Mindful Swimming with Chie Cross
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Now when the monarch of the Magadhas, with friendly face,

Had addressed him thus, with contrary purport,

He whose noble house and personal integrity were pure,

The son of 'Pure Mush' Śuddhodana,

being well in himself and unperturbed, spoke this reply:


This speech of yours is no surprise,

Born as you are into the illustrious line whose emblem is the lion –

That you, O desirer of friendship, whose course of action is pure

Should show towards a friend this considerate course of action.


Among the untrue,

friendship formed by each in keeping with his tribe

Does not last – like sovereign power among the faint-hearted.

But friendship forged by repeated past favours,

Is just that benevolence which the true cause to grow.


Those in the world who, for the good-hearted in hard times

Are there as human beings, helping with work to be done –

Those friends I esteem, advisedly, as friends indeed.

For who would not be present around one going well

in a period of vigorous prosperity?


And, having obtained riches in the world,

Those who in this way commit their riches to friends and to dharma,

Have made the most of their resources –

Whose dissipation, in the end, generates no grief.


With nothing but friendship and nobility, O king!

Comes this resolution of yours towards me.

Conciliation, in this situation,

I too shall express with friendship plain and simple.

No other response, in this situation, could I express.


Having become aware of the terror of ageing and dying,

I with desire for release have taken to this dharma,

Leaving behind beloved tear-faced relatives –

Still more have I left behind desires, the causes of mischief!


For I am not so afraid of venomous snakes,

Or of thunderbolts falling from the sky,

Or of fires supplied with air,

As I am fearful of objects in the realm of the senses.


For transient desires are robbers of the stuff of happiness.

They are hollow, and resemble phantoms in the world.

Even in their anticipation, they delude the mind of men.

How much more in their physical consummation?


For those in thrall to desires arrive at happiness

Not in triple heaven, much less in the mortal world.

A man possessed of thirst is no more satisfied by desires

Than wind-befriended fire is satisfied by fuel.


There is nothing in the world as troublesome as desires,

And yet it is to them that people, out of ignorance, are attached.

Knowing the truth to be so, what trouble-wary man of wisdom

Would wilfully covet trouble?


Even having taken possession of the sea-girt earth,

Men desire to conquer what lies beyond the great ocean.

The world is no more sated by desires

Than the ocean is sated by waters descending into it.


Even as heaven rained down upon him golden rain

After he had conquered all four continents

And obtained half of Mighty Indra's throne,

There was for Māndhātṛ in outer realms only dissatisfaction.


Even having enjoyed kingship over the gods in heaven

(After Indra, through fear of Vṛta, had fled),

And even, out of pride, having caused the Mahā-rishis to carry him,

Nahuṣa, unsatisfied among desires, fell down.


Again, King Purū-ravas, son of Iḍā, having penetrated triple heaven

And even brought into his thrall that goddess Dawn, Urvaśī,

Was still desirous, in his greed, of carrying off the Rishis' gold –

Unsatisfied, among all his possessions in sensory realms,

he went to his end.


From Bali those realms passed to great Indra;

from great Indra to Nahuṣa;

And from Nahuṣa back again to Indra:

Who, whether in heaven or on the earth, could breathe easy

In realms so subject to the graces and indignities of fate?


Despite being clothed in strips of bark or rags

and subsisting on roots, fruit and water,

Despite wearing dreadlocks as long as snakes,

Despite having no extraneous duty,

sages have been defeated by them –

Who would pursue those enemies called desires?


Again, 'Powerfully Armed' Ugrāyudha,

though armed with a powerful weapon,

On account of desires suffered death

at the hands of Bhīṣma 'The Terrible.'

Even the thought of those desires is pernicious,

Leading to their death men empowered with such practice –

to say nothing of those who go unprotected by the vow of practice.


Knowing enjoyment of its taste,

among objects in the sensory realm, to be petty;

Knowing it to be highly addictive;

knowing it to be dissatisfaction itself;

Knowing it to be what disgusts the good;

and knowing it to be invariably bad;

Who would administer to himself the pernicious drug called desires?


After they have seen the suffering of desire-driven men

Who are chained to duties such as ploughing and the rest

And have seen the well-being

of men who are not unduly interested in desires,

It is natural for people in possession of themselves to give desires up.


To be known as a setback, when a man is desirous,

is consummation of desires;

For in realizing desires he tends to become intemperate.

Being intemperate leads him to do what should not be done,

not what should be done.

Thus diminished, he passes in the direction of difficulty.


Secured and maintained with much trouble,

They cheat the trouble-taker,

and go back whence they came.

When desires are like loans,

Who, being in possession of himself, being wise,

being here and now, would delight in those desires?


Desirous men, having wished for them and grasped them,

In failing to let go of them, maintain their grip on suffering.

When desires are like a torch of blazing straw,

Who in the world in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


People not possessed of themselves, being bitten in the heart by them,

Veer in the direction of utter loss and do not secure happiness.

