One of my favorite spiritual texts is the Buddhist Dhammapada. Part Buddhist philosophy and part poetry, this text embodies the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching as it has come down to us.
The first chapter of the text – usually titled The Twin Verses – begins with a powerful verse. As the ancient Pali language does not always translate cleanly into English, there are a number of popular versions of this verse and some dispute among traditional Buddhist and personal development advocates on the Buddha’s meaning in the verse.
The dispute centers around the fact that some translations put the verse in very modern, western-lensed context where the Buddha’s words appear to apply to the individual and their thoughts.
A more classical interpretation, drawn the Buddhist concept of no-self, is that Buddha is speaking of mind in a more general way and saying that all phenomena begins with mind.
As someone who has studied both Buddhism and personal development for more than 30 years, I honestly don’t get the rub. This is a lot of nuance. Here’s my read. Even if the more traditional interpretation is followed, the phenomena created by Mind includes us. As we are here and also purveyors of mind through our thoughts and actions, we are creating our reality through the thoughts in our consciousness.
In this video, I share both traditional and contemporary translations and use the more modern version as a kind of mantra or affirmation reminding us that we are creators of our reality.
My world is what I MAKE of it and today I CHOOSE to make it a beautiful place to be.
I find everything related to our minds fascinating. There are three vast unexplored frontiers in our world – the ocean floor, deep space, and the space between our ears. That third one just may be the most vast and amazing of all.
On the way home this afternoon, I heard a very interesting story on NPR’s afternoon news and information program All Things Considered.
Reporter Alix Spiegel did an amazing piece called “When Did We Become Mentally Modern”. The story talks about the importance of symbolic thinking in the way we conceptualize the world.
When you think about it this concept of symbolic thinking is very important describing and understanding our mental states. Often thoughts, ideas, and feelings appear in our minds as imagery in symbolic form. Those images and the stories we tell ourselves in support of them are critical to our mental well-being. The story provides plenty for you to consider as you learn to pay attention to your symbolic thinking.