Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 02/05/2021

Discipline and Self Mastery

Today’s verse for memorization is Dhammapada 25 and it speaks directly to my own recent preoccupation with discipline, effort and self-mastery. given that it is in the Appamadavagga, it’s no surprise that it also concerns itself with heedfulness which is a quality that is the sine qua non of the others already mentioned.

By effort and heedfulness,

Discipline and self-mastery,

Let the wise one make for himself an island

Which no flood can overwhelm.

Dhammapada 25

This exhortation seems almost commonsensical to me but is it? Many people, therapists and healers recommend a somatic approach to overcoming trauma (a severe manifestation of dukkha) which immediately seems to discount or sideline what appears to be a largely discursive approach in Dhp 25. But is it?

The more in think about it, the less I believe that any of the Dhamma-vinaya is solely a form of ancient cognitive behavioral therapy. Rather, we are asked to find liberation in this fathom long body, not outside of it and certainly not in the rarefied world of intellectual abstraction.

It now seems to me that the tension I imagined between the Dhamma and therapeutic approaches like the one outlined in Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter Levine was a misunderstanding on my part. In fact, if you look at the teachings of Satipatthana and Anapanasati given by teachers like Ajahn Lee, it almost seems as if they are recommending the same practices.

May we use all skillful means available to overcome dukkha and free ourselves from the chains of bondage.


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