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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Christmas is kind of hard. Especially since, deep-down, I really want to fit in with everyone else… go to a good service or two and sing about baby Jesus, light a candle, or whatever you all do. I want to, but I just can’t. Or even if I do go, I just can’t forget the things that I know… the things that I know and so many of the other smiling faces in the crowd either don’t know or simply refuse to accept.

Through all my years of Christian (yes good old bible school seminary) education, Church history, apologetics, and various other studies I just know that this holiday can’t be taken literally. Although tonight I realized that I can still enjoy it and take it seriously.

I may not believe in god the same way that you all do. I believe that the whole thing is an allegory, meaning to inspire and point us all towards a greater truth… and one that we took far too literally. Believing, or better put “knowing”, that has always been a hang up for me. Especially on this holiday since it centers so much around the telling, re-telling, and proclamation of a ridiculous series of events as a historical fact that I should just accept as though I’m accepting the fact that there is a Europe, or that Abraham Lincoln was a President of the United States.

Tonight though, while in a service, I smiled and felt a certain amount of release and joy as I slowly broke down and started singing along with one of the Christmas hymns. The joy came from knowing that even though I debate the historical accuracy of this whole thing, and even debate the literal existence of a Christ… that I do believe in it conceptually, and that even if to me he was allegory and to you he is literal, that in the end our songs and our prayers are both reaching the same heavens.

For those of you who are new to this concept, and who think that I must be off my rocker for even proposing it; let me take a second to explain some of the basics of what was once called Christianity but now is referred to as heresy… or Gnostic Christianity.

A fact that I learned while studying church history in my minister’s training, was that in the beginning of church history there was already a debate going as to if the New Testament, and especially the story of Christ was to be taken literally or if it was simply a tool to help man “awaken” and be brought closer to god/enlightenment. There was even a point in time where both of these groups of people were still considered Christians and even managed to get along and worship side-by-side.

Now, most churches and religious schools today will state that the literal Christians came first, and that the non-literal “Gnostics” came along much later as Christianity got watered-down and mixed in with other Pagan religions as it spread through Europe and other territories. That is the popular answer, and as it is commonly said… the ones who win the wars get to write the history books.

However, archeologists, scholars and theologians across the globe have not too recently found enough evidence buried deep in the sands of time to support the theory that it was really the opposite that was true. That the Gnostics were the first to call themselves “Christians”, and that it wasn’t until much later that a fundamentalist movement came along, professing a literal, historical belief in the events of what we now call the New Testament.

Gnostics saw Christianity as a fluid, adaptive religion that could embrace any culture and would not only tolerate but incorporate other beliefs as it spread. For it wasn’t the message which was sacred, it was the end result. Jesus was a path to lead us towards the divine, but they saw many paths and never lost sight of the end goal… knowing that you are a Christ, that you are in God and that God is in you.

Historically, we should all be able to agree, that the split between the “Christians” and the “Christians” came to a head when Constantine decided that he wanted to pick a one world religion for the Roman Empire.

His final two choices had boiled down to what we now know as the Gnostics and the fundamentalists who soon after became the Roman Catholic Church. He made his decision, and one faith was elevated and the other cut-down… almost erased from history. Which does make one wonder… who the heck was Constantine, a political figure and ruler to decide our faiths in the first place?

For many years the church painted Constantine as a saint, even literally made him one, a man of God, a devout Christian who encountered God in a holy vision giving him divine direction, making him a messenger of God… an instrument to give direction to His church.

History, real history, paints quite a different picture. Constantine was a cruel and shrewd ruler, who even after his supposed “conversion” was killing wives, going to orgies and up until his death bed considered himself a pagan.

The desire of a one world religion wasn’t spiritually based but politically. Rome had one government, one ruler, and people needed to understand that there were dire punishments for disobeying that ruler, and benefits for obeying him. The religion needed to be the same. One religion, one ruler, some after-world benefit for following it, and some eternal damnation for disobeying. There would be another catch as well… Constantine wished to control this religion as well, setting himself up as the spiritual leader or director of it and its teachings. Total control of the people, both politically and spiritually.

