Friday, November 13, 2009

Brahmanavagga: Brahmans

Finally, 26 chapters and 26 blog posts in 26 days. This is it, the final post in my personal challenge. And I’m torn because in looking at the Brahmanavagga, I really don’t want to blog about the verses; instead, I want to evaluate what this experience was like.

I mean why did I set out to do this? I announced this endeavor in a blog post Oct. 18, revealing part of the inspiration came from Julie Powell, who decided to show her admiration for Julia Child by blogging daily about her experience cooking a different recipe each day out of Child’s famous book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” And just like Powell, I hit some low spots during this effort, days when I really didn’t want to do it, I just wanted to rest after work. I didn’t have quite the meltdown that Powell did, but there were nights when I just hated the fact that I said I would do this.

But that was the key that kept me going, that I said I would do it. How many times do we say to ourselves that we will do something, but in the end, the task is never completed, abandoned for a multitude of reasons.

I thank all of you for staying with me through this. Although there weren’t many comments, I could tell folks were stopping by to check out what this oddball was up to. There were so many times when I wondered what I was up to. Was I trying to show off? Or was I successful in being sincere as I could be about what the Dhammapada meant to me?

In the final analysis, I believe a major reason for taking this on was to get me through my separation from Benny. I had something I could focus on each day to keep me from dwelling in self-pity and melancholy. I had a my moments, but staying focused on getting something done, something written regarding the Dhammapada helped me keep moving forward. I know, I know, I could complain bitterly about how wretched our government is that it won’t allow people like me marry the people we love, let alone be able to sponsor them for permanent residency when they are not a citizen. And many of you would think, he’s got a right to feel that way, it is a shitty deal.

Well hello! Life is full of shitty deals. Always is, always was. And it always will be. I want to get beyond that. It’s not that I don’t want to feel sadness at all. Sadness really is a beautiful emotion, just as beautiful as happiness – when experienced appropriately. But like any emotion – even happiness – sadness can become disruptive and destructive.

We are all handed water drops during our life that we want to keep, but we can’t keep them; if we try, they dry up and disappear. So I always come back to the koan that I liked so much from the movie “Samsara.”

How do you keep a drop of water from evaporating? By giving it to the sea.

“He’s called a brahman
for having banished his evil,
a contemplative
for living in consonance,
one gone forth
for having forsaken
his own impurities.”


  1. Way to go all the way end of it! I've been doing something a bit similar. At the beginning of our practice period in late Sept., I agreed to chant the HsinHsinMing by Chan Master Sengcan- the focus of our center's dharma studies right now - daily for the entire period of about 80 days. So far, I've made it. But like you, there have been days I've wanted to skip it, just chant the Bodhisattva vows, or the Precepts and be on with my day. (It takes about 5-7 minutes to chant the HsinHsinMing.) But I have found that the perseverance has, among other things, instilled lines from this great dharma poem within me, which have come up at the most interesting times to teach me during the day. I can imagine that nearly a month straight of focus on the Dhammapada has brought these teachings a bit more into you in some way.

  2. Thanks Nathan! It's funny, but sometimes all we need is a little bit of oomph in our efforts. Regarding the Five Hindrances and how to conquer them, for sloth and torpor, the Buddha said develop energy with striving and vigor. He also said "attention to light." Haha, just look at the sun!