06.2 Vāsiṭṭhī Therī (133-138)


133. Afflicted by grief for my son, with mind deranged, out of my senses, naked, and with dishevelled hair, I wandered here and there.

134. I dwelt on rubbish heaps in the streets, in a cemetery, and on highways; I wandered for three years, consigned to hunger and thirst.

135. Then I saw the well-farer who had gone to the city of Mithila, the tamer of the untamed, the awakened one, who has no fear from any quarter.

136. Regaining my mind, I paid homage to him and sat down. In pity Gotama taught me the doctrine.

137. I heard the doctrine from him and went forth into the houseless state. Applying myself to the teacher’s utterance, I realized the blissful state.

138. All griefs have been cut out, eliminated, ending in this way; for I have comprehended the grounds from which is the origin of griefs.


When a child dies, everyone grieves.

But a mother’s grief is different.

Not more real or more important.

Just different.

I can talk about it like this now.

Back then I just wandered from place to place.

I don’t know if I ate.

I don’t know if I slept.

From the bottom of that darkness,

I heard a voice.

It was just a whisper,

so I leaned towards it—

and became

a bucket

pulled slowly up

from the bottom of a well.

In the same way,

I called out to my grief

and drew it towards me.

I held my grief and gently rocked it.

Shhh, I said.

There, there.

There, there.

People sometimes ask,

Wasn’t it painful?

Weren’t you afraid?

Yes, it was painful.

So is giving birth.

Oh, my heart,

you mustn’t fear

the pain.


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