Monday, March 21, 2016

Sex in the Woods for Spring? (sutra)

Ven. Thanissaro (trans.), Subha Jivakambavanika "The Beauty and the Libertine" (Verses of the Nuns, Therigatha 14.1) edited by Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly

The Beauty and the Libertine 
A story from the Verses of Enlightened Nuns (Therigatha 14.1)
As Subha* the nun was passing through Jivaka's delightful mango grove, a libertine (son of a goldsmith) blocked her path, so she said to him:
  • Subha, which means "lovely" or "beautiful," is not likely to be her name but simply a descriptive term, as in "The Beauty and the Beast," where the princess is not Beauty and the creature not Beast but for simplicity we like to think of it that way. [In Buddhism over time people lose their names and take on titles or descriptive terms for ease of remembering stories or making a point. Siddhartha becomes the Buddha, which means "the Enlightened One," or Tathagata (Wayfarer), or Mahavira (Great Hero), or Bhagavan (teacher, venerable), so the use of the word "Buddha" not preceded by "the" is ridiculous as it suggests it is a name rather than a descriptive title. His wife, Bimba, becomes Rahulamata ("Mother of Rahula") or more popularly "Yasodhara" ("Bearer of Glory," a name that never occurs in the Pali canon), who when she becomes a Buddhist nun, an enlightened master, a winning debater becomes Ven. Bhaddhakaccana Theri, etc.]
"What wrong have I done you that you stand in my way? It is not proper, my friend, that a man should touch a woman who has gone forth (become a nun). I respect the Teacher's message, the training pointed out by the Well-Gone One (the Wayfarer, the Tathagatha, the Buddha).
I am pure, without blemish [ennobled by her actions, her merits, at some stage of enlightenment, the highest stage, arhatship, being the suggestion]: Why do you stand in my way? You with your mind/heart agitated, whereas I am unagitated -- you, impassioned, whereas I am dispassionate, blemish-free [fully enlightened], with a mind/heart in all ways released. Why do you stand in my way?"
Let's have sex, honey!
Sexy men have sexy back hair (or not).
[The goldsmith's son answered the enlightened nun]: "You are young and good looking, so what need have you of going forth [taking ordination, being a nun, living a celibate life]?

"Throw off your saffron robe! Come, let's delight [have sex] in the flowering forest. Sweetness they exude wafting all around, the towering trees and their pollen.
The beginning of spring is a pleasant season. Come, let's delight in the flowering forest. The trees with their blossoming tips moan, as it were, in the breeze: What delight is there for you if you plunge into the forest alone [to meditate in solitude, withdrawn from distractions]?
Frequented by herds of wild beasts, disturbed by elephants rutting and aroused, and you want to go unaccompanied into the great, lonely, frightening forest?

The forest is scary. Who would go there, much less live there, on purpose?
"How to Pick Up Women" 1952
Like a doll made of gold you will go about, like a goddess in the gardens of heaven [a devi, a "shining one," in sagga]. With delicate, smooth Kasi fabrics [the finest Varanasi cloth], you will shine, O beauty without compare! I would be under your power if we were to dwell in the wood together. For there is no creature dearer to me than you, O nymph who makes me languish!
If you do as I ask, happy, come live in my house! Dwelling in the calm of a palace, have women wait upon you, wear delicate Kasi fabrics, adorn yourself with garlands and aromatic balms. I will make you many and varied ornaments of gold, jewels, and pearls.
Climb onto a costly and high bed, scented with sandalwood carvings, with a clean cover, beautiful, spread with a new woolen quilt. Like a blue lotus rising from the water where water spirits dwell, you arrive at old age with your limbs unseen, if you stay as you are in the high life [the celibate life of a monastic]."

