This is a slowly ongoing series of commentary of the Dhammapada. This
is Chapter 12-Self.
For earlier chapters, please visit:
The basic point of this chapter is that we must be vigilant about our
own self and our own actions. We are quick to judge others but very
slow to judge ourselves.
We should examine ourselves and our actions and work with that first.
Once we have a solid foundation with our own selves, then we can set a
good example for others.
"let he who cast the first stone..."
True compassion comes from understanding the weaknesses within all of
us. Once we have strength within ourselves, this wisdom can assist
others through compassion and understanding.
Strangely enough, the line between compassion and cruelty is very thin.
When we understand ourselves and our weaknesses and our strengths, we
can see the same characteristics in others, since we recognize them in
ourselves. What this means is on one side, we can see the weakness and
leverage that for our own gain, but on the other hand, we could help
and strengthen the individual, since we understand the weaknesses and
can act compassionately.
What we don't realize, however, is how reflexive some of our behaviours
are. I was shown this fact when I was younger through my relationship
with my younger siblings, with whom I would somehow manage to say the
most damaging things at the wrong time. Of course I love them all
deeply, but somehow my ill-timed words got to the point of where I had
to shake my own head in disbelief at the almost comical nature of the
situation. This experience helped me to realize that I need to be much
more aware of myself and my actions.
How can we further develop awareness of ourselves? I think we can keep
a closer eye on our actions and thoughts throughout the day. By being
more aware of our actions, we will learn to be aware of each moment and
be able to act with greater understanding as opposed to habitual
Perhaps one of the simplest places to start is to examine our thoughts
and actions on our way to work or school. How do we interact with
others during our way to work? Are we constantly impatient and getting
angry at our fellow people? Can we enjoy our way in and appreciate our
surroundings? Can we spend a few moments thinking about the good things
in life and what we have to appreciate? Every once in a while, shut off
the music and shut off the radio. Go to work with yourself and reflect
upon our Self.
-What is the best thing to be doing? I'm sure that we will each need to
figure that out for ourselves, but it is certainly something that is
worth thinking about and evaluating.
-A second point to consider is what we do after work.
So much of our time is spent having others think for us when we watch
TV or surf the web or play video games or etc... Take one night and
shut the computer and TV off etc... Be with yourself and
friends/family. Have some mindful conversation and take more time for
ourselves to meditate and reflect upon our lives. Please take a moment
now to reflect upon our Self and if possible.
Please, make some time every day to do reflect and meditate.