Now out of the two primary choices, which fits the criteria best? Gnostics do not believe in a “heaven” or a “hell”, and could really care less if someone was Gnostic or not. The point was to help people find enlightenment, unleash the true good of the inner man, and adapt the message to something new if the current flavor doesn’t work for you.

The others, on the other hand… fit the criteria perfectly.

But what does this mean for me if I truly believe this? Does this mean that I can’t call myself Christian? Because the Gnostics sure didn’t have a problem with calling themselves that. Can I not enjoy church? They founded the church. Can I not enjoy Christmas? Communion? Easter? What do you think the Gnostics did during those holidays? I’m sure they worshiped right there alongside the rest — knowing full well that even though we may disagree on certain specifics, dogma, or theologies… that their worship and prayers are too making their way to their object of worship.

Am I declaring myself a Gnostic? No. No I am not. And neither would they, for in the end although some did die for their beliefs, many instead just simply adapted again… as I adapt and learn from this wealth of spiritual knowledge that is available to me from not only this one culture but so many, many more.

I like their attitude though, but I see no need for saying that I am any one thing when my attitude and beliefs are fluid, able to learn, able to change, able to appreciate all that is out there, and always, always focused on the end-goal… knowing god and self. Knowing that the form, the message holds nothing sacred for me, but that the quest itself IS sacred.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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When you sit and meditate, given long enough, you get a lot of time for self evaluation and reflection. Some would even argue that is the whole point; where, as one of the many fringe benefits. Regardless, I had one of those moments the other day and now it’s stuck in my mind like a sliver I just can’t seem to pick or an itch that I just can’t seem to scratch.

The realization was a simple question and answer session. Why am I looking, trying so hard to find a brand of religion that I can call my own and agree with 100%? Why am I going to church again, when clearly my theology, if known to these people would set me apart from them as a heretic? Why am I looking for that perfect teacher, temple, religion, practice… so I can find a home and finally call myself a Zen Buddhist in the _____ tradition, or brand myself as a Vedantic, a Mahayana or Gnostic?

Is my motive to find “truth”, god, and enlightenment; or is it that other word previously mentioned in my jumble of thoughts: home? Home. What is my greater desire? Could it be that somewhere along the way my quest changed, or was this it from the very beginning; some primordial need that I was seeking to meet without even knowing it?

Maybe I want to “be” something because I want a religious home, a community of fellow believers to practice with and be a part of — friends, family, teachers, community support and a sense of belonging. Could it be that this natural instinct, something that goes so far back in our genes as pack animals, is so strong that I would even trade finding the truth to fulfill it?

If I found a community that accepted me in, would I not look over all kinds of flaws, short-comings, and differences to hold onto my new found family? Would I play the part of a good Christian, Buddhist or really anything to keep my friends and my newly found social structure of comfort? How long would it take before I even forgot that I didn’t fully agree with what I was being told, and fall into some self delusion?

I can even seen now how cults do so well in bringing people into the fold and how they get such a strong hold on their lives. Soon they are enveloped in it as a community; they find a new family, friends, social activities, a girlfriend, a teacher… everything they always wanted. Everything I want. Now that’s a scary thought.

It’s not easy, that feeling of never fitting in. It’s deep-seeded, and brings back painful memories from childhood that best be forgotten. And what would I give up in order to make that go away?

Now here is the painful truth. If someone were to come to me and offer me belonging; a mate, friends, a community, but their asking price was for me to give up truth… I would be tempted to take the offer.

Look deep inside yourself. Would you? Have you already? It is probably more common than we think.

Knowing this, having this realization, has actually helped me out a lot. I have to be careful in my actions and double check my actions. I had to stop and really decide, am I looking for truth or am I looking for a place to fit in?

