Mindful Swimming with Chie Cross
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In whatever place of solitude you are, cross the legs in the supreme manner /

And align the body so that it tends straight upward; thus attended by awareness that is directed // 15.1 //


Towards the tip of the nose or towards the forehead, or in between the eyebrows, /

Let the inconstant mind be fully engaged with the fundamental. // 15.2 //


If some desirous idea, a fever of the mind, should venture to offend you, /

Entertain no scent of it but shake it off as if pollen had landed on your robe. // 15.3 //


Even if, as a result of calm consideration, you have let go of desires, /

You must, as if shining light into darkness, abolish them by means of their opposite. // 15.4 //


What lies behind those desires sleeps on, like a fire covered with ashes; /

You are to extinguish it, my friend, by the means of mental development,1 as if using water to put out a fire. // 15.5 //


For from that source they re-emerge, like shoots from a seed. /

In its absence they would be no more -- like shoots in the absence of a seed. // 15.6 //


See how acquisition and other troubles stem from the desires of men of desire, /

And on that basis cut off at their root those desires, which are akin to enemies calling themselves friends. // 15.7 //


Fleeting desires; desires which bring privation; flighty desires, which are the causes of wagging to and fro; /

And common desires, are to be dealt with like poisonous snakes -- // 15.8 //


The chasing of which leads to trouble, the keeping of which does not conduce to peace, /

And the losing of which makes for great anguish. Securing them does not bring contentment. // 15.9 //


Satisfaction through extra-ordinary wealth; success through the gaining of paradise, /

And happiness born from desires: he who sees these things comes to nothing.2 // 15.10 //


Pay no heed to the changeable, unformed, insubstantial and ungrounded desires, /

Which are presumed to bring happiness; being here and now, you need pay no heed to those desires. // 15.11 //


If hatred or cruelty should stir up your mind, /

Let it be charmed by their opposite, as turbid water is by a jewel. // 15.12 //


Know their opposite to be kindness and compassion; /

For this opposition is forever like brightness and darkness. // 15.13 //


He in whom wrongdoing has been given up and yet hatred carries on, /

Hits himself with dust like an elephant after a good bath.3 // 15.14 //


Upon mortal beings who are pained by sickness, dying, aging, and the rest, /

What noble person with human warmth would lay the utmost pain?4 // 15.15 //


Again, a tainted mind here and now may or may not trouble the other; /

But instantly burned up in this moment is the mind of the man of tainted consciousness himself. // 15.16 //


On this basis,5 towards all beings, it is kindness and compassion, /

Not hatred or cruelty, that you should opt for. // 15.17 //


For whatever a human being continually thinks, /

In that direction, through habit, the mind of this person veers. // 15.18 //


Therefore disregarding what is not helpful focus on what is helpful, /

Which might be valuable for you here and now and might be for the reaching of ultimate value. // 15.19 //


For unhelpful thoughts carried in the heart densely grow, /

Producing in equal measure nothing of value for the self and for the other. // 15.20 //


Because they make obstacles on the better path, they lead to the falling apart of the self; /

And because they undermine the worthy condition, they lead to the falling apart of the other's trust. // 15.21 //


Concentration during activities of the mind, you should certainly practise too. /

But above all, my friend, nothing unhelpful should you think. // 15.22 //


That anxious thought of enjoying the three desires6 which churns in the mind /

Does not meet with merit, but produces bondage. // 15.23 //


Tending to cause offence to living beings and torment for oneself, /

Disturbed thinking becomes delusion and leads to hell. // 15.24 //


With unhelpful thoughts, therefore, you should not mar your self /

-- Which is a good sword and bejewelled -- as if you were digging the earth and getting spattered with mud. // 15.25 //


Just as an ignoramus might burn as firewood the best aloes, /

So, wrong-headedly, would one waste this state of being human. // 15.26 //


Again, just as he might leave the jewel and carry away from the jewel-island a clod, /

