Dhammapada, Stanza 2

Version 1:

Preceded by perception are mental states,
For them is perception supreme,
From perception have they sprung.
If, with tranquil perception, one speaks or acts,
Thence ease follows
As a shadow that never departs.

Version 2:

Phenomena are preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow
that never leaves.

Version 3:

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

(Note: Version 1 is from the John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana translation. Version 2 is from the Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation. Version 3 is from the Acharya Buddharakkhita translation.)

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4 thoughts on “Dhammapada, Stanza 2”

  1. The differences are striking – really, it’s hard to believe that they’re based on the same original text.

    I respond most to version #2 – such a clear, direct statement – and spoken directly to me.

    1. Yes, it is striking!

      I also respond to version #2 at this point. I find that ‘mind’ and ‘perception’ are too much based in the head. The word ‘heart’ seems to capture more closely the full body/mind experience of the world and influence of our body/mind on constructing that experience.

  2. Wow, it really is amazing those are supposed to be based upon the same text. It took me a minute, but I realized that I had used yet another, fourth version for a class I taught on the Dhammapada. I like the Ananda Maitreya edition best. Here’s his translation for this verse:

    Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
    All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
    If one speaks or acts with a serene mind,
    happiness follows,
    As surely as one’s shadow.

    1. I am often surprised by the same thing (that these are all based on the same text)! The versions I chose to work with are available online (except the Ross Carter et al edition) – it was a pragmatic choice. I have seen other, more poetical translations that speak to my heart but diverge greatly from these translations and the one you offer.

      So many expressions of the Dharma! What a space to practice in! Thank you for your offering of another translation. I look forward to reading the group blog you are a part of.

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