I decide I wanted truth. I hope I find community, but I must remind myself what my decision, what the true cry, or at least the loudest cry of my heart is.

This is also a liberating realization, for without the pressure of needing to find that perfect religion I am now freer to take from and enjoy many of them as they come to me. Without having to define myself so specifically I no longer have to so limit and define god, spirit and enlightenment… who I supposed to be limitless anyway.

So what am I then? Nothing really. A seeker, a finder, a good man, and just another crazy mixed-up human being trying to figure this thing out, and trying to enjoy as much of the process as possible along the way.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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You know, I’d like to have faith in something. In fact, I have faith that there is some kind of spiritual part to this world — that it is just not all what we can see and feel, but that makes this whole thing even more frustrating. Because since I believe that there is something out there, it’s hard for me not to know what it is. I want to slap a name and a face on the thing and put it in a little box I can carry around with me! Who knows though, maybe thats the point? Maybe you just can’t really put such human restrictions on such a limitless thing?

I’m in Texas now, still searching, and I must admit that I am a bit lonely out here. I have no family here, and it’s always been hard for me to make friends. I’m not stand-offish or anything like that — just… different.

I heard online that there was some church out here that had a very large singles scene for people about my age and so I went there hoping that maybe with such a huge “dating pool” it would be easier for me to meet people. And yes, I totally went to a church to check out chicks. However, it didn’t take me long to correct that mindset and push that out of my head once I realized that was what I was doing. Once I realized it, I laughed at myself and decided to just concentrate on the sermon and figured that maybe experiencing God was much more worth anticipating than getting a wink or two out of the crowd.

Who knows though, maybe that was where I went wrong? Because the last thing an unprepared pastor would ever want, if they knew what’s good for them, is someone like me actually paying attention to what they are preaching.

I’ll be blunt. Crass even. The place was big, but as well all know it’s not the size that matters but if you know how to use it. You know, I have been celibate now for three years, but before that I did my share of sleeping around. During that time I met this really cute girl at a New Years party, no I don’t remember her name, and we hooked up. It was pretty good sex, even though she was a bit taller than my average, but when we were done she said something to me that was supposed to be a compliment but it sure rubbed me the wrong way for a while… enough that I forgot her name and never called her back.

She told me that some of the other guys she had been with before me were “bigger” than me, but that they were unable to please her, but I was able to give her not one but multiple orgasms… and then she said that whole “not the size that matters but how you use it” thing to me. Not exactly what a guy wants to hear after a moment like that.

Now, looking back I see it as a compliment… although my ego sure as hell would still rather have been told that I was both the biggest and the best. Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter much now anyway. I don’t even have sex anymore. And no, it’s not “for life’ or anything like that. I just decided a few years ago that I was being a slut and promised myself that I would not have sex again unless I fell in love, and I just haven’t fallen in love.

Now back to the church service.

I was stopped several times by people, greeted I guess, and all of them just only talked to me about how big the church was. Asking me if I was intimidated at how big the church was, impressed at how big it was, or how awesome it was to find/have a church so big. Little did they know, that for starters… I have seen bigger. And more importantly, I have seen much, much smaller who knew how to “use it” and impressed me far greater. I’ve experienced God in a circle of three in a home prayer group. I have had visions and experiences sitting on a cold floor of a rented gym with a Buddhist Master. I have seen the poor be generous and the ugly beautiful.

No, size won’t impress me. I have nothing against size or big screen tv’s and operation budgets that would feed a third-world country… but that is not what is going to make me think that you have any bit more of your act together than I do.

Now I didn’t talk to these people enough to know what kinds of lifestyles they lived, their personal integrity, walk and what kind of a difference their church made in giving back to the poor and charity, but I did stay to listen to their preaching and that I can judge. I can judge their theology and based off that I knew pretty clear that this was just not a good place for me.

The theme of the sermon was supposed to be on Self Deception. Note the words “self deception”. But the text used was on Matthew 7. That whole “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” passage.

