Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Horse metaphors about punishment from Buddha’s teachings

The following is excerpted from a note I wrote to an acquaintance who likes horses and horseback riding.

“This morning, I was reading The Dhammapada, which is a collection of Buddha’s poetic sayings written down by his disciples at a gathering about three months after his death. Pali, the language in which Buddha spoke is a bit like Sinhalese, the majority community language in Sri Lanka, and very different than English. Because of this, there is no agreement about exactly what Dhammapada means in English. The translation I prefer is “Teachings Regarding the Path to Enlightenment.”

There were two teachings that used horses as a metaphor. You came to mind and so I thought I would share. They are from the chapter entitled “The Rod -- or Punishment.” The passages are these.

[15] Rarely is found in this world anyone who, restrained by modesty, avoids reproach as a thoroughbred horse avoids the whip.

[16] Like a thoroughbred horse, touched by the whip, even so be strenuous and zealous. By confidence, by virtue, by effort, by concentration, by investigation of the Truth and by being endowed with knowledge and conduct, and by being mindful, get rid of this great suffering.”

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