The Dhammapada is the first collection of Gautama Buddha’s practical teachings for those seeking Nirvana, compiled only three months after his passing away by his enlightened disciples, who named it Dhammapada: The Way of Dharma. It is a distillation of forty-five years of the Buddha’s teaching.
The Dhammapada for Awakening explores the Buddha’s answers to the urgent questions, such as “How can I find find lasting peace, happiness and fulfillment that seems so elusive?” and “What can I do to avoid many of the miseries big and small that afflict all of us?”.
With a refreshing and timely perspective to ancient wisdom, Abbot George Burke’s unique background shows seekers of inner peace how they can effectively lead a spiritual life in the modern world. The Dhammapada for Awakening is a knowledgeable guide to spiritual aspirants of all traditions.
Abbot George says of the Dhammapada,
“Over and over in the teachings of Buddha we find that he is giving us only that which can be applied in our daily lives in order to fit ourselves for freedom from all that binds us.”
“In this compelling book, Abbot George Burke brings his considerable knowledge and background in Christian teachings and the Vedic tradition of India to convey a practical understanding of the teachings of the Buddha. …This is a book you’ll want to take your time to read and keep as reference to reread. Highly recommended for earnest spiritual aspirants, especially those who may need a prod to keep them moving forward.”
–Anna Hourihan, author, editor, and publisher at Vedantic Shores Press
Excerpts from The Dhammapada for Awakening
Mind precedes its objects, which are themselves governed and made by the mind. (Dhammapada 1)
This has profound implications.
1. Karma is the creation of the mind–is simply the mind in extension. Karma need not be worked out or fulfilled; the mind need only be changed, or better yet brought into complete abeyance. Then karma is no more and its attendant compulsions–including birth and death–no longer exist.
2. Our entire life experience is but a mirroring of the mind. If something is not already within our mind it cannot be projected outward as a (seemingly) external factor or experience of our life. So our life is our mind in motion. By observing it we can come to know what is in our mind, just as by running a film through a projector we come to know what is in it.
If we do not like what is happening in our life, the solution is to alter our mind.
People who like to tell of how cruel, selfish, dishonest, and disloyal others habitually are to them are merely telling us how cruel, selfish, dishonest, and disloyal they are–potentially if not actually. Victims are only victimizers in a down cycle. The moment the upswing comes in their life rhythms they will go back to victimizing others.
Action and reaction are purely psychological matters, the film in the projector–the light and sound on the screen being only its projection. Change the film and you change the experience. Since objects come from the mind they can only be compatible with the mind and therefore express and reveal its character.
3. All the factors of life are really only thought, attitude, and outlook in manifestation.
4. Study your life and thereby know your mind.
5. You are always in control, even though that control may be on an unconscious level.
6. Change your mind and you change your life. (Do not forget that mind includes consciousness.)
7. Mary Baker Eddy was right: All is Mind and Mind is All.
“While in the same way that rain cannot break into a well-roofed house, desire cannot break into a mind that has been practicing meditation well” (Dhammapada 14).
Many people claim to be practicing meditation, but Buddha spoke of Right Meditation when enumerating the components of the Aryan Eightfold Path. When desire remains on the rampage in the mind of the “meditator” he should realize that:
- his meditation method is defective;
- his practice of the method is defective;
- some elements in his inner and outer life are preventing success in meditation.
If, after checking carefully, he finds that his practice is not incorrect and his way of living and thinking is not wrong, he must face up to the unhappy truth that the methodology itself and association with the one who taught it to him should be abandoned and a right form of meditation adopted.
For when the meditation practice is correct–and is being engaged in for the necessary amount of time–desire becomes increasingly attenuated and finally annihilated altogether. This is verifiable through our own practice and experience.
Jesus expounded it this way:
“Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock” (Luke 6:47, 48),
the rock of meditative gnosis. Those who go deep in meditation and make the consciousness of the spirit gained thereby the foundation of their life will know peace of mind and heart–no other.
In summation: “Make a habit of practicing meditation, and do not let your mind be distracted. In this way you will come finally to the Lord, who is the light-giver, the highest of the high” (Bhagavad Gita 8:8).
“Those wise men, who are much given to meditation and find pleasure in the peace of a spiritual way of life, even the devas envy them, perfect Buddhas and recollected as they are” (Dhammapada 181).
Here we have a list of the traits of Buddhas.
- They are wise, not in the sense of learned scholars or clever philosophers, but through enlightenment. They no longer think: they know.
- Meditation is the keynote of their life. They do not think that they have passed beyond the need for meditation, but like Gautama Buddha they meditate intensely until their last breath on earth. Their entire lives are the fruition of meditation.
- They find enjoyment and fulfillment in the peace that comes from renunciation. None but they can realize the joy of the path of the absolute renunciate who has nothing to turn back to, but moves ever onward in the depths of the Infinite.
- They are awakened, but not by external factors. They are sambuddhanam–self-awakened. That is, their long-buried, eternal Buddha nature has emerged as the chick does from the egg, complete and independent. Their enlightenment has arisen from and depends on no factor but their own Buddha nature.
No wonder the gods envy them, for the Buddhas have passed beyond all capacity for compulsion and suffering, whereas the gods will in time, when their positive karma is exhausted, fall right back into the world of human beings and once more be crucified on the cross of material consciousness.
Read the first article in The Dhammapada for Awakening: The History of the Dhammapada