Outsider poems, a mini-anthology in progress (36): Drukpa Kunley's 'Sutra of Sex' (redux)

Translation from Bhutanese by Keith Dowman and Sonam Paljor

[In the course of a recent conversation with George Quasha & Charles Stein, the idea of “crazy wisdom” came up, as it often does, & led to a consideration of how it might or might not relate to the construction of a book of outside/outsider poetry & its relation to the art brut discourse of an earlier modernism.  The figure on whom we focused was the Tibetan/Buthanese lama & poet Drukpa Kunley (1455 - 1529), one of a number of such practitioners – “holy madmen” in the vocabulary of Steven Goodman, “divine madmen” in that of  Keith Dowman & others, tricksters & traveling poets as evidenced by their works & words.  Writes Quasha in a followup email: “These Tibetan poets fit the description that Chögyam Trungpa emphasizes under Crazy Wisdom, which for them is a high state of realization that complicates any attempt to define enlightenment in outer/external or behavioral terms.”  And again: “I think this term could be one focus in your new work.”                                                           

       The following, then, comes from Dowman’s translations (with Sonam Paljor) in Divine Madman: The Sublime Life & Songs of Drukpa Kunley, recently published in a revised edition by CreateSpace, & marks for me the beginning of a further probe into the life of poetry outside-of-literature: a kind of deliberate poésie brute, then, covering that region of the mind that Diderot, nearly three centuries before us, identified with poetry & dubbed “barbaric, vast & wild.” (J.R.)]


“Drukpa Kunley's Sutra of Sex”

... Then the consorts and patrons of Bhutan made a further request to the Lama Drukpa Kunley. 'Lama Rimpoche, we beseech you to bless us, the people of the Southern Ravines, with a discourse upon the Buddha’s Teaching. We ask that you give your discourse a name in Sanskrit, that it be serious in content, but with some touches of humour. Please deliver it in the language of the common people so that everyone can understand it, but give it a profound inner meaning. Teach us the simple message of the Buddha, so that merely by hearing it we are released from the troubles of transmigratory existence.'

The Lama delivered this discourse.

'In Sanskrit: Nga'i mje sha-ra-ra!
In Tibetan:Bu-mo'i stu-la shu-ru-ru!
This is the discourse on mundane pleasure.

'The virgin finds pleasure in her rising desire,
The young tiger finds pleasure in his consummation,
The old man finds pleasure in his fertile memory:
That is the teaching on the Three Pleasures.
The bed is the workshop of sex,
And should be wide and comfortable;
The knee is the messenger of sex,
And should be sent up in advance;
The arm is the handle of sex,
And it should clasp her tightly;
The vagina is a glutton for sex,
And should be sated again and again:
That is the teaching upon Necessity.
It is taboo to make love to a married woman,
It is taboo to make love to a girl under ten,
It is taboo to make love to a menstruating woman
Or a woman under a vow of celibacy:
That is the teaching on the Three Taboos.
Hunger is the mark of an empty stomach,
A large penis is the mark of an idiot,
Passionate lust is the mark of a woman:
That is the teaching on the Three Marks.
The impotent man has little imagination,
Bastards have little virtue,
The rich have little generosity:
That is the teaching on the Three Deficiencies.
A Lama's joy is a gift,
A politician's joy is flattery,
A woman's joy is her lover:
That is the teaching on the Three Joys.
Sinners hate the pious and devout,
The rich hate loose spendthrifts,
Wives hate their husbands' mistresses:
That is the teaching on the Three Hates.
For blessing worship the Lama,
For power worship the Deity,
For efficiency worship the Reality Protectors:
This is the teaching on the Three Objects of Worship.
Pay no respect to mean Lamas,
Pay no respect to immoral monks,
Pay no respect to dogs, crows or women:
That is the teaching on the Three Rejects.
The Discipline's purpose is to calm and pacify,
The Vow to serve others is to free from self-will,
The Tantra's purpose is to teach unity of polarity:
That is the teaching on the Three Vehicles.
The starving beggar has no happiness,
The irreligious have no divinity,
The wanderer has no bonds or commitment:
That is the teaching on the Three Lacks.
He who is without honesty has a dry mouth,
He who is without spirituality makes no offering,
He who is without courage does not make a general:
That is the teaching on the Three Zeros.
The sign of a rich man is a tight fist,
The sign of an old man is a tight mind,
The sign of a nun is a tight vagina:
That is the teaching on the Three Constrictions.
The fast talker inserts himself into the centre of a crowd,
Monastic wealth inserts itself into the monks' stomachs,
Thick penises insert themselves into young girls:
That is the teaching on the Three Insertions.
The mind of a Bodhisattva is smooth,
The talk of self-seekers is smoother,
But the thighs of a virgin are smoother than silk:
That is the teaching on the Three Smooth Things.
Immoral monks have thin skirts,
Widows and spinsters have thin stomachs and clothes,
Fields without manure bear thin crops:
That is the teaching on the Three Thin Things.
Kunley never tires of girls,
Monks never tire of wealth,
Girls never tire of sex:
That is the teaching on the Three Indefatigables.
Although mind is clear, one needs a Lama;
Although a lamp burns brightly, it still needs oil;
Although Mind is self-evident, it needs recognition:
That is the teaching on the Three Needs.'

And then the Lama continued:

'The Lama without a disciple, the student without persistence,
The pundit without an audience, the woman without a lover,
The master without a servant, the rich man without food,
The farmer without crops, the nomad without cattle,
The monk without discipline, the Gomchen without instruction,
The nun obsessed with sex, the man unable to reach erection,
Wealth sought with the bum, and shy girls panting for sex
How ridiculous they look! What laughter they raise!'

And again he went on:

'Although the clitoris is suitably triangular,
It is ineligible as devil-food for the local god's worship.
Although love-juice can never dry up in the sun,
It is unsuited for tea to quench thirst.
Although a scrotum can hang very low,
It is an unsuitable bag for the hermitage's victuals.
Although a penis has a sound shaft and a large head,
It is not a hammer to strike a nail.
Though endowed with a human body and shapely,
It is not proper to be mistress to the Lord of Death
Although your mind may be virtuous and pure,
The Buddhas' Teaching is not accomplished by staying at home.
The teaching of the Tantric Mysteries is most profound,
But liberation cannot be gained without profound experience.
Drukpa Kunley may show you the way,
But you must traverse the path by yourself.'

After he had finished this discourse, the people cried and laughed, and crying and laughing they left that place with great faith and devotion. Through his own buoyancy and benevolence his fame spread throughout the land of Bhutan, and all men and women, monks and laymen, recognized his power and revered him. By virtue of this faith and devotion they became ready vessels for the Buddhas' ambrosia.


[More of the preceding at http://www.keithdowman.net/books/dm.htm#Sutra of Sex.]