A verse of the Dhammapada states "The evil-doer suffers in this world, and he suffers in the next; he suffers in both. He suffers when he thinks of the evil he has done; he suffers more when going on the evil path." Yet, it seems evident that some evil-doers do not suffer at all—in fact, some evil-doers seem genuinely happy and fulfilled. In what ways do such persons suffer? How is it that the good person sees "evil days," and the bad person sees "happiness." Also, doesn't it seem odd that if there is no self, there is something that suffers?
With regard to pleasure, the Dhammapada states "Even in heavenly pleasures he finds no satisfaction, the disciple who is fully awakened delights only in the destruction of all desires." How do you think the Buddha would respond to the following analysis by Rilke?
Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. And not our acceptance of it is bad; the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments.
In light of your response consider verse 290 of the The Dhammapada: "If by leaving a small pleasure one sees a great pleasure, let a wise man leave the small pleasure, and look to the great."
Does the desire for enlightenment obviate the possibility of enlightenment? The The Dhammapada says, "Even in heavenly pleasures he finds no satisfaction, the disciple who is fully awakened delights only in the destruction of all desires." Explain this apparent paradox.
Contrast the role of the various forms of "love" in Chapter 12 ("Govinda") of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha with the forms discussed in the The Dhammapada.
What are the similarities between the chapter "The Elephant" in the The Dhammapada and "The Ten Oxherding Pictures" by Kaku-an as discussed by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki?
Rainer Maria Rilke. "Letter, July 16, 1903" in Letters to a Young Poet. Mineola, N.Y.:Dover, 2002.