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Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations [Paperback]

Jack Kornfield , Gil Fronsdal
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Nov 2006
The Dhammapada is the most widely read Buddhist scripture in existence, enjoyed by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. This classic text of teaching verses from the earliest period of Buddhism in India conveys the philosophical and practical foundations of the Buddhist tradition. The text presents two distinct goals for leading a spiritual life: the first is attaining happiness in this life (or in future lives); the second goal is the achievement of spiritual liberation, freedom, absolute peace. Many of the key themes of the verses are presented in dichotomies or pairs, for example, grief and suffering versus joy; developing the mind instead of being negligent about one's mental attitude and conduct; virtuous action versus misconduct; and being truthful versus being deceitful. The purpose of these contrasts is, very simply, to describe the difference between what leads to desirable outcomes and what does not.

For centuries, this text has been studied in its original Pali, the canonical language of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. This fresh new translation from Insight Mediation teacher and Pail translator Gil Fronsdal is both highly readable and scholarly authoritative. With extensive explanatory notes, this edition combines a rigorous attention to detail in bringing forth the original text with the translator's personal knowledge of the Buddhist path. It is the first truly accurate and highly readable translation of this text to be published in English.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc (3 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590303806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590303801
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Version of a Wonderful Text 7 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Dhammapada is one of the most widely read Buddhist texts in the West and is probably one of the most frequently translated. It is often considered, along with works like the Baghavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching to be a classic of world religious literature and as such, of interest to many who would not consider themselves Buddhist.

This version, by Gil Fronsdal, who has trained within both the Soto Zen and the insight meditation tradition of Theravada Buddhism for many years and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from Stanford, is my translation of choice.

The highly respected translator of Buddhist texts Carl Bielefeldt, of Stanford University, (who is thus qualified to comment on the quality of this translation) has said "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." and Bhante Gunaratana, of the Bhavana Society has said "I have read many Dhammapada translations in several languages, but never have I come across such a crisp, precise, and lucid translation as this."

This particular translation is also available in audio book form, which is most welcome The Dhammapada: Teachings of the Buddha - Book and Audio-CD Set and as a Kindle edition The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations which for some reason, at the time of writing, is not available in the formats box above. It also won't come up if you search under 'Gil Fronsdal' in the Kindle Store.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By L. Power TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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: An Illustrated Journey, 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 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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dhammapada 14 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not only is this an excellent translation, well supported in its notes, it also arrived within two days of placing the order. I cannot say much about its content - I'm only capable of saying that, for me, it's a very important text which has been beautifully rendered. Thank you, Gil Fronsdal for your work and thank you also, The Speaking Tree for such a prompt and reasonably priced service.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  57 reviews
113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of world religion and philosophy translated by an expert with a gift for language. 6 Dec 2005
By P. Hollander - Published on Amazon.com
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. Both regard training oneself to be mindfully aware of everything one does, and mindfully present at all times, as means for acquiring and exercising virtue, enlightenment and happiness.

Gil Fronsdal, the translator of this perennial classic, holds a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Stanford, where he studied the early Bodhisattva ideal in India as the research topic for his dissertation. He is also an ordained Soto Zen priest. And he is a Vipassana student of Jack Kornfield. He has lived as a monastic in Japan and Southeast Asia. He is the main teacher at the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, California. The website for IMC has all of Gil's dharma talks, plus those of many guest speakers, as well as some written transcriptions, available for free download at [...]. He is a gifted and compassionate speaker with some serious insight into the psychology of Buddhism.

This translation, rendered from the Pali version of the Dhammapada, is quite beautiful, and is excellent for memorizing special verses (e.g. the first line, "All experience is preceded by mind, Led by mind, Made by mind..."). Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Buddhism, life philosophy, or insight meditation. My only criticism is that perhaps Gil should also have offered his own commentary in addition to the helpful annotations he gives at the end of the book. He is such an insightful speaker on the Dharma that it is a shame to waste any opportunity to have him share his insight with others!

I have since learned that Gil has a previous book, The Issue at Hand, in which each chapter begins with a passage from Gil's Dhammapada translation, and which does comprise a commentary of sorts, on select passages. This book is a free download from the [...].
144 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything that we are arises from our thoughts, we are what we think 23 Mar 2006
By L. Power - Published on Amazon.com
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.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceful Translation of Inspiring Text 7 Sep 2005
By Interested Reader - Published on Amazon.com
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.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skillful, beautiful translation 28 April 2006
By Spinner's End - Published on Amazon.com
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.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Dhammapada 29 Oct 2005
By Sally Northcutt - Published on Amazon.com
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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