When They Plow Their Fields

When they plow their fields
and sow seeds in the earth,
when they care for their wives and children,

young brahmans find riches.

But I’ve done everything right
and followed the rule of my teacher.

I’m not lazy or proud.
Why haven’t I found peace?

Bathing my feet
I watched the bathwater
spill down the slope.
I concentrated my mind
the way you train a good horse.

Then I took a lamp
and went into my cell,

checked the bed,
and sat down on it.
I took a needle
and pushed the wick down.

When the lamp went out
my mind was freed.

By Patacara, India, 6th century. Translated by Susan Murcott


From First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening by Susan Murcott, Parallax Press 1991, 2006.

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