16 December 2006

The Buddha and Enlightenment

When The Buddha achieved complete enlightenment, the first words that came to him were:

Seeking but not finding the House Builder,
I travelled through the round of countless births:
O painful is birth ever and again.

House Builder, you have now been seen;
You shall not build the house again;
Your ridge pole is demolished too.
My mind has now attained the unformed nirvana
And reached the end of every kind of craving.

Then he thought:

I have attained the unborn.
My liberation is unassailable.
This is my last birth.
There will now be no renewal of becoming.

(from the Dhammapada, verses 153-154)

From the Therigatha (Verses of the Elder Nuns), verses 112-116, here is a verse by one of the Buddha’s female disciples:

Patacara’s Enlightenment

When they plow their fields
and sow seeds in the earth
when they care for their wives and children
young brahmans find riches.
But I've done everything right
and followed the rule of my teacher.
I'm not lazy or proud.
Why haven't I found peace?
Bathing my feet
I watch the bathwater
spill down the slope.
I concentrate my mind
the way you train a good horse.
Then I took a lamp
and went into my cell,
checked the bed,
and sat down on it.
I took a needle
and pushed the wick down.
When the lamp went out
my mind was freed.

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