Mindful Swimming with Chie Cross
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And so using the floodgate of awareness1 to close a dam on the power of the senses, /

Know the measure, in eating food, that conduces to meditation and to health. // 14.1 //


For it depresses in-breath and out-breath, and brings tiredness and sleepiness, /

When food is taken in excess; it also destroys enterprise. // 14.2 //


And just as eating too much conduces to a dearth of value, /

So eating too little makes for a lack of efficacy. // 14.3 //


Of its substance, lustre, and stamina; of its usefulness and its very strength, /

A meagre diet deprives the body. // 14.4 //


Just as a weighing scale bends down with a heavy weight, bends upwards with a light one, /

And stays in balance with the right one, so does this body according to intake of food. // 14.5 //


Therefore food is to be eaten, each reflecting on his own energy, /

And none apportioning himself too much or too little under the influence of pride. // 14.6 //


For the fire of the body is damped down when it is burdened by a heavy load of food, /

Like a small blaze suddenly covered with a big heap of firewood. // 14.7 //


Excessive fasting, also, is not recommended; /

For one who does not eat is extinguished like a fire without fuel. // 14.8 //


Since without food there is none that survives among those that bear breath, /

Therefore eating food is not a sin; but being choosy, in this area, is prohibited. // 14.9 //


For on no other single object are sentient beings so stuck /

As on the heedless eating of food. To the reason for this one must be awake. // 14.10 //


Just as one who is wounded, for the purpose of healing, puts ointment on a wound, /

So does one who wills freedom, for the purpose of staving off hunger, eat food. // 14.11 //


Just as, in order to ready it for bearing a burden, one greases a wagon's axle, /

So, in order to journey through life, does the wise man utilize food. // 14.12 //


And just as two travellers in order to cross a wasteland /

Might feed upon the flesh of a child, though grievously pained to do so, as its mother and father, // 14.13 //


So food should be eaten, consciously, /

Neither for display, nor for appearance; neither to excite hilarity, nor to feed extravagance. // 14.14 //


Food is provided for the upkeep of the body /

As if to prop, before it falls, a dilapidated house. // 14.15 //


Just as somebody might take pains to build and then carry a raft, /

Not because he is so fond of it but because he means to cross a great flood, // 14.16 //


So too, by various means, do men of insight sustain the body, /

Not because they are so fond of it but because they mean to cross a flood of suffering. // 14.17 //


Just as a king under siege yields, in sorrow, to a rival king, /

Not out of devotion, nor through thirsting, but solely to safeguard life, // 14.18 //


So the devotee of practice tenders food to his body /

Solely to stave off hunger, neither with passion nor as devotion. // 14.19 //


Having passed the day self-possessed, through maintenance of the mind, /

You may be able, shaking off sleep, to spend the night-time too in a state of practice. // 14.20 //


Since even when you are conscious sleep might be holding out in your heart, /

Consciousness properly revealing itself is nothing to be sure about. // 14.21 //


Initiative, constancy, inner strength and courage /

Are the elements always to bear in mind while you are being oppressed by sleep. // 14.22 //


Recite clearly those dharma-teachings that you have learnt; /

Point others in their direction, and think them out for yourself. // 14.23 //


Wet the face with water, look around in all directions, /

And glance at the stars, wanting always to be awake. // 14.24 //


By the means of inner senses that are not impetuous but in a state of subjection, /

By the means of a mind that is not scattered, walk up and down at night or else sit. // 14.25 //


In fear, in joy and in grief, one does not succumb to sleep; /

Therefore against the onslaughts of sleep resort to these three: // 14.26 //


Feel fear from death's approach, joy from grasping a teaching of dharma, /

And from the boundless suffering inherent in a birth, feel the grief. // 14.27 //


Such a step may need to be taken, my friend, in the direction of being awake; /

For what wise man, out of sleep, makes a wasted life? // 14.28 //


To neglect the reptilian faults, as if ignoring snakes in the house, /

And thus to slumber on, does not befit a man of wisdom who wishes to overcome the great terror. // 14.29 //


For while the world of the living burns with the fires of death, disease and aging, /

Who could lie down insensibly, any more than in a burning house? // 14.30 //


Therefore, knowing it to be darkness, you should not let sleep enshroud you /

While the faults remain unquieted, like sword-wielding enemies. // 14.31 //


But having spent the first of the three night-watches actively engaged in practice, /

You should, as one who is pulling his own strings,2 go to bed to rest the body. // 14.32 //


