For A Mouthful of Grass

The eighth-century Buddhist master on desire's trap

Shantideva

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Some, under the influence of desire, work like slaves.
They tire themselves out working long days
And, when they return home in the evening,
Their exhausted bodies collapse like corpses.

Some have to experience the disruptions of travel
Or suffer from being far from home.
Although they long to be close to their partners,
They do not see them for years at a time.

Some, confused about how to earn what they desire,
Effectively sell themselves to others
Even when they do not get what they want
But are driven without meaning by the needs
     of others.

Then there are those who sell themselves
     into servitude
And work for others without any freedom.
They live in lonely, desolate places
Where their children are born with only trees for
     shelter.

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