"You are practising dharma to earn apsarases as wages!"
To be upbraided thus,
As Nanda was then by Ānanda,
Made him deeply ashamed.
Because of his great shame
The exuberance in his heart was no more.
Downcast, due to disenchantment,
His mind did not stick with practice.
Though he was fixated on sexual love,
And at the same time indifferent to ridicule,
His motivation had matured to a point
Where neither could he disregard the other's words.
Being of an unquestioning nature
He had presumed heaven to be a constant;
So on learning that it was perishable
He was fiercely shocked.
Turning back from heaven,
The chariot of his mind, whose horse was willpower,
Was like a great chariot turned back from a wrong road
By an attentive charioteer.
Turned back then from his thirst for heaven,
He seemed suddenly to become well.
He had given up something sweet that was bad for him
Like a sick man wishing to live.
Just as he forgot about his beloved wife
On seeing the apsarases,
So also, when startled by their impermanence,
Did he put the apsarases behind him.
"Even the greatest beings are subject to return!"
So he reflected,
And from his shock, though given to redness,
He seemed to blanch.
The shock happened
For the growth in him of higher good --
Just as the verb "grow" is listed [after "happen"]
In the lexicon recited by grammarians.
Because of his sensuality, however, his mind
Was by no means gripped by the kind of constancy
Which is shown, in all three times,
By the received usage of the irregularity which is "being."
Trembling went he of mighty arm,
Like a top bull elephant, through with rut:
At a suitable moment, he approached the Guru,
Wishing to communicate his intention.
After bowing his head to the Guru,
Eyes filled with tears,
He joined the palms of his hands and spoke as follows,
His face somewhat lowered, in shame:
“For my gaining of the celestial nymphs,
Glorious One, you stand as guarantor.
But I have no need of nymphs;
I relinquish your guarantee.
For since I have heard of heaven's fleeting whirl
And of the varieties of aimless wandering,
Neither among mortal beings nor among heavenly beings
Does the onward cycle of doing appeal to me.
If, after struggling to get to heaven,
Through self-restriction and restraint,
Men fall at last, unsatisfied,
Then homage to the heaven-bound who give up on the way.
And so, through the whole world of man,
With its changeability and its fixity, I see;
And in the destroyer of all suffering,
Your most excellent dharma, I rejoice.
Therefore, in detail and in summary,
Could you please communicate it to me,
O Best of Listeners, so that through listening
I might come to the ultimate step.”
Then, knowing from where he was coming,
And that, though his senses were set against it,
A better way was now emerging,
The Realised One spoke:
"Aha! This gaining of a foothold
Is the harbinger of a higher good in you,
As, when a firestick is rubbed,
Rising smoke is the harbinger of fire.
Long carried off course
By the restless horses of the senses,
You have now set foot on a path,
With clarity of vision, happily, that will not dim.
Today your birth bears fruit;
Your gain today is great;
For though you know the taste of love,
Your mind is yearning for indifference.
In this world which likes what is close to home,
A fondness for non-doing is rare;
For men shrink from the end of becoming
Like the puerile from the edge of a cliff.
'I would not suffer; I would be happy:'
People labour under this illusion;
And respite from incessant suffering
They sense not as such, but as happiness.
Upon transient whims which are akin to enemies,
Being eternally the causes of suffering,
Upon whims like love, the world fixes.
It does not know the happiness that is immune to change.
But that which prevents all suffering,
The deathless nectar, you have in your hands:
It is an antidote which, having drunk poison,
You are going in good time to drink.
In its fear of worthless wandering
Your intention is worthy of respect,
For a fire of passion such as yours,
Upward looker in the Dharma, is being re-directed.
With a mind unbridled by burning desire
It is exceedingly difficult to be steadfast,
As when dirty water is seen
By a thirsty traveller.
This consciousness awakening in you, surely,
Was blocked by the dust of passion,
As the dust of a sand-storm
Blocks the light of the sun.
Seeking to dispell darkness of the heart
It now blossoms forth
Like the light of the sun dispelling the darkness of the night
When spewed forth by mount Meru.
And this indeed befits
A soul whose essence is simplicity:
That in a supreme and subtle
Better way you should have confidence.
This wish for dharma, therefore,
You should nurture;
For all dharmas, knower of dharma,
Invariably have wishing as their cause.
For, as long as the intention of moving is there,
One mobilizes for the act of moving;
And with the intention of staying at rest there is an act of staying at rest;
With the intention of standing, likewise, there is standing up.
When there is water under the ground
Wherein a man has confidence
And has need of water
Then, with an effort of will, here the earth he digs.
If a man had no need of fire,
Nor confidence that fire was in a firestick,
He would never twirl the stick;
Those conditions being met, he twirls the stick.
Without the confidence that corn will grow
In the soil he tills,
Or without the need for corn;
The farmer would not sow seeds in the earth.
And so I call it the Hand,
Because it is this confidence, specifically,
That grasps true dharma
As a hand takes a gift, naturally.
From its primacy I describe it as Sensory Power;
From its constancy, as Strength;
And because it relieves poverty of virtue
I describe it as Wealth.
For its protection of dharma,
I call it the Arrow,
And from the difficulty of finding it in this world
I call it the Jewel.
Again, I call it the Seed
Since it is the cause of betterment;
And for its cleansing action, in the washing away of wrong,
Again, I call it the River.
Since in the emerging of dharma
Confidence is the primary cause,
Therefore I have named it after its effects
In this case like this, in that case like that.
This shoot of confidence, therefore,
You should nurture;
When it grows dharma grows,
As a tree grows with the growth of its root.
When a person's seeing is disordered,
When a person's sense of purpose is weak:
The confidence of that person is unsteady,
For he is not veering in the direction he should.
So long as the real truth is not seen or heard,
Confidence does not become strong or firm;
But when, through restraint,
the power of the senses is subjugated
and the real truth is realised,
The tree of confidence bears fruit and weight."
The 12th Canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Gaining a Foothold."