Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Canto 13: Thwarting the Power of the Senses through Practice of Integrity

And so Nanda was affirmed

By the great seer, in the matter of confidence;

He felt as if sprinkled with the nectar of immortality --

Filled with the deepest joy.

Like a finished article he seemed

To the Fully Awakened One,
by virtue of that confidence;

And like a gainer of higher good he seemed

To himself, one moulded by the Buddha.

Some in soothing tones,

Some with tough talk,

Some by both these means,

He the trainer trained.

Just as gold born from dirt

Is pure, spotless, gleaming,

And while lying in the dirt

Is not tarnished by the dirt's impurities,

And just as a lotus-leaf

Is born in water and remains in water,

But neither above nor below

Is sullied by the water,

So the sage, born in the world,

And acting for the benefit of the world,

Because of his state of action, and spotlessness,

Is not tainted by worldly things.

Joining and leaving, love and toughness,

Talking, as well as actual realisation,

He used during instruction for the purpose of healing,

Not to win a following for himself.

Thus did the benevolent one take on,

Out of that great compassion,

A form by which he might release from suffering

Fellow living beings.

And so now seeing that, by boosting Nanda,

He had made a receptacle,

The best of speakers spoke:

The process-knower spoke of the process
in all forms of higher good.

"Starting afresh from here, my friend,

With the power of confidence leading you forward,

In order to get to the nectar of deathlessness

You should watch the manner of your action.

So that use of body and voice

Becomes simple for you,

Make it expansive, open yet guarded,

And free from disconnectedness --

Expansive from effecting your true condition;

Open from not hiding;

Guarded because aimed at prevention;

And unbroken through freedom from fault.

With regard for purity of body and voice,

And with regard also for the sevenfold
[prohibition on bodily and vocal] conduct,

A proper way of making a living

You should work on, on the grounds of integrity --

On the grounds of not indulging

The five faults, beginning with hypocrisy;

On the grounds of fleeing

The four predators of practice, such as astrology;

On the grounds of not accepting
living beings, grain, money, and so on,

As things to be avoided;

On the grounds of accepting
the established rules for begging,

With their definite limits;

As a person who is contented, pristine, pleasant,

Through making a living cleanly and well,

You can counteract suffering

All the way to liberation.

Separately from overt action, then,

And from the origin of use of body and voice,

I have spoken of making a living

Because it is so hard to make a pure one --

For hard to be washed clean
is the view of the househoulder

With his many and various concerns,

As too is the livelihood of the beggar

Whose subsistence depends on others.

Such is termed "practice of integrity."

In sum, it is conduct;

Without it there could truly be

No going forth, nor state of being at home.

Being steeped in good conduct, therefore,

Lead this wholesome life,

And in what is even minutely blameworthy

See danger, being firm in your purpose.

For founded on integrity unfurl

All actions in the sphere of higher good,

Just as events like standing unfold

When a force resists the earth.

Let it be grasped, my friend,

That release is seated in indifference,

Indifference in conscious awareness,

And conscious awareness in knowing and seeing.

And let it be experienced, again,

That the knowing is seated in a stillness

And that the seat of the stillness

Is a body-mind at ease.

An assurance on which sits ease of the body-mind

Is of the highest order,

And the assurance is seated in enjoyment.

Again, let this be realised in experience.

The enjoyment is seated in a great happiness which,

Similarly, is understood to be of the highest order;

And the happiness in a freedom from furrowing the heart

Over things done badly or not done.

But the freedom of the mind from remorse

Is seated in pristine practice of integrity.

Therefore, realising that integrity comes first,

Purify the practice of integrity.

Integrity is so called
because it comes from repeated practice;

Repeated practice comes from devotion;

Devotion to a thing comes from direction in it,

And direction from submitting to that direction.

For integrity, my friend, is the refuge:

It is like a guide in the wilderness,

It is friend, kinsman, and protector,

It is wealth, and it is strength.

Since integrity is such, my friend,

You should work on integrity.

