atha n'aiSHa maarga iti viikSHya
tad api vipulaM jahau tapaH
dhyana-viSHayam avagamya paraM
bubhuje var'-aannam amRtatva-buddhaye
Having ascertained, then,
that this was not the path,
He abandoned that extreme asceticism too.
He knew from past experience
that the realm of Zen was ascendant,
And so he ate most wholesome rice,
in readiness to realise the deathless.
The realm of Zen has to do with going back, and going up. Even with the best of intentions, it is very difficult to inhibit those ideas which, at the deepest level (generally unbeknowns to ourselves), impel us forward towards the gaining of some end. And neither is it easy to counteract in a skillful way the various forces -- pyschological, political, socio-economic, emotional, gravitational, et cetera -- that tend to pull us down. But Gautama, when he was down and almost out, remembered, thinking back to his youthful experience under the rose-apple tree, that the realm of Zen has to do with going on up. The realm of Zen has to do with learning the backward step; at the same time, it has to do with going on up. The realm of Zen has to do with dropping off end-gaining (the backward step) and yet still somehow causing the spine to lengthen (going on up). The great challenge is to achieve this lengthening of the spine through muscular release, and not in an end-gaining way. Immature vestibular reflexes makes this challenge all the more difficult, as does poor diet (written while scoffing two chocolate digestive biscuits).
eSHa: this, this here
iti: that ["this is not the path"]
viikSHya = from vi + iiksh: understand, ascertain
vipulaM: large, extensive, great, extreme
jahau = from the root ha: abandon
tapa: ascetic practice, asceticism, austerity
viSHayam: sphere of sensory experience, objective world, realm
avagamya: (absolutive) having understood, having known -- a reference to young Gautama's experience under the rose-apple tree
para: farther; superior, higher; ascendant; best, highest, supreme, utmost; transcendent beyond.
vara: choicest, best, most excellent
aannam: food, especially rice
amRtatva: deathlessness, immortality
buddhaye = dative (denoting purpose) of buddhi: understand, comprehend, be present to, realise.
Then seeing this to be a false path, He gave up that extended course of austerity too and, realizing that the sphere of trance was the highest, He ate choice food to prepare His mind for the understanding of immortality.
Then, ascertaining that this was not the path, he abandoned that extreme asceticism too. He understood that the practice of meditation was best, and he ate good food to prepare himself for comprehending deathlessness.