400 verses | Āryadeva | 2


400 Verses on the Middle Path
by Āryadeva c. 3rd century

Part 2 | of 16

Indicating Methods for Ridding Yourself
of Grasping (at the Body as) Pleasurable


Although your body is like an enemy,
yet, you need to take care of it.
Living a long life with ethical discipline,
you can do many positive (deeds).


People receive suffering from their very bodies,
but happiness from other (external sources).
Why are you so devoted to your body,
which acts as a container for all your sufferings?


When it’s a fact that happiness does not come to people
in as great a proportion as suffering (does),
how can you think that this greater (amount of) suffering
is less (than your happiness)?


Although worldly beings rush after happiness,
those who become happy are indeed rare to find.
Therefore, it seems as though suffering
is running (behind) after these beings,
who disintegrate (from moment to moment).


Although suffering can be found by wishing (for it),
where is there happiness for (merely) the wish?
How is it that you’re so devoted to what’s rare?
Why don’t you fear what is plentiful?


The body that can become (a little) happy
acts as a container for (much more) suffering.
Therefore, being devoted to your body
and being devoted to your enemy
– these 2 seem to be the same.


The body cannot change into having a nature of happiness,
even if (you try) for a very long time (to make it change).
It’s illogical to say that through other (circumstances)
its nature (of suffering) can be overruled.


To those in privileged (positions comes) mental suffering,
while to common folks physical (suffering) arises.
By these 2 sufferings this world is tormented,
day after day, every day.


Happiness is dictated by your thoughts,
and your thoughts can be dictated by your suffering.
Because of that, nowhere is there
anything more powerful than suffering.


As much as time passes, so does your suffering increase.
Because of that, it appears as though happiness is
but like an incongruous (guest) of the body.


Many causes of suffering appear,
(such as) sicknesses and others,
but the causes for people to be happy
do not appear to the same (extent).


You can see how happiness,
while increasing, (easily) reverses,
but while suffering is increasing,
it doesn’t (easily) reverse like that.


You see causes for happiness
simultaneously (producing) the reverse,
but not causes for suffering themselves
simultaneously (producing) the reverse.


During the course of dying (throughout your lifetime),
you’ve travelled, are now traveling,
and will (continue) to travel (ever closer to your death).
In no way is it proper to regard
(life’s) course of dying as bringing happiness.


Beings with bodies are constantly tormented
by hunger and the like.
In no way is it proper to regard as happiness
(life’s) course of being tormented.


What’s known as (your body) is produced
when there’s gathered together all its (4) elements,
which (individually) lack the ability (to produce it).
As these (elements by nature mutually) clash,
in no way is it proper to regard them as happiness.


Because there’s cold and such things,
there’s no permanent cure (for suffering).
In no way is it proper to regard as happiness
(this body that’s always) breaking down.


As there are no (seemingly pleasurable) activities on earth
that can be said to come about without toil and effort,
in no way is it proper to regard as happiness,
(that which requires) the doing of (miserable) work.


(Those who are wise) would always guard against
accumulating (at the expense of some small and ephemeral pleasure)
negative karmic debts for this or other (lives).
In no way is it proper to regard as happiness
that which will have (you reborn) in one of the worse states.


For people, there’s never any happiness
from riding (horses) and so forth.
What, at first, it’s not intended for
(namely to bring you suffering, only)
increases in the end;
- so what’s the use?


Just as some people become happy
when they vomit (if it’s) into a golden pot,
likewise, think of your happiness
as (petty) relief from suffering.


What you initiate to reverse (suffering) that’s arisen,
only brings on (further, new) suffering;
so how is there happiness?
That’s why the Able Sage (Buddha) has said,
Both when you’re born and fall apart, it’s (only with) suffering.”
- Think about that!


Ordinary beings do not see their suffering
when it’s apparently glossed over with (temporary) happiness.
But, if their so-called happiness (were real and everlasting),
it couldn’t again be obscured by suffering under any (conditions).


If you regard your suffering (body as pleasurable),
you’ll not become free from attachment

– this has been taught for ordinary beings.
Therefore, it’s certain that the Thusly Gone (Buddhas) have said
(that such a distorted view of the body as pleasurable)
is the lowest (type) of all naivety.


Impermanent things definitely receive harm (in order to pass away),
and whatever can be harmed cannot be (a source of) happiness.
Therefore, that which is impermanent (such as the body)
would be called, by everyone, suffering.