Wednesday, December 31, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.28: Energetic Activity in the Dark

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bālā)
taṁ prekṣya mārasya ca pūrva-rātre śākyarṣabhasyaiva ca yuddha-kālam |
na dyauś cakāśe pthivī cakampe prajajvaluś caiva diśaḥ saśabdāḥ || 13.28

Beholding, in the beginning of the night,

That hour of the battle between Māra and the Śākya bull,

The sky did not shimmer but the earth did shake,

And the four quarters did blaze forth resoundingly.

The main point of today's verse, as I read it, as also picked up in tomorrow's verse, is that the battle with Māra took place mainly in the dark. Or, insofar as there was any light, that light emanated from blazing fires, and not from cool moonlight.

The point, in other words, might be that the battle was primarily a physical battle. It was a battle to be won not so much by intellectual brilliance or the power of cold reasoning, as by the sheer act of sitting in the traditional sitting posture.

Even in fighting off a flu virus, or recovering from a hangover, it could rightly be argued, a positive mental attitude can help the immune system or the liver to do their work. Still, those healing processes are primarily unconscious, and liable to be aided above all by nothing more mental than drinking water and sleeping. 

In Shobogenzo chap. 72, Zanmai-o-zanmai, Dogen said:

Sit in lotus with the body.
Sit in lotus with the mind.
Sit in lotus as body and mind dropping off.

In terms of that progression, today's verse can thus be read as corresponding to the first stage, of just physically sitting. The point is that the bodhisattva defeated Māra mainly just by keeping on sitting (āsana-stham, BC13.8; but see also BC1.52; 9.3). 

In the next Canto, BC Canto 14, EHJ's translation from the Tibetan indicates that there are thirty-four verses (from 14.50 to 14.83) in which Aśvaghoṣa covers the Buddha's realization of the dharma (do not call it a doctrine!) of pratītya-samutpāda. Having thus properly realized what was to be realized, the Buddha stands out before the world as Buddha. 

In the present Canto, the Buddha does not yet stand out before the world as Buddha. The big fig tree under which the bodhisattva is sitting still, still, still is not the Bodhi tree. 

The Bodhi tree becomes the Bodhi tree, as Aśvaghoṣa tells it, just at the moment when the Buddha realizes that, in the absence of ignorance (avidyā), doings (saṁskārāḥ) are not done. And when doings are not done, the whole edifice of suffering comes tumbling down. 

This realization  -- an Aha! moment -- is what my teacher called "the second enlightenment." My teacher called it "the second enlightenment," even though, ironically, the way he taught others to sit, doing this, that, and the other, represented the complete presence of ignorance, and the diligent maintenance of the whole edifice of suffering. 

But this is not to denigrate unduly my teacher's teaching of what he called "the first enlightenment," in which, sitting with the body, doing his very best just to keep on sitting, the bodhisattva sits as a bodhisattva, facing down Māra. 

On a textual note, Jens-Ewe Hartmann tracked down at Qyzyl or Kizil (site, on the ancient Silk Road, of the Kizil Caves) in Xinjiang province, a fragmentary manuscript consisting of a palm leaf written in Indian Gupta script of about the sixth century. The fragment contains parts of BC13.28-29, 58-59, 67-68, and 70-72. Hartmann's discoveries are documented in English by Richard Salomon in Aśvaghoṣa in Central Asia: Some Comments on the Recensional History of His Works in Light of Recent Manuscript Discoveries, one of a collection of essays published in Buddhism Across Boundaries (1999).

The parts of today's verse preserved in Hartmann's fragment all agree with the old Nepalese manuscript on which EHJ's Sanskrit text is based (and from which the copies were taken that EBC based his Sanskrit text upon) .

tam (acc. sg. m.): that
prekṣya = abs. prekṣ: to observe, behold
mārasya (gen. sg.): m. Māra
ca: and
pūrva-rātre (loc. sg.): in the beginning of the night

śākyarṣabhasya (gen. sg.): the bull of the Śākyas
eva: (emphatic)
ca: and
yuddha-kālam (acc. sg.): m. time of war

na: not
dyauḥ = nom. div: the sky
cakāśe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. kāś: to be visible , appear ; to shine , be brilliant , have an agreeable appearance
pṛthivī (nom. sg.): f. the earth or wide world (" the broad and extended One " , personified as devī and often invoked together with the sky )
cakampe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. kamp: to tremble , shake

prajajvaluḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. pra- √ jval : to begin to burn or blaze , be kindled (lit. and fig.) , flame or flash up , shine , gleam
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
diśaḥ (nom. pl.): f. quarter or region pointed at , direction , cardinal point
sa-śabdāḥ (nom. pl. f.): having sound or noise , full of cries , sounding

四面放火然 煙焔盛衝天
狂風四激起 山林普震動 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.27: Demon Throngs Praying “Thy Will Be Done.”

