For a long time, unfortunately,
Though I ardently contemplated the Dhamma,
I didn’t have peace of mind;
So I asked ascetics and holy men:
“Who has crossed over the world?
Whose attainment culminates in the deathless?
Whose teaching do I accept,
To understand the highest goal?
I was hooked inside,
Like a fish swallowing bait;
Bound like the demon Vepaciti
In Mahinda’s trap.
Dragging it along, I’m not freed
From grief and lamentation.
Who will free me from bonds in the world,
So that I may know awakening?
What ascetic or holy man
Points to the perishable?
Whose teaching do I accept
To wash away old age and death?
Tied up with uncertainty and doubt,
Secured by the power of pride,
Rigid as a mind overcome by anger;
The arrow of covetousness,
Propelled by the bow of craving,
Is stuck in my twice-fifteen ribs—
See how it stands in my breast,
Breaking my strong heart.
Speculative views are not abandoned,
They are sharpened by memories and intentions;
And pierced by this I tremble,
Like a leaf blown by wind.
Arising inside me,
My selfishness is quickly tormented,
Where the body always goes
With its six sense-fields of contact.
I don’t see a healer
Who could pull out my dart of doubt,
Without a lance
Or some other blade.
Without knife or wound,
Who will pull out this dart,
That is stuck inside me,
Without harming any part of my body?
He really would be the Lord of the Dhamma,
The best one to cure the damage of poison;
When I had fallen into deep waters,
He would give me his hand and bring me to the shore.
I’ve plunged into a lake,
And I can’t wash off the mud and dirt,
It’s full of fraud, jealousy, pride,
And dullness and drowsiness.
Like a thunder-cloud of restlessness,
Like a rain-cloud of fetters;
Intentions based on lust are winds
That sweep along a person with bad views.
The streams flow everywhere;
A weed springs up and remains;
Who will block the streams?
Who will cut the weed?”
“Venerable sir, build a dam
To block the streams;
Don’t let your mind-made streams
Cut you down suddenly like a tree.”
That is how the teacher whose weapon is wisdom,
The sage surrounded by the Saṅgha,
Was my shelter when I was full of fear,
Seeking the far shore from the near.
As I was being swept away,
He gave me a strong, simple ladder,
Made of the heartwood of Dhamma,
And he said to me: “Do not fear.”
I climbed the tower of the establishment of mindfulness
And looked back down,
At people delighting in identity,
Which in the past I’d obsessed over.
When I saw the path,
As I was embarking on the ship,
Without fixating on the self,
I saw the supreme landing-place.
The dart that arises in oneself,
And that which is caused by attachment to future lives;
He taught the supreme path
For the stopping of these.
For a long time it had lain within me;
For a long time it was fixed in me:
The Buddha cast off the knot,
Curing the poison’s damage.