So let’s break it down. There was worship, your typical emotionally charged songs talking strangely about God’s love and mercy and his insatiable blood lust that must be appeased before he condemns us all to death. Then, the funny skit, announcements, and then appealing to people to give more money to various programs. Now comes the sermon — your standard “I have a theme that I want to work and I’m going to now pick through the bible to come up with a passage I can use that will kind of fit it” kind of deal. You start off with a funny, personal story, to warm the crowd up; much like my size of my penis story but much more G or PG rated.

As for the sermon itself… the scripture used was both out of content and not a theology that I can agree with. The first part is not that debatable, while the second is a topic of debate that has been in the church since it’s beginnings.

Now his point in the sermon what that self deception was bad, and that there were certain Christians in their church who were under the false impression that they were doing good as Christians, but that Jesus never really “knew them”. He even took it so far as to say that this not only applies to people who are not “saved” and think they are by being “good people” but this also applies to actual Christians who just are not close enough to Jesus that he REALLY knows them well. For both of these people the end result is the same (in his opinion) — that you get cast into a lake of fire.

Now as heartwarming as this sermon is, I must point a few things out that I think are a bit off. First, Matthew 7 is a warning to false teachers and false prophets, and Jesus is talking about condemning them. There is no “self deception” here, since he is warning the false teachers as to how if they deceive people they will be punished. The scripture used here was taken out of context and for this reason alone the message should be considered null and void.

My second disagreement is a difference in actual theology, and is open for debate. I personally can’t see where in the Christian scriptures there is enough proof to support the theory that someone who was “saved” can then become “un-saved” and go to hell. I have seen enough scripture to sway me more towards the “once saved always saved” school of thought, but please understand that what was being preached here was neither of these options. What was being preached here was some weird middle ground where a person is/was honestly “saved” but just didn’t do good enough after their salvation to get “really close” to Jesus, and so they go to hell anyway. Now where is that exactly in the Bible? I studied theology and there isn’t even a name for that particular theological stance… namely because it’s kinda outrageous.

I left that night laughing to myself about Christian theology in general. How primitive it actually is, how despite all the new sound systems and flashing lights, it still really is such a primitive practice. We gather and form a group and incite ourselves with drum beats and repetitious chants to induce some kind of a spiritual state, and hopefully call down the presence of a god. We then get to hear of a great god who is gentle, kind and loves us with all of his heart. It is a great love that is both pure and overwhelming, and nothing is greater than this love… nothing except this gods insatiable demand for vengeance, blood sacrifice, and a desire to send us all to a fiery grave. Seriously, which is greater? The love or the blood lust? Because if the love were greater then why would the blood sacrifice have to be fulfilled before the love can show? It is only because the blood is the greater of the two.

Now this god of love and blood out of his love does not want to have to kill us all, but must be appeased so he demands blood sacrifice. We tried animals, but that just wasn’t strong enough to appease his wrath, and killing people was out of the question since that was listed as one of his sins he hates us for anyway. So what are we to do?

Finally an answer comes! We must kill a god in oder to finally appease god. The trick is though, that this god already made it quite clear that there is only one god… so I guess we are screwed on that one. But wait! Now there is a second god, his “son” which was hiding in the wings all these thousands of years that he just forgot to mention. He will come down to earth and we can sacrifice him, eat his flesh and drink his blood and all will be well. Phew! What a relief.

If in today’s day-and-age we found a bunch of aboriginal people dancing around in grass skirts and worshiping this kind of a religious system we laugh at their supposed ignorance and unsophisticated beliefs. Who knows, maybe one day some more intelligent people will come to see us all and make some kind of a documentary on our primitive beliefs and practices we just can’t seem to shake the hold off of?

