Images from The Dhammapada


In reading The Dhammapada, I noticed that there were a lot of analogies used to describe human life. For this paper I decided to look at some of the analogies that talk about the negative conditions of life. My favorite quotation from The Dhammapada is number 8 on page 34, the section titled "Evil"
"Don't underestimate evil, saying,
'It can't happen to me.'
As a pot slowly fills up with water, drop by drop,
So does the fool, little by little,
Become full of evil."

I like this proverb the best, because it is very simple to understand and easy to relate to. Every one knows that if you let water drip into a bucket, eventually, the bucket will get filled with water. It may take a long time, but the bucket will get filled, regardless that is what the teachings of Buddha are saying. Evil may take over mind little by little if you are not careful. That is why one should think clearly at all times, and not allow evil to enter their mind. Water is a frequently used metaphor in The Dhammapada. Another example of this occurs on page 14, number 4 in the section titled "Flowers".
"Just as a raging flood sweeps away a sleeping village,
So does death claim a man of distracted mind,
As he continually seeks more and more
Of life's fleeting pleasures."

Once again the image of water was used, but in a much different context. Here The Dhammapada refers to water not as drops filling a bucket, but it shows a more forceful side of water. A raging flood engulfing a sleepy village. This is a rather violent image think that really emphasizes the Buddha's teachings; that one should seek wisdom and purity of character, instead of simple pleasures. The third quotation that I selected, deals with the search for pleasure and also uses a water metaphor.
"As rain pours through badly thatched houses,
So does desire penetrate the undeveloped mind."

I found this proverb on page three, number 13 in section one titled "Twins". In the quotation above The Dhammapada speaks about how easy desire can fill an undeveloped mind. Honestly, I have no first hand experience with thatched houses, but I can only assume that if a house is poorly thatched, it's resistance to water is very low, if any at all.
Through reading The Dhammapada I noticed that water is a very important image in the teachings of Buddha. There is much more to water, as an image, in Buddhist teachings. The word Nirvana, which is the goal of all Buddhist, means to extinguish a flame. To my knowledge the most primitive fire extinguisher, is water. I think that the use of water, as an image, is saying much more that it appears to at first. Water, is used in modern text to represent purity and wisdom. This is true in many cultures, like the ancient Greeks, for example. Their most beloved goddess, Aphrodite, rose from the sea foam. In conclusion, I leave you with this quotation from page 6, number 5 from the section titled "Mindfulness".
"The wise man,
By vigor, mindfulness, restraint, and self-control,
Creates for himself an island
Which no flood can submerge."