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
evaṁ-vidhā bhūta-gaṇāḥ samantāt taṁ bodhi-mūlaṁ parivārya tasthuḥ |
jighkṣavaś caiva jighāṁsavaś ca bhartur niyogaṁ paripālayantaḥ || 13.27

Such were the 'demon throngs' which, on all sides,

Stood surrounding him who was the root of bodhi,

Wanting to capture, and wanting to destroy,

Letting the master's will be done.

In the 1st pāda of today's verse, bhūta-gaṇa is the word used by Māra himself in BC13.17:
 “This man merits, at the unlovely hands of demon throngs, frights, rebukes, and beatings.”

More literally, and more neutrally, bhūta-gaṇa would be translated as “groups of beings.” But the asaumya (unlovely) of BC13.17 underlines that Māra's conception is of multitudes of the unlovely,  of bad guys, of demonic others. 

Māra's conception is thus similar to the conception of the yellow peril that one side had during the Pacific War in WWII, and, equally, similar to the conception of white devils that prevailed on the other side. The prevalence of these conceptions is admirably documented in a book that I read in the 1980s titled War Without Mercy, Race & Power in the Pacific War. 

The point of evaṁ-vidhā, "such were...," following on from yesterday's verse, is ironically to subvert Māra's stereotype of groups of demonic others. (The Demonic Other, incidentally, is the title of Chapter 9 of War Without Mercy.) evaṁ-vidhā means real individuals like those just described who, when we get to know them on a person-by-person basis, might each turn out to be a human being with the buddha-nature, or, indeed, might each turn out to be already a buddha.

In the 2nd pāda, bodhi means Awakening or Enlightenment, and mūla means the root of a tree, and so tad bodhi-mūlam means the root of the tree under which the bodhisattva became the fully awakened Sambuddha; or, in short, the root of the Bodhi tree. At the same time, since that huge fig tree had yet to become the Bodhi tree, it may be more strictly accurate to read taṁ bodhi-mūlam as indicating the bodhisattva himself, as the cause, origin and beginning of Awakening. EHJ and EBC read  tad bodhi-mūlam.  The Tibetan translation, however, indicates  taṁ bodhi-sattvam.

With regard to the 3rd pāda, EHJ added a note:
Cowell takes the bodhi tree as the object of pāda c; it seems more natural to suppose that the Bodhisattva is intended. Acceptance of [the Tibetan translator]'s reading would have made this clear.

EHJ's footnote confirms that the good professor totally missed Aśvaghoṣa's irony, as also did EBC. Hence:
Such were the troops of demons who encircled the root of the Bodhi tree on every side, eager to seize it and to destroy it, awaiting the command of their lord. (EBC)
Such were the hordes of fiends who stood encompassing the root of the bodhi tree on all sides, anxious to seize and to kill, and awaiting the command of their master. (EHJ)

The irony, again, is that jighṛkṣavaḥ and jighāṁsavaḥ ostensibly express the desire of demons to imprison (grah) others and to kill (han) them; but below the surface jighṛkṣavaḥ also expresses the desire of bodhisattvas and buddhas to grasp (grah) the truth and to captivate (grah) others, while jighāṁsavaḥ expresses the desire of bodhisattvas and buddhas to destroy (hanthe ignorance which is the grounds for the doings which are the root of saṁsāra.

Hence, to return again to Nāgārjuna's words:

saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ |
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||MMK26.10
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra
Thus does the ignorant one do.
The ignorant  one therefore is the doer;
The wise one is not, because of reality making itself known.

avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||MMK26.11
In the destroying of ignorance,
There is the non-coming-into-being of doings.
The destroying of ignorance, however,
Is because of the allowing-into-being of just this act of knowing.

In the 4th pāda, as the present participle of the causative of pari-√pā, lit. “to guard on every side,” paripālayantaḥ is a difficult word to translate literally. EBC and EHJ went with “awaiting,” and naturally understood the lord and master in question to be Māra.

