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Canto II. Psalms Of Two Verses In Psalms Of The Sisters

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BORN in the time of the Buddha Vipassi, in his native town of Bandhumatī, as the daughter of a wealthy burgess, she became a pious lay-adherent, and at the Master's death she made an offering to the shrine of his ashes of a golden umbrella 117 surrounded with jewels. Reborn for this in various heavens, she was, in this Buddha-dispensation, reborn at Kapilavatthu as the daughter of the chief wife of Khemaka, the Sākiyan, and named Nandā. But because of her excessive beauty, charm, and loveliness, she was known as Nandā the Fair. Now, on the day when she was to choose among her suitors,118 Carabhūta, her young Sākiyan kinsman, died. Then her parents made her leave the world against her will. But she, even after she had entered the Order, was infatuated with her own beauty, and, fearing the Master's rebuke, avoided his presence. Now the Exalted One knew that she was ripe for knowledge, and directed the Great Pajājatī to let all the Bhikkhunīs come to him for instruction. Nandā sent another in her place. And the Exalted One said, 'Let no one come by proxy.' So she was compelled to come. And the Exalted One, by his mystic power, conjured up a beautiful woman, and showed her becoming aged and fading, causing anguish to arise in Nandā. And he addressed her in these words: Behold, Nandā, the foul compound, diseased, Impure! Compel thy heart to contemplate What is not fair to view. So steel thyself And concentrate the well-composèd mind. (19) That ponder where no Threefold Sign 119 is seen. Cast out the baneful bias of conceit. Hath the mind mastered vain imaginings, 120 Then mayst thou go thy ways, calm and serene. (20) And when he had finished speaking, she attained Arahantship. Repeating to herself the verses, she made them the announcement of her AÑÑĀ. The story of her past and present is like that of Nandā the Fair; but it was at Vesālī, in the princely family of the Licchavis, that she was reborn. 121 There is this further difference: she attained Arahantship after hearing the Master preach the Dhamma, and it was when reflecting on the change that had come over her that she, in joy, uttered these verses: The Seven Factors of the awakened mind 122– Seven ways whereby we may Nibbana win– All, all have I developed and made ripe, Even according to the Buddha's word. (21) For I therein have seen as with mine eyes The Bless'd, the Exalted One.123 Last of all lives Is this that makes up Me. The round of births Is vanquishèd–Ne'er shall I be again! (22) She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good in this rebirth and that, was born under this Buddha-dispensation in a poor family at Sāvatthī, and was married to a rush-plaiter. Her firstborn was a son, come for the last time to birth, who grew up to become the Elder Sumangala and an Arahant.124 And her name not becoming known, she was called in the Pali text a certain unknown Therī, and is known as Sumangala's mother. She became a Bhikkhunī, and one day, while reflecting on all she had suffered as a laywoman, she was much affected, and, her insight quickening, she attained Arahantship, with thorough knowledge of the form and meaning of the Dhamma. Thereupon she exclaimed: O woman well set free! how free am I, 125 How throughly free from kitchen drudgery! Me stained and squalid 'mong my cooking-pots My brutal husband ranked as even less Than the sunshades he sits and weaves alway.126 (23) Purged now of all my former lust and hate, I dwell, musing at ease beneath the shade Of spreading boughs–O, but 'tis well with me! (24) Born of a respectable family, in the time of Kassapa Buddha, she won understanding, and became a Bhikkhunī, established in the precepts. But she reviled an Arahant Elder Sister by calling her a prostitute,127 and for this she went to purgatory. In this Buddha-dispensation she was reborn in the kingdom of Kāsī as the child of a distinguished and prosperous citizen. But because of the persistent effect of her former evil speech, she became herself a prostitute. How she left the world and was ordained by special messenger is related in the Culla Vagga. 128 For she wished to go to Sāvatthī to be ordained by the Exalted One. But the libertines of Benares barred the ways, so she sent and asked the Exalted One's advice, and he permitted her to be ordained by a messenger. Then she, working at insight, not long after obtained Arahantship, with thorough knowledge of the Dhamma in form and meaning. Thereupon she exclaimed: No less my fee was than the Kāsī realm Paid in revènue–this was based on that, Value for value,–so the sheriff fixed. (25) But irksome now is all my loveliness; I weary of it, disillusionized. Ne'er would I more, again and yet again, Run on the round of rebirth and of death! Now real and true for me the Triple Lore.129 Accomplished is the bidding of the Lord. (26) She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good of age-enduring efficacy in this rebirth and that, was born in the 94th æon 130 as a fairy. She worshipped with offering of flowers a Silent (Pacceka) Buddha. 131 And after many other births among men and gods, she was, in this Buddha-dispensation, born at Rājagaha in the family of a leading burgess. When she had come to years of discretion she heard the Master teaching at the gate of Rājagaha, and, becoming a believer, she was ordained by the Great Pajāpatī the Gotamid. And at length, in her old age, when she had climbed the Vulture's Peak, and had done the exercises of a recluse, her insight expanded, and she won to Arahantship. Reflecting thereon, she gave utterance as follows: Though I be suffering and weak, and all My youthful spring be gone, yet have I climbed, Leaning upon my staff, the mountain crest. (27) Thrown from my shoulder hangs my cloak, o'erturned My little bowl. So 'gainst the rock I lean And prop this self of me, and break away The wildering gloom that long had closed me in. (28) Heaping up merit under former Buddhas, she was born during the time of Siddhattha, 132 the Exalted One, in a burgess's family, and worshipped at his shrine by offering there a jewelled girdle. After many births in heaven and on earth, through the merit thereof, she became, in this Buddha-dispensation, the child of an eminent brahmin at Rājagaha. In other respects her case is like the preceding one, save that it was another hill corresponding to Vulture's Peak up which she climbed. 