Dhammapada, Stanza 11

Version 1:

Those who consider the non-essential as the essential,
And see the essential as the non-essential,
They do not attain the essential,
Being in the pastures of improper intentions.

Version 2:

Those who regard
non-essence as essence
and see essence as non-,
don’t get to the essence,
ranging about in wrong resolves.

Version 3:

Those who mistake the unessential to be essential and the essential to be unessential, dwelling in wrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential.

Commentary:

As Ven. Samu Sunim recently told us in retreat – Do not treat what is unimportant as important! Things arise, hang around, and pass away. How easy to get stuck in one part of the process! May we all play in the mud together, with ease, with happiness!

(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 11”

  1. Kyoshin at Echos of the Name, posted this excerpt by Charles Muller that really seems to speak to this verse of the Dhammapada:

    “We can’t begin to address our suffering — much less properly enter into the state of nonduality until we have made our own priorities, and the priorities of the world around us clear. We can’t deal with the health of the tree until we have first properly distinguished its roots from its branches. As the Great Learning says: “When you know what comes first and what comes last, you are near the way.” Once we have a sharp tool to help us distinguish the important from the less-important, we can then begin to see their mutual interrelation.”
    – A. Charles Muller

    1. Thank you for this quote! And for reading! This part resonates deeply: “Once we have a sharp tool to help us distinguish the important from the less-important, we can then begin to see their mutual interrelation.”

      With a bow, kusa

  2. Zen Master Seung Sahn used to refer to one’s “direction” as the most important thing – more important than any other aspect of practice. This “direction” (to save all beings from suffering) was, for him, the essential thing.

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