Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Dhammapada on old age

Assassination co-conspirator, defeated monk Acharya Buddharakkhita (orig. trans.), Dhammapada XI, Jaravagga: "Old Age"; Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
The Day of the Dead is a party for remembering ancestors. Soon we will be the ancestors.

Young and old together again
146. When this world is ever ablaze, why laughter, why jubilation? Shrouded in darkness, don't you seek the light?

147. Behold this body — a painted image, a heap of sores, wracked with infirmity yet full of [more] hankering — of which nothing is lasting or stable.

148. Fully worn out is this body, a nest of diseases and fragile. This foul mass breaks up, for life is all around surrounded by death.

149. These pigeon-colored bones are like gourds lying scattered about in autumn. Having seen them [as they really are], how can anyone find delight?

When we die, is there rebirth? Yes, endlessly.
150. This city (body) is built of bones, plastered with flesh and blood; within are decay and death, pride and jealousy.

151. Even gorgeous royal chariots wear out; indeed, this body also wears out. But the ennobling Dharma ages not; thus the awakened make it known to the good.

152. The person of little learning grows old like a bull -- growing only in bulk but not in wisdom.

153. Through countless rebirths in samsara have I wandered in vain, seeking the builder of this house (of each life). Wandering through continued rebirths is indeed a disappointment!

154. O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken, your ridgepole shattered. This mind has reached the unconditioned [nirvana], attained the destruction of craving.*
  • *(Verses 153-154) According to the Commentary, these verses are the Buddha's "Song of Victory," his first utterance after his great enlightenment/awakening. The "house" is individuated rebirth in samsara, the "house-builder" is craving, the "rafters" are the passions, and the "ridge-pole" is ignorance.
155. Those who in youth have not led the spiritual life [of renunciation, of a wandering ascetic, of seeking enlightenment], or have failed to acquire wealth, they languish like old cranes in a pond without fish.

156. Those who in youth have not lead the spiritual life, who have failed to acquire wealth, lie sighing over the past, like worn out arrows (shot from) a bow.

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