Epithet

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An epithet (pariyàya) is a word or phrase which perfectly describes the characteristics or essence of something. There are four verses which could be said to be epithets of the Buddha’s teachings. They are; ‘Do nothing that is evil, practice all that is good and purify the mind; this is the teaching of the Buddhas’ (Dhp.183). ‘Not insulting, being harmless, living by the Patimokkha, eating in moderation, living in solitude and training the mind; this is the teaching of the Buddhas’ (Dhp.185). ‘Having seen conflict as a danger and harmony as peace, abide in unity and kind-heartedness; this is the teaching of the Buddhas’ (Cp.2,13). ‘Love should be developed towards oneself and others, all should be pervaded with love; this is the teaching of the Buddhas’ (Mil.394). Two things are immediately apparent in these epithets. The first is that Buddhism is not primarily about the nature of your beliefs but the quality of your heart. The second is the importance that Buddhism gives to purifying the mind and manifesting the various expressions of love. A Buddhist is not someone who ‘believes in’ the Buddha. He or she is a kind-hearted person (sakhila) who tries to be an agent for unity (samagga) and harmony (avivàda) within their community, who develops love in their heart (mettabhàvanà) and pervades everyone, including themselves, with that love (mettacittena pharitabbaü).

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