Sahassavagga Simple Dhamma Is Best Dhammapada 8

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Introduction

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]

The eighth chapter of the Dhammapada teaches the immediate benefits of an authentic Dhamma practice and the foolishness and constant distraction of following unskillful “dharmas.”

The Buddha spent nearly as much time and effort teaching what his Dhamma was not as he did teaching his distinct and pure Dhamma. He did this for a very specific reason that lies at the very foundation of his Dhamma.

Siddartha Gotama “awakened” to the profound understanding that it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that leads to all manner of confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointing and distracting experiences. He understood that a mind rooted in ignorance will constantly seek distraction from recognizing and abandoning ignorance. The Eightfold Path is taught by the Buddha to provide the framework and guidance to recognize and abandon ignorance and the fabricated views that are formed and attached to that continue stress and suffering. [2,4]

My comments below are in italics.

 

Sahassavagga: Simple Dhamma Is Best

Dhammapada 8

Hearing one skillful word of true Dhamma that brings calm is better than a thousand foolish words.

Hearing one skillful verse of true Dhamma that brings calm is better than a thousand foolish verses.

Reciting one skillful verse that brings calm is better than reciting a thousand foolish verses.

Defeating thousands of people in battle is meaningless to the wise who have defeated ignorance in themselves.

A person well-restrained remains untouched by gods and devas.

This shows the foolishness of wishing that disincarnate imaginary “beings” have any effect on Dhamma practice is simply more craving rooted in ignorance.

Respect toward those of perfected minds for just one moment brings calm and understanding. Offering trinkets and sacrifices for hundreds of years brings continued ignorance and suffering.

Wholehearted engagement with an awakened human being’s Dhamma brings swift and effective understanding.

Respect toward those of perfected minds for just one moment brings more calm and understanding than tending sacrificial fires for hundreds of years.

Anoretic common distracting practice is devotion to imaginary doctrines and disincarnate beings – “tending the sacrificial fires” is the intentional substitution of devotion for actually developing the Eightfold Path.

Respect for the excellent teaching of the wise brings true merit. Offerings in this world seeking merit brings none.

A powerful statement by The Buddha and a clear teaching on the nature of Karma and Rebirth. [5]

All of the good deeds that one may attempt in hope of gaining favor with a god-like Buddha or other “higher beings” is simply rooted in ignorance and will bring nothing but future distraction.

Better to live one day well-concentrated and virtuous than to live a hundred years distracted and uncontrolled.

Better to live one day well-concentrated and wise than to live a hundred years distracted and foolish.

Better it is to live one day Well-Intentioned with Right Effort than to live a hundred years distracted and lazy. [6]

Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of all phenomena than to live a hundred years never knowing impermanence of all things. [7]

Better it is to live one day free of ignorance than to live a hundred years dying in ignorance.

The Buddha often refers to ignorance of Four Noble Truths as “death.” Living life in ignorance of reality is a living death. The “deathless” refers to having recognized and abandoned ignorance and living life moment-by-moment free of the need for anything to be different.

Better it is to live one day knowing the Four Truths than to live a hundred years in ignorance.

End Of Chapter

 

  1. Pali Canon
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  4. Teaching An Authentic Dhamma
  5. Karma And Rebirth
  6. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  7. Three Marks Of Existence – Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha

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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 Dhammatalks.org, 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.

 

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