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Reflections on Atisha’s “Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment” by Stephen Liu

During one of our Thursday Dharma Study Group sessions, Lama Losang has been guiding us in a study of the “Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment” by Atisha. Verse 33 says:

"Therefore, through effort in the vow made by Bodhisattvas for pure, full enlightenment,

The collections for complete enlightenment will be thoroughly accomplished."

Lama Losang explained that "collections" refers to moral ethics. So, I have been picturing using a bucket or basket for collecting and ran across another reading that fills out that image nicely. It is from the "The Dhammapada, A New Translation of the Teachings of The Buddha, with a Guide to Reading the Text, by Glen Wallis, Notes, page 140, (lightly paraphrased):

"Punna is usually translated as "merit" or ""goodness.” … Punna is understood as a process that accumulates in force and is stored, like drops of water, in a pot. This image fits easily into the Buddha's understanding of the human psychological proclivity toward habit formation and the possibility of developing skills. Goodness generates goodness, which like a river nourishes everything around it. It can be dipped into and spread around. The Buddha, in fact, often used metaphors of water to talk about his notion of accumulating goodness, as well as unfathomable riches of such value creation."

As a creature of habit, this reminds me to practice goodness. Collecting drops in a bucket will gradually accumulate, and can be dipped into and be spread around, not hoarded just for me.

Thank you to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

with Metta, Stephen


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