It is not through arsenals stacked with lethal weapons
Nor by battalions of lightning-swift troops
That we can vanquish the forces of darkness
And open the gates to freedom for the world.
The source of true power lies not in domination
By the brute force of armies or the bright lure of gold.
The source lies hidden deep within ourselves,
But to find it we must use the appropriate tools.
The first key to success is the power of faith,
Trust in a supreme wisdom that points us to the good.
Faith settles the mind and inspires us with courage,
Inciting us to deeds of joyful self-transcendence.
But the agents of harm lurk in the mind’s dark shadows,
Ready to spring their traps when our vigilance slackens.
To stem their attacks and sustain our self-respect
The power of shame keeps us firmly on the path.
Contemplate deeply our relatedness to others,
Consider the value of esteem in others’ eyes.
Reflecting on the bitter fruits of thoughtless deeds,
Let the power of moral dread hold us back from the abyss.
The path to liberation is not for the weak,
Nor for those given to self-pity and despair.
It is only by the invigorating power of energy
That we can become heroes, true masters of our minds.
Traveling by night, enveloped in dense mist,
We have wandered pointlessly in the maze of birth and death.
Now use the power of wisdom as the light
To guide our steps to the shore of final freedom.
Equipped with these five powers taught by the Great Sage
We rise up as conquerors stronger than any foes.
Masters of ourselves, examples for the nation,
We illuminate the world like the blazing noontime sun.
By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi; this poem was the theme of a discourse
given by him in January of this year.