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yatra tatra vivikte tu baddhvā paryaṅkam-uttamam /

In whatever place of solitude you are, cross the legs in the supreme manner

ṛjuṃ kāyaṃ samādhāya smṛtyābhimukhayānvitaḥ // 15.1 //

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


nāsāgre vā lalāṭe vā bhruvor-antara eva vā /

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

kurvīthāś-capalaṃ cittam-ālambana-parāyaṇam // 15.2 //

Let the inconstant mind be fully engaged with the fundamental.


sacet kāma-vitarkas-tvāṃ dharṣayen-mānaso jvaraḥ /

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

kṣeptavyo nādhivāsyaḥ sa vastre reṇur-ivāgataḥ // 15.3 //

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


yady-api pratisaṃkhyānāt kāmān-utsṛṣṭavān-asi /

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

tamāṃsīva prakāśena pratipakṣeṇa tāñ-jahi // 15.4 //

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


tiṣṭhaty-anuśayas-teṣāṃ channo 'gnir-iva bhasmanā /

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

sa te bhāvanayā saumya praśāmyo 'gnir-ivāmbunā // 15.5 //

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


te hi tasmāt pravartante bhūyo bījād-ivāṅkurāḥ /

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

tasya nāśena te na syur-bīja-nāśād-ivāṅkurāḥ // 15.6 //

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


arjanādīni kāmebhyo dṛṣṭvā duḥkhāni kāminām /

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

tasmāt-tān-mūlataś-chindhi mitra-saṃjñān-arīn-iva // 15.7 //

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


anityā moṣa-dharmāṇo riktā vyasana-hetavaḥ /

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

bahu-sādhāraṇāḥ kāmā barhyā hy-āśī-viṣā iva // 15.8 //

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


ye mṛgyamāṇā duḥkhāya rakṣyamāṇā na śāntaye /

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

bhraṣṭāḥ śokāya mahate prāptāśca na vitṛptaye // 15.9 //

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


tṛptiṃ vitta-prakarṣeṇa svargāvāptyā kṛtārthatām /

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

kāmebhyaś-ca sukhotpattiṃ yaḥ paśyati sa naśyati // 15.10 //

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


calān-apariniṣpannān-asārān-anavasthitān /

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

parikalpa-sukhān kāmān-na tān-smartum-ihārhasi // 15.11 //

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


vyāpādo vā vihiṃsā vā kṣobhayed yadi te manaḥ /

If hatred or cruelty should stir up your mind,

prasādyaṃ tad-vipakṣeṇa maṇinevākulaṃ jalam // 15.12 //

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


pratipakṣas-tayor-jñeyo maitrī kāruṇyam-eva ca /

Know their opposite to be kindness and compassion;

virodho hi tayor-nityaṃ prakāśa-tamasor-iva // 15.13 //

For this opposition is forever like brightness and darkness.


nivṛttaṃ yasya dauḥśīlyaṃ vyāpādaś-ca pravartate /

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

hanti pāṃsubhir-ātmānaṃ su-snāta iva vāraṇaḥ // 15.14 //

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


duḥkhitebhyo hi martyebhyo vyādhi-mṛtyu-jarādibhiḥ /

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

āryaḥ ko duḥkham-aparaṃ sa-ghṛṇo dhātum-arhati // 15.15 //

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


duṣṭena ceha manasā bādhyate vā paro na vā /

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

sadyas-tu dahyate tāvat svaṃ mano duṣṭa-cetasaḥ // 15.16 //

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


tasmāt sarveṣu bhūteṣu maitrīṃ kāruṇyameva ca /

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

na vyāpādaṃ vihiṃsāṃ vā vikalpayitum-arhasi // 15.17 //

Not hatred or cruelty, that you should opt for.


yad-yad-eva prasaktaṃ hi vitarkayati mānavaḥ /

For whatever a human being continually thinks,

abhyāsāt-tena tenāsya natir-bhavati cetasaḥ // 15.18 //

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


tasmād-akuśalaṃ tyaktvā kuśalaṃ dhyātum-arhasi /

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

yat-te syād-iha cārthāya paramārthasya cāptaye // 15.19 //

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


saṃvardhante hy-akuśalā vitarkāḥ saṃbhṛtā hṛdi /

For unhelpful thoughts carried in the heart densely grow,

anartha-janakās-tulyam-ātmanaś-ca parasya ca // 15.20 //

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


śreyaso vighna-karaṇād bhavanty-ātma-vipattaye /

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

pātrībhāvopaghātāt-tu para-bhakti-vipattaye // 15.21 //

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


manaḥ-karmasv-avikṣepam-api cābhyastum-arhasi /

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

na tv-evākuśalaṃ saumya vitarkayitum-arhasi // 15.22 //

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


yā tri-kāmopabhogāya cintā manasi vartate /

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

na ca taṃ guṇam-āpnoti bandhanāya ca kalpate // 15.23 //

Does not meet with merit, but produces bondage.


sattvānām-upaghātāya parikleśāya cātmanaḥ /

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

mohaṃ vrajati kāluṣyaṃ narakāya ca vartate // 15.24 //

Disturbed thinking becomes delusion and leads to hell.


