, the Buddha teaches that the wise simply follow the path of wisdom taught by an awakened human being. Having developed Right View guided by the framework of the Eightfold Path, wise Dhamma practitioners engage with the Dhamma and abandon distracting “dharmas.”

With great courage and profound wisdom, the Buddha understood the cruelty of taking a position of authority and teaching “dharma” simply due to common agreement and to gain followers by teaching rituals and practices that can only distract one from recognizing and abandoning their own ignorance of Four Noble Truths. [5,6]

My comments below are in italics.


Panditavagga: Heartwood For The Wise

Dhammapada 6

It is always beneficial to associate with a wise person who has the courage to point out faults and foolish actions. Follow them as one follows a path to hidden treasure.

The wise who teach the truth, admonish foolishness, and provide true refuge, are criticized by the ignorant. The wise who teach the truth, admonish foolishness, and provide true refuge, are held dear by those seeking Heartwood.

Abandon ignorant associations. Avoid fellowship with fools. Associate with the wise and seek fellowship with noble ones.

The wise are immersed in the Dhamma and live with happiness and tranquility. The wise delight in the Dhamma taught by the Buddha.

A common underlying theme throughout the Buddha’s Dhamma is the singular importance of associating with those that are actually developing the Buddha’s Dhamma and avoiding associating Dhamma practice with those that do not understand or practice the Dhamma. [7]

Irrigators direct rivers, fletchers straighten arrows. Carpenters shape wood. The wise restrain themselves. [8]

Modern “dharma” practice has devolved in a way predicted by the Buddha. Most of modern Buddhism is now compulsively developing a “one-size-fits-all” dharma that each individual is encouraged to pick and choose what “feels good” or “feels right” and self-creating, with the encouragement of charismatic dharma teachers, “lineage holders,” and social associations, an individual (self-referential)  Buddhist ” practice. The resulting “dharma” practice ignores the very foundations of the Buddha’s Dharma and avoids gaining skillful insight into Three Marks Of Existence.  [4,9]]

A rock lies undisturbed by the wind. The wise remain unmoved by praise or blame.

Like a deep and pure lake, the wise hear the true Dhamma and are perfectly purified.

The wise renounce all clinging. The wise do not talk foolishly of their desires. The wise remain calm through happiness or sorrow.

One is indeed virtuous, righteous, and wise who refrain from any wrong-doing for themselves or others. One is indeed virtuous, righteous, and wise who do not crave for sons, wealth, power, or undeserved success.

Few people will complete the path and cross the farther shore. Most will run up and down the near shore.

Common during the Buddha’s teaching career and today are “seekers” practicing only what feels good, is encouraged by common agreement, and allows for ignorance to continue by “running up and down the near shore.”

The wise practicing the perfectly taught Heartwood will cross the realm of death – so difficult o cross.

Heartwood refers to the Eightfold Path. “The realm of Death refers to living a human life in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Living in ignorance of the reality of Four Noble Truths ignores life itself.

The wise cultivate the Eightfold Path and abandon the dark paths born of ignorance. Leaving behind entanglements with the world the wise delight in their freedom. Abandoning sensual pleasure, free of clinging, the wise cleanse themselves of greed, aversion, and deluded thinking.

In general, modern Buddhism is enthralled with, and teaches the Bodhisattva path that substitutes a salvific path for the Eightfold Path. The Bodhisattva path when looked at from the framework and guidance of the Eightfold Path encourages entanglements with the “world” and encourages continuing the three defilements of greed, aversion, and deluded thinking.

Those who have fully developed the Heartwood, who have renounced craving, who now rejoice in pure detachment, free of the fetters, brilliant in their wisdom, they are called Rightly Self-Awakened right here and now.

“Right here and now” refers to the immediate nature of the Buddha’s Dhamma. The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path that brings awakening – full human maturity – in the present lifetime.

End Of Chapter

  1. Pali Canon
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  4. Three Marks Of Existence – Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha
  5. Teaching An Authentic Dhamma
  6. Kalama Sutta
  7. An Admirable Sangha – Upaddha Sutta
  8. Wisdom Of Restraint
  9. Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views
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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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