SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

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mikenz66
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SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 2.6 PTS: S i 48 CDB i 142 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament
translated from the Pali by Andrew Olendzki


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .olen.html


[Kamada:]
So hard it is to do, Lord,
It's so very hard to do!

[Buddha:]
But still they do what's hard to do,
Who steady themselves with virtue.
For one pursuing homelessness,
Content arrives, and with it joy.

[Kamada:]
So hard it is to get, Lord,
This content of which you speak!

[Buddha:]
But still they get what's hard to get,
Who delight in a tranquil mind.
The mind of those, both day and night,
Delights in its development.

[Kamada:]
So hard it is to tame, Lord,
This mind of which you speak!

[Buddha:]
But still they tame what's hard to tame,
Who delight in senses at peace.
Cutting through mortality's net,
The nobles, Kamada, proceed.

[Kamada:]
So hard it is to go, Lord,
On this path that gets so rough!

[Buddha:]
Still nobles, Kamada, proceed
On paths both rough and hard to take.
Those who are less than noble fall
On their heads when the path gets rough.
But for nobles the path is smooth
— For nobles smooth out what is rough!


Translator's note

This plaintive cry of the deva Kamada, concerning the difficulty of Buddhist practice, will resonate with almost anyone who has embarked on the temporary homelessness of a retreat at IMS or elsewhere. The steady reply of the Buddha here admonishes Kamada to overcome his weaknesses and find the nobility within himself to tread the noble path.

The tone of this poem is so typical of the approach the Buddha displays throughout the Pali texts — compassionate yet firm, reasoned but profoundly inspiring. The progression is also characteristic — from virtue to joy, tranquillity to diligent development, and finally cutting through the snares of death and rebirth and proceeding to undying nibbana.

Kamada is reminded that others have done, gotten and tamed what he is having such difficulty doing, getting and taming. Others have taken the hard path to the goal, and all he lacks is the resolve, the hero's determination, to forge ahead despite the obstacles.

The lyrical almost sing-song quality of the verse has been hopefully retained by translating it in something like its original meter of eight syllables per line.
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mikenz66
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta
Translated by John Ireland


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #passage-6

...Standing at one side Kaamada devaputta[7] said to the Lord:

"It is difficult to do, Lord, very difficult to do!"

Yet what is difficult to do they do —
Disciples[8] virtuous with collected minds.
For those who enter in the homeless state
There is contentment bringing bliss.
"It is difficult to attain, Lord, this contentment!"

Yet what is difficult to attain they attain,
Those devoted to stilling the mind.
For them both day and night
The mind delights in meditation.
"It is difficult, Lord, to concentrate the mind!"

Yet what is difficult to concentrate they concentrate,
Those devoted to controlling the senses.
Breaking through Death's net those
Noble Ones[9] walk freely, Kaamada.
"It is difficult, Lord, going on an uneven path!"

Yet along this uneven path they walk,
Those Noble Ones, Kaamada.
On the uneven the ignoble fall headlong,
But the way is even for the Noble,
For over the uneven they walk evenly.

Note

[7] Devaputta means a son of a deva or a young (or new) celestial being. According to the commentary, Kaamada was a bhikkhu in the previous life. He was remorseful for not striving hard enough as a human being and the Buddha is gently chiding him for it.
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by Mkoll »

Great sutta. It shows that walking the path as the noble ones do is difficult but well worth it.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by mikenz66 »

Here are some notes from the Commentary, from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:

“Hard to do, Blessed One! Very hard to do, Blessed One!”
  • Spk: This young deva, it is said, had been a meditator in a previous life, but he had thick defilements and thus could suppress them only with much effort. Though he did the work of an ascetic, because his supporting conditions were weak he passed away and took rebirth in the deva world without having reached the plane of the noble ones. He came to the Blessed One’s presence to proclaim the difficulty of the ascetic life.
“The path is impassable and uneven, Blessed One."
  • Spk: Although the noble path is neither impassable nor uneven (duggamo visamo), this is said because there are many impediments in the preliminary portion of the path.
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by Mkoll »

I'm always skeptical of commentarial claims of the details of people's past lives, but that second commentarial passage you quoted makes some sense.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by Sam Vara »

Thanks Mike. It's a beautiful piece of poetry, with some excellent advice. I like the way that it doesn't just exhort or urge Kamada (and by extension, us!) to work harder and make more of the effort which causes the complaint. Progress is shown to be dependent upon the delight that comes from a tranquil mind, or senses at peace. Not just more effort, but Right Effort. This is more evident in AO's translation, which for that reason I find more sympathetic.

EDIT: I've just checked, and Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation has something of this sense too.
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mikenz66
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by mikenz66 »

Mkoll wrote:I'm always skeptical of commentarial claims of the details of people's past lives, but that second commentarial passage you quoted makes some sense.
One way of approaching the comments is to view them as the Commentator speculating about what in the past might have led to the current conversion. I.e. as a possible hint for one's own interpretation, a possible answer to "why is he making that statement?"

I think it's worth noting that these suttas are not about "people", they are conversations with devas, who by definition have been reborn on a celestial plane. Therefore the past-life history is highly relevant, though of course one may choose to interpret these conversations as mythological. Devas are, by definition, having a pleasant time. The Thirty-one Planes of Existence:
Beings in these planes enjoy varying degrees of jhanic bliss.
So it seems that the lament must be about a past existence, or the whole world-view presented in these suttas would make no sense.

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by Mkoll »

mikenz66 wrote:
Mkoll wrote:I'm always skeptical of commentarial claims of the details of people's past lives, but that second commentarial passage you quoted makes some sense.
One way of approaching the comments is to view them as the Commentator speculating about what in the past might have led to the current conversion. I.e. as a possible hint for one's own interpretation, a possible answer to "why is he making that statement?"

I think it's worth noting that these suttas are not about "people", they are conversations with devas, who by definition have been reborn on a celestial plane. Therefore the past-life history is highly relevant, though of course one may choose to interpret these conversations as mythological. Devas are, by definition, having a pleasant time. The Thirty-one Planes of Existence:
Beings in these planes enjoy varying degrees of jhanic bliss.
So it seems that the lament must be about a past existence, or the whole world-view presented in these suttas would make no sense.

:anjali:
Mike
Indeed.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by chownah »

So it seems that the lament must be about a past existence, or the whole world-view presented in these suttas would make no sense.
Perhaps these suttas are not written to present a sensible world view.....maybe they are just about how difficult things can seem but how things can be accomplished inspite of perceived difficulty etc......maybe a deva was used as the complainer as a sort of hyperbole to encourage us mere earthlings by showing that even devas sometimes see the path as difficult......I don't know.....
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by mikenz66 »

chownah wrote:
So it seems that the lament must be about a past existence, or the whole world-view presented in these suttas would make no sense.
Perhaps these suttas are not written to present a sensible world view.....maybe they are just about how difficult things can seem but how things can be accomplished inspite of perceived difficulty etc......maybe a deva was used as the complainer as a sort of hyperbole to encourage us mere earthlings by showing that even devas sometimes see the path as difficult......I don't know.....
chownah
Certainly that can be a useful way of looking at it.

:anjali:
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Re: SN 2.6 Kamada Sutta: Kamada's Lament

Post by Spiny Norman »

The last 3 lines are so expressive:

On the uneven the ignoble fall headlong,
But the way is even for the Noble,
For over the uneven they walk evenly.
Buddha save me from new-agers!
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