tad vitarkair-akuśalair-nātmānaṃ hantum-arhasi /

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

suśastraṃ ratna-vikṛtaṃ mṛdd-hato gāṃ khanann-iva // 15.25 //

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


an-abhijño yathā jātyaṃ dahed-aguru kāṣṭhavat /

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

a-nyāyena manuṣyatvam-upahanyād-idaṃ tathā // 15.26 //

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


tyaktvā ratnaṃ yathā loṣṭaṃ ratna-dvīpāc-ca saṃharet /

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

tyaktvā naiḥśreyasaṃ dharmaṃ cintayed-aśubhaṃ tathā // 15.27 //

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


himavantaṃ yathā gatvā viṣaṃ bhuñjīta nauṣadham /

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

manuṣyatvaṃ tathā prāpya pāpaṃ seveta no śubham // 15.28 //

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


tad buddhvā pratipakṣeṇa vitarkaṃ kṣeptum-arhasi /

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

sūkṣmeṇa pratikīlena kīlaṃ dārv-antarād-iva // 15.29 //

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


vṛddhy-avṛddhyor-atha bhavec-cintā jñāti-janaṃ prati /

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

svabhāvo jīva-lokasya parīkṣyas-tan-nivṛttaye // 15.30 //

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


saṃsāre kṛṣyamāṇānāṃ sattvānāṃ svena karmaṇā /

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

ko janaḥ sva-janaḥ ko vā mohāt sakto jane janaḥ // 15.31 //

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


atīte 'dhvani saṃvṛttaḥ sva-jano hi janas-tava /

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

aprāpte cādhvani janaḥ sva-janas-te bhaviṣyati // 15.32 //

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


vihagānāṃ yathā sāyaṃ tatra tatra samāgamaḥ /

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

jātau jātau tathāśleṣo janasya sva-janasya ca // 15.33 //

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


pratiśrayaṃ bahu-vidhaṃ saṃśrayanti yathādhvagāḥ /

Just as, under any old roof, travellers shelter together

pratiyānti punas-tyaktvā tadvaj-jñāti-samāgamaḥ // 15.34 //

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


loke prakṛti-bhinne 'smin-na kaś-cit kasya-cit priyaḥ /

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

kārya-kāraṇa-sambaddhaṃ bālukā-muṣṭivaj-jagat // 15.35 //

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


bibharti hi sutaṃ mātā dhārayiṣyati mām-iti /

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

mātaraṃ bhajate putro garbheṇādhatta mām-iti // 15.36 //

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


anukūlaṃ pravartante jñātiṣu jñātayo yadā /

As long as relatives act agreeably towards each other,

tadā snehaṃ prakurvanti riputvaṃ tu viparyayāt // 15.37 //

They engender affection; but otherwise it is enmity.


ahito dṛśyate jñātir-ajñātir-dṛśyate hitaḥ /

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

snehaṃ kāryāntarāl-lokaś-chinatti ca karoti ca // 15.38 //

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


svayam-eva yathālikhya rajyec-citra-karaḥ striyam /

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

tathā kṛtvā svayaṃ snehaṃ saṃgam-eti jane janaḥ // 15.39 //

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


yo 'bhavad bāndhava-janaḥ para-loke priyas-tava /

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

sa te kam-arthaṃ kurute tvaṃ vā tasmai karoṣi kam // 15.40 //

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


tasmāj-jñāti-vitarkeṇa mano nāveṣṭum-arhasi /

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

vyavasthā nāsti saṃsāre sva-janasya janasya ca // 15.41 //

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


asau kṣemo janapadaḥ subhikṣo 'sāvasau śivaḥ /

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

ity-evam-atha jāyeta vitarkas-tava kaś-cana // 15.42 //

If there should arise any such idea in you,


praheyaḥ sa tvayā saumya nādhivāsyaḥ kathaṃ-cana /

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

viditvā sarvam-ādīptaṃ tais-tair-doṣāgnibhir-jagat // 15.43 //

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


ṛtu-cakra-nivartāc-ca kṣut-pipāsā-klamād-api /

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

sarvatra niyataṃ duḥkhaṃ na kva-cid vidyate śivam // 15.44 //

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


kva-cic-chītaṃ kva-cid gharmaḥ kva-cid rogo bhayaṃ kva-cit /

Here cold, there heat; here disease, there danger

bādhate 'bhyadhikaṃ lokaṁ tasmād-aśaraṇaṃ jagat // 15.45 //

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


jarā vyādhiś-ca mṛtyuś-ca lokasyāsya mahad bhayam /

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

nāsti deśaḥ sa yatrāsya tad bhayaṃ nopapadyate // 15.46 //

There is no place where that terror does not arise.


yatra gacchati kāyo 'yaṃ duḥkhaṃ tatrānugacchati /

Where this body goes there suffering follows.

