Thag 11  Saṅkicca

Ven. Saṅkicca ordained as a novice at the age of seven, and is reported to have attained arahantship as his head was being shaved prior to his ordination. In the first of the following verses attributed to him, he engages himself in a rhetorical conversation while sitting in a rainy forest.

What do you want in the woods, my boy,

like a bird1 exposed to the rain?

Monsoons refresh you,

for seclusion is for those in jhāna.

As the monsoon wind

drives the clouds in the rainy season,

so thoughts concerned with seclusion

impel me.

* * *

A black crow

making its home in a charnel ground

inspires within me

mindfulness in—

based on dispassion for—

the body.2

* * *

One whom others don’t guard,

who doesn’t guard others:

He is a monk

who lies down in ease,

unconcerned with sensual passions.

* * *

With clear waters &

massive boulders,

frequented by monkeys &

deer,

covered with moss &

water weeds:

Those rocky crags

refresh me.

* * *

I’ve lived in wildernesses,

canyons, & caves,

isolated dwellings

frequented by predator & prey,

but never have I known

an ignoble, aversive resolve:

“May these beings

be destroyed,

be slaughtered,

fall into pain.”

* * *

The Teacher has been served by me;

the Awakened One’s bidding,

done;

the heavy load,       laid down;

the guide to becoming,3     uprooted.

And the goal for which I went forth

from home life into homelessness

I’ve reached:

the end

of all fetters.

I don’t delight in death,

don’t delight in living.

I await my time

as a worker his wage.

I don’t delight in death,

don’t delight in living.

I await my time,

mindful, alert.

Notes

1. Ujjuhāna. The Commentary offers two interpretations for this word. The first is that it is a hill covered with jungle and many streams that tended to overflow in the rainy season. The other is that it is the name of a bird that could stay comfortable even when exposed to cold, wind, and rain. I’ve chosen the second alternative. K. R. Norman speculates that the term could be written ujjahāna, in which case it would be the present participle for a verb meaning “abandoned” or “cast off.” However, none of the manuscripts support his speculation.

2. In other words, the sight of the crow taking up residence in skulls and other body parts provided a chastening perspective on how the mind takes up residence in the body.

3. The guide to becoming is craving.

See also: Thag 5:8; Thag 14:1;Thag 18