Friday, December 25, 2015

[BC26] mahā-puruṣa-vitarkāḥ




alpecchu
saṁtuṣṭi
praviveka
vīrya
smṛti
samādhi
prajñā
niṣprapañca


Introduction

The Reflections of a Great Person
Pali: mahā-purisa-vitakkā
Sanskrit: mahā-puruṣa-vitarkāḥ
Chinese: 八大人覚 
Japanesehachi-dainin-gaku
- the eight reflections of a great person - 

1 Vitakka [vi+takka] reflection, thought, thinking.
2 Mahā-puruṣa: m. a great or eminent man ; name of Gautama Buddha. Vitarka: conjecture, opinion; reasoning, deliberation, consideration.
3 Hachi-dainin-gaku is the Japanese pronuncation of the Chinese characters. 



Introduction

I have been on a solitary retreat for the past couple of weeks, studying and translating mūla-madhyamaka-kārikā -- going back to the middle of Nāgārjuna, I would like to think. One of the key words in MMK is niṣprapañca, which means something like "not philosophizing" or (in the translation of The Middle Way by the Dalai Lama) "no conceptual elaboration." Niṣprapañca is the 8th of the eight reflections under consideration now. 

Today being my 56th birthday, I thought I would take a break from MMK -- which has, if not philosophizing, a lot of difficult philosophy -- and return to the more familiar territory of the eight reflections. 

The eight reflections of a great person form the final chapter in the 95-chapter edition of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo and Zen tradition has it that they were the final teaching of the Buddha on the night before he died.

For these reasons, and also because of its many meaningful metaphors, the chapter was one that seemed particularly to draw me to it. There is an audio recording of Master Kodo Sawaki giving a lecture on the chapter, which I bought while I was in Japan and enjoyed listening to, even though I couldn't understand much of Master Kodo's commentary. I might be able to make a digital recording from the cassette tape and make it available as a podcast if anybody is interested?

One of the merits of a metaphor is that it can facilitate the transmission of real meaning in such a way that less is liable to be lost in translation. In any event, in around 2007-8, I found myself turning again and again, especially in the middle of sleepless nights, to the eight reflections. I felt like my job at that time was somehow to find clearer water further upstream. And there was no clearer water to be found, I intuited, than in the eight reflections. 

So when I obtained EH Johnston's English translation of Buddhacarita in the autumn of 2008, I scanned through the closing cantos to see if the eight reflections were recorded, and sure enough there they were in the next-to-penultimate canto, BC Canto 26. I copied out EHJ's translation and put it on my website, noting at the time:
The following is EH Johnston's translation from the Tibetan of the Buddha's final teaching, as recorded by Aśvaghoṣa. The correspondence is striking with the wording and metaphors found in the text recorded by Master Dogen in Shobogenzo Chapter 95, HACHI-DAININ-GAKU. 
I would very much like to have been able to study Aśvaghoṣa's rendering of the eight reflections in his original Sanskrit. Since that has not been possible, settling for the present on second best, I have been making a record of four other sources, and so today I have decided to publish what I have got so far. 

1. The Tibetan translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Sanskrit, together with EH Johnston's English translation (revised by me in places) which I think was to some degree based on Freidrich Weller's translation from Tibetan into German.

2. The Chinese translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Sanskrit, together with Charles Willeman's English translation from the Chinese. (I think I revised this in just a couple of places; I was intending to revise more thoroughly, before MMK took over.)
The Chinese translation is accessible online here
Charles Willemen's English translation can be found here.

3. The Anuruddha Sutta in Pali, from
Aṅguttara-Nikāya 30 (The Book of the Eights). An English translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu can be found here.


4. The Yuikyo-gyo (Bequeathed Teaching Sūtra) in Chinese, which Dogen quoted verbatim in Shobogenzo Chap. 95, together with the Nishijima-Cross English translation published by Windbell in 1999.

Some of the metaphors and other notable elements which are common to the Tibetan and Chinese translations of BC Canto 26, and the Bequeathed Teachings Sūtra, are as follows: 

Small desire
  • is liberation's path / nirvāṇa itself 
Knowing satisfaction 
  • when sleeping/lying happily on the ground
Solitude 
  • contrasted with a flock of birds on a roosting tree
  • contrasted with an old elephant stuck in the  mud
Energy  
  • like a constant trickle of water drilling through rock 
  • like resolutely twirling the fire-stick to get fire
Mindfulness
  • like wearing armour on a battlefield
Meditative stillness 
  • like maintaining a dike/embankment so that water does not go to waste
Wisdom  
  • a boat/ship to cross the ocean of aging, sickness and death
  • a lamp/torch to dispell the darknes of ignorance 
  • a medicine for all ills 
  • an axe to fell the trees of afflictive emotions 
Not philosophizing
  •  philosophizing prevents even those who have left home from finding freedom. 
[But see comment below]


