Chapter 4: Carefulness
1. The children of the Conqueror who thus
Have firmly grasped this bodhichitta
Should never turn aside from it
Strive never to transgress its disciplines.
2. Whatever was begun without due heed,
And all that was not properly conceived,
Although a promise and a pledge were given,
It is right to reconsider - shall I act or not.
3. Yet what the buddhas and their heirs
Have scrutinized in their great wisdom;
I myself have probed and scrutinized,
Why should I now procrastinate?
4. For I bind myself with promises,
But fail to carry out my words in deed,
Then every being will have been betrayed.
What destiny must lie in store for me?
5. If in teachings it is said
That those who in their thoughts intend
To give a small and paltry thing but then draw back
Will take rebirth as hungry spirits,
6. How can I expect a happy destiny
If from my heart I summon
Wandering beings to the highest bliss,
But then deceive and fail them?
7. As for those who losing bodhichitta,
Lead others nonetheless to liberation,
Karmic law is inconceivable and
Only understood by the Omnicscient.
8. This failure for the bodhisattva is
the gravest of all downfalls.
For should it ever come to pass,
The good of every being is thrown down.
9. And anyone who, for a single instant,
Halts the merit of a bodhisattva
Wanders endlessly in evils states,
Because the welfare of all beings is reduced.
10. Destroy a single being's joy
And you will work the ruin of yourself.
No need to speak of bringing love the
Joy of beings the infinite space itself.
11. And those who circle in some sorrow,
mixing powerful downfalls with the power
of bodhichitta back and forth,
Will long be hindered from bodhisattva grounds.
12. And so, according to my promise
I will act attentively,
from this day forth if now I fail to strive,
I'll fall from low to even lower states.
13. Striving for the benefit of all that lives,
Unnumbered buddhas have already lived and passed away,
But I, by virtue of my sins, have failed
To come within the compass of their healing works.
14. And this will always be my lot
If I continue to behave like this,
And I will suffer pains and bondage,
Wounds and laceration in the lower realms.
15. The appearance of the buddhas in the world,
True faith and the attainment of the human form,
An aptitude for good: all these are rare.
When will all this come to me again?
16. Today, indeed, I'm hale and well,
I have enough to eat, and I am in danger.
But this life is fleeting, unreliable.
My body is like like something briefly lent.
17. And yet the way I act is such
That I shall not regain a human life!
And losing this, my precious human form,
My evils will be many, virtues none.
18. Here is now my chance for wholesome deeds,
But if I fail to practice virtue,
What will be my lot, what shall I do,
Bewildered by the sorrows of the lower realms?
19. Never, there, performing any virtue,
Only ever pilling up my sins,
And for a hundred million ages,
I'll not even hear of happy destinies.
20. This is why Lord Buddha has declared
That like a turtle that perchance can place
Its head within a yoke adrift upon the mighty sea,
This is human birth is difficult to find!
21. If through the evil acts of but a single instant
I must spend an eon in the hell of unrelenting pain,
The evils in some sorrow stored from time without beginning-
No need to say that they will keep me from the states of bliss!
22. And mere experience of such pain
Does not result in being freed from it.
For in the very suffering of such states,
More evil will occur, and then in great abundance.
23. Thus, having found this moment of reprieve,
If I now fail to train myself in virtue,
What greater folly could there ever be?
How more could I betray myself?
24. If having understand all this,
I'm stupidly despondent still,
Then at the moment of my death,
My sorrows will be black indeed.
25. And when my body burns so long
In fires of hell so unendurable,
My mind there is no doubt will also be tormented-
Burned in fires of unendurable regret.
- The Way of the Bodhisattva
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