Travelling afar, wandering alone …

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[Photo copyright by Peiyu Liu via Flickr under the creatice commons licence]

Dūraṅgamaṃ ekacaraṃ asarīraṃ guhāsayaṃ,
Ye cittaṃ saññam-essanti mokkhanti Mārabandhanā.

Travelling afar, wandering alone,
Without a body, dwelling in a cave;
Whoever subdues this mind,
will be free from the bonds of Mara;

[Dhammapada Verse 37]

This is one of my favorite Dhammapada verses.
Sometimes, however, it is translated like this:

 “The mind wanders far and moves about alone; it is non-material; it lies in the cave of the heart. Those who control their mind will be free from the bonds of Mara.

While the translation is grammatically correct – the cittaṃ (mind) in the second line is indeed the object for the first four words – it nevertheless completely misses the dramaturgy of the verse.

The whole point is, that the Buddha proclaimed the first line without anyone knowing what he is actually talking about.

Travelling afar, wandering alone, without a body, dwelling in a cave;
You get a vision of a vicious monster living deep in a mountain, hidden from all eyes. Then, after a pause, the Buddha reveals what he is talking about:
Whoever subdues this mind, will be free from the bonds of mara;

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