When desires are like fierce angry snakes,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


People afflicted by hunger, like dogs with a bone,

However much they chew on them, never become satisfied.

When desires are like skeletons of dry bones,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


Because of what they have in common
with kings, thieves, water and fire,

They engender suffering.

When desires are like lures hurled [by the hunter],

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


People abiding in them are surrounded on all sides by adversity –

Adversity from friends and family even as from a sworn enemy.

When desires are as hazardous as a hazardous abode,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


On a mountain; in the forest; in still waters; and in the ocean –

Leaping the extra inch as they reach for them,

people veer in the direction of falling off.

When desires are like the fruit at the top of the tree,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


Gained by bitter struggles on many fronts,

Here, in an instant, they go to nought.

When desires are like enjoyments in a dream,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


People do not secure happiness,

however much they kindle them,

Augment them, and tend them.

When desires are like fires of charcoal in a pit,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


For their sake, the Kurus went to their end,

As did the Vṛṣṇi-Andkhakas, and the Mekhala-Daṇḍakas.

When desires are like a butcher's knife and slaughter bench,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


For their sake, the asura duo Sunda and Upasunda destroyed each other,

Macho hostility having prevailed.

When desires cause the break-up of friendships,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those desires?


To water, to fire and to flesh-eaters, for the sake of desires,

Men in this world deliver up their bodies.

When desires are real manifestations of the enemy,

Who in possession of himself would delight in those unkind desires?


With desires in view the ignorant one acts pitiably;

He brings on himself the suffering

of lethal wounds, captivity and the rest;

With desires in view the world of the living,

being pitiable in its aspirations,

Veers wretchedly towards death and exhaustion.


For deer are lured to their death by songs;

Moths fly into the fire on account of its bright appearance;

And the bait-hungry fish swallows the iron hook.

Thus do objects of desire result in trouble.


As for the view “But desires are enjoyments!”,

No desire is to be reckoned as “to be enjoyed.”

Clothes and other such material goods in the world,

Are rather to be seen in terms of counteracting pain.


For water is good for the purpose of allaying thirst;

Food, in a very similar way, for staving off hunger;

A dwelling for protection against wind, the heat of the sun, and rain;

Clothing for covering the private parts and protecting against cold;


A place to lie down [or the act of lying down],

likewise, for striking a blow against sleep;

A vehicle [or the act of going],

again, for taking the strain out of a journey;

A seat [or the act of sitting],

again, for revelling in the act of abiding;

And a bath [or the act of bathing],

as a means for cleansing, and for health and strength.


To the people, therefore, objects in the sensory realm

Are factors in counteracting pain and suffering, and not enjoyments.

What wise one would admit “I am relishing enjoyments,”

While engaged in the counteraction?


For he who, when burning with a bilious fever,

Would consider a cooling action to be an enjoyment –

He is the one who, while engaged in counteracting suffering,

Might call desires an enjoyment.


Again, since there is nothing absolute about desires,

For that reason also, I do not call those desires an enjoyment.

For the very states of being that confer pleasure,

Also bring, in their turn, pain.


For garments which are heavy (guru),

and sticks of fragrant aloe wood (aguru),

Are agreeable in the cold but not so in the summer heat;

While moonbeams and fragrant sandalwood

Are agreeable in the heat but disagreeable in the cold.


Since pairs of opposites -- gain and loss, and the like --

Are attached to everything in the world,

For that reason, again, nobody exclusively has pleasure,

Nor does any man on the earth exclusively have pain.


Again, seeing how interconnected are pleasure and pain,

I deem kingship and slavery to amount to the same;

For a king does not always smile,

Nor does a slave always hurt.


As for the point
that to a protector of men accrues pre-eminent power,

For that very reason are a king's sufferings great;

For a king is like a wooden peg –

He becomes worn down, for the sake of the world.


Sovereignty is fleeting and faced with many enemies:

When a protector of men believes in it and breathes easy,

he is come to nought;

Or else, if he cannot be confident in this present realm and rest easy,

Where does happiness lie, for a timorous king?


And when it is realized that,

even after a king has conquered the whole earth,

Only one city can serve as the royal seat –

And in that city, again, only one palace can be lived in

[or only one field can be cultivated] –

Is not the royal state the exhausting of oneself for others?


Enough, even for a king, is one set of clothes;

For staving off hunger, similarly, the requisite measure of food;

Likewise one bed [or one act of lying down],

and one seat [or one act of sitting].

All the other special things in the possession of a protector of men,

serve the purpose of mental intoxication.


Again, if this fruit of which you speak

is approved on account of contentment,

Even without kingship there is contentment for me.

And when contentment exists for a human being in this world,

Are not all special things nothing special?


So not to be persuaded am I in the direction of desires,

Since I have entered on the peaceful, wholesome path.

But with friendship in mind, please tell me again and again:

Hold firm to your promise!”


