Gratitude for the Text Transmission

Gratitude to Gotama for speaking the Dhamma,
Beloved Ānanda for remembering it all.
Gratitude always to the First Council Elders,
and Ānanda again, his own path assured.

To the monks with no master, for 300 years,
committing to memory their teacher’s words,
lifetimes pre-literate, sati is memory, gratitude.
How many lives given becoming these books?

To the scribes, the printmakers, carvers, inscribers, gratitude.
Your craft told them rest, those minds, devoted
to memory as the roads between cities got dusty.
Finished, the aural momentum of faith.

A space opened up, it seems, as Gotama’s
life-giving words fell quiet in their bindings,
and let the minds go that held them
so close in song through the nights.

The dharma, loosed on the world as blossom,
starts to bear fruit. It’s wild. Sweet.

To the poets of emptiness, power,
realms, displays, effulgence, radiance, light,
your Craft is Great, you crossed the flood.
Gone, beyond the limits of literature, gone.

And translators, travellers, patrons, sages,
keeping the canon intact through the empires,
breathing the debates, building the commentary,
all for whom? For those who seek. Gratitude.

But what can I thank, now, for the way it came to me,
this dhamma as pure as a polished stone?
The saṅgha had grown by contact, by neighbors
discussing the Way at the speed of walking, friendship, trade.

And then the ships came.

Sean Feit Oakes, Waning Snow Moon, Magha Pūjā 2562 / 2019

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