I’ve been rereading the Dhammapada again. This time, the translation by Ananda Maitreya published by Parallax Press 1995.
The following verse struck me in the first chapter:
Reciting a small portion of the scriptures,
But putting it diligently into practice;
Letting go of passion, aggression, and confusion;
Revering the truth with a clear mind;
And not clinging to anything, here or hereafter;
Brings the harvest of the holy life.
- Chapter 1: Twins; Verse 20
Sometimes I get to be a little bit of a “teachings junkie.” I collect books and audio recordings of Buddhist teachings faster than I can listen to or read them. Ironically, this provokes no small amount of dukkha. I am driven by the need to understand, but also some fear that I will miss a crucial teaching that will make the difference between me being a “real” practicing Buddhist and just another Buddhist-inspired-spiritualish person.
My Type A personality and its concomitant drive to excel at everything must be to blame (I might also mention that I’m a first-born child…). By golly, if I’ma gonna be a Buddhist, I’ma gonna do it right! It’s kind of stupid. After all, any one principle takes a long time to master. Any one principle, if mastered with reduce dukkha.
I was coaching someone in making personal change today when this principle popped up again. An important rule to know in terms of making lasting personal change is that focusing on changing one thing at a time results in far greater success than trying to change multiple things at once. We spent some time deciding what she should choose to focus on. I’m beginning to think that taking a similar approach to Buddhist teachings might lead to a deeper ability to appreciate their meaning and allow me to incorporate their lessons into my daily life with a greater degree of success.
Now I just have to decide where to start. What is your favorite teaching? If you could only choose one to focus on for a month, what would you choose?