Fourteen Meaningless Things

Like returning empty-handed from an island of precious gems,
it is meaningless to ignore the sacred Dharma
after having obtained a human body.

Like a moth diving into a flame,
it is meaningless to return to family life
after having entered the gateway to the Dharma.

Like dying of thirst at the shore of the ocean,
it is meaningless to live near a noble Dharma master
while having no trust.

Like leaning an axe against a tree trunk,
it is meaningless to have a spiritual practice
that is not used to remedy the four roots and ego-clinging.

Like a sick person holding a bag of medicines,
it is meaningless to have heard oral instructions
that don't remedy disturbing emotions.

Like a parrot reciting verses,
it is meaningless to have a tongue that expertly recites Dharma words
that are not taken to heart.

Like trying to wash a sheepskin coat in plain water,
it is meaningless to be generous with wealth
that is acquired through thievery, robbery, or deception.

Like handing a mother her child's flesh,
it is meaningless to make offerings to the three jewels
by hurting other sentient beings.

Like a cat lying in wait for a mouse,
it is meaningless to be stubbornly involved
in selfish aims for this life.

Like trading a wish-fulfilling jewel for ordinary gems,
a heap of leftovers, or a single bag of flour,
it is meaningless to perforn virtuous actions
out of a desire for praise and fame, honor and gain.

Like a doctor striken by an incurable disease,
it is meaningless to have studied a lot
and yet remain shallow.

Like a rich man without the key to his safe,
it is meaningless to be learned in the oral instructions
and not apply them in practice.

Like the blind leading the blind,
it is meaningless to teach others a spiritual practice
that you have not realized yourself.

Like believing brass to be gold,
it is meaningless to think an experience
that is produced through a technique is supreme,
while neglecting the natural state.

--Je Gampopa

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