The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha, collected and written in the first century BCE, the time when Buddhism was becoming codified as a tradition and religion in Pali texts of northern India. Dhamma, dharma in Pali as opposed to Sanskrit, means law, discipline and truth, and pada means path, step, foot and foundation. Thus, the text is the foundation of the law, as well as the path of truth. It includes several memorable passages, including:
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you as your shadow, unshakable.
“Look how they abused and beat me, how they threw me down and robbed me.” Live with such thoughts and you live in hate. “Look how they abused and beat me, how they threw me down and robbed me.” Abandon such thoughts, and live in love. In this world hate has never dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible. You too shall pass away. Knowing this, how can you quarrel?
An untroubled mind, no longer seeking to consider what is right and what is wrong, a mind beyond judgements, watches and understands. 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 mother.
The fool who knows they are a fool is that much wiser. The fool who thinks they are wise is a fool indeed. A jug fills drop by drop. Fools forget their mischief, and light the fires they will burn in one day.
The farmer channels water to his land, the fletcher whittles his arrows, the carpenter turns his wood, and the wise man masters himself.
There is an old saying: “They blame you for being silent, they blame you when you talk too much and when you talk too little.” Whatever you do, they blame you. The world always finds a way to praise and a way to blame. It always has and it always will. I shall endure hard words as the elephant endures the arrows of battle, for many people speak wildly.
If you sleep, desire grows in you, like a vine in the forest. Like a monkey in the forest, you jump from tree to tree, never finding the fruit, from life to life, never finding peace.
You have come out of the hollow, into the clearing. The clearing is empty. Why do you rush back into the hollow? Desire is a hollow. Quiet your mind. Reflect. Watch. Nothing binds you. You are free.
Delight in the mastery of your hands and your feet, of your words and your thoughts. You have no name and no form. Why miss what you do not have? Empty the boat, lighten the load.
Unbolt the doors of sleep, and awake.