29 November 2010

Contemplation: The Ornament of Virtue

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take this as your object of contemplation:

Dare anyone a limit place
On benefits that virtue brings,
Without which virtue clansmen find
No footing in the dispensation?
No Ganges, and no Yamuna,
No Sarabhu, Sarassati,
Or flowing Aciravati,
Or noble River of Mahi,
Is able to wash out the stain
In things that breathe here in the world;
For only virtue's water can
Wash out the stain in living things.
No breezes that come bringing rain,
No balm of yellow sandalwood,
No necklaces beside, or gems,
Or soft effulgence of moonbeams,
Can here avail to calm and soothe
Men's fevers in this world; whereas
This noble, this supremely cool,
Well-guarded virtue quells the flame.
Where is there to be found the scent
That can with virtue's scent compare,
And that is borne against the wind
As easily as with it? Where
Can such another stair be found
That climbs, as virtue does, to heaven?
Or yet another door that gives
Onto the City of Nibbana?
Shine as they may, there are no kings
Adorned with jewelry and pearls
That shine as does a main restrained
Adorned with virtue's ornament.
Virtue entirely does away
With dread of self-blame and the like;
Their virtue to the virtuous
Gives gladness always by its fame.
From this brief sketch it may be known
How virtue brings reward, and how
This root of all good qualities
Robs of its power every fault.

Path of Purification (Visuddhi-Magga) of Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa, trans. Bikkhu Nanamoli p. 10.

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