133 She, too, reflecting on what she had won, said in exultation: Though I be suffering and weak, and all My youthful spring be gone, yet have I come, Leaning upon my staff, and clomb aloft The mountain peak. (29)              My cloak thrown off, My little bowl o'erturned: so sit I here Upon the rock. And o'er my spirit sweeps The breath 134 of Liberty! I win, I win The Triple Lore! The Buddha's will is done!(30) THE GIJJHAKŪṬI (VULTURE PEAK) RANGE ABOVE OLD RĀJAGAHA. To face . Born in the time of Vipassi Buddha of a noble family, and become a lady of his father's court, she won meritorious karma by bestowing food and precious raiment on an Arahant Elder Sister. 136 Born finally, in this Buddha-dispensation, in the princely family of the Sākiyas, at Kapilavatthu, she left the world together with Great Pajāpatī the Gotamid, and, going through the requisite training for insight, not long after won Arahantship. Reflecting thereon, joy and gladness stirred her to say: On full-moon day and on the fifteenth day, And eke the eighth of either half the month, I kept the feast; I kept the precepts eight, The extra fasts, 137 enamoured of the gods, And fain to dwell in homes celestial. (31) To-day one meal, head shaved, a yellow robe– Enough for me. I want no heaven of gods. Heart's pain, heart's pining, have I trained away. (32) Heaping up merit under former Buddhas, she, in the time of Tissa Buddha,138 saw him going round for alms, and with glad heart took his bowl and placed in it a spoonful of food. Reborn for that among gods and among men, she was born also for that, in this Buddha-dispensation, and became the town belle of Ujjenī, by name Padumavatī.139 And King Bimbisāra (of Magadha) heard of her, and expressed to his chaplain the wish to see her. By the power of his spells, the chaplain summoned a Yakkha who, by his might, brought the King to Ujjenī. And when she afterwards sent word to the King that she was with child by him, he sent back word, saying: 'If it be a son, let me see him when he is grown.' And she bore a son and called him Abhaya. When he was seven years old she told him who was his father, and sent him to Bimbisāra. The King loved the boy, and let him grow up with the boys of his court. His conversion and ordination is told in the Psalms of the Elders.140 And, later on, his mother heard her son preach the Dhamma, and she, too, left the world and afterwards attained Arahantship, with thorough grasp of the Dhamma in form and meaning. She thereupon recalled and repeated the verse wherewith her son had admonished her, and added her own thereto: 'Upward from sole of foot, O mother dear, Downward from crown of hair this body see. Is't not impure, the evil-smelling thing?' (33) This have I pondered. meditating still, Till every throb of lust is rooted out. Expunged is all the fever of desire. Cool am I now and calm–Nibbana's peace. (34) She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up merit of age-enduring efficacy in this and that state of becoming, was, in the time of Sikhi Buddha,142 reborn in a great noble's family, and became the chief queen of his father Aruṇa. And one day she worshipped the Exalted One with offering of red lotuses given her by the King, when Sikhi Buddha, at alms-time, entered the palace. Reborn for this among gods and men, she was, in this Buddha-dispensation, born once more at Ujjenī in a respectable family, and became the playmate of Abhaya's mother. And when the latter had left the world, Abhayā, for love of her, also took orders. Dwelling with her at Rājagaha, she went one day to Cool-Grove to contemplate on a basis of some foul thing.143 The Master, seated in his Fragrant Chamber, caused her to see before her the kind of object she had been directed to choose. Seeing the vision, dread seized her. Then the Master, sending forth glory, appeared as if seated before her, and said: Brittle, O Abhayā, the body is, Whereto the worldling's happiness is bound. For me I shall lay down this mortal frame, Mindful and self-possessed in all I do. (35) For all my heart was in the work whereby I struggled free from all that breedeth Ill. Craving have I destroyed, and brought to pass That which the Buddhas have revealed to men.144 (36) And when he had finished speaking she attained Arahantship. Exulting herein, she turned the verses round into an address to herself. She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good of age-enduring efficacy in this and that state of becoming, being reborn in fortunate conditions, took birth, in this Buddha-dispensation, at Kosambī, in the family of an eminent burgess. When her dear friend, the lay-disciple Sāmāvatī, died, she, in her distress, left the world. But being unable to subdue her grief for her friend, she was unable to grasp the Ariyan Way. Now, while she was seated in the sitting-room, listening to Elder Ānanda preaching, she was established in insight, and, on the seventh day after, attained Arahantship, with thorough grasp of the Dhamma in form and meaning. And reflecting on what she had won, she expressed it in this psalm: Four times, nay, five, I sallied from my cell, And roamed afield to find the peace of mind I sought in vain, and governance of thoughts I could not bring into captivity. 145 (37) To me, even to me, on that eighth day It came: all craving ousted from my heart. 'Mid many sore afflictions, I had wrought With passionate endeavour, and had won! Craving was dead, and the Lord's will was done. (38)

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1 Cary W = "Each experience provides us with an opportunity to express our Divine will and nature.  Those are the only treasures that carry over into the next experience or life."
2 Cary W = "This is an interesting twist, for I do know ferries exist.  Yup, I have seen them, talked with them, danced with them and love them.  Yet to be one, is no mystery.  For Buddha-hood acknowledges the Buddha-hood of all living beings, including rocks, earth, plant, sky and orbital agent."
3 Cary W = "Is this not our condition, fellow human.  We are so prone to suffering and weakness and the quick fading of youth.  Yet, though I have number in Earth years, yet I have strength to climb mountain and reach the peak of understanding."