1. alpecchu


1. Small Desire
appiccha
alpecchu
少欲
(sho-yoku; small desire)

The Tibetan translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
| gaṅ źig rgya chen rnams las sdug bsṅal oṅs pa ste | | ñuṅ du dod la oṅ ba ma yin de daṅ bral |
| de yi phyir yaṅ ñuṅ du dod ñid bsñen bya ste | | gaṅ źig yon tan rnams kyis rdzogs byed kye ma ci |  54
| gaṅ źig thos nas med ces mya ṅan med pa ste | | gaṅ gis ñuṅ ṅu ’dod de de yi thar pa min |  55
| de ni bkren pa’i lta ba rnams la mi ’jigs śiṅ | | dbaṅ po rnams las gaṅ źig cuṅ zad ’jigs min la |
EH Johnston's translation from the Tibetan:
EHJ54. The suffering which comes to him whose desires are great does not come to him whose desires are small. Therefore smallness of desire should be practised, and especially so by those who seek for the perfection of all the virtues. 
EHJ55. He who does not fear the rich at all is not afraid of the sight of stingy people. For he obtains salvation whose desires are small and who is not cast down on hearing that there is nothing for him.

The Chinese translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26
多求則爲苦 少欲則安隱
Seeking much is suffering itself; small desire, wanting little, is happiness itself.
爲安應少欲 況求眞解脱
If small desire is for the sake of happiness, how much more is it for the seeking of true freedom!
慳吝畏多求 恐損其財寶
The stingy are afraid to seek for more, for fear of losing their wealth.
好施者亦畏 愧財不供足
He who likes to be generous is afraid too, ashamed of his riches, of which he may not provide enough [to others].
是故當小欲 施彼無畏心
Therefore, one should practise small desire and give to others with a confident mind –
由此少欲心 則得解脱道
From this mind that wants little, one attains freedom's path.

Anuruddha Sutta
“When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with small desire (appicchassa), not for one with strong desire (mahicchassa),’ with reference to what was this said?
Here, when a bhikkhu is one with small desire (appiccho samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one with small desire.’ (“appiccho ti maṁ jāneyyun” ti na icchati) When he is content (santuṭṭho samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who is content.’ When he resorts to solitude (pavivitto samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who resorts to solitude.’ When he is energetic (āraddhaviriyo samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be energetic.’ When he is mindful (upaṭṭhitasati samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be mindful.’ When he is composed (samāhito samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be composed.’ When he is wise (paññavā samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be wise.’ When he delights in not being wordy (nippapañcārāmo samāno), he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who delights in not being wordy.’ When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with small desire, not for one with strong desire,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

Yuikyo-gyo (Bequeathed Teaching Sūtra)
汝等比丘。當知多欲之人。多求利故苦惱亦多。少欲之人無求無欲則無此患。 直爾少欲尚應修習。 何況少欲能生諸善功徳。 少欲之人則無諂曲以求人意。 亦復不爲諸根所牽。 行少欲者心則坦然無所憂畏。 觸事有餘常無不足。 有少欲者則有涅槃。 是名少欲。
Nishijima-Cross translation from Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Chapter 95:
You bhikṣus should know that people of abundant desire abundantly seek gain, and so their suffering also is abundant. People of small desire, being free of seeking and free of desire, are free of this affliction. You should practice and learn small desire just for itself. Still more, small desire can give rise to all virtues: people of small desire never curry favor and bend in order to gain the minds of others. Further, they are not led by the sense organs. Those who practice small desire are level in mind; they are without worries and fears; when they come into contact with things they have latitude; and they are constantly free from dissatisfaction. Those who have small desire just have nirvana. This is called “small desire.”

2. saṁtuṣṭi



2. Contentment
santuṭṭha
saṁtuṣṭi
知足
(chi-soku; knowing satisfaction)

The Tibetan translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
| gal te grol bar ’dod na tshim pa bsñen mdzod daṅ | | tshim pa na ni ’dir bde de ’di chos yin źiṅ |
| tshim pa rnams ni sar yaṅ bde bar gñid log ste | | chim med rnams ni mtho ris na yaṅ rnam par sreg |  56
| phyug kyaṅ chim pa med pa rtag tu dbul po ste | | dbul yaṅ tshim pa daṅ ldan rtag tu phyug po ñid |
| tshim pa med pa sdug pa’i yul rnams daṅ ’bye źiṅ | | tshim pas ’gro ba ṅal ba ldan la mya ṅan byed |  57
EHJ56. If you desire salvation, practise contentment; with contentment there is bliss here and it is the Law. The contented sleep peacefully even on the ground, the discontented are burnt up even in Paradise.
EHJ57. The discontented man, however rich is always poor, and the contented man, however poor, is always rich. The discontented man, seeking the beloved objects of sense, creates suffering for himself by toiling to obtain satiety. 

