April 2006 2549 Number 75
The Forest Sangha is a world-wide Buddhist community
in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah
75newsletter ROCANA VIHARA PROJECT Tudong in Wales
The Chapter of Octads
The Atthaka Vagga, the fourth chapter of the Sutta Nipata, is translated here (the first six poems)by Tahn Varado, and dedicated to its previous translators including K.R.Norman, E.M. Hare, Ven.H.Saddhatissa, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and Paññobhaso Bhikkhu and also to the editors of the Pali Text Society Pali-English Dictionary, T.W. Rhys Davids and William Stede.
1: Discourse on Sensual Pleasure
If a person longing for sensual pleasure achieves it,
Hes delighted, yes,
The mortal who gets what he wants.
But that person, longing, desiring,
If his pleasures diminish,
He suffers as if pierced with an arrow.
Whoever mindfully avoids sensual pleasures
As he might, with his foot, the head of a snake,
Leaves behind attachments in the world.
A man who is greedy for fields, property, gold,
Cattle, horses, servants, men, women, relatives,
And many sensual pleasures
Is over powered by what is weak
And is crushed by troubles.
Sorrow invades him like water into a leaky boat.
So a person being always mindful should avoid the objects of desire.
Having abandoned them
He will cross over the flood
Like one who, having bailed out a boat,
Would reach the further shore.
2: Discourse on the Cave
A person embedded in the cave (of sensual reminiscence),
Where many things remain deeply hidden,
Shrouded in bewilderment,
Is far from true seclusion.
The pleasures of the world are not easily forsaken.
Those bound by desire,
In bondage to the pleasure of existence,
Are not easily released;
For theres no freedom when involved with another.
Longing for whats over or for whats to come,
Yearning for pleasures in the present
And pleasures of the past,
Those who are greedy for pleasure,
Hunting for it, deranged, selfish,
Are bent on what is morally wrong.
When drawn into difficulty, they lament:
What will become of us at death?
So, people should train themselves.
Whatever one knows to be wrong,
Do not for its sake engage in misconduct,
For the wise say that life is short.
I see people floundering,
Obsessed with existence;
Despicable characters wailing in the face of death
With their craving for existence unallayed.
Look at them,
Floundering amidst their cherished possessions
Like fish in a dwindling stream.
Having watched this,
You should live without feelings of ownership.
You should free yourself of attachment to life.
You should subdue desire for earthly or heavenly rebirth.
You should understand sense contact.
A wise person is free of greed.
He does nothing for which he would blame himself.
He is not soiled by what he sees or hears.
Comprehending the nature of perception,
Not soiled by possessiveness,
A sage crosses the flood.
With the arrow of craving removed,
He longs for neither this world or the next.
3: Discourse on Evil
Those corrupted at heart dispute,
And those whose hearts are set on truth also dispute.
But a sage does not enter a dispute thats arisen.
Therefore he is nowhere involved in hostility.
How could someone led by impulse,
Bent on pleasure,
Being someone who as he sees things, likewise speaks,
Overcome the very views which he has himself conceived?
Boasts to others of his virtuous conduct and religious practices,
Speaking of himself of his own accord,
Is ignoble, say the Good.
But a monk who is calm, completely peaceful,
Who does not boast of his precepts, I am like this,
Being unconceited about anything in the world,
Is noble, say the Good.
When someone, seeing a benefit for himself,
Conceives, formulates and honours religious principles that are impure,
Then his peace relies on something unstable.
Clinging to views is not easily overcome.
If a man grasps a view from amongst whatever Dhamma he investigates,
He therefore embraces or rejects Dhamma
From one or other clung-to viewpoint.
One who is pure has no preconceived view about anything in the world.
Having abandoned delusion and pride, he remains aloof.
Therefore by what view would he go?
One who is attached argues over religious teachings.
But how, and about what, can you argue with one who is aloof?
There is nothing that he either takes up or throws off.
He is indeed free of every view in the world.
4: Discourse on the Pure
I see what is pure, ultimate, freedom from sickness.