Why would anyone retreat into the forest, woods, or lonely places on purpose?
The beauty replies
When one knows-and-sees one is free.
[The beauty, Ven. Subha:] "What do you assume of any essence, here in this cemetery-filler, grown fat with corpses, this body destined to break up? What do you see when you look at me,* you who are out of your mind?"
  • [*MEANING: What do you see in this body (or any body no matter how beautiful), which only serves to swell up cemeteries as they fill with corpses, this composite-thing that just breaks up? What do you see in me when you're only looking at my appearance?]
[The libertine:] "Your eyes are like those of a fawn, like those of a nymph in the mountains. Seeing your eyes, my sensual delight grows all the more. Like tips of blue lotuses they are on your golden face -- spotless: Seeing your eyes, my sensual delight grows all the more. Even if you should go far away, I will think only of your piercing gaze with long lashes, for there is nothing dearer to me than your eyes, O nymph who makes me languish!"
Pure and Simple (K. Nanayon)
[The beauty, Ven. Subha:] "You want to stray from the road, you want the Moon as a plaything, you want to jump over Mount Sumeru [an impossibly high mountain that reaches up into space like magnetic lines], you who have designs on one born of the Buddha. For there is nothing anywhere at all in the world with its devas [fairies, angels, gods, unseen spirits] that would be an object of passion (sensual craving) for me.
"I no longer know what such passion would be, for it has been uprooted by the path [magga-phala, path and fruition resulting in enlightenment and liberation]. Like embers from a pit scattered, like a bowl of poison evaporated, I no longer see what that passion would be, for it has been uprooted by the path.

"Try to seduce one who has not reflected on this, or whom the Teacher has not instructed. However, try it with this one who knows [who has gained such liberating wisdom] and you do yourself violence. For whether I am insulted or worshiped, in pleasure or pain, my mindfulness remains firm.
First Buddhist Women (Susan Murcott)
"Directly knowing-and-seeing how unattractive formations (all composite things) actually are, my heart/mind gets stuck nowhere at all.

"I am a follower of the Well-Gone One riding the vehicle of the Eightfold Way: My arrow removed [heart unpierced], taint-free, I delight in going to an empty dwelling. For I have seen well-painted puppets hitched up with strings and sticks made to dance in various ways.

"When the strings and sticks are removed, tossed away, scattered, splintered, smashed to bits, not found, in what will the mind/heart cleave or make its home?

"This body of mine, which is just like that puppet, without phenomena (dhammas, things, composite elements of formations) does not function. When without elements (devoid of dhammas) it does not function, in what will the heart/mind there cleave and make its home?
"Like a mural painted on a wall, smeared with yellow pigment, there your vision has been distorted, insubstantial (meaningless) is your perception, that of a [figuratively blind] human being.

"Like a mirage that has evaporated, like a golden tree in a dream, like a magic show in the midst of a crowd -- you run blind after what is unreal.

"Resembling a ball of sealing wax set in a hollow with a bubble in the middle and bathed in tears, eye secretions are born there, too: The parts of the eye are rolled all together in various ways."

Then plucking out her lovely eye, with mind completely unattached she felt no regret [to help him, out of compassion for his sake], "Here, take this eye. It's yours." She gave it to him.

[Mortified, horrified, the spell her beauty had cast on him -- or his avarice had made for himself -- was broken]. Immediately his passion faded away, evaporated on the spot, went extinct right then and there, and he begged her forgiveness:

[He said:] "Be safe, follower of the high life. This sort of thing will not happen again! Harming a person like you [a taintless, enlightened. blame-free person] is like embracing a blazing fire. It is as if I have seized a poisonous snake [by the tail, which will surely turn to bite me because of my foolishness]. So may you be safe. Forgive me!"
And freed from there, the nun went to the excellent Buddha's presence. When she saw the mark of his excellent merit, her eye miraculously became as it was before.

The Buddha -- the One Awakened from the dream of delusion (maya) -- serenely dwells in the forest of the senses, amid a world that is incessantly burning (Alistair and Rachel/
G.P. Malalasekera (Dictionary of Pali Proper Names) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
Subhā belonged to an eminent Brahmin family of Rājagaha. Seeing the bane in the pleasures of the senses she became a nun under Pajāpatī Gotamī, the Buddha's mother and the first Buddhist nun. She was called "Subhā" because her body was beautiful. One day in the grove a libertine, in the prime of youth seeing her and filling with lust, stopped her and invited her to partake of sensual pleasures. She talked to him about the hidden harm of such pleasures, but he persisted. Seeing that he was particularly enamored of the beauty of her eyes, she pulled out one of them and said: "Come, here is the offending eye." The man was appalled and asked her forgiveness. Subhā went to the Buddha and, at sight of him, her eye recovered. Filled with joy, she stood paying homage to him. And he taught her and gave her an exercise for meditation. She developed insight and became an arhat (Thig.vss.366-399; ThigA.245f.).

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