Yesterday my translation of the 4th pāda was: 
While attending on every side to observance of the master's command.

This morning, however, I decided to go with the more provocative 
Letting the master's will be done.

In the last few weeks and months the US dollar price of oil has fallen more more steeply than anybody was predicting six months ago, from comfortably over $100 per barrel to just over $50.

The simple explanation is that global economic growth has slowed more seriously than anybody expected, reducing demand for oil. 

One geo-political explanation is that the United States is not going to give up without a fight its top-dog status based on the petrodollar. So anybody who dares to challenge that status, like Vladimir Putin, must go down -- just like Saddam Hussein and Mohamar Gadaffi went down. And the best way to bring Putin down might be through lower oil prices. 

Another geo-political explanation, somewhat contradictory to the first, is that Saudi Arabia wishes to nip in the bud growth of the US shale oil industry, and so it is the Saudis and not the powers that be in the US who have engineered the oil price decline. 

And somewhere in the middle way, but probably closer to the truth, economic growth has indeed been slowing, and at the same time it suits both the Saudis and the US authorities, to some extent, to see Russia and Iran suffer, even if it is at the cost of some self-induced pain. 

My conclusion is that I really don't know. Economic reality is unpredictable and uncertain, and policy makers everywhere, even when their intentions are benign, are all too fallible. Moreover, the relations between policy makers and economic realities is reflexive, adding to the probability of wild swings in prices of things. Some people in cyberspace see George Soros, who is of Jewish heritage, as part of a great global conspiracy. But those are the types that give conspiracy theories a bad name. I am an admirer of George Soros, whose twin philosophical pillars of fallibility and reflexivity are evidently the result of open philosophical inquiry and not anything sinister. 

Universal uncertainty notwithstaning, one thing in the world today does seem certain, and that is the mutual enmity that evidently exists between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is as if the will of God were that muslim brothers should form themselves into opposing factions and demonize each other.

Today's verse, as I read it, touches on this kind of irony. “Thy will be done” might be the truest principle in the world. “Thy will be done” might be the essence of the principle of non-doing.

But politically powerful human beings appropriate the principle and use it to justify the human doings which are the root of saṁsāra. Sometimes they call their own ignorant doings, in which they seek to impose their own ignorant will upon others jihad, or holy war. And sometimes they call their own ignorant doings “the defence of democracy” or “a war on terror.”

So in conclusion I don't know what the hell is really going on in the world. But as for the gap between what people purport to do and what they actually do – that gap exists right there on my round cushion, whenever in thinking up I pull myself down. And recognition of that gap is a good basis for understanding ever-present irony, in Aśvaghoṣa's writing and in the real world.

Religion would be all very well, if there were not always such a gap between what religious people practice and what they preach. Being steeped in Aśvaghoṣa's irreligious irony, as I see it, is a kind of training in not letting that gap stay open for too long.

My final point on this subject is that I don't see why we need God to practise non-doing. Many people say that God helps – that it helps to believe that God is the master whose will must be done. My Alexander head of training, Ray Evans, was one such person. Marjory Barlow, again, told me that she was a Christian if she was anything.

What those teachers were telling me, it seems to me now, was that a little bit of ignorance (i.e. religious belief) can be useful to help us stop the doings which are the root of saṁsāra. If so, I disagree with that view.

I rather agree with the Dalai Lama when he points out that the antidote to ignorance is not religious prayer. As an antidote to ignorance, DL is quite right, praying for divine intervention does not make any sense. 

The true antidote to ignorance might be to allow into being, on an individual basis, the act of knowing. Hence, again: 

saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ |
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||MMK26.10
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra
Thus does the ignorant one do.
The ignorant  one therefore is the doer;
The wise one is not, because of reality making itself known.

avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||MMK26.11
In the destroying of ignorance,
There is the non-coming-into-being of doings.
The destroying of ignorance, however,
Is because of the allowing-into-being of just this act of knowing.