So would one leave the dharma that leads to happiness and think evil. // 15.27 //


Just as he might go to the Himālayas and eat not herbs but poison, /

So would one arrive at being a human being and do not good but harm. // 15.28 //


Being awake to this, you must see off thought by antagonistic means, /

As if using a finely-honed counter-wedge to drive a wedge from a cleft in a log. // 15.29 //


Again, should there be anxiety about whether or not your family is prospering, /

Investigate the nature of the world of the living in order to put a stop to it. // 15.30 //


Among beings dragged by our own doing through the cycle of saṁsāra /

Who are our own people, and who are other people? It is through ignorance that people attach to people. // 15.31 //


For one who turned on a bygone road into a relative, is a stranger to you; /

And a stranger, on a road to come, will become your relative. // 15.32 //


Just as birds in the evening flock together at separate locations, /

So is the mingling over many generations of one's own and other people. // 15.33 //


Just as, under any old roof, travellers shelter together /

And then go again their separate ways, so are relatives joined. // 15.34 //


In this originally shattered world nobody is the beloved of anybody. /

Held together by cause and effect, humankind is like sand in a clenched fist. // 15.35 //


For mother cherishes son thinking "He will keep me," /

And son honours mother thinking "She bore me in her womb." // 15.36 //


As long as relatives act agreeably towards each other, /

They engender affection; but otherwise it is enmity. // 15.37 //


A close relation is demonstrably unfriendly; a stranger proves to be a friend. /

By the different things they do, folk break and make affection. // 15.38 //


Just as an artist, all by himself, might fall in love with a woman he painted, /

So, each generating attachment by himself, do people become attached to one another. // 15.39 //


That relation who, in another life, was so dear to you: /

What use to you is he? What use to him are you? // 15.40 //


With thoughts about close relatives, therefore, you should not enshroud the mind. /

There is no abiding difference, in the flux of saṁsāra, between one's own people and people in general. // 15.41 //


"That country is an easy place to live; that one is well-provisioned; that one is happy." /

If there should arise any such idea in you, // 15.42 //


You are to give it up, my friend, and not entertain it in any way, /

Knowing the whole world to be ablaze with the manifold fires of the faults. // 15.43 //


Again, from the turning of the circle of the seasons, and from hunger, thirst and fatigue, /

Everywhere suffering is the rule. Not somewhere is happiness found. // 15.44 //


Here cold, there heat; here disease, there danger /

Oppress humanity in the extreme. The world, therefore, has no place of refuge. // 15.45 //


Aging, sickness and death are the great terror of this world. /

There is no place where that terror does not arise. // 15.46 //


Where this body goes there suffering follows. /

There is no way in the world going on which one is not afflicted. // 15.47 //


Even an area that is pleasant, abundant in provisions, and safe, /

Should be regarded as a deprived area where burn the fires of affliction. // 15.48 //


In this world beset by hardships physical and mental, /

There is no cosy place to which one might go and be at ease. // 15.49 //


While suffering, everywhere and for everyone, continues at every moment, /

You are not to enthuse, my friend, over the world's shimmering images. // 15.50 //


When your enthusiasm is turned back from all that, /

The whole living world you will deem to be, as it were, on fire. // 15.51 //


Any idea you might have, then, that has to do with not dying, /

Is, with an effort of will, to be obliterated as a disorder of your whole being. // 15.52 //


Not a moment of trust is to be placed in life, /

For, like a tiger lying in wait, Time slays the unsuspecting. // 15.53 //


That "I am young," or "I am strong," should not occur to you: /

Death kills in all situations without regard for sprightliness. // 15.54 //


As he drags about that field of misfortunes which is a body, /

Expectations of well-being or of continuing life do not arise in one who is observant. // 15.55 //


Who could be complacent carrying around a body, a receptacle for the elements, /

Which is like a basket full of snakes each opposed to another? // 15.56 //


That a man draws breath and next time around breathes in again, /

Know to be a wonder; for staying alive is nothing to breathe easy about. // 15.57 //


