Book Report: The Dhammapada translated by Juan Mascaró (1973, 1975)

Book coverSpeaking of the Buddhism I’ve been reading, this book is a collection of aphorisms (as the back says) in the Buddhist mindset. Apparently, it’s just one long scroll or collection of musings or verses that the translator has helpfully broken into chapters (Contrary Ways, Watchfulness, The Mind, The Flowers of Life, The Fool, The Wise Man, etc.). You can tell that the author has broken this up because some of the content of the chapters flows away from the ascribed topic/title and then the chapter ends where a new topic begins and can be titled. So in the original, it would have been a single document just flowing. Not that I minded the chapters, though; the aphorism are in numbered verses, so it would have been like a long poem without them, and you probably know by know how I feel about long poems.

At any rate, it’s calming and pleasant to read, and the content mirrors the other things in Eastern philosophy I’ve read and is not far off from the Christian Stoicism I’m also currently reading and even the parables of Jesus: Slow down, don’t worry, help others, do good. You know, the practical aspects of many religions–that is, the pragmatic, how to live content, is similar no matter how wildly the ontology or eschatology differs. Which is why I prefer these little guides and comfort reads more than the heavy philosophy or theology most of the time.

Worth a read if you’re into this sort of thing.