evaṁ-vidhāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. of such a kind , in such a form or manner , such
bhūta-gaṇāḥ (nom. pl. m.): hosts of living beings ; multitudes of spirits or ghosts
samantāt: ind. " on all sides , around " , " or , wholly , completely "

tad (acc. sg.); that
bodhi-mūlam (acc. sg. n.): root of [the] bodhi [tree]
mūla: n. " firmly fixed " , a root (of any plant or tree ; but also fig. the foot or lowest part or bottom of anything) ; basis , foundation , cause , origin , commencement , beginning
parivārya = abs. pari- √ vṛ: to cover , surround , conceal
tasthuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. sthā: to stand

jighṛkṣavaḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. intending to take or seize ; wishing to rob ; wishing to take up (water , jala.) ; wishing to gather; wishing to learn
grah: to seize , take (by the hand ; to catch , take captive , take prisoner , capture , imprison ; to take possession of , gain over , captivate ; to receive into the mind , apprehend , understand , learn
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
jighāṁsavaḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. desirous of destroying or ruining
ca: and

bhartur (gen. sg.): m. bearer, lord, master
niyogam: m. tying or fastening to ; injunction , order , command, commission , charge , appointed task or duty , business
paripālayantaḥ (nom. pl. m. causative pres. part. pari- √ pā to protect or defend on every side , to guard , maintain): [EBC/EHJ] awaiting
√ pā: to watch , keep , preserve ; to protect from , defend against (abl.) ; to protect (a country) i.e. rule , govern ; to observe , notice , attend to , follow

如是諸惡類 圍遶菩提樹
或欲擘裂身 或復欲呑噉

Monday, December 29, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.26: Dealing with Individuals, One by One

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Kīrti)
nanarta kaś cid bhramayaṁs triśūlaṁ kaś cid vipusphūrja gadāṁ vikarṣan |
harṣeṇa kaś cid vṣavan nanarda kaś cit prajajvāla tanū-ruhebhyaḥ || 13.26

One, brandishing a three-pronged weapon, danced;

One, tearing a bludgeon to pieces, thundered;

One, in his aroused state, moved like a bull;

One, from the body-grown, blazed forth.

Today's verse is a classic example of Aśvaghoṣa's irony, the essence of which is a gap between the ostensible meaning of words and the reality behind them.

The ostensible meaning of today's verse is conveyed by the translations of EBC and EHJ:
One danced, shaking a trident, another made a crash, dragging a club, another bounded for joy like a bull, another blazed out flames from every hair. (EBC)
One danced about, brandishing a trident; another snorted, as he trailed a club; one roared like a bull in his excitement, another blazed fire from every hair. (EHJ)

The gap relies on the ambiguity of the following words:
  • nanarta, he danced [EBC], he danced about [EHJ], he acted on a stage, he danced [into action];
  • triśūlam, a trident [EBC/EHJ], a three-pronged weapon;
  • vikarṣan, dragging [EBC], as he trailed [EHJ], dragging apart, tearing into pieces;
  • harṣeṇa, for joy [EBC], in his excitement [EHJ], with erect [hair], in a state of arousal;
  • nanarda, he bounded [EBC], he roared [EHJ], he bellowed, he moved, he went into movement;
  • tanū-ruhebhyaḥ, from every hair [EBC/EHJ], lit. from the body-grown;

Realities that Aśvaghoṣa had in mind, then – realities to which his words offer cryptic clues – might have been like this:
  1. In the 1st pāda, three prongs might be the truths of suffering (duḥkha), aggregation (samudaya), and cessation (nirodha), and a weapon might be the truth of the way (margha) of cessation of suffering. Again, the three prongs of the three-pronged weapon might be integral wisdom (prajñā), integrity (śīla), and integration (samādhi). Again in the 1st pāda, “he danced” might mean that he danced without necessarily moving a muscle.
  2. In the 2nd pāda, a bludgeon might be the blunt instrument of the understanding of a Buddhist scholar who thinks that the Buddha's teaching is a religion which represents the culmination of Brahmanism, or who thinks that Zen belongs to a separate transmission which is different from the Buddha's original teaching. Blunt instruments in the latter category Dogen took pains to tear into many small pieces.
  3. In the 3rd pāda, arousal might be another word for the complete springing up which is the samutpāda of pratītya-samutpāda. In that case the action performed like a bull could be a vocal action like bellowing, or it could be a physical action like going directly ahead and moving a leg.
  4. And the 4th pāda might suggest directed energy flowing, through channels gradually opened up by the bodily act of sitting in full lotus.

Read like this, today's verse is an invitation to exercise our critical faculties, and to resist the temptation to follow in our ignorance wrong assumptions.

