Ten Teachings of the Buddha From the Dhammapada

The Buddha

The Buddha in Meditation

by Jayaram V

Dhammapada means the path of the Dhamma.It is one of the most popular and important Buddhist texts containing the teachings of the Buddha about virtue and righteous conduct on the Eightfold Path. It neatly sums up the entire Buddhist way of life and the salient features of right living in a very simple and direct language meant for both the monks and the lay followers of Buddhism. In fact the text contains practical wisdom that transcend religious barriers and can be followed by even those who do not practice Buddhism.The following are the ten important teachings of the Buddha from the Dhammapada.

1. Let a pandita admonish, let him teach, let him forbid what is improper. He will be dearer to the good, but he will be hated by the evil.

A Pandita is a Sanskrit name for a wise person, a scholar who is well versed in the knowledge of Dharma. A Pandita has both knowledge and discretion. Hence he is fit to teach, and tell you what is proper. Since, he speaks truth he will be loved by those who love truth and hated by those who hate truth.


2.When this world is burning how can there be laughter and how can there be joy? Why do you not seek the light, you who are surrounded by darkness?

The burning denotes the impermanence of existence. The world is subject to change, instability, decay and degradation. The same applies to our bodies and all the objects to which we cling. Hence, when everything is decaying and constantly changing, how can anyone be happy or secure in this world? That is the meaning.


3. Not to blame, not to strike, to live restrained under the law, to be moderate in eating, to sleep and sit alone, and to dwell on the highest thoughts, this is the instruction of the Awakened.

The Awakened one(Arhat) is he who has attained the state (arhata) of liberation. He has stabilized and liberated his mind, having become free from desires, duality, and evil thoughts. Hence he does not blame, or not indulge in violence. Instead, he practices right living with self-restraint, and follows the Middle Path of moderation in eating drinking and sleeping.


4. Health is the greatest of gifts, contentedness the best of the riches; trust is the best of relationships, Nirvana is the highest happiness.

Health, contentment, trust and Nirvana all arise from the practice of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Health refers to the state of the body, contentment refers to the state of the mind, trust refers to the practice of Dharma, and Nirvana refers to the attainment of the highest liberation through them. The first three lead to the last.

Buddha - happiness

5. Let, therefore, no man desire anything; loss of the beloved is evil. Those who desire nothing and hate nothing, have no fetters.

This refers to freedom from desires and freedom from attraction and aversion. An awakened person is free from both attraction and aversion. The idea is that you should be from all dualities or pairs of opposites.

Buddha and Mara

6. He who has virtue and intelligence, who is just, speaks truth, and does what is his own business, him the world will hold dear.

A truly knowledgeable person lives his own life, prefers to be alone, avoids the company of evil people, but does not impose himself upon others or criticizes them.

Buddha with monkey

7. There never was, there never will be, nor is there now, a man who is always blamed, or a man who is always praised.

The human mind is fickle. The world is impermanent. Hence no one can take riches or fame for granted. The world may praise you today and condemn you tomorrow. Therefore, one should not cling to external things for one's peace and happiness.

Buddha accused by a woman

8. The wise who control their bodies, who control their tongues, who control their minds, are indeed well controlled.

This speaks about restraint at three levels, physical, mental and verbal. The Eightfold Path should be practiced at all the three levels. Then only it qualifies as the true practice.

Buddha and Angulimala

9. If a man looks after the faults of others, and is always inclined to be offended, his own passions will grow, and he is far from the destruction of passions.

Where you focus your mind is important. What you think grows in your mind. If you focus on the evil of others it grows in you. Hence it is better to focus on positive things rather than negative qualities such as anger, fear and hatred.

Buddha with Bhikkuhs

10. All forms are unreal, he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way that leads to purity.

The forms are unreal because they are mere aggregates held together by desires. They disintegrate upon death. Hence who knows that name and form are mere formations learns to accept his pain also as a formation and bears it with indifference.

Buddha four sights

Suggestions for Further Reading








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