05.01 A certain unknown bhikkhunī (67-71)


67. It is twenty-five years since I went forth. Not even for the duration of a snap of the fingers have I obtained stilling of the mind.

68. Not obtaining peace of mind, drenched with desire for sensual pleasures, holding out my arms, crying out, I entered the vihāra.

69. I went up to a bhikkhunī who was fit to be trusted by me. She taught me the doctrine, the elements of existence, the sense-bases and the elements.

70. I heard the doctrine from her and sat down on one side. I know my former habitation; I have purified the divine eye;

71. and there is knowledge of the state of mind of others; I have purified the ear-element; 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.


I was young when I left home.

And for years I rambled around.

My practice—sitting, walking, and hoping.

At first everything was new.

I didn’t notice my skin drying up

or my hair turning gray.

Then one morning, there I was—

an old woman.

Where had I gotten in all those years on the Path?

That night I slept out in a field,

and it rained.

I felt like I belonged there—

miserable and alone in the mud.

In the morning,

I went to the nearest monastery

and threw myself down.

A nun took me in and taught me.

This body, this mind, this world.

Where they come from, where they go.

What they are, what they are not.

That night I went out to sit in the field,

and it rained.

I felt like I belonged there—

every drop of water telling me I was home.

Don’t worry, my sisters.

When the road reaches its end,

you’ll know it.


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