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Therigatha XIV


XIV -- Subha & the Libertine

As Subha the nun was going through Jivaka's delightful mango grove, a libertine (a goldsmith's son) blocked her path, so she said to him:
'What wrong have I done you
that you stand in my way?
It's not proper, my friend,
that a man should touch
a woman gone forth.
I respect the Master's message,
the training pointed out by the one well-gone.
I am pure, without blemish:
    Why do you stand in my way?
You -- your mind agitated, impassioned;
I -- unagitated, unimpassioned,
with a mind entirely freed:
    Why do you stand in my way?'

'You are young & not bad-looking,
what need do you have for going forth?
Throw off your ochre robe --
    Come, let's delight in the flowering grove.
A sweetness they exude everywhere,
the towering trees with their pollen.
The beginning of spring is a pleasant season --
    Come, let's delight in the flowering grove.
The trees with their blossoming tips
moan, as it were, in the breeze:
What delight will you have
if you plunge into the grove alone?
Frequented by herds of wild beasts,
disturbed by elephants rutting & aroused:
you want to go
into the great, lonely, frightening grove?
Like a doll made of gold, you will go about,
like a goddess in the gardens of heaven.
With delicate, smooth Kasi fabrics,
you will shine, O beauty without compare.
I would gladly do your every bidding
if we were to dwell in the glade.
For there is no creature dearer to me
    than you, O nymph with the languid regard.
If you do as I ask, happy, come live in my house.
Dwelling in the calm of a palace,
    have women wait on you,
    wear delicate Kasi fabrics,
    adorn yourself with garlands & creams.
I will make you many & varied ornaments
    of gold, jewels, & pearls.
Climb onto a costly bed,
scented with sandalwood carvings,
with a well-washed coverlet, beautiful,
spread with a woolen quilt, brand new.
Like a blue lotus rising from the water
where no human beings dwell,
you will go to old age with your limbs unseen,
if you stay as you are in the holy life.'

'What do you assume of any essence,
here in this cemetery grower, filled with corpses,
this body destined to break up?
What do you see when you look at me,
    you who are out of your mind?'

'Your eyes are like those of a fawn,
like those of a sprite in the mountains.
Seeing your eyes, my sensual delight
    grows all the more.
Like tips they are, of blue lotuses,
in your golden face
    -- spotless:
Seeing your eyes, my sensual delight
    grows all the more.
Even if you should go far away,
I will think only of your pure,
    long-lashed gaze,
for there is nothing dearer to me
    than your eyes, O nymph with the languid regard.'

'You want to stray from the road,
you want the moon as a plaything,
you want to jump over Mount Sineru,
you who have designs on one born of the Buddha.
For there is nothing anywhere at all
in the cosmos with its gods,
that would be an object of passion for me.
    I don't even know what that passion would be,
    for it's been killed, root & all, by the path.
Like embers from a pit -- scattered,
like a bowl of poison -- evaporated,
    I don't even see what that passion would be,
    for it's been killed, root & all, by the path.
Try to seduce one who hasn't reflected on this,
or who has not followed the Master's teaching.
But try it with this one who knows
    and you suffer.
For in the midst of praise & blame,
    pleasure & pain,
my mindfulness stands firm.
Knowing the unattractiveness
    of things compounded,
my mind cleaves to nothing at all.
I am a follower of the one well-gone,
riding the vehicle of the eightfold way:
My arrow removed, effluent-free,
I delight, having gone to an empty dwelling.
For I have seen well-painted puppets,
hitched up with sticks & strings,
made to dance in various ways.
When the sticks & strings are removed,
thrown away, scattered, shredded,
smashed into pieces, not to be found,
    in what will the mind there make its home?
This body of mine, which is just like that,
when devoid of dhammas doesn't function.
When, devoid of dhammas, it doesn't function,
    in what will the mind there make its home?
Like a mural you've seen, painted on a wall,
smeared with yellow orpiment,
there your vision has been distorted,
meaningless your human perception.
Like an evaporated mirage,
like a tree of gold in a dream,
like a magic show in the midst of a crowd --
    you run blind after what is unreal.
Resembling a ball of sealing wax,
set in a hollow,
with a bubble in the middle
and bathed with tears,
eye secretions are born there too:
The parts of the eye
are rolled all together
in various ways.'

Plucking out her lovely eye,
with mind unattached
she felt no regret.

'Here, take this eye. It's yours.'

Straightaway she gave it to him.
Straightaway his passion faded right there,
and he begged her forgiveness.

'Be well, follower of the holy life.
    This sort of thing
    won't happen again.
Harming a person like you
is like embracing a blazing fire,
It is as if I have seized a poisonous snake.
So may you be well. Forgive me.'

And released from there, the nun
went to the excellent Buddha's presence.
When she saw the mark of his excellent merit,
    her eye became
    as it was before.

Source: ATI - For Free Distribution Only, as a Gift of Dhamma.

Dhamma Essay:
Two Faces of the Dhamma by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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