Nagarjunas Good Hearted Letter (1 – 60)

1. O righteous and worthy one endowed with virtues, it is fitting you hear these few noble verses which I have composed so that you may aspire to the merit which arises from the Sugata’s words.

2. For example, an image of the Sugata, if it be made of wood or whatever it be like, is worshipped by wise men. Likewise though this poem of mine lacks grace, do not despise it since it is based upon a discussion of the holy Dharma.

3. However much of the Great Sage’s words you may have listened to and may have even comprehended, still is not a white-painted (mansion) made whiter by the midnight moon?

4. You should bring to mind the six objects of recollection: the Enlightened One, His Teaching, the Noble Assembly, giving, morality, and gods; the heap of qualities of each of these were well taught by the Conqueror.

5. Always practise the path of the ten virtuous deeds (performed) through body, voice and mind; refrain from alcohol, and also delight in a wholesome livelihood.

6. Knowing that wealth is unstable and devoid of essence, rightly bestow gifts upon monks, brahmanas, the poor and friends; so for the next life there is no more excellent a kinsman than giving.

7. You should practice morality which is unimpaired, blameless, not mixed and unsullied – for morality is said to be the foundation of all virtues, just as the earth is (the support of both) animate and inanimate things.

8. Increase the measureless perfections of giving, morality, patience, energy, meditation and wisdom, and thus become the Lord of Conquerors who has reached the further shore of the ocean of existence.

9. The race of one who worships father and mother is in the company of that of Brahmins and that of preceptors; through revering them one will win fame and later will attain the higher realms.

10. Forsake killing, theft, sexual misconduct, lying, alcohol, attachment to food at improper times, enjoyment of high seats and beds, and all kinds of songs, dances and garlands.

11. If you possess these eight features which resemble an Arhats morality, then, nourished by the religious vows, you will bestow on men and women the pleasant form of the gods of the realm of desire.

12. Look upon these as enemies: miserliness, cunning, deceit, attachment to property, laziness, pride, sexual attachment, hatred, and arrogance of caste, form, learning, youth, and great power.

13-14. The Sage said that heedfulness is the source of the deathless and heedlessness is the source of death; hence to increase your virtue, devotedly remain heedful. One who has formerly been heedless, but later becomes heedful – like Nanda, Angulimala, Ajasatru and Udayana – will also be resplendent like the moon free from clouds.

15. Since there is no penance like patience, you must give anger no opportunity to arise. The Buddha said that by giving up anger, one will attain the irreversible stage.

16. “I was abused by these (people), bound by them, defeated by them, they have snatched away my property”. Thus harbouring enmity produces quarrels, but one who gives up harbouring enmity sleeps happily.

17. Recognise the mind to be like a drawing made on water, earth or stone; The first among these is excellent for those possessing the afflictions, and the last for those who desire religion.

18. The Conqueror declared that pleasant, truthful and wrong are the three kinds of speech possessed by people – such words are like honey, flowers and filth. Abandon the last of these.

19. Four categories of persons are seen (who move) from: light to great light, dark to great dark, light to great dark, and dark to great light; be the first among these.

20. Persons should be understood to be like mango fruits which are: unripened yet seemingly ripened, ripened but seemingly unripened, unripened and appearing to be unripened, and ripened ones which also appear to be ripened.

21. Do not look upon another’s wife; however, should you see her, think of her according to her age – thus as mother, daughter or sister. If lust persists, then meditate well on impurity.

22. Protect the unsteady mind just as (you would protect) learning, a son, a treasure, or life; withdraw the mind from sensual pleasures just as (you would withdraw) from a vicious (serpent), poison, a weapon, an enemy or fire.

23. The Lord of Conquerors declared desires to be like the kimbu fruit, for they are the cause of misery; since these iron chains bind worldly people in the prison of Samsara, renounce them.

24. (In choosing) between the one who conquers (attachment to) the ever unsteady and momentary objects of the six sense organs and the one who conquers the enemy’s army in battle, the wise know the first to be a far greater hero.

25. Look upon the body of a young woman apart from ornaments (and clothing) like a totally impure vessel covered with skin, difficult to satisfy, bad smelling, and with impurities issuing from the nine (bodily) doors.

26. Know that just as the insect – ridden leper wholly depends on fire for the sake of happiness, similarly clinging to desires will bring no peace.

27. Be skilled in rightly perceiving things with the understanding of the Ultimate (Truth), for there is no other practice possessing comparable quality.

28. The person possessing high caste, beautiful form and learning is not respected if they lack morality and wisdom however one possessing these two qualities though lacking the others is worshipped.

29. O knower of the world, the eight worldly dharmas- gain, loss, happiness, unhappiness, fame, notoriety, praise and blame – should be regarded equally as (they) are not worthy of your mind.

30. Do not commit sins for the sake of brahamanas, monks, gods, guests, parents, sons, queen or attendants since there is no one else to experience the result of hell.