Here is another wonder: that one who was asleep wakes up /

Or, having been up, goes back to sleep; for many enemies has the owner of a body. // 15.58 //


He who stalks humankind, from the womb onwards, with murderous intent: /

Who can breath easy about him? Death, poised like an enemy with sword upraised. // 15.59 //


No man born into the world, however endowed with learning and power, /

Ever defeats Death, maker of ends, nor has ever defeated him, nor ever will defeat him. // 15.60 //


For cajoling, bribing, dividing, or the use of force or restraint, /

When impetuous Death has arrived, are powerless to beat him back. // 15.61 //


So place no trust in teetering life, /

For Time is always carrying it off and does not wait for old age. // 15.62 //


Seeing the world to be without substance, as fragile as a water-bubble, /

What man of sound mind could harbour the notion of not dying? // 15.63 //


So for the giving up, in short, of all these ideas, /

Mindfulness of inward and outward breathing, my friend, you should make into your own possession. // 15.64 //


Using this device you should take in good time /

Counter-measures against ideas, like remedies against illnesses. // 15.65 //


A dirt-washer in pursuit of gold washes away first the coarse grains of dirt, /

Then the finer granules, so that the material is cleansed; and by the cleansing he retains the rudiments of gold. // 15.66 //


In the same way, a man whose mind is poised, in pursuit of liberation, lets go first of the gross faults, /

Then of the subtler ones, so that his mind is cleansed, and by the cleansing he retains the rudiments of dharma. // 15.67 //


Just as gold, washed with water, is separated from dirt in this world, methodically,

And just as the smith heats the gold in the fire and repeatedly turns it over, /

Just so is the practitioner's mind, with delicacy and accuracy, separated from faults in this world,

And just so, after cleansing it from afflictions, does the practitioner temper the mind and collect it. // 15.68 //


Again, just as the smith brings gold to a state where he can work it easily

In as many ways as he likes into all kinds of ornaments, /

So too a beggar of cleansed mind tempers his mind,

And directs his yielding mind among the powers of knowing,7 as he wishes and wherever he wishes. // 15.69 //



The 15th canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Abandoning Ideas."




1 Bhāvanā, lit. means “bringing into being,” and hence developing or cultivating [the mind]. In Tibetan and Theravādan practice, bhāvanā is sometimes translated as “meditation,” but in the present work “meditation” has been reserved as a translation of dhyāna, which lit. means “thinking, reflecting, contemplating, meditating.” The practice known in Japan as zazen means “sitting-dhyāna.” What the Buddha means here by bhāvanā or “mental development,” may be inferred from the explanation that follows about cutting the roots of end-gaining desires (or being here and now and transcending them); about finding the antidote to hatred in kindness and compassion; and about training the mind not to think negatively.

2 Kāma, desire, is a broad concept. In the plural, its meanings include “objects of desire” (see 9.47; 11.37). At the same time, in the sense of subjective volition, it may mean the same as chanda (“wishing") as in dharma-cchandam, “the wish for dharma” (12.31). So is the real intention of this series of verses about desires necessarily what it seems to be on the surface? For example, isn't the gift of confidence the imparting of a kind of wealth? And in the end does Nanda come to nothing? Or does he become something?

3 What kind of elephant, for example, was Zen Master Dogen? How did he feel about men in China who put on Buddhist priests' uniforms to garner their own fame and profit?

4 Gautama Buddha, for example, who evidently laid the utmost pain on Nanda?

5 “On this basis” might mean on the basis of abandoning superficial notions of what the Buddha taught. “On this basis” might mean on the basis of reality, not on the basis of naïve idealism.

6 The three desires can be understood as the desire to get something, the desire to become something, and the desire to be rid of something.

7 Abhijñā, the “supra-mundane” powers of knowing, are the five powers listed in 16.2, plus the power of knowing how to eradicate the āsravas, those influences that pollute the mind.






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