Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Elephant, from The Dhammapada

Let me share with friends the (23rd) chapter from The Dhammapada (the Buddha's Path of Wisdom), titled "The Elephant".

As an elephant in the battlefield withstands
arrows shot from bows all around, even so shall
I endure abuse. There are many, indeed,
who lack morality.

Tamed elephants can be led into a crowd,
and the king mounts a tamed elephant. So too,
best among people is the subdued one who
endures abuse.

Excellent are well-trained mules,
thoroughbred Sindhu horses and noble tusker
elephants. But better still is the person
who has subdued oneself.

Not by these mounts, however, can
one go to the Untrodden Land (Nirvana), as one
who is self-tamed goes by one's own tamed and
well-controlled mind.

In must during rut, the tusker named
Dhanapalaka is uncontrollable. Held in captivity,
the tusker does not touch a morsel, but only
longingly calls to mind the elephant forest.

When a person is sluggish and gluttonous,
lazy, rolling around in bed like a fat pig--that
sluggard undergoes rebirth again and again.

Formerly this mind wandered about as
it liked, where it wished, according to its pleasure,
but now I shall thoroughly master it with wisdom,
as a mahout controls an elephant in rut.

Delight in heedfulness! Guard well your
thoughts! Draw yourself out of this bog of evil,
even as an elephant draws oneself out of the mud.

If for company you find a wise and
prudent friend, one who leads a good life, you should
overcome all impediments and keep this person's
company, joyously and mindfully.

But if for company you cannot find a wise
and prudent friend, one who leads a good life,
then, like a king who leaves behind a conquered
kingdom or a lone elephant in the elephant forest,
you should go your own way alone.

Better it is to live alone, there is no
fellowship with a fool. Live alone and do no evil;
be carefree like an elephant in the elephant forest.

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 enlightenment).

Good it is to serve one's mother; good
it is to serve one's father; good it is to serve
the Sangha; and good it is to serve the holy people.

Good is virtue until life's end; good is
faith that is steadfast; good is the acquisition
of wisdom; and good is the avoidance of evil.

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