11.1 Uppalavaṇṇā Therī (224-235)

Read aloud in New Books Network Podcast

Read aloud in “Ayya Anandabodhi & Matty Weingast’s Dharma Talks at Insight Meditation South Bay – Silicon Valley”


224. The two of us, mother and daughter, were co-wives; I experienced religious excitement, amazing, hair-raising.

225. Woe upon sensual pleasures, impure, evil-smelling, with many troubles, wherein we, mother and daughter, were co-wives.

226. I saw the peril in sensual pleasures, and I saw renunciation of the world as firm security; I went forth at Rajagaha from the house to the houseless state.

227. I know my former habitation; I have purified the divine eye; and there is knowledge of the state of mind of others; I have purified the ear-element;

228. I have realized supernormal power too; I have attained the annihilation of the āsavas: I have realized these six supernormal knowledges; I have done the Buddha’s teaching.

229. I fashioned a four-horsed chariot by supernormal power, paid homage to the Buddha’s feet, the glorious protector of the world, and I stood on one side.

230. “Going up to a tree with well-flowered top, you stand there alone at the foot of the tree; you do not even have a companion; child, are you not afraid of rogues ?”

231. Even if a hundred thousand rogues like you were to come together, I should not move a hair’s breadth, I should not even shake. What will you alone do to me, Māra?

232. I shall disappear, or I shall enter into your belly; I shall stand between your eyebrows; you will not see me standing there.

233. I have mastery over my mind; I have developed the bases of supernormal power well; I have realized the six supernormal knowledges. I have done the Buddha’s teaching.

234. Sensual pleasures are like swords and stakes; the elements of existence are a chopping block for them; what you call “delight in sensual pleasures” is now “non-delight” for me.

235. Everywhere enjoyment of pleasure is defeated; the mass of darkness [of ignorance] is torn asunder; in this way know, evil one, you are defeated, death.


I hated my father.

And I hated my mother

for making him my father.

I left home to get away from him—

and then found him everywhere I went.

But I trained hard.

I learned to make

my hands

glow red with fire.

And I handled the darkness with a chain.

I swore—

no one

would ever

hurt me


Then one night,

while meditating in the woods,

I was grabbed from behind.

This sal tree is in full bloom,

the man said.

And here lying beneath,

I find a sal flower

with a lovely shaved head.

Tell me, my little flower.

Aren’t you afraid?

I turned around.

He looked just like my father.

It would have taken so little,

a flick of a finger,

to make him


I looked into his eyes

and saw the billion lifetimes

that he and I

had been running around

this same circle


Then I walked

all the way down

to the darkest parts

of my own mind—

and stood in front of

the blazing roar

as countless


of fear

and revenge

threw themselves

into the furnace.

Burn with me, my sisters.

And when you’re ready,

come up from that dark place

where you’ve gone

to be alone


The Path leads directly through

these vast worlds of fear and hate.

We have all wounded and been wounded.

We have all been made to feel weak.


There is great strength in the darkness.


The mind can be used as a knife—

or a chain.


Your whole world

is burning


to the


Ask the lizard how long this has been going on.

Ask the sunflower and her million seeds.

The mind is more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Ask yourself what

you are really


to give up

in order to be free.


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