FOUL IS THIS GAILY DECKED BODY
Passa citta katam bimbam arukayam samussitam
Aturam bahu sankappam yassa natthi dhuvam thiti.
Behold this beautiful body, a mass of sores, a heaped-up (lump), diseased, much thought of, in which nothing lasts, nothing persists.1
Once, there lived in Rajagaha, a very beautiful courtesan by the name of Sirima. Every day she offered almsfood to the bhikkhus. One of these bhikkhus happened to mention to other bhikkhus how beautiful Sirima was and also that she offered very delicious food. On hearing this, a young bhikkhu fell in love with Sirima even without seeing her. The next day, the young bhikkhu went with the other bhikkhus to the house of Sirima. She was not well on that day, but since she wanted to pay respects to the bhikkhus, she was carried to their presence. The young bhikkhu seeing Sirima thought to himself, 'Even though she is sick, she is very beautiful.' And he developed a strong desire for her.
That very night, Sirima died. King Bimbisara visited the Buddha and mentioned that Sirima had died. He advised the king to keep the dead body for three days without burying it. On the fourth day, the dead body of Sirima was no longer beautiful or desirable; it had become bloated and maggots came out from the body. On that day, the Buddha took his bhikkhus to the cemetery to observe the dead body. The young bhikkhu, who was so desperately in love with Sirima, did not know that Sirima had died. When he heard that the Buddha and the bhikkhus were going to see Sirima, he eagerly joined them.
The Buddha then requested the king to announce that Sirima would be available for a night on the payment of one thousand pieces of coins. But nobody would take her for one thousand, or for five hundred; or for two hundred and fifty, or even if she were to be given free of charge. Then the Buddha said to the audience, 'Bhikkhus! Look at Sirima. When she was living, there were many who were willing to give one thousand to spend one night with her; but now none will take her even if given without any payment. The body of a person is subject to deterioration and decay.' After listening to the Buddha, the young monk who had developed his attachment to Sirima realised the real nature of life.
- As good as pleasant.