Dhammapada: Annotated & Explained

The Dhammapada—believed to have been spoken by the Buddha himself—contains most of Buddhism’s central teachings. Helpful commentary explains references, philosophical terms and the inspiring interpretations of famous spiritual teachers.

Translated by Max Müller
Annotated by Jack Maguire
Foreword by Andrew Harvey

5½ x 8½, 160 pp | 978-1-893361-42-3

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Ancient words of the Buddha (“awakened one”) that can become a companion for your own spiritual journey.

The Dhammapada (“Path of the Buddha’s Teachings”) is a daily inspiration for millions of Buddhists all over the world and for people of all spiritual traditions who have been impressed by its beauty and power. These words—believed to have been spoken by the Buddha himself over 2,500 years ago—contain most of Buddhism’s central teachings.

Originally composed in the ancient language of Pali, this timeless text concisely and inspirationally portrays the route a person travels as he or she advances toward enlightenment. With poetic sequence and rhythm, the Dhammapada describes the fundamental role of mental conditioning in making us who we are. It paints contrasting portraits of three levels of our human existence—the fool, the wise one and the enlightened one—and addresses specific aspects of experience, conduct and belief that characterize our transformation from one of these modes of being to another.

Now you can experience the Dhammapada with understanding even if you have no previous knowledge of Buddhism. This SkyLight Illuminations edition offers insightful yet unobtrusive commentary that explains references and philosophical terms, shares the inspiring interpretations of famous spiritual teachers, and gives you deeper insight into the text.

“The pith of Buddha's teachings are herein wondrously and excellently presented.”

Joan Halifax Roshi, Head Teacher, Upaya Zen Center  

“Provides access to the wisdom of the text in a way that invites further exploration of one’s own transformation.”

Kay Lindahl, founder of The Listening Center and author of The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice 

“The words of the Buddha become fresh and alive in this wonderful edition. Wisdom shines through, ready for application in daily life.

Ani Konchog Drolma, head of monastic training at Gampo Abbey  

“A friendly introduction to a sacred text at the heart of Buddhist teaching.”

Marcia Z. Nelson, author of Come and Sit: A Week Inside Meditation Centers 

“These verses can be read and appreciated simply as wise philosophy; as such, they are part of the great literature of the world. But for those who would follow it to the end, the Dhammapada is a sure guide to nothing less than the highest goal life can offer: self-realization.”

Eknath Easwaran 

“The verses, along with well-placed guiding annotations, will be inspiring to young people exploring the Buddhist path.”

Sumi Loundon, editor of Blue Jean Buddha: Voices of Young Buddhists

Foreword by Andrew Harvey ix
Acknowledgments and Dedication xvii
About the Dhammapada xix

1. The Twin Verses 3
2. Vigilance 9
3. The Mind 13
4. Flowers 17
5. The Fool 21
6. The Wise One 27
7. The Enlightened One 31
8. Better than a Thousand 35
9. Evil 39
10. Punishment 43
11. Old Age 47
12. Self 51
13. The World 55
14. The Buddha 59
15. Happiness 63
16. Pleasure 67
17. Anger 71
18. Impurity 75
19. The Just 81
20. The Way 85
21. Miscellany 91
22. The Downward Course 95
23. The Elephant 99
24. Thirst 103
25. The Monk 111
26. The Brahman 117

Sources and Suggested Readings 126
List of Special Terms 128
About SkyLight Paths 130