Or is it the opposite? Is all religion following some basic theme or pattern that we just seem to choose to ignore? We dress it up and put a new face on it every century tow, but all-in-all… here we are, still covering in front of some great Spirit, trying to call it down, appease it, gain its favor, and come to some kind of peace of mind in this crazy world.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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Everyone is a Philosopher

Everyone is a philosopher, albeit some are doing quite poor in the endeavor. If you find the first line a bit hard to swallow, then maybe you can at least agree with me that everyone has their own personal philosophy of life; some guiding rules, preconceived notions or expectations that govern their actions, and reactions to things in life.

So, I guess that my stating that “Everyone has a philosophy” would be easier to agree with, but I am still of the opinion that we play a much more active role in it than that. Maybe we just like to feel like victims when our lives and actions are so out of control? If you own personal philosophy is in a mess, then I’d assume that it would be much nicer to be able to point the finger to another source to blame for its authorship.

About two weeks ago I was in conversation with a young professor, who was pretty adamant in their profession of disdain for all studies of philosophy or religion… especially my own. Their main argument was that it was a waste of time, that forming and shaping a own personal philosophy or belief system held no benefit, and that it just got in the way of their own ideal of just accepting everything as it comes without further thought or consideration.

Which is funny, because that is her philosophy; however unshaped or unrefined, but philosophy none the less.

But, if no matter what, you are going to live by some kind of philosophy of life, would you not want it to be the one of your conscious choice? A good one, well thought out, decided upon, and even one that is slightly above you for which to strive for?

If not, then your philosophy is going to be based one other things, such as:

  • How you were raised at home
  • Society, culture, and media
  • Purely reactionary, especially to traumatic events in your life

In the case of the lady I was speaking to, who held that she had no philosophy, her philosophy was shaped strongly instead by her family, upbringing, and traumas.

She stated that she was spoiled and bad with money, never denying herself any material item or worldly pleasure because her wealthy parents always got her what she desired without question. Her philosophy on marriage was based solely on that of her parents, and of her failed marriage in the past. Her concept of self worth was based on media, and her goals were based on what her peers around her accepted or condemned.

My point is, that if you do not control and shape your philosophy, it will not stop you from forming one… it will just simply be a very poor one.

Would you rather not take the rightful responsibility for it, and yourself, and choose how you would like it to be? Make it an educated, hopefully positive one, which guides and governs your life on a foreword path?

Maybe that takes the security blanket away of being able to say that you are selfish…because X happened to you, you steal because, you lie because, you are lazy because, you cheat because, because, because, because. But isn’t there liberation in becoming the master of oneself? And if you are going to have a philosophy regardless, why not take the time and effort to make it a good one?

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So I just moved into a new neighborhood, its pretty nice; although I think life has a funny sense of humor because now, after writing that article about not killing cockroaches, it seems that I have found an apartment with them in it. But I am just keeping the place very clean, giving them little reason to be here, and I installed some of those electronic devices in my wall outlets that say they release high pitch sounds that make the little things look for a new home to dwell in. So far it is working very well, and I haven’t seen one in days.

Last night I had an interesting meeting with my next door neighbor — it was the first time we have met. It wasn’t a bad meeting or anything like that, in fact we got along quite well, but there was just something odd enough about the interaction that I thought I should document it.

I was coming home from a dinner meeting, and she was coming home from work. She introduced herself as my neighbor and we got to your basic, token, first meeting question and answer session. When she discovered I was not a total weirdo, about her age, and single… she invited me into her house so we could sit down and talk more.

In an shockingly short amount of time I was told that she was single, sexually active, and asked if I was into casual sex. I was a bit taken aback by this, but never lost my composure of anything like that. I just politely acted like I was dull to the fact that this was some kind of an advance and mentioned that as a “Spiritual” person I don’t let myself fall into irresponsible sexual behavior.

“What? You mean you are not saved? You are not Christian?” she said.

I then got a talking to about how I needed to get saved and be Christian like she is. When I mentioned that I was quite happy with my current religious situation, and obviously quite moral as well, she mentioned how maybe I was “too moral” and that her church is great because they don’t care at all about if the people going there are having sex, living together, drinking a lot, or anything like that. “You should try it,” she said.