For not because of impatience have I entered the forest;

Nor did enemy arrows cause me to cast away a crown.

Nor is it because I aspire to superior fruits

That I decline this offer of yours.


For he who, having once let go,

would resolve to grasp again,

An angry snake with avid fangs,

Or a fiery torch of burning hay –

He, having abandoned desires,

would seek them out again.


Again, the sighted man who envies a blind man,

The free man who envies a prisoner,

The rich man who envies a pauper;

And the sane man who envies the madman –

He would feel envy towards the devotee of objects.


Not to be pitied, just because the food he enjoys is begged,

Is the man of action

who intends to cross beyond the terror of ageing and dying;

For him the highest happiness, the happiness of peace,

is here and now,

And miseries hereafter are rescinded.


But he is to be pitied who,

though dwelling in the midst of great riches,

Is defeated by thirsting;

He fails to realize the happiness of peace here and now

And is held in the grip of sufferings to come.


For you to speak like this, in any event,

Befits your character, conduct, and noble house;

And for me also, to keep my promise

Is in conformity with my character, conduct, and noble house.


For I, stung by saṁsāra's sting,

Have gone forth desiring to obtain peace;

Not even infallible sovereignty in triple heaven would I wish to win:

How much less a kingdom among men?


As for you, O king!, for your part, saying to me

that devotion in the round to the three things

Is the highest human aim,

Those three, in my estimation of value, are an aim without value,

For the three things are subject to decay and are not satisfying at all.


Whereas that step in which there is no ageing, no fear, no disease,

No birth, no death, and no worries –

That alone I consider to be the highest human aim,

Wherein the same activity does not keep happening, again and again.


Again, as for you saying, “Wait for old age,

For youth tends to loss of strength of mind,”

That is no sure thing; its precariousness is demonstrable –

Old age also can be irresolute and youth possessed of constancy.


And when Death who is so skilled at his work

Drags mankind, in all stages of life, helplessly to our end,

How, when the time of his demise is not subject to orderly arrangement,

Shall the wise man who seeks quiet look forward to old age?


When Death, with old age as his weapon

and diseases as his strewn projectiles,

Stands by like an implacable hunter,

Striking down the man-deer

that seek refuge in the forest of good fortune,

Who can relish the prospect of a ripe old age?


So, whether as a young blood or as a venerable elder,

 or else as a child –

One should act quickly, here and now, in such a way

That, being possessed of dharma, and realizing oneself,

One might lead the life approved as good, the life
of progressive activity – or indeed of cessation of activity.


Again, as for you telling me, for the sake of dharma,

To carry out a sacrificial act which is proper to my noble house

and which will bring a brilliant result –

All hail and farewell to sacrifices! For I do not desire the happiness

Which is sought by an act that causes others suffering.


For, to kill the helpless other

in the desire to gain a reward

Would be ill becoming

of a good man who was compassionate at heart,

Even if the result of the sacrifice

were an everlasting reward –

How much less is acting like that becoming

when the essence of it is destructiveness?


And even without dharma

as an alternative code of conduct

Involving a vow of practice, moral discipline,

or calming of the mind,

Still it would never be right to carry out a sacrifice

In which a reward is said to follow

from slaughtering another creature.


So long as a person is continuing to be present right here in this world,

If any happiness accrues to him through harm inflicted on others,

That happiness, for one who is compassionate and wise, is unwanted:

How much more unwanted is unseen happiness in another existence?


I am not to be swayed in the direction of going for results.

My mind, O king!, does not delight in continuities of becoming.

For, like creepers beaten down under a cloudburst,

End-gaining actions waver haphazardly in every direction.


And so here I am, having come desiring to see

The sage Arāḍa, who speaks of liberation,

And there I shall go this very day.

O protector of men, may you be well!

Bear with words of mine which have been harsh as reality.


Keep rejoicing like Indra in heaven.

Keep shining forever like the sun.

Keep on, by way of virtues.

Keep, here in this world, to the higher good.

Keep watch over the earth.

Keep your good health.

Keep company with noble ones.

Keep safe the sons and daughters of the good.

Keep your royal power, O King, and your own dharma.


Just as, inside the union

of cold's enemy and the birth-place of a flame,

Twice-born [fire] gets going,

releasing its physical self,

So, inside the act of slaying the enemy

of the evaporation of the enemy of cold's enemy,

You are to get going, allowing to release,

in the direction of coming undone, your mind."


With hands joined as if in prayer, the protector of men spoke, inspired:

May you gain your end without hindrance, just as you desire.

But when in time you have accomplished this task,

Please show favour towards me too.”


Having steadfastly promised to a lord of the earth, “So be it!”,

The bodhisattva then proceeded to the ashram

of an 'all-conquering' Viśvaṁtara.

After watching him with amazement as he went wandering off,

The protector of men also went on his way,

to his 'mountain-fenced' fortress, Giri-vraja.

The 11th canto, titled Blaming Desires, in an epic tale of awakened action.

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