Verses in Celebration

When I returned from the bhikkhuni ordination on Friday 23 Oct, a little group gathered in Sydney at our regular Woolwich hall to celebrate. One of our regulars, Barbara, brought along a copy of ‘The First Buddhist Women; Translations & Commentary on the Therigatha’ by Susan Murcott. We invited the women present to choose some spontaneous readings to offer as a gift of Dhamma. Here are the verses (and a couple of extra things) that were read out that evening. Thanks to Gerry Moore for typing these up for us.

Patacara & Her Disciples (page 35)
Thirty Nuns Under Patacara

With pestles,
Brahmans grind corn.
Feeding wives and children,
Brahmans find riches.

“Practice the Buddha’s teaching,
you won’t regret it.
Quickly, when you have washed your feet,
sit down beside me.
Intent on peace of mind,
Practice the Buddha’s teaching.”

When they heard Patacara’s teaching
they washed their feet
and sat down beside her.

Intent on peace of mind,
they practiced the Buddha’s teaching.
In the first watch of the night,
they remembered they had been born before.

In the middle watch of the night,
the eye of heaven became clear.
In the last watch of the night,
the great dark was torn apart.

(They stood up, then bowed to her feet.)

[Thirty Nuns:]
We have taken your advice
and will live honouring you
like the thirty gods honoring Indra
who never lost a battle.

We have the three knowledges.
There are no obsessions in our minds.

Chapter 3: Wanderers & Disciples

Nanduttara (page 47)

I used to worship fire,
the moon, the sun,
and the gods.

I bathed at fjords,
took many vows,
I shaved my head,
slept on the ground,
and did not eat after dark.

Other times
I loved make-up and jewelry,
baths and perfumes,
just serving my body
obsessed with sensuality.

Then faith came.
I took up the homeless life.
Seeing the body as it really is,
desires have been rooted out.

Coming to birth is ended
and my cravings as well.
Untied from all that binds
my heart is at peace.

Chapter 5: Mothers
(Page 79)

When she was brought to Krishna, the woman was insane. She had been treated in a number of asylums, and she was so broken by these experiences that she could not even walk, and had to be carried in by her husband and brother-in-law. Under ordinary circumstances, those with mental health problems were not accepted as disciples, but Krishna was moved by this poor woman’s condition and she agreed to accept her.

Krishna served her tea and taught her a simple meditation. Then she showed the woman a place to practice the instruction. After ten minutes, Krishna noticed a smile come over the woman’s face. Next, Krishna taught her the technique of walking meditation, and almost immediately the woman regained her ability to walk. Leter, when Krisna left India to teach in the United States, she parted from a sane and devoted disciple and friend.

Chapter 6: Wives
(Page 104)

Free, I am free.
I am free
by means of the three crooked things,
mortar, pestle and
my crooked husband.

I am free
from birth and death
and all that dragged me back.

Chapter 9: Friends & Sisters
(Page 139)

With good friends,
even a fool can be wise.
Keep good company
and wisdom grows.

Those who keep good company
can be freed from suffering.

Bhikkhuni Vijayā (p145)

Four or five times
I left my cell
I had no peace of mind
no control over mind.

I went to a nun
and respectfully
asked her questions.

She taught me the Dharma,
earth, water, fire and air,
the nature of perception,
the Four Noble Truths,
The faculties, the powers,
the seven qualities of enlightenment,
and the eightfold way
to the highest goal.

When I heard her words
I followed her advice.
In the first watch of the night,
I remembered I had been born before.

In the middle watch of the night,
the eye of heaven became clear.
In the last watch of the night
I tore apart
the great dark.

Then I lived
with joy and happiness
filling my whole body
and after seven days
I stretched out my feet
having torn apart
the great dark.

Chapter 11 Dialogue Poems
Punnika (page 175)

I am a water carrier.
Even in the cold
I have always gone down to the water,
frightened of punishment
or the angry words
of high-class women.

So what are you afraid of, Brahman,
that makes you go down to the water?
Your limbs shake with the bitter cold.

But you know why, Punnika.
I am doing good to prevent evil.
Anyone young or old who has done
something bad
is freed by washing in water.

Whoever told you
you are freed from evil by washing?
The blind leading the blind!
In that case all frogs and turtles
would go to heaven,
and water snakes and crocodiles
and the rest of the water creatures,

Butchers of sheep, butchers of pigs,
fishers and trappers,
thieves, executioners,
and other wrongdoers
would be freed from their bad karma
by washing in water.

If these streams carried away all your old evil
they would carry away your virtue too.
You would be separated from both.
Don’t do that thing
the fear of which
leads you down to the water.

Stop now, Brahman,
save your skin from the cold.

I was on the wrong road
and you brought me back
to the great road.
I will give you the robe
I bathed in.

Keep the robe;
I don’t want it.
If you are afraid of pain,
if you don’t like it,
do nothing evil,
either openly or in secret.

For if you do,
even if you get up and run away
you won’t escape its pain.
If you are afraid of pain,
if you don’t like it,
take refuge in the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Sangha.
Train in the precepts.
This is good.

I take refuge in the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Sangha.
I train in the precepts.
This is good.

Once I was only Brahma’s kin.
I had the three knowledges
and great learning.
Now I am a true brahman.
I am washed clean.

2 thoughts on “Verses in Celebration

  1. Wonderful ! Excellent ! Thankyou- for having the meeting, for sharing these words of Excellence together, and for letting us know and for sharing it here .

  2. ..]another great source on this subjectis ,,..]

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