Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dung-Like Life to Live (sutra)

Wisdom Quarterly based on Maurice O'Walshe translation
"This is awesome! Should we share it?" "No, let them get their own. They haven't got the good karma to have our abundance!" (Image: laweekly.com).

The Dung Beetle (SN 17.5)
"A fatal thing, practitioners, are gains, favors, and fame -- a bitter, harsh impediment to the attainment of the unsurpassed freedom from bondage [enlightenment and nirvana].

"It is just like a beetle [or cesspool dweller], feeding on dung, full of dung, engorged with dung, standing before a great dung-heap, who might despise other beetles, saying: 'I am a dung-eater, full of dung, engorged with dung, and before me is this great dung-heap!'

"It is the same way, practitioners, if someone is overwhelmed with gains, favors, and fame. That practitioner's head is turned. So having arisen early and taken robe and bowl and gone for alms to the village or market town, one gets one's fill, gets invited again for the next day, and has a full bowl.

"Then one goes to the recluses' park and boasts in the midst of the assembled: 'I have had a good meal, and I am invited again for tomorrow. My bowl is full. I have got [the other requisites as well, namely,] a robe, alms, lodgings, and a sufficient supply of medicines. But these other recluses have little merit and little influence; they do not get [all of these] requisites.'

"Thus this practitioner -- overwhelmed with gains, favors, and fame -- whose head is turned, despises other well-behaved practitioners. But this will bring harm and sorrow to that wretched person for many a long day.

"This goes to show you, practitioners, how disastrous gains, favors, and fame are -- what a bitter, harsh impediment to the attainment of the unsurpassed freedom from bondage.

"Therefore, practitioners, should you train yourselves thus: 'Whatever gains, favors, and fame may come our way, we will reject, lest they should turn our heads.' Thus, practitioners, should you train yourselves."

Hellmuth Hecker translation (Queen Mallika (Jataka 77 & 314)
Haunting voices were heard. They belonged to four former humans who had lived in the ancient Indian city of Savatthi, who had been seducers of others' spouses.

Through the ripening of their sexual misconduct, they were reborn in a miserable realm. For 30,000 years they sank in red hot iron cauldrons, the heat of which caused a convection cycle. Coming nearer to the fire intensified their unbearable suffering. For another 30,000 years they slowly rose up in those iron cauldrons and were now coming to the rim, where they could once again at least breathe the air of the human realm.

Each one wanted the speak a verse. But because of the gravity of their deeds, they could not get past the first syllable. Not even in sighs could they give voice to their suffering, having long since lost the gift of speech.

The four verses -- which start in the exclusively Buddhist language Pali with "du," "sa," "na," "so" -- were recognized and explained by the Buddha as follows:

Du: Dung-like life we lived,
No willingness to give,
Although we could have given much,
We did not make our refuge thus.

Sa: Say, the end is near?
Already 60,000 years have gone
Without respite the torture is
In this hellish realm.

Na: Naught, no end near, Oh, would it end!
No end in sight for us.
Who once did misdeeds here
For me, for you, for both of us.

So: So, could I only leave this place
And raise myself to human realm,
I would be kind and moral too,
And do good deeds abundantly.

After the king heard these explanations, he became responsive to the request of his compassionate queen and granted freedom to the imprisoned men and animals. He ordered the [ancient Vedic] sacrificial altar to be destroyed.