Photo: Wealthy trader from Eastern Tibet (seated) with three of his assistants standing behind him, 1921.
I bow at the feet of my teacher Marpa.
And sing this song in response to you.
Listen, pay heed to what I say,
forget your critique for a while.
The best seeing is the way of "nonseeing" --
the radiance of the mind itself.
The best prize is what cannot be looked for --
the priceless treasure of the mind itself.
The most nourishing food is "noneating" --
the transcendent food of samadhi.
The most thirst-quenching drink is "nondrinking" --
the nectar of heartfelt compassion.
Oh, this self-realizing awareness
is beyond words and description!
The mind is not the world of children,
nor is it that of logicians.
Attaining the truth of "nonattainment,"
you receive the highest initiation.
Perceiving the void of high and low,
you reach the sublime stage.
Approaching the truth of "nonmovement,"
you follow the supreme path.
Knowing the end of birth and death,
the ultimate purpose is fulfilled.
Seeing the emptiness of reason,
supreme logic is perfected.
When you know that great and small are groundless,
you have entered the highest gateway.
Comprehending beyond good and evil
opens the way to perfect skill.
Experiencing the dissolution of duality,
you embrace the highest view.
Observing the truth of "nonobservation"
opens the way to meditating.
Comprehending beyond "ought" and "oughtn't"
opens the way to perfect action.
When you realize the truth of "noneffort,"
you are approaching the highest fruition.
Ignorant are those who lack this truth:
arrogant teachers inflated by learning,
scholars bewitched by mere words,
and yogis seduced by prejudice.
For though they yearn for freedom,
they find only enslavement.
Quote Source and Recommended Reading:
'Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight and Awakening'
By Thupten Jinpa (Author), Jas' Elsner (Author)
This is the first major anthology of Tibetan poetry to become available in the West. Translators Thupten Jinpa—one of the Dalai Lama's principal interpreters—and Jas' Elsner have created an accessible collection geared toward a general audience. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, poetry has long been one of the primary means of expressing spiritual experience. The splendid poems in this collection communicate spiritual insight with astonishing grace and precision. Songs of Spiritual Experience includes original translations of fifty-two poems, a lengthy introduction about the role of poetry in Tibetan Buddhism, and a helpful glossary that includes commentary on the poems. The book serves both as an introduction to Tibetan poetry and to Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
THUPTEN JINPA is the principal English translator for the Dalai Lama. He holds a PhD in religious studies from Cambridge University, as well as a Lharam degree, the Tibetan equivalent to a doctorate in divinity. He is president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, an organization dedicated to translating key classical Tibetan texts into contemporary languages. JAŚ ELSNER is a senior research fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. He has published widely on the topics of art and religion.