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Book of Eights: Chapter 6

FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountainsAlaska, USA Veteran

The discourse on old age - a topic which I personally am finding more and more difficult to ignore - or put another way, 'you can't take it with you'.

The teaching on anatta is not mentioned in the book of eights, as the introductory commentary points out, but to me it seems to be implied.

With death, people lose
What they conceive as "mine."
Knowing this, a sage should not
Be selfishly devoted to what is "mine."

Predictably, the verses containing metaphor probably appeal to me the most, I think maybe because so many observations, so much information, can be crammed into a metaphor while using very few words.

As a drop doesn't stick to a leaf
Or water to a lotus (petal),
So what is seen, heard, or thought
Doesn't stick to a sage.

lobster

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited September 6

    Yes, it does give a bit an impression that old age is very much on the mind of the writers who are thinking of being sages. Perhaps it was composed by an older monk.

    The part that struck me the most of this week's poem was

    Grief, despair, and selfishness are not abandoned
    By those greedy for what is "mine".
    Therefore having abandoned grasping,
    Sages live seeing safety.

    It makes me think how different it is to live in a warm country as opposed to where I am, which is the northern half of Europe. Here there are freezing winters and the vicissitudes of weather which mean a decent coat is required half the year, so a certain level of possessions are necessary just for survival.

    It's one reason why we have social security and you don't often see homeless mendicants walking around in just a robe. It strikes me that living without possessions in such a climate is even less secure than living with possessions and the possibility they will be taken away.

    The life of a forest monk in India in ancient times must have had a few advantages... mango trees, inclement weather most of the year except when the rains come, space, caves to meditate in, streams to drink from.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    As a drop doesn't stick to a leaf
    Or water to a lotus (petal),
    So what is seen, heard, or thought
    Doesn't stick to a sage.

    I liked this part too. In regards to all our stuff, it can be there but when it goes, it goes and the goal should be to just let it go.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome I have been pondering similar things, especially with the hurricanes, fires and mudslides lately. It seems like people who live in warm climates deal with much more than their share of natural disasters, and they always have. They don't have winter, but they can lose their home and everything they identified with in their lives with barely a moments notice. I, too, live in a winter climate, and it is below freezing here for 6-7 months a year with temps going below -40F and many feet of snow. You definitely need possessions of certain types to survive, including a well insulated dwelling, constant heat and light sources, proper clothing, and a way to get around as walking simply isn't an option many days, especially for small children or the elderly. It boggles my mind that Native cultures survived our winters, but even they had many more possessions than Native cultures in warmer climates. Always something to contend with in Samsara.

  • With death, people lose
    What they conceive as "mine."
    Knowing this, a sage should not
    Be selfishly devoted to what is "mine."

    Thoughts from the mines:

    With life people gain a body
    Mine is conceivable, fortunately concieved
    A sage is beyond 'should'

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    Grief, despair, and selfishness are not abandoned
    By those greedy for what is "mine."
    Therefore, having abandoned grasping,
    Sages live seeing safety

    Reminds me a little of non-Buddhist writings that recommend the virtues of poverty. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God", e.g.

    The sage who does not cling to what is "mine", is poor in mind and spirit, and slips easily through the needle's eye, regardless of material circumstances, mayhap. Having nothing to lose, he can rest secure.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    I will post thread on chapter 7 late Monday, unless anyone thinks I should wait, or beats me to it. After that, I may have to return my copy of the book to the library - I'm not sure whether I can renew it again.

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