Monday, May 12, 2008

A Chant for a Monday Morning

I found this chant over at Dhamma Reflections yesterday, and found so much wisdom in it that I thought it worth re-posting (and re-peating) this Monday morning:

The Four Dhamma Summaries

1. Upanīyati loko,

The world is swept away.


It does not endure.

2. Atāṇo loko,

The world offers no shelter.


There is no one in charge.

3. Assako loko,

The world has nothing of its own.

Sabbaṃ pahāya gamanīyaṃ.

One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.

4. Ūno loko,

The world is insufficient,



Taṇhā dāso.

a slave to craving.

"Dhamma81" posts this in the context of his own reflections on the disaster in Burma, notably the feeling of helplessness in the face of so devastating an event. He describes the chant as one practiced at the Metta Forest monastery of Ajahn Thanissaro--presumably none other than our own Than Geoff, with whom I sat yesterday afternoon at the monthly meeting of our sangha when he comes to teach.

I meant to print out the chant and ask him about it, but forgot. Instead, as I listened to his wisdom on the matter of engagement in wordly affairs, I asked him if monks vote. His response was that no, the monks at his monastery had not voted recently, that it's important for them to maintain a kind of neutrality, a space where no one need feel judged because of prior political action or commitments. He told the moving story of a once ruthless and tyrannical general who had eventually been deposed and exiled and who, in disgrace and shame for his past actions, had found his way finally to the monastery for a long and profound healing session with the monks. (I abbreviate here a story that Than Geoff told in fascinating detail with his usual, gently humorous story-telling skills.)

On further reflection, he added the story of his own dream about Barack Obama: that he met with the candidate and told him how much he admired the work Barack was doing. In his dream, he offered to help in any way he could, and Obama asked for his help in putting together a meeting that was to take place in the San Diego area. When Than Geoff asked more precisely where in that area, Obama told him that the event was scheduled for the Metta Forest Monastery. In his dream, of course.

Make of that what you will! I choose to think of it as an endorsement from the subconscious mind of a non-voting super-supderdelegate!

(I just turned on the news: A 7.8 earthquake in China. The worst tornado season in years in the United States. The cyclone in Burma... When do we start to listen to what the Earth is trying to tell us?

The world is swept away.
 It does not endure.
 The world offers no shelter.
 There is no one in charge.


robin andrea said...

I love those last four lines so much, peter. I am simultaneously filled with gladness for the liberation and grief for my attachments.

TZT said...

Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to read this morning.

MandT said...

'Gassho', my friend

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Excellent chant, Peter. I agree with the helplessness on feels when faced with the power of nature. It seems that the devastation in Burma will be matched by that in China.

Buddha said...

wow, extraordianery, nice read, i have suscribed to your blog, love reading it

TaraDharma said...

Like Robin, I am filled with gladness and grief. I feel thrown off-center, yet grateful as well. My chest is heavy today and I can't seem to stop tearing up.

I have been thinking for a long while about finding a teacher, and this is having me think more about that. How does one 'surf' nothingness? I want to try.