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§ 62. BEAUTY IS BUT SKIN-DEEP.
§ 62 a.--Translated from the Visuddhi-Magga (chap. i.).
With his eye he sees forms:--He sees forms with his eye-consciousness, which is able to see forms, and which is called by the name of its instrument, the eye. As the ancients have said, "The eye does not see forms, inasmuch as it is not the mind, and the mind does not see forms, inasmuch as it is not the eye. But when the object of sense meets the organ of sense, a person sees with the mind by means of the sensitiveness of the eye." The phrase to "see with the eye" makes mention only of the instrument, as when it is said, "He wounds with his bow." Accordingly, the sense is, with his eye-consciousness he sees forms.
But takes no note of signs:--Either signs of femininity, or of masculinity, or of sensuous beauty, or of anything else calculated to arouse the passions, but stops short at what he sees.
Nor of minor tokens:--He takes no note of a person's hand, or foot, or smile, or laugh, or conversation, or looking, or gazing, or other personal characteristics called "tokens," because they betoken and reveal the passions. Only that which is real does he note, as did the elder Mahâ-Tissa, the hermit of Mt. Cetiya.
The story is that a certain woman had married into a family of rank, but had quarreled with her husband, and, decked and ornamented, until she looked like a goddess, had issued forth from Anurâdhapura, early in the morning, and was returning home to her family. On her way she met the elder, as he was on his way from Mt. Cetiya to go on his begging-rounds in Anurâdhapura. And no sooner had she seen him, than the perversity of her nature caused her to laugh loudly. The elder looked up inquiringly, and observing
her teeth, realized the impurity of the body,1 and attained to saintship. Therefore was it said:
|"The elder gazed upon her teeth,|
And thought upon impurity;
And ere that he had left that spot,
The stage of saintship he attained."
Then came her husband, following in her footsteps, and seeing the elder, he said:
"Reverend sir, have you seen a woman pass this way?"
And the elder said:
|"Was it a woman, or a man,|
That passed this way? I cannot tell.
But this I know, a set of bones
Is traveling on upon this road."
§ 62 b.--Translated from the Visuddhi-Magga (chap. vi.).
For as the body when dead is repulsive, so is it also when alive; but on account of the concealment afforded by an adventitious adornment, its repulsiveness escapes notice. The body is in reality a collection of over three hundred bones, and is framed into a whole by means of one hundred and eighty joints. It is held together by nine hundred tendons, and overlaid by nine hundred muscles, and has an outside envelope of moist cuticle covered by an epidermis full of pores, through which there is an incessant oozing and trickling, as if from a kettle of fat. It is a prey to vermin, the seat of disease, and subject to all manner of miseries. Through its nine apertures it is always discharging matter, like a ripe boil. Matter is secreted from the two eyes, wax from the ears, snot from the nostrils, and from the mouth issue food, bile, phlegm, and blood, and from the two lower orifices of the body faeces and urine, while from the ninety-nine thousand pores of the skin an unclean sweat exudes attracting black flies and other insects.
Were even a king in triumphal progress to neglect the use of tooth-sticks, mouth-rinses, anointings of the head, baths and inner and outside garments, and other means for beautifying the person, he would become as uncouth and unkempt as the moment he was born, and would in no wise differ in bodily offensiveness from the low-caste candâla whose occupation it is to remove dead flowers. Thus in respect of its uncleanness, malodor, and disgusting offensiveness, the person of a king does not differ from that of a candâla. However, when, with the help of tooth-sticks, mouth-rinses, and various ablutions, men have cleansed their teeth, and the rest of their persons, and with manifold garments have covered their nakedness, and have anointed themselves with many-colored and fragrant unguents, and adorned themselves with flowers and ornaments, they find themselves able to believe in an "I" and a "mine." Accordingly, it is on account of the concealment afforded by this adventitious adornment that people fail to recognize the essential repulsiveness of their bodies, and that men find pleasure in women, and women in men. In reality, however, there is not the smallest just reason for being pleased.
A proof of this is the fact that when any part of the body becomes detached, as, for instance, the hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, phlegm, snot, faeces, or urine, people are unwilling so much as to touch it, and are distressed at, ashamed of, and loathe it. But in respect of what remains, though that is likewise repulsive, yet men are so wrapped in blindness and infatuated by a passionate fondness for their own selves, that they believe it to be something desirable, lovely, lasting, pleasant, and an Ego.
In this they resemble the old jackal of the forest, who supposes each flower on a kimsuka tree to be a piece of meat, until disconcerted by its falling from the tree.
|Even as the jackal, when he sees|
The flowers on a kimsuka tree,
Will hasten on, and vainly think,
"Lo, I have found a tree with meat!"
|But when each several flower that falls|
He bites with an exceeding greed,
"Not this is meat; that one is meat
Which in the tree remains," he says;
|Even so the sage rejects and loathes|
Each fallen particle as vile,
But thinks the same of all the rest
Which in the body still remain.
|Yet fools the body pleasant find,|
Become therewith infatuate,
And many evil works they do,
Nor find from misery their release.
|Let, then, the wise reflect, and see|
The body is of grace bereft;
Whether it living be or dead,
Its nature is putridity.
For it has been said,
|"The body, loathsome and unclean,|
Is carrion-like, resembles dung,
Despised by those whose eyes can see,
Though fools find in it their delight.
|"This monstrous wound hath outlets nine,|
A damp, wet skin doth clothe it o'er;
At every point the filthy thing
Exudeth nasty, stinking smells.
|"If now this body stood revealed,|
Were it but once turned inside out,
We sure should need to use a stick
To keep away the dogs and crows."1
Therefore the undisciplined priest must acquire the mental reflex wherever he can, wherever an impurity appears, be it in a living body or in one that is dead, and thus bring his meditation to the stage of attainment-concentration.
Next: § 63. The Conversion of Animals
1 By means of the tenth impurity, the teeth being reckoned as bone. Compare page 292.
1 Hampole, Prick of Conscience, as quoted in The Century Dictionary, s.v. midding:
|A fouler myddyng sawe thow never nane|
Than a man es with fleache and bane.