On your right side, then, remaining conscious of light, /

Thinking in your heart of wakefulness, you might with peace of mind fall asleep. // 14.33 //


Again, by getting up in the third watch and going into movement, or indeed just sitting, /

You might renew your practice, with mind refreshed, and power of the senses curbed. // 14.34 //


And so, upon acts like sitting, moving, standing, looking, and speaking -- /

Being fully aware of every action -- you should bring mindfulness to bear. // 14.35 //


When a man, like a gatekeeper at his gate, is cocooned in vigilance,3 /

The faults do not venture to attack him, any more than enemies would attack a guarded city. // 14.36 //


No affliction arises in him for whom awareness pervades the body -- /

Guarding the mind in all situations, as a nurse protects a child. // 14.37 //


But he is a target for the faults who lacks the armour of mindfulness: /

As for enemies is he who stands in battle with no suit of armour. // 14.38 //


Know to be vulnerable that mind which vigilance does not guard -- /

Like a blind man without a guide groping after objects. // 14.39 //


When men attach to meaningless aims and turn away from their proper aims, /

Failing to shudder at the danger, loss of mindfulness is the cause. // 14.40 //


Again, when each virtue, beginning with integrity, is standing on its own patch, /

Mindfulness goes after those virtues like a herdsman rounding up his scattered cows. // 14.41 //


The deathless nectar is lost to him whose awareness dissipates; /

The nectar exists in the hands of him for whom awareness pervades the body. // 14.42 //


Where is the noble principle of a man who lacks awareness? /

And for whom no noble principle exists, to him a true path has been lost. // 14.43 //


He who has lost the right track has lost the deathless step. /

Having lost that nectar of deathlessness, he is not exempt from suffering. // 14.44 //


Therefore walking with the awareness that "I am walking" and standing with the awareness that "I am standing" -- /

Upon such moments4 as these, you should bring mindfulness to bear. // 14.45 //


In this manner, my friend, repair to a place suited for practice, free of people and free of noise, a place for lying down and sitting; /

For by first achieving solitude of the body it is easy to obtain solitude of the mind. // 14.46 //


The man of redness, the tranquillity of his mind unrealized, who does not take to a playground of solitude, /

Is injured as though, unable to regain a track, he is walking on very thorny ground. // 14.47 //


For a seeker who fails to see reality but stands in the tawdry playground of objects, /

It is no easier to rein in the mind than to drive a foraging bull away from corn. // 14.48 //


But just as a bright fire dies down when not fanned by the wind, /

So too, in solitary places, does an unstirred mind easily come to quiet. // 14.49 //


One who eats anything at any place, and wears any clothes,

Who dwells in enjoyment of his own being and loves to be anywhere without people: /

He is to be known as a success, a knower of the taste of peace and ease, whose mind is made up --

He avoids involvement with others like a thorn. // 14.50 //


If, in a world that delights in duality and is at heart distracted by objects,

He roves in solitude, free of duality, a man of action, his heart at peace, /

Then he drinks the essence of wisdom as if it were the deathless nectar and his heart is filled.

Separately he sorrows for the clinging, object-needy world. // 14.51 //


If he constantly abides as a unity, in an empty abode,

If he is no fonder of arisings of affliction than he is of enemies, /

And if, going rejoicing in the self, he drinks the water of joy,

Then greater than dominion over thirty gods5 is the happiness he enjoys. // 14.52 //



The 14th canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Stepping Into Action."






1 Smṛti is translated in this canto as awareness, mindfulness, or vigilance. In 9.33 smṛti is translated as memory.

2 Sva-tantrin, “having one's own threads,” means free, independent, not necessarily being amenable to manipulation by somebody else.

3 Praṇihitā smṛtiḥ might more literally be translated as “with mindfulness laid on.” That means, in other words, being blanketed in mindfulness, wearing the armour of awareness, or being cocooned in vigilance. The point to take from these metaphors might be that mindfulness/awareness is not necessarily a state of narrow focus; it might be a state of unconcentration and all-round vigilance – being generally on the look-out for faults.

4 Alternative reading (taking kāryeṣu for kāleṣu): “Upon actions such as these...”

5 Tridaśa-pati-rājya, “the realm of the lord of the 3 X 10,” means heaven, i.e, the kingdom of Indra, ruler of the 33 gods (10 being approximately equal to 11). The 33 gods are the 12 ādityas (“sons of the Eternal and Infinite Expanse [= the Goddess Aditi]”), 8 vasus (“good or bright ones”), 11 rudras (“howlers”; storm-gods), and the 2 aśvins (“charioteers”).






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