This is the stance,
in their different endeavours for release,

Of those who practise.

On that basis, standing grounded in mindfulness,

The naturally impetuous senses

From the objects of those senses

You should hold back.

There is less to fear from an enemy

Or from fire, or from a snake, or from lightning,

Than there is from one's own senses;

For through them one is forever being smitten.

Some people are beleaguered by hateful enemies

Some of the time -- or they are not.

Everybody is besieged by the senses

Everywhere, all of the time.

Nor does one go to hell

When smitten by the likes of an enemy;

But meekly is one pulled there

When smitten by the impetuous senses.

The pain of being smitten by those others

May or may not occur as suffering in the heart.

The suffering of being oppressed by one's senses

Occurs in the heart, and throughout the body.

For smeared with the poison of ideas,

Are those arrows, produced from five senses,

Whose tails are anxiety, whose tips are thrills,

And whose range is the vast emptiness of objects.

They strike human fawns in the heart

Fired off by Desire, the hunter;

Unless they are warded away,

Men wounded by them duly fall.

Standing firm in the arena of inhibition,

And bearing the bow of resolve,

The mighty man, as they rain down, must fend them away,

Wearing the armour of mindfulness.

From ebbing of the power of the senses,

As if from subjugation of enemies,

One sleeps or sits at ease,

In joyful recreation, wherever one may be.

For in the constant hankering of those senses

After objects in the world,

There occurs out of the ignobleness
no more consciousness

Than there is in the hoping of hounds.

A cluster of sense organs

Is no more sated by objects,

Than, though constantly filled,

The ocean is by water.

It is necessarily through the senses,
each in its own sphere,

That one must function in this world.

But no impulse, in those circumstances, is to be held onto,

Nor any associated impression.

On seeing a form with your eye

You are contained in the sum of the elements:

That 'it is a woman' or 'it is a man'

You should not interpose.

If a notion of woman or man intrudes

At any time in relation to anyone,

Upon hair, teeth, and the rest, for their beauty,

You should not linger.

Nothing, then, is to be taken away

And nothing is to be added:

One must investigate the reality as it really is,

Whatever and however it is.

In your observing what is, like this,

Always in the territory of the senses,

There will be no foothold

For longing and dejection.

Longing, using cherished forms,

Smites the sensual masses:

A foe who has a friendly face,

She's fair of speech and foul of heart.

What is called dejectedness, conversely,

Is, in connection with an object, a contrary reaction

By going along with which, in one's ignorance,

One is smitten hereafter, and smitten here and now.

When, by getting and not getting his way,

A man is pained as if by cold or heat,

He finds no refuge; nor reaches higher good:

Hence the fluctuating sense-power of the masses.

And yet the power of the senses, though operative,

Need not become glued to an object,

So long as in the mind, with regard to that object,

No fixing goes on.

Where fuel and air co-exist,

Just as there a fire burns,

With an object and through fixing,

So a fire of affliction arises.

For by the unreal means of fixing

One is bound to an object;

Seeing that very same object

As it really is, one is set free.

On seeing one and the same form

This man is enamoured, that man disgusted;

Somebody else remains indifferent;

While yet another feels thereto a human warmth.

Thus, an object is not the cause

Of bondage or of liberation;

It is through a particular kind of fixing

That sticking occurs or does not.

Through effort of the highest order,

Therefore, contain the power of the senses;

For unguarded senses

Make for suffering and for becoming.

Like serpents coiled in sensual enjoyment
with eyes of selfish views,

Their many heads are heedlessness
and their flickering tongues are excitement:

The snaky senses lurk in mind-pits,
their venom eager desire,

And when they bite there is no cure,
save the antidote of cessation.

So towards those mischief-making foes --

Seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling --

In every situation show a vigilance born of restraint.

You are not for an instant to be heedless in this matter.

The 13th Canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled 'Thwarting the Power of the Senses through Practice of Integrity'


jiblet said...

Thanks Mike.

Mike Cross said...

Thank you -- and especially for 13.41.