The Chinese translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
若欲求解脱 亦應習知足 
If one seeks deliverance, one should develop satisfaction too!
知足常歡喜 歡喜即是法
The heart is always joyful when satisfied. Joy is nothing but the Law.
資生具雖陋 知足故常安    
“Even if the provisions one depends upon are lowly, one is always content and satisfied.
不知足之人 雖得生天樂  
以不知足故 苦火常燒心    
Even if someone who is unable to feel satisfied obtains the happiness of rebirth in heaven, the fire of suffering permanently burns his mind, because he is not satisfied.
富而不知足 是亦爲貧苦
“If [you are] wealthy but not satisfied, this too is poverty.
雖貧而知足 是則第一富
When [you are] satisfied even though poor, this is the highest wealth.
其不知足者 五欲境彌廣
“If one is not satisfied, the objects of the five desires become even larger.
猶更求無厭 長夜馳騁苦
One seeks even more and tirelessly hurries toward suffering for a long time.
汲汲懷憂慮 反爲知足哀
In his effort he feels anxiety and, on the other hand, he is pitied by those who are satisfied.

Anuruddha Sutta
“When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is content (santuṭṭhassa), not for one who is discontent (asantuṭṭhassa),’ with reference to what was this said?
Here, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicines and provisions for the sick. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

Yuikyo-gyo (Bequeathed Teaching Sūtra)
汝等比丘。若欲脱諸苦惱。當觀知足。 知足之法即是富樂安隱之處。 知足之人雖臥地上猶爲安樂。 不知足者雖處天堂亦不稱意。 不知足者雖富而貧。知足之人雖貧而富。不知足者常爲五欲所牽。爲知足者之所憐愍。 是名知足。
Nishijima-Cross translation from Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Chapter 95:
If you bhikṣus desire to get rid of all kinds of suffering, you should reflect on knowing satisfaction. The practice of knowing satisfaction is the very place of abundance, joy, and peace. People who know satisfaction, even when lying on the ground, are still comfortable and joyful. Those who do not know satisfaction, even when living in a heavenly palace, are still not suited. Those who do not know satisfaction, even if rich, are poor. People who know satisfaction, even if poor, are rich. Those who do not know satisfaction are constantly led by the five desires; they are pitied by those who know satisfaction. This is called to know satisfaction.”

3. praviveka


3. Seclusion
pavivitta
praviveka
樂寂靜
(gyo-jakujo; enjoying peace and quiet)

The Tibetan translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
| źi ba’i bde ba dam pa thob par ’dod rnams kyis | | de ltar tshogs la dga’ ba rnams su ’gyur mi bya |
| źi ba’i bdag ñid gcig tu rgyu phyir ’jig rten na | | brgya byin la sogs lha rnams kyis kyaṅ re ’dod byed |  58
| chags po sdug bsṅal gyi ni gnas pa’i śiṅ yin te | | raṅ gi skye bo la ’am skye la chags pa spaṅs |
| chags pa rnam rgyas sdug bsṅal la ni ’jig rten na | | gñis ’thuṅ ’khogs pa ’dam la bźin du chags par ’gyur | 59
EHJ58. Those who desire to obtain the highest bliss of peace should not give themselves up to the pleasures in such degree. For even Indra and the other gods envy the man in the world who is solely devoted to tranquility. 
EHJ59. Attachment is the roosting-tree of suffering; therefore give up attachment, whether to relations or to strangers. He who has many attachments in the world is stuck fast in suffering, like a decrepit elephant in the mud.

The Chinese translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
不多受眷屬 其心常安隱
If one does not often accept one's retinue, one's mind is always tranquil.
安隱寂靜故 人天悉奉事
Because of tranquility and quietude, all humans and gods serve him.
是故當捨離 親疏二眷屬
That is why one should give up both of the two retinues of close and distant loved ones.
如曠澤孤樹 衆鳥1多集栖
“For instance, suppose many birds and monkeys live on a lone tree in a vast marsh.
多畜衆亦然 長夜受衆苦
The same applies to a large retinue one may care for. For a long time one experiences much suffering.
多衆多纒累 如老象溺泥 
A large crowd means many entanglements, like an old elephant that is sunk in the mud.

