400 verses | Āryadeva | 3
400 Verses on the Middle Path
by Āryadeva c. 3rd century
Part 3 | of 16
Indicating Methods for Ridding Yourself
of Grasping (at the Body as) Clean
Even if you (make use
of a pleasurable) object for a very long time,
there’s never an end (when you’re totally satisfied).
Like a bad doctor, the exhausting (efforts you make)
for your body will have no effect.
Just as some (earthworms),
who devote themselves (to eating dirt),
can never reverse their craving for dirt;
likewise, for people
who devote themselves (to indulging their cravings),
their desires for them only increase.
As all women (are a composite of dirty substances),
there is not the slightest difference at all
in having intercourse (with any of them).
As their bodies will be enjoyed by others as well
(for instance, by vultures and worms when they’re dead),
what can a woman of superior (beauty) do for you?
Anyone can find anyone else attractive
and become infatuated with them and rejoice (in their beauty).
But as this is common even among dogs and such
(with respect to their mates),
O dull-witted one, why are you so attached (to yours)?
Any woman who (seems) gorgeous to you in all her parts
has prior (to meeting you) been commonly (relished) by everyone.
(So when you) find her,
don’t become at all as astonished as you do
(and become attached to her as solely your own).
If you see beautiful (women) with good qualities (as attractive)
and those who are opposite as the reverse,
well, as no one can be categorized
(as having only good qualities or only bad),
of the former or the other,
- which one is truly (attractive or repulsive)?
The desire of a fool doesn’t arise
only for (women) having good qualities.
(Rather, the desire) of those who become involved with (women)
who are not (reasonable) causes (for attachment
comes) from causes (that would normally produce) the opposite (effect).
- What’s (the reason) for this?
A woman (who has excessive desire for you)
is like a bad (contagious) disease:
she’ll remain with you (only) so long
as she doesn’t come to know another (man’s taste).
As she must always be guarded from such circumstances,
(don’t ever feel secure in her love and become attached).
When you’re old,
(the promiscuous escapades) you had in your youth
will no longer be (so obsessively) desirous.
So why should (Arhats) who’ve become liberated
not be thoroughly disgusted with these (amorous follies of youth)?!
Those with no attachment (to women)
do not (consider) as happiness (being with a woman);
while those (who do have attachment) are not unbeguiled.
Therefore, what kind of happiness does someone have
whose mind is always turned away
(from the nature of reality toward attachment to women?
- It is not supreme).
You’ll not always be able to stay together
with the woman to whom you’re so devoted.
Therefore, to hold on to the notion
that this one is mine and not anyone else’s
– what is this for?
If attachment (to women) were happiness,
then there would be no purpose for (Buddha
to have taught) purifying oneself of (attachment to) women,
(since it would eliminate happiness);
and no matter how much (you look),
you don’t see (in the scriptures),
“Happiness is to be given up.”
Even when you’re in union with a woman,
your happiness comes from other (causes besides the woman,
such as your disturbing emotions, fantasies, and so forth).
Who but a fool would maintain
that its cause was (only) his wife herself?
Like a leper scratching (his sores),
being blinded by longing desire (to scratch)
and not seeing the faults of his desire,
those with attachment (who indulge their desires)
appear as having suffering like a leper
to those who are free from attachment.
During a famine, whatever acts (of humiliation and abuse)
befall those who are protectorless and tormented with hunger,
(which they’re willing to endure
from a miserly rich man in the hope for some food)
– such are what toss about all those with attachment,
when they’ve met with a woman
(and are willing to endure in the hope for some pleasure).
Some people out of arrogant pride
develop attachment even for their latrines
(and so never let anyone else make use of them);
and some people who are attached to certain women
are jealous of some (other men).
If out of ignorance
(you soiled yourself) with something unclean,
it’s proper that you would become repulsed,
whereas in no way would it be proper for you
to become desirous and attached.
Except for (half-witted) people, (everyone) would look down
upon a vessel of filthy (vomit and excrement).
Therefore, why don’t you consider
as something to be looked down
upon that from which this filth comes?
When you look at the end (result
of what happens to) any and every clean object
(after it’s come in contact with a woman’s body,
such as the food she eats),
what intelligent person would say,
“This (body of a woman) has (a nature of) cleanliness”?
Anyone who’s resided inside the latrine (of a mother’s womb)
where, if there weren’t this (filthy liquid) he couldn’t stay (there),
such (a person, who as a foetus is) like a filthy worm,
could only develop arrogant pride (that his body is clean)
because of his thick-headedness.
No matter what method (you use to wash),
you cannot make the innermost parts of your body be clean.
If you want to make efforts (to clean) the inside (of your body),
it will not (come about by directing your efforts) on its outside like this.
If (some of them) had leprosy,
all people covered with urine would not be alike.
Just as those (non-lepers) covered with urine
(would hold their noses) at the lepers,
likewise they themselves would be avoided by everybody else.
Just as some (lepers) with rotted appendages
try to make themselves look jolly with an artificial nose,
likewise (vain) is your desire to make yourself attractive
with added flowers and so forth,
because (your body’s) unclean.
Anyone who’s become free from desire and attachment
(would consider it) improper to say, “This (body) is clean.”
Therefore, there can be no phenomenon whatsoever
that can become a cause for definitely making (the body) desirable and attractive.
In short, impermanence, uncleanliness,
suffering and lack of an impossible “self”
– all 4 can exist
in one (phenomenon, namely your own body).