I asked her if they were so open minded about that kind of stuff how the church treated gay people that wished to attend there… “Oh no,” she said “gay people can’t go there. That’s a sin.”

Now that’s interesting. I think the irony of that one escaped her.

I politely said “no”, to her offer(s), said that it was nice to meet her and excused myself since it was getting late and I still had a few things to do before bed. I don’t think that the conversation ended awkwardly or anything like that.

When I got home I started thinking about something that a pastor I know was telling me about his church a few months ago. It’s one of the fastest-growing in America, but some things about it were frustrating him; he was telling me about how just about every unmarried couple that he knows that goes to his church are having sex, and how most couples he is giving marriage counseling to are already living together and sleeping together.

He said it with a bit of surprise in his voice, and I asked him if he has considered WHY that is the way that the current situation is. His automatic response was simply that these people must be too caught up in the world, not close enough to Jesus, and they are the product of their MTV, Sex in the City, iphone environment.

Obviously, he hadn’t ever really thought about if maybe it was something that he or his church were doing wrong.

Now, I can’t speak for him or his church but should we not at the very least consider for a second if maybe it is something that “we” are doing wrong? Some point that “we” are missing?

These people… they are in your church, some of them have been for years. Are they not also a product of the environment of the church they are going to? Have you had so little impact on their lives that you can’t even consider church or your leadership a factor of influence on your churchgoers? Interesting.

And look at the statistics… you are saying that just about ALL, the overwhelming majority, of the people you are bringing up in your church are doing this, and you have not even stopped to consider for a second that MAYBE this has something to do with your church leadership or direction?

Or have you considered that maybe the same thing that is making your church so appealing that it is growing so fast is the same thing that is lessening its redeemable qualities? Sure you are growing, and you are popular, but at what cost?

The Dhammapada tells us that if the people in your care are screwing up, stop concentrating on their faults and start looking at your own faults, because as leaders after your correct your own, the other’s will naturally fall into line.

If there is disorder it normally flows from the top-down, and not the bottom-up.

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CHAPTER IV: FLOWERS

(44)

Only a skillful flower arranger knows how to select from all the beautiful flowers the very best for their arrangements. But who can rightfully discern the choice flower of the Dharma from all the other tantalizing flowers that the world has to offer?

(45)

The learner who has dedicated themselves to this training will rightfully discern, as the flower arranger. The learner on this path will spot the correct Dharma teachings, it stands out among the others as plain as day to them, but to the rest it remains obscured and hidden.

(46)

Having learned that this body is as temporary as the foam produced by the waters, that it offers no more substance than a mirage, the learner has moved beyond the reach of the temptations and traps which ensnare.

(47)

The pleasures of the world are like beautiful flowers in the forest, one could become so absorbed in collecting them that they forget to stay alert of the dangers that are present, being easily swept into their downfall as a flood sweeps away a sleeping village.

(48)

The person immersed in gathering pleasures drowns in their own insatiable thirst, never satisfied, always reaching for the next and greater sensation.

(49)

As a bee travels from one type of flower to another, bringing out the honey but leaving each flowers own unique fragrance and color intact, so should a sage bring out the good in each village or person they meet without altering their uniqueness.

(50)

While working to bring out the good pay no attention the faults of others, or what they have haven’t done; instead, pay attention to your own faults and your own inactions.

(51)

For even a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent is worthless, as worthless as your eloquent words if only spoken but never lived out personally.

(52)

But a beautiful flower, full of color, and full of scent is a joy to others, like one whose good words matches their own good deeds.

(53)

One may look at a heap of flowers, cut down and consider them futile, knowing they will soon wither and die, but a skillful flower arranger knows they can use the time they have left to make beautiful garlands. Just so, your own life is mortal and fleeting but you can still do many skillful things.

(54)

The scent of a flower cannot travel against the wind, not even the strongest incense or perfume can. But the fragrance of a person of virtue will spread to the ends of the earth, regardless of how the wind blows.

