John Muir Project: Dhammapada – The Sage

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The Sage

Like someone pointing to treasure
Is the wise person
Who sees your faults and points them out.
Associate with such a sage.
Good will come of it, not bad,
If you associate with one such as this.

Let one such as this advise you, instruct you,
And restrain you from rude behavior.
Such a person is pleasing to good people,
But displeasing to bad.

Do not associate with evil friends;
Do not associate with the lowest of people.
Associate with virtuous friends;
Associate with the best of people.

One who drinks in the Dharma
Sleeps happily with a clear mind.
The sage always delights in the Dharma
Taught by the noble ones.

Irrigators guide water;
Fletchers shape arrows;
Carpenters fashion wood;
Sages tame themselves.

As a solid mass of rock
Is not moved by the wind,
So a sage is not moved
By praise or blame.

As a deep lake
Is clear and undisturbed,
So a sage becomes clear
Upon hearing the Dharma.

Virtuous people always let go.
They don’t prattle about pleasures or desires.
Touched by happiness and then by suffering,
The sage shows no sign of being elated or depressed.

A person who would not wish for success by unethical means,
Not for the sake of oneself,
Not for the sake of others,
Not with hopes for children, wealth, or kingdom,
Is a person of virtue, insight, and truth.

Few are the people
Who reach the other shore.
Many are the people
Who run about on the shore.

But those who are in accord with the Dharma
-with the well-taught Dharma-
Will go beyond the realm of death,
So hard to cross.

Giving up dark ways,
Sages cultivate the bright.
They go from home to homelessness,
To the solitude so hard to enjoy.

There they should seek delight,
Abandoning sensual desires,
Having nothing.
Sages should cleanse themselves
Of what defiles the mind.

Those who
Fully cultivate the Factors of Awakening,
Give up grasping,
Enjoy non-clinging,
And have destroyed the toxin,
Are luminous,
And completely liberated in this life.”

The Dhammapada

This paragraph will be a spontaneous reflection on “The Sage,” writing whatever comes to mind.  Hearing these words of wisdom I am brought to several different contradictory places.  FIrst, it is difficult to sometimes accept the advice of others regarding one’s behavior and place in the world.  How do we accept that the advice of others without being overrun by another’s desires?  I think it is essential to stand like water in this situation.  Water flows around obstacles and with strength shapes them.  It is not rigid, but still can stand firm in its principles.  When activity decreases, metaphorically considered as temperature, water freezes solid and occupies more volume than its liquid state.  Similarly, people when they are calm can solidify into immovable states.  Second, the following passage resembles Jesus Christ’s suggestions about the virtues of voluntary poverty, “Giving up dark ways, sages cultivate the bright.  They go from home to homelessness, to the solitude so hard to enjoy.”  Virtuous individuals give up attachement to worldly desires and cultivate virtue instead of worldly wealth.  I am drawn to this statement because I find it difficult to accomplish this in American society.  Even in seminary, there is the stated desire to cultivate wealth.  How can one serve the virtuous attributes of humanity without asking for capital in return?  Third, and lastly, “As a solid mass of rock is not moved by the wind, So a sage is not moved by praise or blame.”  There is no person on earth that can determine a person’s goals but the person who calls him or herself “I.”  An individual is the only person that can enact a spiritual change for him or herself.  This principle is hard to accomplish in practice because we are often told that the environment is to blame for a particular situation or state.  Only I can hear God’s call to live the life that He/She desires for “me.”

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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