Yamakavagga – Mind Governs All



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 book in the fifth collection 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 four 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.

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. [1,2]

The sutta below is from the Dhammapada 1. It teaches the importance of developing the Heartwood of the Dhamma – the Eightfold Path – to establish the refined mindfulness necessary to develop profound Right View.  [3]

The Buddha teaches a very specific application of mindfulness. In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha teaches the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness to support ever-deepening levels of meditative absorption. [4]

The ever-deepening concentration developed through Right Meditation is the sole purpose of meditation practice. Once concentration is established,  the remaining themes presented in the Satipatthana Sutta can be developed and integrated. [5]

The Buddha taught the Anapanasati Sutta using awakened monks as examples of a properly developed Dhamma practice established in Refined Mindfulness as the governing principle. [6]

My comments below are in italics.


Yamakavagga – Pairs

Dhammapada 1 (V1-20)

The quality of mind precedes all mental states. Mind is the governing principle. Mind defines all phenomena. If a person speaks or acts with an impure mind, suffering will follow like a wheel following an oxen’s hoof.

The quality of mind precedes all mental states. Mind is the governing principle. Mind defines all phenomena. If a person speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness will follow like a constant shadow.

Harboring thoughts of being abused, robbed, injured, or overpowered does not still hatred. Those who harbor such thoughts will remain agitated.

Abandoning thoughts of being abused, robbed, injured, or overpowered always stills hatred.

Understanding the complete impersonal nature of life allows one to abandon confusion, anger, and frustration through Right Mindfulness. [7]

Hatred always continues hatred. Non-hatred alone ends hatred. This law is timeless.

Many ignore the fleeting nature of life. The wise who understand impermanence do not quarrel with others.

Just as a strong wind will fall a weak tree, ignorance will consume those living for sensual pleasures, lacking restraint, gorging on food, lazy,

Just as a strong wind does not affect a rocky mountain, ignorance will never cling to those who are mindful of the defilements, wise in restraint, moderate with food, with conviction for the Dhamma and tireless in their efforts.

Those ignorant, depraved, lacking restraint, dishonest, though wearing a disciple’s robe, are not worthy of respect.

Those who have abandoned ignorance and depravity, in control of their senses, established in virtue, they alone are worthy of respect, they are Dhamma practitioners.

Those that crave for and cling to what is worthless, and ignore what is priceless, mindful only of what is rooted in ignorance, will never realize the Dhamma. Those that know the Heartwood to be Heartwood, and sapwood to be sapwood, established in Refined Mindfulness, they will realize the Dhamma.

Heartwood always refers to the Eightfold Path [3]

Just as rain will rot a poorly-roofed house, passion will rot a poorly developed mind.

Just as rain will not rot a properly roofed house, passion will never destroy a properly developed mind.

The ignorant, hurtful in thoughts, words, and deeds, suffers endlessly. Afflicted with regret, always mindful of misdeeds.

Mindfulness means to recollect of hold in mind. Distracted by self-reference due to unrefined mindfulness and resulting unskillful behavior,  one is afflicted with regret.

The wise, pure in thought, word, and deed rejoice endlessly. They are at peace, always mindful of the benefits of restraint.

Having developed the Eightfold Path the mind rests in equanimity and ever-deepening Jhana. [5]

The ignorant, hurtful in thoughts, words, and deeds, suffers endlessly. Mindful of misdeeds, constantly tormented.

The virtuous aspects of the Eightfold Path – Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood – are taught to mindfully recognize and abandon hurtful thoughts, words, and deeds. [3]

The wise, pure in thought, word, and deed are always delighted. Mindful of their purity, they are constantly delighted.

This is a mind free of self-reference. [8]

Much though they read sacred texts but acting poorly, overcome by greed, they do not gain the benefits of the Heartwood.

Little though they read sacred texts but putting the Dhamma into practice, abandoning greed, aversion, and deluded thinking, with true wisdom, their mind free from ignorance, clinging to nothing in this world or any other, this one has gained the benefits of the well-integrated life.

These last two lines in this section emphasize a common theme of the Buddha’s Dhamma. The Buddha taught his Dhamma is to be practiced and developed as presented while being mindful to avoid compulsively adapting, accommodating, or embellishing the Buddha’s teaching out of the self-referential need for “more” that is common in modern Buddhism By Common Agreement.  [9]

End Of Section


  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. Satipatthana Sutta – Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  5. Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas
  6. Anapanasati Sutta
  7. Nothing Personal – A Buddha’s Analysis Of Self
  8. Mindfulness Of Bahiya
  9. Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views

For All Who Reside In The Dhamma - Agantuka Sutta

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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.

Becoming-Buddha.com 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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