(55)

The aroma of flowers, incense or perfumes can be excellent, but the aroma of virtue surpasses them all.

(56)

Compared to virtue, whose scent reaches up to the heavens, even the strongest incense becomes nothing.

(57)

Living life as a fragrance, the virtuous have no body or home to be found in by their enemies, like a vapor they cannot be grasped by their snares, for they dwell in mindfulness and are freed by right understanding.

(58-59)

Every once in a while a beautiful flower sprouts forth out the piles of trash heaped on the sides of the road, and when it does it dazzles us all. Just so, you, the disciple of the Buddha have risen out of the heap, distinguishing yourself as a light to those still blind and bound to the limitations of this world.

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Preface

This lovingly made, non-literal, contemporary translation of the Dhammapada is provided for you as a free service. For those of you who are interested in the teachings of the Buddha on meditation, concentration, discipline and even the morals and ethics of Buddhism but who are turned off by “Religious Buddhism”, it is my hope that this more proverbial, even somewhat humanist translation will be of use to you. For others, who were leery of it such an old writing could be pertinent to them today, I hope this more modern translation will show you that it still is. For those who already know this text well, and even live by it, it is my hope that this may either challenge you to think of it anew, or at the very least may it refresh your spirits.

THE DHAMMAPADA

CHAPTER ONE: TWIN VERSES

(1)

As one thinks, so one acts. Thought precedes action, gives birth to action, and brings it to maturity. Speak or act with impure thoughts and suffering follows, as the wheel of a wagon follows the ox which pulls it.

(2)

As one thinks, so one acts. Thought precedes action, gives birth to action, and brings it to maturity. Speak or act with a pure thought and happiness follows, as a shadow follows a traveler on a sunny day.

(3)

“I was hurt, I was mistreated, I was defeated, I was robbed!” Holding onto these thoughts only keeps the pain alive.

(4)

“I was hurt, I was mistreated, I was defeated, I was robbed!” Letting go of these thoughts releases you from suffering further.

(5)

For hating those who wronged you will not release you from hate, it will only create further suffering. The cycle of hatred will only be broken by non-hatred. This is an ancient truth.

(6)

Most do not live in the realization that life is short. For those who fully realize this, quarrels become unimportant.

(7)

One who lives for self gratification, is over-indulgent, uncontrolled, unrestrained, full of laziness and apathy, is easily broken by hard-times and temptations, just as a small storm can easily break a weak tree.

(8)

One who lives for a higher purpose, is moderate, controlled, restrained, not afraid of hard work and devout, cannot be easily broken by hard-times and temptations, as even a great storm still cannot move a mountain.

(9)

The robe does not make the monk. If the one wearing the robe lacks self-control and honesty, they have defiled it.

(10)

One who is free from inner defilements, having self-control, and honesty, standing strong in the precepts, only such a person is worthy of a monk’s robe.

(11)

Those who consider the unimportant things in life to be important and the truly important as unimportant will never find that which is important, for they were looking in the wrong place all along.

(12)

However, those who correctly see the important as important and the unimportant as unimportant will find the important, rightfully discerning where to begin their search.

(13)

As rain will always find the crack in a poorly-made roof, so Want will find its way into an undisciplined mind.

(14)

As rain cannot find a way through a well-made roof, so Want cannot find its way into a well-disciplined mind.

(15)

For those who do wrong to others it will only end in grief, grief in the present, grief in the future. In both states the wrongdoer grieves; from the initial seed, to seeing the seed come to bear fruit.

(16)

For the doer of good there is much rejoicing, rejoicing in the present, rejoicing in the future. In both states there is joy; seeing one’s own pure acts bear good fruit brings joy and delight to everyone.

(17)

Those who do wrong suffer in the present, suffer in the future. In both states there is suffering. Tormented today by the thought, “I have done wrong”, tormented tomorrow, having fallen into the cycle of suffering.

