Monday, August 20, 2012

Song of a Former Courtesan

Vimala Theri ("Psalms of the Elder Nuns," Therigatha 9); Mariska Galla; Wisdom Quarterly
Katy Perry (Catty Purry) utilizes courtesan moves for more sales as a singer (popstarplus)
Classic Russian posters (
It is inspiring to remember that from a Buddhist point of view, "Every saint has a past, every sinner a future."
Vimala Theri (Thig 5.2), a Buddhist nun at the time of the Buddha, awakened and, attaining full enlightenment, recorded her experience in a hymn. The Therigatha, a collection of such hymns (gatha), reveals her story:
Young and overbearing --
drunk with fame, beauty,
with my figure, its flawless appearance --
I despised other women.
Heavily made up, I leaned
against the brothel door
and flashed my wares. Like a hunter,
I laid my snares to surprise fools.
I even taught them a trick or two
as I slipped my clothes off
and bared my secret places.
O how I despised them!
Today, head shaved, wrapped
in a single robe, an almswoman,
I move about, or sit at the foot
of a tree, empty of all thoughts.
All ties to heaven and earth
I have cut loose forever.
Uprooting every obsession,
I have put out the fires.

The Buddha and his foster mother established the first nuns order in a world religion.
Hymns of Enlightenment
Wisdom Quarterly based on Parthasarathy (
Buddhism and Its Therigatha (
These songs or spiritual hymns -- paralleling a similar compilation composed by enlightened elder monks from the time of the Buddha -- were chanted. Each stanza (sloka) is comprised of four verses (padas, as in the most famous Buddhist text, the Dhammapada, or "Verses of the Dharma") of eight syllables each.
The first two verses, divided by a caesura, form one line; the next two verses, again divided by a caesura, form the second line. Unlike the secular poets of Tamil and Sanskrit, the Pali Buddhist poets attempted to raise the language of their spiritual songs above that of the profane model.
They deliberately shifted the emphasis of their songs away from the love poetry of the secular poets to the attainment of liberation (moksha), the true joy which, according to early Buddhist teachings, was assumed to be limited to monastics meditating alone.
  • Of course, the earliest Buddhist discourses contain countless examples of male and female householders and ordinary worldlings reaching enlightenment when instructed in the Teachings of the Noble Ones (Arya Dhamma). The Buddha, as the "Master Physician" and "Teacher of Devas and Humans," had the power as a teacher to perceive just what an auditor needed to rapidly advance toward the goal of awakening (bodhi) and liberation (nirvana).
First Buddhist Women, Susan Murcott (W-B)
The first of the Four Noble Truths is dukkha (unsatisfactoriness, disappointment, distress). Its proximal cause is craving (tanha), particularly sensual desire. And its distal cause is ignorance or delusion.
One useful description of nirvana is the dying out of the fires of lust (kama tanha, sensual craving), greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and illusion (moha).

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