Friday, February 09, 2007

The Dart

1. Life is unpredictable and uncertain in this world. It is difficult and brief and bound up with suffering.
2. A being, once born, is going to die and there is no way out of this. When old age arrives, or some other cause, then there is death. This is the way it is with beings.
3. When fruits become ripe, they may fall in the early morning. In just the same way a being, once born, may die at any moment.
4. Just as the clay pots made by the potter have breaking up as their end, so it is with the life of mortals.
5. Both young and old, foolish or wise, are going to be trapped by death. All beings move towards death.
6. They are overcome by death. They go to the other world. And then not even a father can save his son, or a family their relatives.
7. Look, while relatives are watching, tearful and wailing, men are carried off, one after another, like cattle being led to the slaughter.
8. So death and ageing are common to the world. Therefore the wise, seeing the nature of the world, do not grieve.
9. You cannot know a person's path - as to where he has come from, or where he is going. So, it makes no sense to grieve for him when he dies.
10. The man who grieves gains nothing. He is doing no more than a foolish man who is trying to hurt himself.
11. Peace of mind cannot come from weeping and wailing. On the contrary, it will lead to more suffering and pain.
12. The mourner will become pale and thin. He is doing violence to himself, and still he cannot bring the dead to life; his mourning is pointless.
13. The man who cannot leave behind his sorrow only travels further into pain. His mourning makes him a slave to sorrow.
14. Look at beings who are facing death, who are going in accordance with their actions, living, creatures quivering indeed here, having come into the power of death.
15. What people expect to happen is always different from what actually happens. From this comes great disappointment; this is the way the world works.
16. A person may live for a hundred years, or even more, but in the end he is separated from his relatives, and he too leaves life in this world.
17. So, one should listen and learn from the wise man who has given up grief. Seeing that a person has passed away and lived out his life, one should understand, "This person has gone on. He cannot be brought back again by me."
18. Just as one might extinguish the flames of a burning house with water, so too the wise man, skilful, learned and firm, extinguishes sorrow when it has arisen. He lets go of the grief as the wind that blows away a tuft of cotton.
19. The person who is searching for happiness should pull out the dart that is stuck to his chest, the barb of grieving, of desiring, of despair.
20. The person, who has taken out the dart, who has no more clinging, who has obtained peace of mind, has gone beyond all grief. This person, free from grief, is still.

Sutta Nipata vv. 574-593

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