Dhammapada, Stanza 12

Version 1:

Having known the essential as the essential,
And the superficial as the superficial,
They attain the essential
Who are in the pastures of proper intentions.

Version 2:

But those who know
essence as essence,
and non-essence as non-,
get to the essence,
ranging about in right resolves.

Version 3:

Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential.

Commentary:

Knowing the essential as the essential is not enough – we must play in the pastures of right intentions!  But playing in the pastures of right intentions is not enough – we must know the essential as the essential!

These verses make me think of the following Japanese proverb I recently saw posted (click here) by James Ford over at Monkey Mind: Vision without action is a daydream. And, action without vision is a nightmare.

(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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3 thoughts on “Dhammapada, Stanza 12”

    1. That’s funny – when I first read these passages I instantly thought of your comment about direction the other week. It didn’t strike me then, but it did this week.

      I have to admit to confusion too, though. Your posts this week on certainty seem relevant to all of this – here’s to watching it unfold!

      Thank you for the response…

  1. Hi Barry,
    I’m a huge fan of the Anada Maitreya version of the Dhammapada, though it’s not open source. Here’s his version of verse 12:

    On the other hand, those who correctly perceive
    The essential as the essential
    And the nonessential as nonessential
    Will, in feeding on right thoughts,
    Attain the essential.

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