by Bob Schwartz
Dhammapada. One of the most popular and best-loved Buddhist texts. It consists of 423 verses divided into 26 sections arranged according to subject matter. In practice it is a sort of anthology of verses from various books of the canon.
A Dictionary of Buddhism
As the fletcher whittles
And makes straight his arrows,
So the master directs
His straying thoughts.
Like a fish out of water,
Stranded on the shore,
Thoughts thrash and quiver.
For how can they shake off desire?
They tremble, they are unsteady,
They wander at their will.
It is good to control them,
And to master them brings happiness.
But how subtle they are,
The task is to quieten them,
And by ruling them to find happiness.
The master quells his thoughts.
He ends their wandering.
Seated in the cave of the heart,
He finds freedom.
How can a troubled mind
Understand the way?
If a man is disturbed
He will never be filled with knowledge.
An untroubled mind,
No longer seeking to consider
What is right and what is wrong,
A mind beyond judgments,
Watches and understands.
Know that the body is a fragile jar,
And make a castle of your mind.
In every trial
Let understanding fight for you
To defend what you have won.
For soon the body is discarded.
Then what does it feel?
A useless log of wood, it lies on the ground.
Then what does it know?
Your worst enemy cannot harm you
As much as your own thoughts, unguarded.
But once mastered,
No one can help you as much,
Not even your father or your mother.
The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha
A Rendering by Thomas Byrom