Here is a nice example of somebody betraying such ignorance, failing to pay due attention to who he was dealing with on an individual basis.

nanarta = 3rd perf. nṛt: to dance, to act on the stage , represent (acc.) ; to dance about
kaś cid (nom. sg. m.): somebody
bhramayan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. caustive bhram: to cause to wander or roam , drive or move about , agitate ; to cause to move or turn round or revolve , swing , brandish
triśūlam (acc. sg.): n. a trident (śiva's weapon)
śūla: mfn. a sharp iron pin or stake , spike , spit (on which meat is roasted); any sharp instrument or pointed dart , lance , pike , spear (esp. the trident of śiva) ; pain , grief , sorrow

kaś cid (nom. sg. m.): somebody
vipusphūrja = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vi- √ sphūrj: to resound , thunder , roar ; to snort
gadām (acc. sg.): f. a mace , club , bludgeon
vikarṣan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. vi- √ kṛṣ: to draw apart or asunder , tear to pieces , destroy ; to bend (a bow) , draw (a bowstring) ; to widen, extend ; to draw along or after ; to pull out ; to withdraw , keep back

harṣeṇa (inst. sg.): m. bristling, erection (esp. of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight); joy , pleasure , happiness ; erection of the sexual organ , sexual excitement , lustfulness
kaś cid (nom. sg. m.): somebody
vṛṣavat: ind. like a bull
nanarda = 3rd pers. sg. perf. nard: to bellow , roar , shriek , sound ; to go, move

kaś cit (nom. sg. m.): somebody
prajajvāla = 3rd pers. sg. perf. pra- √ jval: to begin to burn or blaze , be kindled (lit. and fig.) , flame or flash up , shine , gleam
tanū-ruhebhyaḥ (abl. pl.): n. " growing on the body " , a hair of the body ; a feather, wing
ruha = (ifc.) ruh: f. rising , growth , sprout , shoot ; (ifc.) shooting , sprouting , growing , produced in or on (cf. ambho- , avani- , kṣiti-r° &c )
ambho-ruh: n. " water-growing " , the lotus
avani-ruh: m. " grown from the earth " , a tree
kṣiti-ruḥ: m. " growing from the earth " , a tree

或空中旋轉 或飛騰樹間
或呼叫吼喚 惡聲震天地 

[Correspondence with Sanskrit tenuous] 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.25: Springing Up, in Four Phases

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
ke cid vrajanto bhśam āvavalgur anyonyam āpupluvire tathānye |
cikrīḍur ākāśa-gatāś ca ke cit ke cic ca cerus taru-mastakeṣu || 13.25

Some as they progressed sprang wildly into action;

Ones who were different, again, sprang up, 
each towards the others;

Some played in emptiness,

While some roamed about on the tops of trees.

Discounting the spurious verse 23, there are eight verses in the present description of Māra's army, and we have been able without much difficulty to find buried not far below the surface of most of those verses the truly golden teaching of pratītya-samutpāda (in short, springing up by going back).

In today's verse as I read it, the springing up element is very much to the fore. The sense of springing up into action is strongly present in the four main verbs, one  in each pāda:
  • āvavalgur, they sprang
  • āpupluvire, they sprang towards
  • cikrīḍur, they played
  • cerur, they roamed
The progression through the four pādas can thus be seen as representing, ironically, the process not of a servant of Māra but of a bodhisattva.

Thus, in the 1st pāda, initial spontaneous springing into action is liable to be associated with the wild enthusiasm of a beginner. This is a natural part of a bodhisattva's process, passage through which is expressed by the present participle vrajantaḥ, which means going, proceeding, passing through a process.

In the 2nd pāda, springing up is different (anya) from what we are liable to think. We are liable to think for example that springing up in freedom is a kind of anarchic letting go in which every man for himself, or every woman for herself, lets everything hang out. The counter example that falsifies this conception is the traditional behaviour of bhikṣus, preserved in countries like Thailand and Śri Lanka, to consciously regulate each other's behaviour by such means as bi-weekly confession and reciting of the prātimokṣa (Pali: pātimokkha).

