June 9th, 2010

Dhammapada Chapter 9: Mischief

Mischief is one of those barely negative words that throw us off guard about what is really going.
it is "annoying," "discomfiting," a word we associate with child's play and "pranks.'

Of course, it also means to cause trouble or disturbance
and in its etymology is the notion of "coming to a bad end."

It also has to do with humiliating, embarrassing, people
and people have died as a result of "pranks"

Paradoxically, mystics, who teach us to ignore differences between good and evil, gain and loss, yin and yang
also remind us of the seriousness of less attended to forms of badness.

The rabbis say that if you call your brother a fool it is as though you had murdered him.
If you lust after a woman you have already committed adultery
(in your heart, which may be one of the worst places to commit it)

Buddha says mischief is worse than poison, more serious than traveling on a dangerous road.
Mischief blows back in the mischief maker's face like mustard gas. (though it might take a while).

The word mischief is also rooted in the proto-indo-european word for head.
The head, seat of the mind, is the source of mischief.
Always do good, without even thinking about it!
Thought is the breeding ground of mischief.

"Do good quickly' is the first line of this chapter.
Don't give the mind time to plan its mischief.

Heroes act quickly, without thought of self or consequences.
Psychologically, doing nothing about a serious situation suggests that it is not really all that serious, which leads to doing nothing, and so on.  This is how a community drinks poisoned kool-aid together.  This is how holocausts and oil spills start.

"Be quick to do good."