(18)

Those who do well to others delight in the present, delight in the future. In both states there is delight. Here they are delighted knowing, “I have treated others well”, and tomorrow for they have entered into the cycle of bliss.

(19)

One, who studies the teachings, memorizes them, quotes them often, but doesn’t do what they say, is like a banker, surrounded by other people’s wealth, counting it as their own, deluding themselves into thinking that they are now rich. Such a person does not gain any real benefit from their studies.

(20)

One, who knows little of the teachings, but still lives according to them, free of grasping, hate, and delusions; revering and discerning what truth they find, not clinging to this life or the next, such a person, will gain the benefits of the contemplative life.

CHAPTER II: DILIGENCE

(21)

Diligence is the path of liberation; negligence the path to bondage. The vigilant can never be truly bound; the negligent can never be truly free.

(22)

The wise, knowing this to be true, develop their diligence; consider it a joy to do so, having found their happiness in the wisdom of the noble ones.

(23)

Now awakened, dedicating themselves to meditation, striving forward with firm minds, they find the ultimate liberation.

(24)

The glory of a virtuous person is their reputation, and for one who is active in pursuing that which is good, diligent, pure and considerate to others, it is ever increasing.

(25)

The wise, by much effort, discipline, restraint and self-control, make for themselves an island which no flood can submerge.

(26)

The foolish surrender themselves over to negligence; while the one who is wise carefully guards their discipline as their most valuable possession.

(27)

Don’t give in to negligence; don’t look for pleasure in temporal desires — for it is the disciplined, who having absorbed themselves in meditation find true happiness.

(28)

The wise, drives out negligence with discipline, like a climb up a tall mountain; now free from sorrow, they see the sorrow of the masses in the valley from which they came.

(29)

The disciplined among the negligent, the awake among the sleeping — so the wise advance, like a well-trained racehorse surpasses the weak and untrained.

(30)

Even in the fable of Indra, it was through diligence that he became king of the gods, for even these gods praised diligence, and looked down on negligence with contempt.

(31)

A monk who delights in diligence and sees the danger in negligence advances like a fire, burning the ropes which bound them both great and small.

(32)

A monk who delights in diligence and sees danger in negligence is bound to never fall astray and is close to liberation.

CHAPTER III: THE MIND

(33)

As a skilled arrow maker knows to shape the arrow straight so that it will not waver, so does a skilled meditator know they must shape their wavering mind.

(34)

Like a fish when lured of its watery home thrashes about on dry land, so a mind thrashes about from thing to thing when lured into the land of pleasing the senses.

(35)

It is difficult to wrestle with the mind; it is hard to pin down, nimble and quick — wishing to wander wherever it pleases. Difficult but worth it, for a well disciplined mind brings much happiness.

(36)

The wise should pay close attention to what tries to slip into their minds, for its enemies are subtle and can be difficult to perceive. A mind well guarded brings much happiness.

(37)

The mind like a ghost is bodiless, strays far and wide, and can hide itself alone in secret chambers; however those who learn to restrain it will be freed from their bonds.

(38)

For a person with an unsteady mind, not knowing the true Dharma will be incapable of recognizing it until their mind and wavering faith has settled.

(39)

For the one who is awake, whose mind is calm and steady, having abandoned the dualities of good and evil, there is no more fear or danger to perplex their hearts.

(40)

Aware that this body is fragile like a clay jar, and that it is the mind which we must make strong like a fortress; fortify your mind, and then battle the enemy with the sword of truth, protecting the spoils you have won, knowing never to let your guard down, even in victory.

(41)

For soon this body will simply lie on the ground, lifeless, deprived of this consciousness, to be cast aside like a useless scrap of wood.

(42)

Think of two people who hate each other, or two mortal enemies locked in combat, then realize that your mind if not under your control can cause you more difficulties than either of these.

(43)

Think or a loving mother, father, or any friend or relative who cares for you, then realize that your mind if well-centered can do you more good than any of these.

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