Here is the concluding part of Ovādapātimokkhaṁ (DN 14.3.26), translated by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu as The Disciplinary Advice:

“Tatra sudaṁ, bhikkhave, Vipassī Bhagavā Arahaṁ Sammāsambuddho
“Right there, monks, the Gracious One Vipassī, the Worthy One the Perfect Sambuddha,
Bhikkhusaṅghe evaṁ Pātimokkhaṁ uddisati:
in the midst of the Community of monks recited the Discipline thus:
‘Khantī paramaṁ tapo titikkhā, Nibbānaṁ paramaṁ vadanti Buddhā.
‘Forbearing patience is the supreme austerity, Nibbāna is supreme say the Buddhas.
Na hi pabbajito parūpaghāti, samaṇo hoti paraṁ viheṭhayanto.
One gone forth does not hurt another, (nor does) an ascetic harass another.
Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṁ, kusalassa upasampadā,
Not doing any bad deeds, undertaking wholesome (deeds),
Sacittapariyodapanaṁ – etaṁ Buddhāna' sāsanaṁ.
And purifying one's mind – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
Anūpavādo anūpaghāto, Pātimokkhe ca saṁvaro.
Not finding fault, not hurting, restraint in regard to the Discipline,
Mattaññutā ca bhattasmiṁ, pantañ-ca sayanāsanaṁ.
Knowing the correct measure in food, (living in) a remote dwelling place,
Adhicitte ca āyogo – etaṁ Buddhāna' sāsanan.’-ti
Being devoted to meditation – this is the teaching of the Buddhas.’

In the 3rd pāda, ākāśa-gatāḥ ostensibly means “in the sky.” Hence:

Some as they went leaped about wildly, others danced upon one another, some sported about in the sky, others went along on the tops of the trees.

Some, as they ran, leapt wildly about, some jumped on each other; while some gambolled in the sky, others sped along among the treetops.

But if we are thinking in terms of pratītya-samutpāda, then ākāśa-gatāḥ (being in emptiness) might be a function of coming back. Emptiness, in other words, might be intended to suggest the absence of doings – for the doings which are the root of saṁsāra doggedly does the dopey one do.

And then the 4th pāda might be intended to suggest the ultimate stage in the life process of a bodhisattva, roaming in transcendent freedom. In roaming about on the top of trees, it may be that neither eyes nor body necessarily moves, but still the Eye, containing the whole body, is free to roam. 

At the end of The Disciplinarya Advice, I notice in passing, the Buddha says that the teaching of the buddhas is devotion to adhicitta. AB translates adhicitta as “meditation.” But more literally adhi- as a prefix in Sanskrit means “over and above” and citta means “thinking.” Hence MW gives adhicitta-śikṣā as training in higher thought (one of the 3 kinds of training). So adhicitta can be translated as “meditation” or as “higher thought” or as “transcendent thinking.” And those translations put me in mind of Ray Evans' description of inhibition (not doing) and direction (mainly Up), as practised in Alexander work, as an “extra awareness.”

The attitude to Alexander work of my  Zen teacher, Gudo Nishijima, was that "If AT is the same as Buddhism, I don't need to study it. And if AT is different from Buddhism, I don't have any interest in studying it." 

But my teacher was just flat out wrong. Alexander's principle of inhibition, or not doing, is not different from the Buddha's third noble truth; but my teacher ought indeed to have studied it further. 

The underlying message of the present series of verses is that even the footsoldiers in Māra's army are bodhisattvas and buddhas. It is just that they haven't realized it yet. 

Thus pratītya-samutpāda is not a doctrine that you have to learn. Pratītya-samutpāda is a side effect of having turned back to what you already know. 

This turning back, I would like to have taught my teacher, is an act of knowing, not an act of doing. 

And yet...
saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ |
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||MMK26.10
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra
Thus does the dopey one do.
The dopey one therefore is the doer;
The wise one is not, because of reality making itself known.

avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||MMK26.11
In the cessation of ignorance,
There is the non-coming-into-being of doings.
The cessation of ignorance, however,
Is because of the allowing-into-being of just this act of knowing.