nāsti kā-cid gatir-loke gato yatra na bādhyate // 15.47 //

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


ramaṇīyo 'pi deśaḥ san su-bhikṣaḥ kṣema eva ca /

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

ku-deśa iti vijñeyo yatra kleśair-vidahyate // 15.48 //

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


lokasyābhyāhatasyāsya duḥkhaiḥ śārīra-mānasaiḥ /

In this world beset by hardships physical and mental,

kṣemaḥ kaś-cin-na deśo 'sti svastho yatra gato bhavet // 15.49 //

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


duḥkhaṃ sarvatra sarvasya vartate sarvadā yadā /

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

chanda-rāgam-ataḥ saumya loka-citreṣu mā kṛthāḥ // 15.50 //

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


yadā tasmān-nivṛttas-te chanda-rāgo bhaviṣyati /

When your enthusiasm is turned back from all that,

jīva-lokaṃ tadā sarvam-ādīptam-iva maṃsyate // 15.51 //

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


atha kaś-cid vitarkas-te bhaved-amaraṇāśrayaḥ /

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

yatnena sa vihantavyo vyādhir-ātmagato yathā // 15.52 //

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


muhūrtam-api viśrambhaḥ kāryo na khalu jīvite /

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

nilīna iva hi vyāghraḥ kālo viśvasta-ghātakaḥ // 15.53 //

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


balastho 'haṃ yuvā veti na te bhavitum-arhati /

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

mṛtyuḥ sarvāsv-avasthāsu hanti nāvekṣate vayaḥ // 15.54 //

Death kills in all situations without regard for sprightliness.


kṣetra-bhūtam-anarthānāṃ śarīraṃ parikarṣataḥ /

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

svāsthy-āśā jīvitāśā vā na dṛṣṭārthasya jāyate // 15.55 //

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


nirvṛtaḥ ko bhavet kāyaṃ mahā-bhūtāśrayaṃ vahan /

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

paraspara-viruddhānām-ahīnām-iva bhājanam // 15.56 //

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


praśvasity-ayam-anvakṣaṃ yad-ucchvasiti mānavaḥ /

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

avagaccha tad-āścaryam-aviśvāsyaṃ hi jīvitam // 15.57 //

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


idam-āścaryam-aparaṃ yat-suptaḥ pratibudhyate /

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

svapity-utthāya vā bhūyo bahv-amitrā hi dehinaḥ // 15.58 //

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


garbhāt prabhṛti yo lokaṃ jighāṃsur-anugacchati /

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

kas-tasmin viśvasen-mṛtyāv-udyatāsāv-arāv-iva // 15.59 //

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


prasūtaḥ puruṣo loke śrutavān balavān-api /

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

na jayaty-antakaṃ kaś-cin-nājayan-nāpi jeṣyati // 15.60 //

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


sāmnā dānena bhedena daṇḍena niyamena vā /

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

prāpto hi rabhaso mṛtyuḥ pratihantuṃ na śakyate // 15.61 //

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


tasmān-nāyuṣi viśvāsaṃ cañcale kartum-arhasi /

So place no trust in teetering life,

nityaṃ harati kālo hi sthāviryaṃ na pratīkṣate // 15.62 //

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


niḥsāraṃ paśyato lokaṃ toya-budbuda-durbalam /

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

kasyāmara-vitarko hi syād-anunmatta-cetasaḥ // 15.63 //

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


tasmād-eṣāṃ vitarkāṇāṃ prahāṇārthaṃ samāsataḥ /

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

ānāpāna-smṛtiṃ saumya viṣayī-kartum-arhasi // 15.64 //

Reflective awareness while breathing out and in, my friend, you should make into your own possession.


ity-anena prayogeṇa kāle sevitum-arhasi /

Using this device you should take in good time

pratipakṣān vitarkāṇāṃ gadānām-agadān-iva // 15.65 //

Counter-measures against ideas, like remedies against illnesses.


suvarṇa-hetor-api pāṃsu-dhāvako vihāya pāṃsūn bṛhato yathāditaḥ /

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

jahāti sūkṣmān-api tad-viśuddhaye viśodhya hemāvayavān niyacchati // 15.66 //

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


vimokṣa-hetor-api yukta-mānaso vihāya doṣān bṛhatas-tathāditaḥ /

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

jahāti sūkṣmān-api tad-viśuddhaye viśodhya dharmāvayavān niyacchati // 15.67 //

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


krameṇādbhiḥ śuddhaṃ kanakam-iha pāṃsu-vyavahitaṃ

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

yathāgnau karmāraḥ pacati bhṛśam-āvartayati ca /

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

tathā yogācāro nipuṇam-iha doṣa-vyavahitaṃ

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

viśodhya kleśebhyaḥ śamayati manaḥ saṃkṣipati ca // 15.68 //

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


yathā ca sva-cchandād-upanayati karmāśraya-sukhaṃ

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

suvarṇaṃ karmāro bahu-vidham-alaṁkāra-vidhiṣu /

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

manaḥ-śuddho bhikṣur-vaśagatam-abhijñāsv-api tathā

So too a beggar of cleansed mind tempers his mind,

yathecchaṃ yatrecchaṃ śamayati manaḥ prerayati ca // 15.69 //

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



saundaranande mahākāvye vitarka-prahāṇo nāma pañca-daśaḥ sargaḥ //15//

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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