Tuesday, December 11"Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara" - Taittiriya Upanishad

Wander Alone, Like a Rhinoceros

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(Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, copyright 1997; free to distribute and reproduce. Slight amendments made to the text.)

The “Rhinoceros Sutra” (Khaggavisana Sutta) is one of the earliest and more authentic expressions of original Buddhist thought.

This poem is taken from the Pali collection known as the Kuddhhaka Nikava (the fifth division of the Sutta Pitaka).

“Because the Asian rhinoceros had one horn, and because lore attributed to it a life alone in the forest, this sutra is aptly titled to present what the translator calls an essay “on the value of living the solitary wandering life.” Specifically, this would refer to the life of the forest monk of Southeast Asia.”

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“Wander Alone, Like a Rhinoceros”
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Renouncing violence
for all living beings,
harming not even a one,
you would not wish for offspring,
so how a companion?
Wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

For a sociable person
there are allurements;
on the heels of allurement, this pain.
Seeing allurement’s drawback,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

One whose mind
is enmeshed in sympathy
for friends and companions,
neglects the true goal.
Seeing this danger in intimacy,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Like spreading bamboo,
entwined,
is concern for offspring and spouses.
Like a bamboo sprout,
unentangling,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

As a deer in the wilds,
unfettered,
goes for forage wherever it wants:
the wise person, valuing freedom,
wanders alone
like a rhinoceros.

In the midst of companions
— when staying at home,
when going out wandering —
you are prey to requests.
Valuing freedom,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

There is sporting and love
in the midst of companions,
and abundant fondness for offspring.
Feeling disgust
at the prospect of parting
from those who would be dear,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

They are hard to please,
some of those gone forth,
as well as those living the household life.
Shedding concern
for these offspring of others,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Cutting off the householder’s marks [hair and beard],
like a kovilara tree
that has shed its leaves,
the prudent one, cutting all household ties,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

If you gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler, right-living and wise,
overcoming all dangers
go with him, gratified,
mindful.

If you don’t gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler, right-living and wise,
wander alone
like a king renouncing his kingdom,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
his herd.

We praise companionship
— yes!
Those on a par, or better,
should be chosen as friends.
If they are not to be found,
living faultlessly,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Seeing radiant bracelets of gold,
well-made by a smith,
clinking, clashing,
two on an arm,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros,

[thinking:]

“In the same way,
if I were to live with another,
there would be careless or abusive talk.”
Seeing this future danger,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Because sensual pleasures,
elegant, honeyed, & charming,
bewitch the mind with their manifold forms —
seeing this drawback in sensual strands —
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

“Calamity, tumor, misfortune,
disease, an arrow, a danger for me.”
Seeing this danger in sensual strands,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Cold and heat, hunger and thirst,
wind and sun, horseflies and snakes:
enduring all these, without exception,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

As a great white elephant,
with massive shoulders,
renouncing his herd,
lives in the wilds wherever he wants,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

“There’s no way
that one delighting in company
can touch even momentary release.”
Heeding the Solar Kinsman’s words,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Transcending the contortion of views,
the sure way attained,
the path gained,

[realizing:]

“Unled by others,
I have knowledge arisen,”
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

With no greed, no deceit,
no thirst, no hypocrisy —
delusion and blemishes
blown away —
with no inclinations for all the world,
every world,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Avoid the evil companion
disregarding the goal,
intent on the out-of-tune way.
Don’t take as a friend
someone heedless and hankering.
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Consort with one who is learned,
who maintains the Dhamma,
a great and quick-witted friend.
Knowing the meanings,
subdue your perplexity,
[then] wander alone
like a rhinoceros,

Free from longing, finding no pleasure
in the world’s sport, love, or sensual bliss,
abstaining from adornment,
speaking the truth,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Abandoning offspring, spouse,
father, mother,
riches, grain, relatives,
and sensual pleasures
altogether,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

“This is a bondage, a baited hook.
There is little happiness here,
next to no satisfaction,
all the more suffering and pain.”
Knowing this, circumspect,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Shattering fetters,
like a fish in the water tearing a net,
like a fire not coming back to what is burnt,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Taking off the householder’s marks [lay clothing],
like a coral tree
that has shed its leaves,
going forth in the ochre robe,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Showing no greed for flavors, not careless,
going from house to house for alms,
with mind not enmeshed in this family or that,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Abandoning barriers to awareness,
expelling all defilements — all —
non-dependent, cutting aversion,
allurement,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Turning your back on pleasure and pain,
as earlier with sorrow and joy,
attaining pure equanimity,
tranquility,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

With persistence aroused
for the highest goal’s attainment,
with mind not smeared, not lazy in action,
firm in effort, with steadfastness and strength arisen,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption,
constantly living the Dhamma
in line with the Dhamma,
comprehending the danger
in states of becoming,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Intent on the ending of craving and heedful,
learned, mindful, not muddled,
certain — having reckoned the Dhamma —
and striving,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Not startled, like a lion, at sounds.
Not snared, like the wind in a net.
Not smeared, like a lotus in water:
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Like a lion — forceful, strong in fang,
living as a conqueror, the king of beasts —
resort to a solitary dwelling.
Wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

At the right time consorting
with the release through good will,
compassion,
appreciation,
equanimity,
unobstructed by all the world,
any world,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

Having let go of passion,
aversion,
delusion;
having shattered the fetters;
undisturbed at the ending of life,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

People follow and associate
for a motive.
Friends without a motive these days
are rare.
They are shrewd for their own ends, and impure.
Wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

 

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