ke cid (nom. pl. m.): some
vrajantaḥ = nom. pl. m. pres. part. vraj: to go , walk , proceed , travel , wander , move ; to undergo , go to any state or condition ,
bhṛśam: ind. strongly , violently , vehemently , excessively , greatly , very much
āvavalgur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. ā- √ valg: to spring , jump , leap up
ā-: (as a prefix to verbs , especially of motion , and their derivatives) near , near to , towards

anyonyam: ind. mutually, on each other
āpupluvire = 3rd pers. pl. perf. ā- √ plu: to spring or jump towards or over , dance towards or over ; to bathe , wash ; to bathe , wash another ; to overrun
√ plu: to float , swim ; to go or cross in a boat , sail , navigate ; to sway to and fro , hover , soar , fly ; to hop , skip , leap , jump , spring from (abl.) or to or into or over or upon (acc.)
tathā: ind. similarly, equally
anye (nom. pl. m.): others

cikrīḍur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. krīḍ: to play , sport , amuse one's self , frolic , gambol , dally (used of men , animals , the wind and waves , &c )
ākāśa-gatāḥ (nom. pl. m.): in the sky ; in emptiness
ākāśa: m. a free or open space , vacuity ; the ether , sky or atmosphere
ca: and
ke cit (nom. pl. m.): some

ke cit (nom. pl. m.): some
ca: and
cerus = 3rd pers. pl. perf. car: to move one's self , go , walk , move , stir , roam about , wander  
taru-mastakeṣu (loc. pl.): the top of a tree, Bcar.
mastaka: mn. the head, skull; the upper part of anything , top , summit (esp. of mountains or trees)

或奔走相逐 迭自相打害 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.24: Of Dishevelled Ascetics & Bodhisattva Works In Progress

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Haṁsī)
prakīrṇa-keśāḥ śikhino 'rdha-muṇḍā rajjvambarā vyākula-veṣṭanāś ca |
prahṣṭa-vaktrā bhkuṭī-mukhāś ca tejo-harāś caiva mano-harāś ca || 13.24

With hair strewn about, with topknots, with half-shaved heads;

Encompassed in lines of thread 
and with their headdresses lying in disorder;

With delighted faces, and with grimaces,

Carrying off vital energy and carrying off hearts and minds.

EHJ notes:
  • For ardha-muḍā [EHJ: “half-shaven polls”] cp. MBh vii. 3383.
  • Apte gives raktāmbara [EHJ: “clothed in red”] as the name of a kind of ascetic, presumably the raktapatas of Kād., 95, 1. I can make nothing out of [the old Nepalese manuscript]'s rajvambara, and the confusion of jva and kta might easily occur.
  • For tejohara I follow C [the Chinese]; its apparent reading, vayoharāś ca, may well be right.
Hence in the 2nd pāda EHJ amended the old Nepalese manuscript's rajvambara to raktāmbara, “clothed in red.” I have followed EBC in amending to rajjvambara [EBC: “with rope garments”]. Since rajju can mean a line, and ambara has connotations of what goes around or encompasses, the compound rajjvambara suggests to me the dotted lines of a kaṣāya which encompass the shaven-headed Zen practitioner who is wearing it.

If the ironic hidden meaning of today's verse is thus to describe a shaven-headed Zen practitioner, then why all the discussion of hair being anything but fully shaved? Hence:
With dishevelled hair, or with topknots, or half-bald, with rope-garments or with head-dress all in confusion, — with triumphant faces or frowning faces, — wasting the strength or fascinating the mind.
With dishevelled hair, or with topknots and half-shaven polls, clothed in red and with disordered headdresses, with bristling faces and frowning visages, suckers of the vital essence and suckers of the mind.

The answer, at least the answer that presents itself to me -- and it is an answer with philosophical implications -- is that having a head shaved as clean as a bird's egg is not a once-and-for-all event. It is an intermittently-renewed process. Thus even the Buddha himself, at the start of his process is described as having a top-knot and a royal headdress, of some description. We can suppose that once this headdress was cut off and thrown into the air (unless the gods stowed it away neatly) it ended up lying in disorder. Thereafter, Gautama's hair, when he was a bodhisattva and after he became the Buddha, would not have stopped growing. Therefore at regular intervals he would have shaved his head again, at which time (1) short strands of hair or stubble might naturally have been strewn about, and (2) in the process of the head being shaved, the head would inevitably go from being unshaved, through being a quarter shaved, a half shaved, three-quarters shaved and finally, for the moment, fully shaved.

If we read today's verse like this, as an ironic description of individual bodhisattvas as real works in progress -- that is, a description of non-bodhisattvas, of bodhisattvas who are anye (different from stereotypical abstractions) --  then the 3rd pāda's description of delighted faces and frowning features fits. If you think that in their real everyday lives Zen bodhisattvas never grimace, for example, try serving one for a few years.

