This is the first volume in Bell Tower's "Sacred Teachings" series that will offer hardcover editions of scriptures from different traditions. Here Thomas Byrom presents his fluid and cogent renderings of the sayings of the Buddha (563-483 B.C.). These teachings were probably first gathered in Northern India in the third century before Christ and originally written down in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the first century B.C. "Dhamma" means law, justice, righteousness, discipline, truth. "Pada" means path, step, foot, foundation. This, then, is the path of truth. These words have become the principal scripture for Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
As Ram Dass puts it in his reverential preface: "These words come to you in purity; for them to touch you they must be received in purity. These words come out of divine simplicity; to liberate you they must be heard in simplicity. These words come from the soul; to feed that in you which thirsts, these words, which are words of wisdom, not knowledge, must be heard by the soul, not the intellect."
Buddha teaches that "the way is not in the sky / the way is in the heart." Purify the heart of envy, greed, anger, clinging, attachments, and your life will be animated by joy and beauty. Equanimity is another task of inner work: "Free yourself from pleasure and pain. / For in craving pleasure or in nursing pain / There is only sorrow. / Like nothing lest you lose it, / Lest it bring you grief and fear. / Go beyond likes and dislikes."
The Buddha has much to say about mastering the senses, doing good, staying awake, being present, living peace, and finding friends who love the truth. Thomas Byrom's renderings of these sayings are graceful, lyrical, and lucid.