Htun Tin Htun
“The craving of one given to heedless living grows like a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life (tasting the fruit of his kamma).”
He who checks rising anger as a charioteer checks a rolling chariot, him I (the Buddha) call a true charioteer. Others only hold the reins. “Whoever is afflicted by this wretched and sticky craving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.”
Even though he be well-attired, yet if he is poised, calm, controlled and established in holy life, having set aside violence towards all beings-he, truly, is a holy man, a renunciate, a monk. “But whoever overcomes this wretched craving, so difficult to overcome, from him sorrows fall away like water from a lotus leaf.”
Calm is his thought, calm is his speech and calm is his bodily action, who, truly knowing, is wholly freed, perfectly tranquil and wise. This the Buddha (the Enlightened One) says to you: good luck to all assembled here! Dig up the root of craving, like one in search of the fragrant roots of birana grass. Let not Mara (the Destroyer) crushes you again and again, as a flood crushes a reed.”
Realizing that this body is as fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying this mind like a well-fortified city, fights out Mara (the Destroyer) with the sword of wisdom. Then guarding the conquest, remain unattached. “Just as a tree though cut down, sprouts up again if its roots remain uncut ad firm, even so, until the craving that lies dormant is rooted out, suffering springs up again and again.”
A worse taint than there is ignorance, the worst of all taints. Destroy this one taint and become taintless. “The misguided man in whom the thirty-six currents of craving (The three cravings-for sensual pleasure, for perpetual existence and for annihilation-in relation to each of the twelve bases-the six sense organs, including mind, and their corresponding objects.) strongly rush toward pleasurable objects, is swept away by the flood of his passionate thoughts.”
Victory begets enmity; the defeated dwell in pain. Happily the peaceful live, discarding both victory and defeat. “Everywhere these currents flow and the creeper (of craving) sprouts and grows. Seeing that the creeper has sprung up, cut off its root with wisdom.” Ill done is that action doing which one repents later, and the fruit of which one, weeping, reaps with tears. “Flowing in (from all objects) and watered by craving, feelings of pleasure arise in beings. Bent on pleasures and seeking enjoyment, these men fall prey to birth and decay.”
Neither mother, nor father, nor any other relative, can do one greater good than one’s own well-directed mind. “Beset by craving, people run about like an entrapped hare. Held fast by mental fetters, they come to suffering again and again for a long time.” Good are friends when need arises; good is contentment with just what one has; good is merit when life is at an end, and good is the abandoning of all suffering (through Arahatship) “Beset by craving, people run about like an entrapped hare. Therefore, one who yearns to be passion-free should destroy his own craving.”
As a fish when pulled out of water and cast on land throbs and quivers, even so is this mind agitated. Hence should one abandon the realm of Mara (the Destroyer). “There is one who, turning away from desire (for household life) takes to the life of the forest (i.e., of a monk). But after being freed from the household, he runs back to it. Behold that man! Though freed, he runs back to that very bondage!”
Non-repetition is the bane of scriptures; neglect is the bane of a home; slovenliness is the bane of personal appearance, and heedlessness is the bane of a guard. “That is not a strong fetter, the wise say, which is made of iron, wood or hemp. But the infatuation and longing for jewels and ornaments, children and wives-that, they say, is a far stronger fetter, which pulls one downward and, though seemingly loose, is hard to remove. This, too, the wise cut off. Giving up sensual pleasure, and without any longing, they renounce the world.”
Difficult is life as a monk; difficult is it to delight therein. Also difficult and sorrowful is household life. Suffering comes from association with unequal; suffering comes from wandering is samsara. Therefore, be not an aimless wanderer, be not a pursuer of suffering. “Those who are lust-infatuated fall back into the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This, too, the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all suffering and renounce the world.”
There never was, there never will be, nor as there now, a person who is wholly blamed or wholly praised. “Let go of the past, let go of the future, let go of the present, and cross over to the farther shore of existence. With mind wholly liberated, you shall come no more to birth and death.”
“He who inflicts violence on those who are unarmed, and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states.” “Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell. “For a person tormented by evil thoughts, who is passion-dominated and given to the pursuit of pleasure, his craving steadily grows. He makes the fetter strong indeed.”
Excellent are well-trained mules, thoroughbred Sindhu horses and noble tusker elephants. But better still is the man who has subdued himself. “He who delights in subduing evil thoughts, who meditates on the impurities and is ever mindful- it is he who will make an end of craving and rend asunder Mara’s (the Destroyer’s) fetter.”
Speak the truth; yield not to anger; when asked, give even if you only have a little. But these three means can one reach the presence of the gods. “He, who has reached the goal, is fearless, free from craving, passionless, and has plucked out the thorns of existence-for him this is the last body.” “He who is free from craving and attachment, is perfect in uncovering the true meaning of the Teaching, and knows the arrangement of the sacred texts in correct consequence-he, indeed, is the bearer of his final body. He is truly called the profoundly wise one, the great man.” “A victor am I (the Buddha) over all, all have I (the Buddha) known. Yet unattached am I (the Buddha) to all that is conquered and known. Abandoning all, I (the Buddha) am freed through the destruction of craving. Having thus directly comprehended all by myself, whom shall I (the Buddha) call my teacher?” One by one, little by little, moment by moment, a wise man should remove his own impurities, as a silver smith removes the dross from silver. “There are many evil characters and uncontrolled men wearing the saffron robe. These wicked men will be born in states of woe because of their evil deeds. It would be better to swallow a red-hot iron ball, blazing like fire, than as an immoral and uncontrolled monk to eat the alms of people.
Four misfortunes befall the reckless man who consorts with another’s wife: acquisition of demerit, disturbed sleep, ill-repute and (rebirth in) states of woe. “Such a man acquires demerit and an unhappy birth in the future. Brief is the pleasure of the frightened man and woman, and the king imposes heavy punishment. Hence, let no man consort with another’s wife. Just as kusa grass wrongly handled cuts the hand, even so, a recluse’s life wrongly lived drags one to states of woe.”
Well done is that action doing which one repents not later, and the fruit of which one reaps with delight and happiness. “Any looses act, any corrupt observance, any life of questionable celibacy-none of these bear much fruits. If anything good is to be done, let one do it with sustained vigor. A lax monastic life stirs up the dust of passions all the more.
One truly is the protector of oneself; who else could the protector be? With oneself fully controlled, one gains a mastery that is hard to gain. “An evil deed is better left undone, for such a deed torments one afterwards. But a good deed is better done, doing which one repents not later. Just as a border city is closely guarded both within and without, even so, guard yourself. Do not let slip this opportunity (for spiritual growth). For those who let slip this opportunity grieve indeed when consigned to hell.
Easy to do are things that are bad and harmful to oneself. But exceedingly difficult to do are things that are good and beneficial. “Those who are ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should be ashamed of-upholding false views, they go to state of woe. Those who see something to fear where there is nothing to fear, see nothing to fear where there is something to fear-upholding false views, they go to states of woe. Those who imaging evil what there is none, and do not see evil where it is-upholding false views, they go to states of woe. Those who discern the wrong as wrong and the right as right-upholding right views, they go to realms of bliss. (Source: Verse No. 334 to 359, Verse No. 306 to 319, Dhammapada, A Practical Guide to Right Living; Anthology of Verses: Acharya Buddharakkhita, 16th October 1986).
About the author:
U Tin Htun
Freelance Management and Development Consultant, former International UNV UNCHS/ILO/UNIDO Cooperative and Small Business Specialist in Malawi and Kiribati /UNDP Community Empowerment and Development Specialist in Bangladesh