A poem by
Venerable J. Thupten Rinpoche
© Copyright Thupten Tulku & Dhargyey Buddhist Centre, 2000.
Although mountains and rocks, buildings and forests may appear majestic
The earth alone is their only base on which to stand tall.
Although one may bask in glory, the guru alone is its only source;
What good is it leaving the guru aside, and investing hope in the old of the world?
Just as not tapping the wonders of the Precious Jewel that grants all temporal wishes
But ignoring it as if like an artificial stone; is a greatly wasted chance,
Likewise what good is the dynamic life capable of ensuring the path to lasting peace
Wasted maintaining a human image that puts on the mask of goodness yet has no scruples.
Although one may be carried swiftly by a stately ship
It is forsaken unhesitatingly when safely on the other shore,
Likewise one may roll in opulence for now
But what good will it be when journeying alone in the other world?
Although a fully grown tree, laden with foliage, boughs and fruits
May shed its leaves and fruits; it receives them in greater numbers annually;
Likewise if, through the multiplying effects of unceasing unwholesome deeds,
At death, one is reborn in a bad migration, what good are the mundane engagements?
Just as when stranded in the open wilderness lashed by storm and lightning,
One vividly longs for the cover of a cosy cave,
Likewise when the terror and suffering of being cooked and boiled visits one,
Save the Three Jewels and gurus, what good is anyone else?
Just as whatever seed, astringent or sweet, is sowed,
An effect that is astringent or sweet is inescapable;
Likewise when virtues yield happiness and non-virtues suffering
What good is it to practise and behave to the contrary?
Just as flies in their hundreds of thousands swarm uninvited
To a site that is a pile of filth with 'irresistible' odour,
Likewise when the body; a projected effect of projecting deluded actions,
Is a mine of suffering, what good is longing for happiness?
Like a stair or a lift is needed to climb to the summit of a building,
And a boat or a bridge to cross to the opposite bank of a river
Likewise save the three-training path, what else is good
For reaching the summit of the city on yonder shore of liberation?
Just as the power of aeroplanes moving freely in space
Comes principally from many outer and inner elements;
Likewise when whatever we have; dwelling, body, and wealth
Comes entirely from others' kindness, what good is self alone?
Just as not returning kindness of parents and friends
Who have nurtured and helped one is an uncivilised norm;
So is forgetting one's timeless mothers, who have always nurtured with kindness.
Do generate therefore the supreme resolve for the great task of liberating them.
Just as without any expectations for return,
Rain from the swirling water-laden clouds in the sky nurture the earth
Likewise, imbued with the guidance to enhance sense of selfless giving,
Nurture the migrating beings through the generosity of teaching and resources.
Just as, regardless of day or night, one endures great pain to protect
The precious treasures of gold and silver that are under one's possession,
Likewise, safeguard the vows and commitments, like one's eyes
And train in the three ethics with intense perseverance.
Just as farmers endure heat and cold when the spring's glory shines,
With the hope for golden bumper crops in the autumn harvest;
Likewise don the armour that returns harm with benevolence
No matter what harm, beating or reviling, comes one's way.
Just as mere drops of water that fall without cease
Wear a hole even in the solid mass of stone,
Likewise, when working without respite for others through compassion
Do develop a perseverance that flows inexorably like the stream of a river.
Just as an untamed elephant accustomed to wild living over many lives
Is tamed by iron prongs and hooks, and tied to the pillar,
Likewise sever distracting hustle and bustle, an old acquaintance over many lives
And train in the stability of mind that remains steady on the object in focus.
Just as one needs a bright lamp and sharp spear
When entering a pitch dark den of snakes,
Likewise a clear, sharp wisdom is needed when severing the root of the conception
Of self-existence; the ignorance that imprisons beings in the den of the cyclic life.
Mistaken about the actual state of reality
Just as a community of monkeys strive to save the 'fallen' moon in the water;
Likewise, realising the conception of true existence of every appearance as distortion,
Maintain the view of things as void of true existence, despite such an appearance.
Just as urgent undertakings are carried out
Not by pacing steps but by boarding fast-moving aircraft;
Likewise to journey swiftly to the Supreme Enlightenment for others
Embark on the dynamic path of the supremely secret, the vajra vehicle.
Just as braving great hardships, they who ventured to the jewel islands
Returned home with their bounteous findings,
Likewise when [in the island of] this wondrous human life
Realise good heart and altruistic actions as our jewel bounty.
Although without wings; through the power of elements
Humans are today seen soaring high through the skies;
Likewise, though without meditative experiences, but through good heart
It is not unfitting for my mind to take flight to give some advice.
Just as when eaten a single fruit will help the body
But if uneaten even a store-full amount is useless;
Likewise, when practised even a single verse brings sure benefits
But when not practised, what good is even sleeping in a library?
In brief, just as a colourful picture, though pretty for the eye,
Is like a dramatic portrayal of some shallow human whims
Likewise, an artful behaviour, the exterior differing from the interior
Though pretty for the eye, alas! Its deep falsehood will surface one day surely.
Just as the streams rushing from the majestic snowy mountains
By nature are a pristine continuum, untainted by dirty contaminants;
Likewise, is this advice emanating from good-heart, a pure virtue of altruism.
Consider it as wholesome pith for pure virtuous hearts.
Just as whatever is sowed in a fertile field
Bestowed with right conditions, is reaped as desired,
Likewise, may of the field of the fortunate, on whom falls this shower
Of the pith of the path, be laden with fruit of liberation.
Saddened by some untoward behaviour of some, I have been compelled to write this word of advice called The Gentle Rain of the Meaningful Path as a cautionary note to myself and others lest we should fall to such a level of behaviour even as spiritual practitioners.
Translator's after word.
This poem by the venerable Thupten Tulku was given to me to translate well over a year and a half ago. But being one of those who pursue water in the mirage or a pot of gold at the end of 'striking' rainbow of material concerns, I have taken a long time to translate 'The Gentle Rain'. May the keepers of the sanctity of Dharma forgive me for any mistakes on my part in the rendition of the translation of the poem from the Tibetan into English. Losang Dawa.