Friday, November 13, 2015

Sutra of No More Sutras

Thus I have heard, once and forever.

In the wake of Shariputra’s death and parinirvana, Ananda spoke,
voicing the thoughts of those assembled.

“Honored teacher, we know your time with us nears its completion.
Pray, tell us how to continue beyond your extinction?”

The Buddha opened his eyes and offered his smile to all,
and then he spoke:

“For many years, we have thus assembled,
and I have given voice to the music of one vehicle,
three treasures,
four noble truths,
six perfections,
ten powers and ten precepts,
twelve causes and thirty-two signs.
I have spoken and chanted into the ten directions:
and these sayings and singings continue to vibrate through the chiliocosm. “

“To you, a good doctrine has been given,
acknowledged by buddhas and arhats,
past, present and future,
and expertly remembered by you, honored Ananda.
Many sermons have been set down,
by scribe after scribe,
in scroll after scroll after scroll.

“Good cousin, Ananda,
these teachings of the way
have been the making of a raft,
one strong enough to float above
the ever-flowing stream of happening
and even of dharma practice.

“But this raft must now be untethered and released,
and each adept must engage
the singular stream of unfolding—
the teaching, and also the teacher,
must be released into the wild unknown.

Because, any other course would come to ruin
in grasping and corruption.”

All present, on hearing these things, quietly bowed their heads.

“Do not sorrow, Dear Ones,
do not sorrow; the great void is not to be feared,
for truly it is indicative of endless potential,
which is Presence,
gleaming and differently perceived in each moment.

“How the good doctrine will flourish
on the ever-flowing river
cannot be foretold by the Tathagata,
nor by all the ranks of adepts in every dimension,
neither can time tell.

“To reside on the scroll
is to miss the point,
it is a surrender to inaction
that borders on forgetting;
one can rapidly become lost
in the thicket of serifs and diacriticals,
grammars and dialecticals.

“This leads to doubt.
Doubt leads to discussion.
Discussion leads to arguments and grousing,
parsing and chasing
after forms and meanings.

“In the end, this activity is
so tarry illogical
to the reality of eternal moment.”

The birds in the trees stopped singing,
cocking their heads to listen.

The butterflies found a place to light,
so they could hear.

The trees bowed their limbs lower.

“The chasing after merit
is also like the chasing after forms and meanings.

“There is only the Way,
and the truth of the Way
is where the heaping of merit occurs
never for the individual,
but only for all of existence,
as served by the Three Jewels.

“These Jewels are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha;
compassion, frugality and humility;
right view, right knowledge and right conduct;
thought, word and deed;
essence, vitality and spirit.

“Any heaping of merit is
unknown and unknowable,
but indeed present in eternal moment.

“Every being who does right in the moment
heaps merit onto the wheel of time and change,
for all and for all time.

“There is no such thing as competition;
all conscious right actions are integral
to the completion of perfection.
This is the essence of the Middle Way.”

A single ray of light burst forth
from between the Buddha’s brows,
touching all with understanding.
The birds, the butterflies and the trees
arose jubilantly.

“Take to the raft of the Way and journey.
Be the gift of goodness in the World.
Do not write it or discuss or plan it.
Be it, in the best way you can, in the moment;
this is how the teaching grows and spreads
to all generations.”

When the Buddha finished this Discourse,
all present were filled with the joy of this teaching,
and, taking it sincerely to heart, they went their ways.

© 2015 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen