“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.”
This one’s a translation of the first verse of the Dhammapada, or at least the first half of the first verse. It’s from the Juan Mascaró translation, published by Penguin, which happens to be the first translation I ever encountered. When I read this verse I realized that I was a Buddhist — although I have to say that I now think it’s a terrible translation.
As a minor point, the words “yesterday,” “today,” and “tomorrow” are not in the Pali. “Yesterday,” “today,” and “tomorrow” would be acceptable translations for the terms “past,” “present,” and “future,” taken poetically. So I wouldn’t have ruled this out of the basis of that language alone. As I said those terms aren’t in the original, but you’d have to look at the original to know that.
But “our life is the creation of our mind” is very, very far from what’s in the original, which could be translated very literally as “All experiences (or mental states) are preceded by mind, they have mind as their master, they are produced by mind.” And it’s very far from being similar to anything the Buddha taught.
“Mental states” or “experiences” (dhamma could also be translated as “mental phenomena”) and “life” are very different things, and that’s a much deeper distortion of the text, and of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha didn’t seem to hold any view that our life was the creation of our mind.
Latest posts by Bodhipaksa (see all)
- “If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down.” - January 7, 2015
- “I wish people would stop using my face whenever they feel like they need a smart person to endorse their stupid ideas.” Albert Einstein (not!) - December 26, 2014
- “They are not following dharma who resort to violence to achieve their purpose.” - December 17, 2014
- “Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others.” - December 14, 2014