Other translations:

The Little Melody of How Sadness Is Your Friend: The Sound of the Deity's Drum

HEY!    HEY!    HEY!

Young men and women in your prime
Preoccupied by appearances is how you spend your time
Pleasure in life you try so hard to find
But why does death never cross your mind?
Now you’re so happy and carefree
And you take things so easily
But death will come quite unexpectedly
And when it’s time to go, you will be sad!  

Young men and women in your prime
Agitated by those you dislike is how you spend your time
So manipulative, your minds are so small
You just want to come out ahead of your rivals!
But the time is coming, you will see
When even your friends will become your enemies!
When everyone lets you down and treats you bad
Isn’t this something that will make you sad?

Young men and women in your prime
Dreaming over material enjoyments is how you spend your time
Your desire for fine goods and money
Makes you work so hard, like bees making honey
Worthless distractions, to Dharma contrary
Are what you make your top priority
But when at last, it’s your time to die
Naked and empty-handed is how you’ll say goodbye
And when this happens, boy will you be sad!

Old men and women, past your prime
Clutching to homeland is how you spend your time
So much suffering comes from the village square
But blinded by love and hate, you don’t even care!
Soon you’ll be forced to leave, despite your every plea
Like a fish cast out from the sea
Away from home, all alone, you will be so sad!

Great chieftains and leaders, in your prime
Thwarting enemies, helping supporters is how you spend your time
Ambition and wrath have you in their grip
Like giant waves playing with a tiny ship
But the time is coming, there is no doubt
When the people will rise up and throw you out!
When you ask, “What is my suffering’s cause?”
Look in the mirror, it will give you pause
And at that time, you’ll be very sad!

Boys and girls, your parents love you so
What they go through for you, you can never know
All the time, they work and plan
Trying to give you the best they can
But when you grow up, you don’t need them anymore
You forget all they’ve done, you find them a bore
Someday you’ll realize how you’ve made your parents feel,
And when you do, you’ll be very sad!

Oh monks and nuns, one and all
You’ve worn the robes since you were small
But all the Dharma you learned in years past
Where is it now? You forgot so fast!
And all that you learn this year
Give it some time, it will disappear!
Though you look all around in your mind,
No Dharma at all can you find!
Isn’t this something that makes you sad?

If you think like this, your sorrow will know no end
But there is a way to make suffering your friend
When sadness comes, the best of all remedies
Is to fill your mind with the Dharma of the deities
That’s the wonderful thing about sadness—
It inspires you to do your practice!
When sadness becomes Dharma in this way
The yogi’s mind feels really great!

Happiness depends on unhappiness
Unhappiness depends on happiness
Both of the nature of appearance-emptiness
Like a watermoon or dream experience
If you can grasp how this is true
Whatever happens, it will inspire you!
Appearance and emptiness completely inseparable—
How amazing, this greatest of all miracles!

AH!    AH!    AH!

The Little Melody of how Sadness is Your Friend: the Sound of the Deity’s Drum was sung extemporaneously by Sherab Lodrö on December 19, 1997.  Translated by Ari Goldfield. Translation copyright 2012, Ari Goldfield.