31. Though some unwholesome deeds performed will not wound you immediately like a weapon, still any effect (arising) from those unwholesome actions will become manifest when the time of death befalls.

32. The Sage said that faith, morality, giving, study, modesty, humility, and wisdom are the seven unblemished properties; recognise other common properties to be meaningless.

33. Abandon these six which result in loss of fame and birth in evil states: gambling, participation in fairs, laziness, association with sinful friends, alcohol, and walking in the night.

34. The preceptor of Gods and men said that satisfacvtion is the most excellent among virtues so always be satisfied. If content though possessing no wealth, one is truly rich.

35. O gracious king, just as the most excellent of Nags suffers in accordance with the number of heads acquired, just so one suffers in accordance with the number of material possessions acquired. However this is not the case for those with few desires.

36-37. Avoid these three kinds of wives: one who, like an executioner, is naturally associated with the enemy; one who, like a queen, disrespects the husband; and one who, like a thief, steals even small things. (The type of wife) to revere as a family deity is the one who is kind like a sister, one who is dear like a friend, one who wishes your benefit like a mother, or one who is subject to you like a servant.

38. Understanding food to be like medicine, neither use it with hatred, nor attachment, nor for might, pride or beauty, but solely for maintaining the body.

39. O righteous one, after (usefully) spending the whole day and the beginning and end of the night, mindfully sleep only in the middle (watch), so even the time of sleep will not be fruitless. With a great revulsion for samsara, strive constantly for enlightenment.

40. Always meditate rightly on love, compassion, joy, and equanimity; even if the supreme (state) is not gained in this way, still the happiness of the world of Brahma will be attained.

41. Having given up the pleasures, joys and sufferings of the realm of desire by means of the four concentrations, the fortunate levels of the gods – Brahma, Abhasvara, Subhakrtsna and Brhatphala will be obtained.

42. From the foundation of these five great factors- persistence, intention, unopposed, endowed with qualities, and beneficiaries – virtuous and non-virtuous deeds arise (in great measure); therefore, strive to do virtuous actions.

43. Understand that a small measure of salt changes the taste of a little water while not that of the Ganges River; similarly, a small unwholesome deed (will not spoil) a vast root of virtue.

44. Be aware that these five hindrances are thieves which steal the wealth of virtue: restlessness and worry, aversion, sloth and torpor, attachment, and doubt.

45. Assiduously perform the five most excellent practices – faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. These are called strength, power, and also the attained summit.

46. “Thus actions done by oneself (are the cause) of not passing beyond disease, old age, death and separation from the dear.” Arrogance will not arise by means of the corrective of this repeated thought.

47. Follow the right view if heaven and liberation are desired, for even persons doing meritorious deeds through the wrong view will have all awful consequences.

48. Know that in reality human beings are unhappy, impermanent, devoid of self, and impure; those who forsake mindfulness are ruined through wrongly viewing these four.

49. Thus it has been said: “The form is not the self, the self does not possess the form, the self does not dwell in the form, and the form does not dwell in the self”, in this manner also understand the four remaining aggregates as empty.

50. Know that the aggregates originated neither from chance, time, nature, intrinsic being, God, nor without cause, but from ignorant deeds and craving.

51. Understand these three to be fetters (to Samsara) and obstacles to the gates of the city of liberation: adhering solely to morality and asceticism, the mistaken view of real individuality and doubt.

52. Since liberation depends upon oneself and not on any help from others, cultivate the fourfold truth through possessing study, morality and concentration.

53. Always be disciplined in the highest morality, highest wisdom and highest absorption; more than one hundred and fifty disciplines are verily included within these three.

54. O lord, mindfulness regarding the body was taught to be the only path (to liberation) by the Sugata. Since the loss of mindfulness will destroy all virtues, guard it well through steadfastness.

55. Life is impermanent since (it is beset by) many misfortunes like a bubble of water caught by the wind; that one inhales after exhaling and awakens from sleep is wonderful.

56. Know that the insubstantial body at the end – becoming ashes, dried, putrid or foul – will be completely destroyed and despoiled (and) its constituents dispersed.

57. Since not even ash will remain as all things – the earth, Mount Sumeru and the ocean – will be consumed by the flames of the seven suns, what need to say anything of very frail men.

59. O best of men, since everything is impermanent, devoid of self, refugeless, protectorless, and homeless, free your mind from Samsara which is like the pithless plantain tree.

59. O lord of men, make this (human life) fruitful by practising the Holy Dharma, for it is more difficult to obtain a human birth from animal states than for a tortoise to place (its neck) in the opening in a wooden yoke present in the same ocean.

60. Having obtained a human birth, one who commits unwholesome actions is more foolish than one who fills a jewel adorned golden vase with vomit.

The Lords Prayer

This is a prayer I say very often. It always helps me feel connected to God and reminds me of the need to rely on him in the good times and the bad.

“Dear Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by thy name,
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen”