Tuesday, July 5

Upon the Tip of a Needle

One of the new translations by Andy Olendzki available at ATI is "Upon the Tip of a Needle," a beautiful poem (attributed to Ven. Sariputta) on the fleeting nature of experience.

Life, personhood, pleasure and pain
— This is all that's bound together
In a single mental event
— A moment that quickly takes place.

Even the spirits who endure
For eighty-four thousand aeons
— Even these do not live the same
For any two moments of mind.

What ceases for one who is dead,
Or for one who's still standing here,
Are all just the same aggregates
— Gone, never to connect again.

The states which are vanishing now,
And those which will vanish some day,
Have characteristics no different
Than those which have vanished before.

With no production there's no birth;
With becoming present, one lives.
When grasped with the highest meaning,
The world is dead when the mind stops.

There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

The vanishing of all these states
That have become is not welcome,
Though dissolving phenomena stand
Uncombined from primordial time.

From the unseen, [states] come and go,
Glimpsed only as they're passing by;
Like lightning flashing in the sky
— They arise and then pass away.

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