It is by means of seeing that a person becomes pure.
Perceiving in this way,
Believing that this view is supreme,
A seer of purity reverts to knowledge.
If it is by means of seeing that a person becomes pure,
If he abandons dukkha by having knowledge,
Then a person with a basis for attachment
Is purified by adding something further.
The view of one who asserts purity in this way is thus belied.
No Brahman says that purity comes from adding something further,
Either what is seen, heard or cognised,
Or precepts or practices.
A Brahman is untainted by good and bad kamma.
Rejecting what he has taken up, he adds nothing further.
Those following craving,
Abandoning what they had previously in order to grab something else,
Do not cross over attachment.
They release and catch hold like a monkey releasing one branch in order to seize another.
A person who is bound to ideas,
In undertaking religious observances goes high and low.
But one of great wisdom,
One who has penetrated Dhamma,
Does not go high and low.
He is peaceful towards everything whether seen, heard or cognised.
He sees things as they are and conducts himself openly.
How could anyone have any doubts about him?
Ones like him neither formulate opinions nor hold them in reverence.
They do not proclaim of anything, This is final purity.
Having untied the knot of grasping with which they are bound
They do not hope for anything in the world.
The Brahman has gone beyond conventional boundaries.
He has grasped nothing either seen or known.
He is not impassioned by passion;
He is not impassioned by dispassion.
He is attached to nothing either in this world or the next.
5: Discourse on the Supreme
If a person maintains that of opinions, his is the best,
Holding it as the highest in the world,
And says that all other views are inferior,
Then he has not gone beyond disputes.
When a person sees an advantage for himself
In what is seen, heard, or cognised, or in precepts and practices,
He grasps such things, regarding everything else as inferior.
The Good call that thing a fetter relying upon which one regards others as inferior.
Therefore a monk should not rely on what is seen, heard, or cognised,
Nor on precepts or practices;
He should not come to an opinion about himself
Based either upon his knowledge
Or upon his precepts and practices.
He should neither present himself as an equal
Nor suppose that he is either inferior or superior.
Abandoning what he has taken up,
Free of any basis of attachment,
He does not rely even upon knowledge.
Amongst those in dispute he does not take sides.
He does not revert to any grasping of opinions whatsoever.
One who has no aspiration for any form of existence
Either in this world or the world beyond,
Having investigated religious teachings, has no attachment to them.
Whoever does not conceive the slightest conception
About what is seen, heard or cognised,
This Brahman who has grasped no view,
How could anyone have any doubts about him?
He does not conjecture,
Follow others opinions,
Or hold on even to Dhamma.
He is a Brahman, not led astray by precepts and practices.
Gone to the further shore, he does not return.
6: Discourse on Old Age
Short indeed is this life;
You die within a hundred years.
Indeed, if you live longer than that
You surely die of decrepitude.
People grieve for what they cherish;
But nothing is possessed forever.
Having seen that separation does indeed happen,
One should not lead the household life.
At death, that which a person supposes to be mine is abandoned.
Realising this, my wise disciples should not be inclined to possessiveness.
Just as on awakening, a man does not see what he met in a dream,
Likewise, he does not see loved ones who have passed away.
When they were alive,
People called by this name or that were both seen and heard;
But when dead, only their names live on to be uttered.
Those greedy for loveable things
Do not put away grief, lamentation and selfishness.
Looking for safety,
Sages abandon possessions and lead the homeless life.
For a monk living withdrawn,
Resorting to a secluded dwelling,
They say that it is fitting for him to not exhibit himself in the world.
The sage is not attached under any circumstances.
He does not cultivate anything either liked or disliked.
Lamentation and selfishness do not stain him,
As water does not stain a lotus leaf.
Just as a waterdrop does not stain a lotus leaf or a red lily,
So the sage is not stained by what is seen, heard or cognised.
He does not suppose that he is purified by what is seen, heard or cognised.
He does not expect to be purified by adding
Which, indeed, would neither excite nor repel him.
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