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The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations Hardcover – August 9, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

The Dhammapada, possibly the most popular and best-known of all Buddhist texts, sums up "in the simplest language the core teachings of the Buddha," as Jack Kornfield writes in the foreword. Translator Fronsdal, a Kornfield protégé who has a doctorate in Buddhist studies from Stanford and has practiced Buddhism for three decades, offers a rendition that is faithful to the original Pali text, but not slavishly so. For example, right in the opening verses he translates dhamma as "experience" when it is often rendered as "teaching" or "truth," and samsara as "wandering" when it usually connotes the cycle of suffering. He also employs gender-neutral language throughout. Fronsdal provides a brief but illuminating introduction in which he describes the history of the Dhammapada and highlights two basic themes: how to obtain happiness in this and future lives, and how to achieve liberation from suffering. He discusses how some verses seem to be specifically addressed to the text's monastic audience, and suggests ways that lay Buddhists might apply those verses to themselves.
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Review

"At last a translation of the Dhammapada that combines academic precision in the translation of Pali terms, literary sensitivity to phrasing and meter, and a heartfelt commitment to Buddhist practice. Gil Fronsdal's version of this classic text will set a new standard for scholars and practitioners alike."—Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism without Beliefs and Living with the Devil "The language is clear, precise, and inspiring, the phrasing spare and elegant, and the depth of these wisdom teachings apparent on every page. Gil's wonderful work brings these timeless passages of the Buddha right into our hearts. Highly recommended."—Joseph Goldstein, author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism "The wish-fulfilling gem of clarity reveals itself; ancient teachings resonate with today's awareness. What a blessing!"—Edward Espe Brown, Zen Priest, author of The Tassajara Bread Book and editor of Not Always So "A fine new translation of an ancient classic. Fronsdal's balance of fidelity to the text and sensitivity to its spirit is perfect. A book to be treasured."—Carl Bielefeldt, Stanford University
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; First Edition first Printing edition (August 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Dhammapada, which literally means "foot," "tool," "saying," or "path" (Pali: pada) of "experience" (Pali: dhamma), is a small collection of sayings about the Middle Way, the Path of Awakening which leads to Nirvana and which is embodied by the Buddha, and also about its opposite, the path of unskillful living which leads to a hellish life and which is embodied by the devilish figure of Mara.

Each of us must choose which of these two paths to follow. We cannot avoid choosing: even if we do not choose, we will become subject to forces outside ourselves (media, advertisement, family, friends, enemies, lovers), and so will have chosen the path of unskillful living by default. Only by consciously choosing the Path of Awakening, and by training our minds so that everything we do is free of unhealthy desire, aversion, and delusion, can we be truly enlightened and happy.

The Dhammapada gives voice to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: that suffering exists, that there is a cause to suffering, that suffering has an end, and that there is a means to this end, namely the Noble Eightfold Path. But the Dhammapada focuses mostly on the Noble Eightfold Path, and specifically on the choices we face, at many junctures in our lives, between two starkly contrasting possibilities. It is a message of hope that if we choose wisely, and if we choose now rather than later, we shall find relief for both our own suffering and the suffering of others.

Thus the Dhammapada is similar to other great works of life philosophy, such as Epictetus' Enchiridion. Both focus on the fact that we must choose between two radically different kinds of lives. Both advocate a life of virtue and spiritual practice in order to make progress in life.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a Buddhist, yet I recognise good wisdom when I see it. This gives me a new perspective on my actual beliefs, and enhances them.

This work was recommended to me by a self improvement guru, and the Dhammapada proves that real wisdom is timeless. Dating back 2,500 years, it compares with other classic works I have read such as Tao Te Ching, Bhagavad Gita, and, of course the Bible, and more recent works such as The Prophet.

When I was reading quotations on wisdom, I was very impressed by the wisdom of Buddha. There are some common themes running through these works.

Naturally, I don't agree with everything, the passionless existence, but I understand where he is coming from. I prefer the idea of attachment to the Christian concept of sin.

Some quotes:

The way is in the heart, not in the sky.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Hate does not conquer hate. Only love can conquer hate, that is a universal law.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

A wise man, recognising, recognising the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thank you, Gil Fronsdal.

That much consideration went into every phrase of this elegantly translated version of the Dhammapada is evident. As a layperson, I cannot vouch for the translation's scholarly merit or technical accuracy. I can say that it is my favorite translation; the poetic, distilled truth of it resonates with me.

The Dhammapada is part of the Khuddaka Nikaya (or, Collection of Little Texts), the fifth division of the Sutta Pitaka (or, Mountain o' Reading! Kidding. Sort of.) I've known people to recommend that people who are newly serious about Buddhism to begin their studies of the Pali Canon with the Majjhima Nikaya (Middle Length Discourses). I disagree.

Start here. Return often. Be happy.
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Format: Hardcover
It is with gratitude and relief that I study this translation of the Dhammapada. The simplicity and bareness of the language allows the truth beyond the words to slowly penetrate my body and spirit. I am carried by the rhythms and substance of the phrases to ever-deepening understandings. This is the most accessible translation of any sutta that I have been privileged to read.
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Format: Hardcover
The Dhammapada is a basically a collection of poems about Buddhist practice. Some are sweet and encouraging; most exhort the reader to vigilance and effort. It's both a guide and encouragement to present practice and a document of past SE Asian Buddhist thought. The overall effect for me is energizing, reminding me that drifting through life is a waste of the precious opportunity of being alive.

This is a graceful translation -- it flows without the awkward locutions that typefy some translations of old texts. It has endnotes explaining the nuances of some of the original, and the choices made by the translator. They're at the back of the book and easily ignored by the reader who just wants to enjoy the text.

I recommend both the text and this translation highly.
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