Anuruddha Sutta
“When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude (pavivittassa)1, not for one who delights in company (saṅgaṇikārāmassa),’ with reference to what was this said?
Here, when a bhikkhu resorts to solitude, bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, female lay followers, kings, royal ministers, heads of other sects, and disciples belonging to other sects approach him. In each case, with a mind that slants, slopes, and inclines to seclusion, withdrawn, delighting in renunciation, he gives them a talk invariably concerned with dismissing them. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

Yuikyo-gyo (Bequeathed Teaching Sūtra)
汝等比丘。若求寂靜無爲安樂。當離憒閙獨處閑居。 靜處之人帝釋諸天所共敬重。 是故當捨己衆他衆。空閑獨處思滅苦本。 若樂衆者則受衆惱。 譬如大樹衆鳥集之則有枯折之患。 世間縛著沒於衆苦。 譬如老象溺泥不能自出。 是名遠離
Nishijima-Cross translation from Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Chapter 95:
If you bhikṣus wish to pursue tranquil and unintentional2 peace and joy, you should depart from noise and live alone in seclusion. People of quiet places are revered alike by the god Śakra and all the gods. For this reason you should abandon your own groups and other groups, live alone in an empty space, and think of dissolving the root of suffering. Those who take pleasure in groups suffer many troubles—like a flock of birds gathering on a great tree and then worrying that it will wither or break. [Those] fettered by and attached to the world are immersed in many kinds of suffering—like an old elephant drowning in mud, unable to get out by itself. This is called “distancing.”


1Pavivitta [pp. of pa+vi+vic] separated, detached, secluded, singled. Often in phrase appiccha santuṭṭha pavivitta referring to an ascetic enjoying the satisfaction of seclusion.
2 無爲 (from the Sanskrit asaṁskṛta, would better be translated as “free of doing” – or, as per Gudo Nishijima's original translation “natural.” 

4. vīrya


4. Energy
viriya
vīrya
勤精進
(gon-shojin; applying energy)


The Tibetan translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
| rtag par rab źugs chu yi rgyun ni mñen na yaṅ | | rdo yi logs la dus su rnam par ’bigs pa ste |
| brtson ’grus kyis ni rñed par dka’ ba ci yaṅ med | | de phyir khur rnams mi ’bor bar ni bzod bgyis daṅ | 60
| gaṅ źig yaṅ yaṅ ṅal bso nas ni srub byed pa | | de yi śiṅ la me ni rñed par sla min źiṅ |
| brtson ’grus brtsams pas rñed par sla bar ’gyur ba ste | | de phyir sbyor ba yod na bya ba ’grub pa ñid |  61
EHJ60. A stream, whose waters ever flow, however softly, in time wears away the surface of the rock. Energy finds nothing impossible of attainment. Therefore be strenuous and do not put down your loads.
EHJ61. The man who stops repeatedly in drilling with fire-sticks finds it hard to get fire from wood, but by the application of energy it comes easily. Therefore where there is diligence, the task is accomplished. 

The Chinese translation of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita Canto 26:
若人勤精進 無利而不獲
If one applies oneself with zeal, there is no benefit one will not obtain.
是故當晝夜 精勤不懈怠
One should therefore be strenuous night and day, not lazy!
山谷微流水 常流故決石 
As the small streams in the valley continuously flow, they hollow out a rock.
鑚火不精進 徒勞而不獲
If one is not strenuous when trying to make a fire with a stick, one toils in vain and does not obtain it.
是故當精進 如壯夫鑚火
Therefore, always be vigorous, like someone in his prime making a fire!

Anuruddha Sutta
“When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is energetic (āraddhaviriyassa), not for one who is lazy (kusītassa),’ with reference to what was this said?
Here, a bhikkhu has aroused energy (āraddhaviriyo) for abandoning unwholesome qualities (akusalanaṁ dhammānaṁ pahānāya) and acquiring wholesome qualities (kusalanaṁ dhammānaṁ upasampadāya); he is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating wholesome qualities. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

Yuikyo-gyo (Bequeathed Teaching Sūtra)
汝等比丘。若勤精進則事無難者。 是故汝等。當勤精進。 是故汝等。當勤精進。 譬如小水常流則能穿石。 若行者之心數數懈廢。譬如鑚火未熱而息。 雖欲得火火難可得。 是名精進 。
Nishijima-Cross translation from Master Dogen's Shobogenzo Chapter 95:
If you bhikṣus practice diligence, nothing will be difficult. For this reason you should practice diligence—as a trickle of water that constantly flows is able to drill through rock. If the mind of a practitioner often tires and quits, that is like [a person] twirling a stick to start a fire and resting before it gets hot: although [the person] wishes to obtain fire, fire is unobtainable. This is called “diligence.”