Then the 4th pāda can be read as suggesting the influence of a bodhisattva at the fourth phase, aka the influence of a buddha. Such influence can be summarized as changing people's minds and causing people to re-direct their energy – but not necessarily in that order.

The Chinese translation to which EHJ refers is
或吸人精氣 或奪人生命
Some sucking people's vital spirit; some robbing people's life.

Both lines of the Chinese, however, are translations of tejo-hara (or, as EHJ conjectures vayo-hara). Aśvaghoṣa's original covers not only  tejo-hara (or vayo-hara), the re-direction of physical energy, but also mano-hara, the influence on immaterial matters like motivation and abandoning of misconceptions.

Apropos of which, since it has been a couple of days since I last mentioned the Buddha's teaching of complete springing up by coming back (pratītya-samutpāda), I owe a debt to my Zen teacher Gudo Nishijima who was very clear in his understanding that our fundamental direction in Zazen is backward, back to our original state, in which the autonomic nervous system is balanced.

Ironically, my teacher taught that the way to go in this direction was to do something – to sit upright in the correct posture, pulling in the chin a little to keep the neck bones straight, et cetera. This was his misconception. I have known for 20 years that this was just my teacher's misconception, and I have been endeavouring for 20 years to clarify this misconception.

Ironically, again, I have begun this year to see that the most effective route to clarifying this misconception might be to clarify the Buddha's teaching of pratītya-samutpāda as outlined in Nāgārjuna's mula-madhyamaka-kārikā. The irony here is that my teacher intuited more than 20 years ago what an important task it was to have a good translation of MMK, and I was the bloke who could have given him the translation he wanted – if he hadn't, as I saw it, broken the fundamental rule of our translation partnership, which was the mutual veto.

The point, anyway, is this: We don't go back to the origin by doing something. On the contrary, we go back to the origin by stopping off at source the doings which are the root of saṁsāra.

prakīrṇa-keśāḥ (nom. pl. m.): with dishevelled hair
prakīrṇa: mfn. scattered , thrown about , dispersed
pra- √ kṝ: to scatter forth , strew , throw about
śikhinaḥ (nom. pl. m.): with top-knots
śikhin: mfn. having a tuft or lock of hair on the top of the head ; one who has reached the summit of knowledge ; m. peacock
ardha-muṇḍāḥ (nom. pl. m.): half-bald
muṇḍa: shaved , bald , having the head shaved or the hair shorn
muṇḍ: " to cleanse " or " to sink " or " to shave "

rajjvambarāḥ [EBC] (nom. pl. m.): “with rope garments”; encompassed by lines of thread
rajju: f. a rope , cord , string , line ; N. of partic. sinews or tendons proceeding from the vertebral column ; a lock of braided hair , braid
raktāmbarāḥ [EHJ] (nom. pl. m.): “clothed in red”
ambara: n. circumference , compass; clothes , apparel , garment
vyākula-veṣṭanāḥ (nom. pl. m.): with disordered headresses
vyākula: mfn. bewildered , confounded , perplexed , troubled; confused , disordered
veṣṭana: n. anything that surrounds or wraps &c , a bandage , band , girdle ; a head-band , tiara , diadem
ca: and

prahṛṣṭa-vaktrāḥ (nom. pl. m.): with bristling faces
prahṛṣṭa: mfn. erect , bristling (as the hair of the body ; thrilled with delight , exceedingly pleased , delighted
pra- √ hṛṣ: to rejoice , be glad or cheerful , exult
bhṛkuṭī-mukhāḥ (nom. pl. m.): with frowning faces
bhṛkuṭī = bhrūkuṭī: f. contraction of the brows , a frown
ca: and

tejo-harāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. taking away or wasting strength, Bcar.
tejas: n. point or top of a flame or ray , glow , glare , splendour , brilliance , light , fire ; the bright appearance of the human body (in health) , beauty; fiery energy , ardour , vital power , spirit , efficacy , essence
hara: mfn. taking away , carrying off , removing , destroying ; ravishing , captivating
vayo-harāḥ (nom. pl. m.):
vayas: n. energy (both bodily and mental) , strength , health , vigour , power , might ; vigorous age , youth , prime of life , any period of life , age
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
mano-harāḥ (nom. pl. m.): " heart-stealing " , taking the fancy , fascinating , attractive , charming , beautiful
ca: and

或縈髮螺髻 或散髮被身 
或吸人精氣 或奪人生命