Friday, October 15, 2010

Maha Mangala Sutta (Revised)

A revision of my second attempt at translation from Pali. The very popular and beautiful Maha Mangala Sutta:

The Discourse on Protective Blessings.

Thus have I heard. One time the Bhagava was dwelling at Jetavana, in Anathapinika's vihara. Then a Devata (female other-worldly being) in the early hours of morning, her great radiance lighting up the whole of Jeta's grove, approached the Bhagava. Having approached and paid homage to the Bhagava she stood to one side and addressed him in verse:

"Many devas and humans have wondered about protective blessings,
desiring well-being. Tell, then, the highest protective blessing."

{the Buddha}:
"Not befriending fools, instead befriending the wise;
Giving reverence to those worthy of it: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Living in a cultured place, having made merit in the past, 
Directing oneself rightly: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Broad learning, practical skill, 
Well-mastered self-discipline, beautiful speech: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Taking care of one's parents, cherishing one's spouse and children, 
Consistency in one's work: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Giving, living with integrity, 
Assisting one's relatives, deeds that are blameless: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Avoiding, abstaining from evil; 
Refraining from intoxicants, being heedful of what's skillful: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Respect, humility, contentment, 
Gratitude, taking opportunities to hear Dhamma: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Patience, openness to instruction, 
Seeing contemplatives, taking opportunities to discuss Dhamma: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Spiritual exertion, living the holy life, 
Seeing the Noble Truths, realizing Nibbana: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
When touched by the ways of the world, 
A mind that is unshaken, sorrowless, dustless, secure: 
This is a high protective blessing. 
Everywhere undefeated when acting in this way, 
People go everywhere in well-being: 
This is their highest protective blessing.

 Notes: Mangala refers to a blessing in the sense of a protection or charm. It is often rendered either as protection or as blessing, I opted for "protective blessing". If one doesn't understand that the Buddha is teaching that qualities of mind and behaviour are the true protective charms the force of the whole sutta is lost.
I consulted the versions of Ajaan Thanissaro, Piyadassi Thera, Narada Thera and RL Soni, available at

1. Evaṃ me sutaṃ – ekaṃ samayaṃ bhagavā sāvatthiyaṃ viharati jetavane anāthapiṇḍikassa ārāme. Atha kho aññatarā devatā abhikkantāya rattiyā abhikkantavaṇṇā kevalakappaṃ jetavanaṃ obhāsetvā yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavantaṃ abhivādetvā ekamantaṃ aṭṭhāsi. Ekamantaṃ ṭhitā kho sā devatā bhagavantaṃ gāthāya ajjhabhāsi –
‘‘Bahū devā manussā ca, maṅgalāni acintayuṃ;
Ākaṅkhamānā sotthānaṃ, brūhi maṅgalamuttamaṃ’’.
‘‘Asevanā ca bālānaṃ, paṇḍitānañca sevanā;
Pūjā ca pūjaneyyānaṃ [pūjanīyānaṃ (sī. syā. kaṃ. pī.)], etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Patirūpadesavāso ca, pubbe ca katapuññatā;
Attasammāpaṇidhi [atthasammāpaṇīdhī (katthaci)] ca, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Bāhusaccañca sippañca, vinayo ca susikkhito;
Subhāsitā ca yā vācā, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Mātāpitu upaṭṭhānaṃ, puttadārassa saṅgaho;
Anākulā ca kammantā, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Dānañca dhammacariyā ca, ñātakānañca saṅgaho;
Anavajjāni kammāni, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Āratī viratī pāpā, majjapānā ca saṃyamo;
Appamādo ca dhammesu, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Gāravo ca nivāto ca, santuṭṭhi ca kataññutā;
Kālena dhammassavanaṃ [dhammassāvaṇaṃ (ka. sī.), dhammasavanaṃ (ka. sī.)], etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Khantī ca sovacassatā, samaṇānañca dassanaṃ;
Kālena dhammasākacchā, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Tapo ca brahmacariyañca, ariyasaccāna dassanaṃ;
Nibbānasacchikiriyā ca, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Phuṭṭhassa lokadhammehi, cittaṃ yassa na kampati;
Asokaṃ virajaṃ khemaṃ, etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ.
‘‘Etādisāni katvāna, sabbatthamaparājitā;
Sabbattha sotthiṃ gacchanti, taṃ tesaṃ maṅgalamuttama’’nti.
Maṅgalasuttaṃ niṭṭhitaṃ.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Stephen Batchelor

This is a very intelligent and thought provoking discussion of Batchelor's pseudo-agnosticism.

Ajaan Lee On Vipassana-Nyana (Insight Knowledge)

"Now when we see inconstancy- that all things fashioned, whether within us or without, are undependable; when we see that they're stressful; when we see that they're not our self, that they simply whirl around in and of themselves: When we gain these insights, we can put down our burdens, i.e. let go of our attachments. We can put down the past- i.e. stop dweling in it. We can let go of the future- i.e. stop yearning for it. We can let go of the present-  i.e. stop claiming it as the self.  Once we've let our burdens fall, we can walk with a light step. We can even dance. We're beautiful. Wherever we go, people will be glad to know us. Why? Because we're not encumbered. Whatever we do, we can do with ease. We can walk, run, dance, and sing- all with a light heart. We're Buddhism's beauty, a sight for sore eyes, graceful wherever we go. No longer burdened, no longer encumbered, we can be at our ease. This is vipassana-nyana."

(This is the final paragraph of Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo's Keeping The Breath in Mind.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Going Wodwo*: A Paccekabuddha** poem (of sorts) by Neil Gaiman

Shedding my shirt, my book, my coat, my life
Leaving them, empty husks and fallen leaves
Going in search of food and for a spring
Of sweet water.

I'll find a tree as wide as ten fat men
Clear water riling over its gray roots
Berries I'll find, and crab apples and nuts
And call it home.

I'll tell the wind my name, and no one else.
True madness takes or leaves us in the wood
halfway through all our lives. My skin will be
my face now.

I must be nuts. Sense left with shoes and house,
my guts are cramped. I'll stumble through the green
back to my roots, and leaves and thorns and buds,
and shiver.

I'll leave the way of words to walk the wood
I'll be the forest's man, and greet the sun,
And feel the silence blossom on my tongue
like language.

*wodwo or wodwose: wild man of the woods, green man. ** A paccekabuddha (skrt. pratyekabuddha) is a "solitary" or "silent" awakened sage living apart from normal society who does not have the ability to formulate his or her realization as a teaching, so has little interaction or influence on others.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No Strings Attached: The Buddha's Culture of Generosity

This is a really important article on dana (generosity) and ways we in the west are at risk of replacing the Buddha's culture of generosity with the culture of consumerism. By Thanissaro Bhikkhu. A shorter, less controversial version appeared recently in Buddhadharma.