"I Thatched my house in the Calm"

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sam Vara
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"I Thatched my house in the Calm"

Post by Sam Vara »

This isn't really a connection to another organised religion or doctrine, but I was struck by the Buddhist parallels in this amateur poet's efforts from 1917. I was looking through the old copies of the Parish Magazine issued by my wife's church, and stumbled across it. I think it was only ever published there, because I can't find any references by Googling chunks of it. It appears to have been written by a woman or girl called "Rosamund", who sent it to the Magazine publishers for the delight of the other parishioners. As a piece of poetry, it is quite awful, and typical of the folksy homespun sentimentality that was popular a century ago in the UK. But I like the echo of the first chapter of the Dhammapada:
As rain seeps into
an ill-thatched hut,
so passion,
the undeveloped mind.

As rain doesn't seep into
a well-thatched hut,
so passion does not,
the well-developed mind.
And Ajahn Thanissaro's point:
There's a short verse in the Canon where a monk's sitting in his hut during a rainstorm and saying, "My hut is well-thatched, so go ahead and rain as much as you'd like." That's a symbol for a mind that's well trained. It can deal with any situation. No matter how good or how bad things are outside, the mind is protected. The good and bad things can't penetrate it.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... atchedroof

But more generally, I like the idea of fearlessness, safety, and equanimity being achieved by one's own efforts in living a good life; and the rejection of priestly intervention in favour of moral self-reliance.

In a tiny cottage, clean and neat,
Far from the noise of the busy street,
There, at the close of his life's long day,
Weary and worn an aged man lay.
The sands of his life were well-nigh spent;
This knowledge to him brought sweet rest, content.
The man of God by his bedside knelt,
Compassion deep for this aged one felt;
And asked with eagerness, kind and true,
"Oh, say,is there anything I can do?
Can I read or pray to the Friend above
So good and merciful, full of love?"
The dying man answered: "Just bend your head",
And whispering - these were the words he said -
"I thatched my house in the calm."

"I thatched my house in the calm" - before
The winds and storms from my weak hands tore
The things with which I could make secure,
My dwelling for all time safe and sure.
No stormy winds from death's cold dark tide
Can now disturb me at "eventide".
No pitiless rains can reach me, where
I calmly awit the "morning" fair
"I thatched my house in the calm", for then
I needed not the advice of men,
Or their assistance to undertake
My preparation for heaven to make.
No worry, bustle, or haste at last,
To make my dwelling secure and fast -
"I thatched my house in the calm".

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Re: "I Thatched my house in the Calm"

Post by Bundokji »

I think real wisdom has to be universal even if we as Buddhists believe that the Buddha's teachings is the best path leading to it.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: "I Thatched my house in the Calm"

Post by JamesTheGiant »

The old man dying peacefully may be going to heaven, but the poem writer is going STRAIGHT TO HELL for those saccharine rhymes. :mrgreen:

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