A Bodhisattva’s Lament

As I was strolling through the streets of Samsara
through the streets, letting the stream take hold,
I spied an aged Bodhisattva, adorned in all flowers
adorned all in flowers and left out in the cold.

“Oh, in this heart the Dharma Drum beat strongly,
this drum beat so strong as the stream first took hold;
As I lay here dying in this street all alone, I realize
I am just a Bodhisattva, and I know my song is bold.”

“This life is a rough one, sometimes unfriendly and unkind”
Whispering these words as I sidled nearby –
“Come. Rest beside me and hear my lonely tale;
This wheel has done turned, it is my time to die.”

“Ten devas, Nine demons, and one ghost are a-gathering,
Let them abide. They know the song needs to be sung.
Take me out to the Pure Land and lay my body down,
For I am just a Bodhisattva, and I know my bell is rung.”

“I was generous and kind to both friend and relation,
Morning mists are burned off by noon and they are gone.
They took my money. My love. Left me with only my gun
Oh, I am just a Bodhisattva and I know my bell is rung.

“Please, sweet ghost, tell my family that all is forgiven,
then carry the same to all I held in jealousy and fear;
Do not, however, speak of my sad current state
to my wife when she comes, of my fortune to hear.

“My discipline was always true, my integrity still intact,
but, oh demons, I weep that I was not always so strong.
These flowers only mask the smell of a life of missteps,
Oh, I am just a Bodhisattva, and I know my bell is rung.

“So gather around you hordes of howling demons,
And drink of the irony before its too late;
But remember, beasts, that moonlight will cool
The fiercest of flames and Hellfire ain’t my fate.”

“Now, silence your howls, your heels that are a-clicking;
As you follow me along this trail, keep a civil tongue.
Bow your heads down low as the flames set high;
Oh, I am just a Bodhisattva, and I know the bell is rung

“While patient and calm, I forever wrestled anger
Like a snake in the grass, a spider in my boot.
Its poison fangs settled in once, twice or thrice:
I am dying, not one for this world, the point is now moot.

“Stop giggling and chiding, devas from on up high;
This human rebirth was mine alone and while not young
I will pull no punches, nor give much slack
For I am just a Bodhisattva, and I know my bell is rung.

“Whether in park or prairie, reveling at tea-house or bar
Stumbling under the moon, a discoherent, onimous fate.
The clouds eventually pass, morning comes and my way is clear
I hope that what small good I did, benefited another’s state

“This life is short and easily squandered or wasted
My boots are still on and my practice wil continue along
Even as the flames devour my body and take me.
For I am just a Bodhisattva, and I know I’ve done wrong.

“I rest in this moment, my own, mind quiet and unmoving
Beat the time and start the chant” the Bodhisattva said;
Before the chant was finished, the song was indeed done
Gone. Gone. Gone Beyond – the Bodhisattva was dead.

No knowing what to do, I continued the chant
And wept alone and wrote this low song;
With nothing to do but see things as they were,
I sang to the Bodhisattva, although he’d done wrong.


Joyfully and loosely based upon the song “The Streets of Laredo