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Training the MindThe House of ImpermanenceThe Fetter of DesireJoy Like the Bright Gods

Dhammapada/Joy Like the Bright Gods

Meditation and Reading taken from The Dhammapada, trans by Eknath Easwaran

All other text is by Cynthia Stewart

For a historical introduction to this sacred text, see Leader Resource 1 - Historical Introduction -
Today's Themes

The Dhammapada lays out the difficulties on the path to freedom, but it also and most beautifully tells us of the bliss to be had at the end of this path and the joy we find along the way. In today’s reading, we see a lovely, poetic statement of the great joy that can be found here and now that has as its foundation how we live, how we think of ourselves and how we treat those around us.

The meditation tells us in the simplest, most elegant terms how to attain that joy: avoid evil, cultivate good, and practice compassion toward others. This, we are told, is the true summation of the Buddha’s teaching.

Call To Worship

It is joy that brings us here today

Remembrance of joy dwelling amidst the sorrows of the past
Knowledge of joy swirling among the trials of the present
Hope for joy pulling us into the vastness of the future

Joy in the quiet undiscovered moment
Joy in the seduction of earth's living beauty
Joy in the ecstatic touch of the divine

While we are here together, beloved, give yourself to joy


Avoid all evil, cultivate the good, purify your mind: this sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

Cultivate the patience that endures, and attain nirvana, the highest goal in life. Do not oppress others or cause them pain; that is not the way of the spiritual aspirant. Do not find fault with others, do not injure others, but live in accordance with the dharma. Be moderate in eating and sleeping, and meditate on the highest. This sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

Dhammapada 14.183-85


Let us live in joy, never hating those who hate us. Let us live in freedom, even among those who hate.

Let us live in joy, never falling sick like those who are sick. Let us live in freedom, without disease even among those who are ill.

Let us live in joy, never attached among those who are selfishly attached. Let us live in freedom even among those who are bound by selfish attachments.

Let us live in joy, never hoarding things among those who hoard. Let us live in growing joy like the bright gods…

There is no fire like lust, no sickness like hatred, no sorrow like separateness, no joy like peace. No disease is worse than greed, no suffering worse than selfish passion. Know this, and seek nirvana as the highest joy.

Health is the best gift, contentment the best wealth, trust the best kinsman, nirvana the greatest joy. Drink the nectar of the dharma in the depths of meditation, and become free from fear and sin.

Dhammapada 15.197-200, 202-205


May joy walk with you as you leave this place;
May your footsteps fall on the ground of compassion;
May your gaze rest on a horizon of hope;
May a cloud of prayers swirl around you,
And the touch of the divine rest upon you. 

And in the touch of your own hand on another’s face or arm or life this day
May the other find joy, and compassion, and hope, and a cloud of prayers.