A poetic summary

As often happens, the Buddha encapsulated the teaching in a verse.

It’s really quite remarkable that he did this. It’s as if life in India 2,500 years ago was like a Bollywood musical. It’s kind of fun to imagine today that the UK Prime Minister or the US President would give a speech and then sum up the main points at the end by bursting into song!

It seems that ancient Indian languages lent themselves to spontaneous versifying because of their very rhythmic nature, and perhaps people were trained to compose verses spontaneously in this way.

In any event, just as the writers of a Broadway musical hope that you’ll leave the theater humming their tunes, the Buddha no doubt hoped that those who attended his discourses would depart with the teachings running through their minds in the form of a verse.

This is the difference, this the distinction, this the distinguishing factor between the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones and the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person.

The discerning person, learned,
Doesn’t sense a (mental) feeling of pleasure or pain:
This is the difference in skillfulness
Between the sage and the person run-of-the-mill.

For a learned person
Who has fathomed the Dhamma,
Clearly seeing this world and the next,
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
Undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His clinging
And rejection are scattered,
Gone to their end,
Do not exist.

Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
He discerns rightly,
Has gone, beyond becoming,
To the Further Shore.

Equanimity — not clinging to experiences nor resisting them — is key to spiritual practice in Buddhism. We can’t avoid painful experiences, but we can learn to avoid reacting to them by giving rise to further painful thoughts and emotions.

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