Contemplation of White Bones

By the Sramana Genshin,

« These bones are what I am. And they are also that which is other than I. It can be said that they are not self, yet not different from one’s body. Self and other, that and this, are all white bones. At the time when the three things of one’s body, life, and possessions separate and disperse; all that will remain will be these white bones in distant fields.1 One is only given in full, seventy (odd) years.2 Before long, these white bones will be apparent. How sorrowful it is to not take heed of these white bones! The mind of fame and gain is constant and incessant. Yet should you touch and grasp with the hand, what could there be which is certain?3 To fret for the beautiful one’s whole life long; due to the transient splendour of life, one can only take white bones on the journey of the years. These white bones are adorned and covered over with clothing and garments. By means of this body of white bones alone, do we ford the waters of the world. Relying (upon them); it is difficult to depend on thin skinned white bones.4 Beseech The Buddhas and Gods, to have compassion for these white bones. Hold to the correct state of mindfulness when the end comes, and seek rebirth in the Pure Land.  »
Here ends the Contemplation of White Bones.
Translation by Rev. Jikai Dehn.

1) In the past, cremation occurred in the fields furthest away from the towns and cities.
2)Length of a reasonable lifetime.
3) The passage implies something that could be tangible, graspable for more than a brief moment.
4)The passage appears to be a little bit corrupted, but the meaning is clear inasmuch as they cannot be relied up, but upon what else could we rely?

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