06.3 Khemā Therī (139-144)


139. “You are young and beautiful; I also am young and in my prime. Come, Khemā, let us delight ourselves with the fivefold music.”

140. I am afflicted by and ashamed of this foul body, diseased, perish able. Craving for sensual pleasures has been rooted out.

141. 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 no delight for me.

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

143. Revering the lunar mansions, tending the fire in the wood, not knowing it as it really is, fools, you thought it was purity.

144. But revering the awakened one, best of men, I am indeed completely released from all pains, doing the teacher’s teaching.


He said:

When a bow rubs against the strings

of a well-tuned violin,

music flows through all the heavens

and brings life to all the worlds.

Come, Khema.

Be my little viola.

Make me your bow.

When a symphony is over,

I told him,

there’s nothing left

but the applause

and some sweeping up.

After the tune you mean to play,

I would carry the encore

for nine long months—

and it wouldn’t end there.

This is the song your parents played

as they watched the stars circling high overhead.

This is the song their parents played

as they tended their fires deep in the dark forest.

It is an old, old song.

But listen closely.

Far from human voices

there are songs of freedom

sung only by the wind

in the leaves.


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