Drops in the bucket

Don’t disregard evil, thinking,
“It won’t come back to me!”
With dripping drops of water
Even a water jug is filled.
Little by little,
A fool is filled with evil.

Don’t disregard merit, thinking,
“It won’t come back to me!”
With dripping drops of water
Even a water jug is filled.
Little by little,
A sage is filled with merit.

Dhammapada v. 121-122, translated by Gil Fronsdal

It is a peculiar quirk of human nature that negative, fearful experiences stick in our minds, while all the nice things that happen to us or that we bring about for others are easily overlooked, by ourselves and others. Why is that? Who knows. But these verses point out that if we are alert to our actions and their results, little by little, day by day, we can become both kinder and wiser. If we are careless and don’t consider the consequences of our actions, we might become more and more foolish.

These are two of my favorite verses. They remind me that it is easy to miss what’s happening in our ordinary days – how we wake up in the morning, where our mind drifts to, how we answer the phone or speak to other people, what’s in our minds as we do our work or chores, or when we drive or take the bus.

Our default attitudes color everything, so it is really important to keep tabs on how we are seeing things. Can we substitute investigation for resistance or clinging?

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