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Dhammapada III

The Mind

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Quivering, wavering,
hard to guard,
to hold in check:
    the mind.
The sage makes it straight --
like a fletcher,
the shaft of an arrow.

Like a fish
pulled from its home in the water
& thrown on land:
this mind flips & flaps about
    to escape Mara's sway.

Hard to hold down,
alighting wherever it likes:
    the mind.
Its taming is good.
The mind well-tamed
    brings ease.

So hard to see,
so very, very subtle,
alighting wherever it likes:
    the mind.
The wise should guard it.
The mind protected
    brings ease.

Wandering far,
going alone,
lying in a cave:
    the mind.
Those who restrain it:
    from Mara's bonds
    they'll be freed.


For a person of unsteady mind,
not knowing true Dhamma,
    set         adrift:
discernment doesn't grow full.


For a person of unsoddened mind,
            unassaulted awareness,
abandoning merit & evil,
there is no danger
        no fear.


Knowing this body
    is like a clay jar,
securing this mind
    like a fort,
        attack Mara
    with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won
    without settling there,
    without laying claim.


All too soon, this body
will lie on the ground
    cast off,
bereft of consciousness,
like a useless scrap
    of wood.


Whatever an enemy might do
to an enemy,
or a foe to a foe,
the ill-directed mind
can do to you
    even worse.

Whatever a mother, father
or other kinsman
might do for you,
the well-directed mind
can do for you
    even better.

Revised: Sun 3 October 1999