tasmaat sarveShu bhuuteShu
maitriiM kaaruNyam eva ca
na vyaapaadaM vihiMsaaM vaa
= = = = - = = -
= = = = - = - -
= = = = - = = =
- = - - - = - -
On this basis, towards all beings,
It is love and compassion,
Not ill-will or cruelty,
That you should opt for.
This verse, as I read it, hinges on its first word, tasmaat ("on this basis").
The original basis of this canto, remember, is sitting in the supreme manner, engaging in the fundamental. And the essence of engaging in the fundamental, at least as Marjory Barlow taught me to practice it, is simply this:
"I think of doing nothing."
This was Marjory's simple idea: "Think of doing nothing."
"Then," Marjory added, "I ask myself: What kind of nothing am I doing?"
Tasmaat ("on this basis"), as I read it, means not so much on the basis of the idea "Think of doing nothing," but more on the basis of "What kind of nothing am I doing?"
Marjory took pains to distinguish between two kinds of thinking, namely:
(a) filling our heads with abstract ideas, which many of us tend to do too much;
(b) using the brain for the work of thinking, which we tend to avoid at all costs.
A nice idea, like "I am on the side of compassion towards all living beings," or "I am a Buddhist, an ordained monk in the lineage of Great Master X," or "I am an Alexander teacher, a practitioner of non-doing as taught by Marjory Barlow," might be forever, but it is also cheap.
The question "What kind of nothing am I doing?", in contrast, requires us to ask it afresh in a moment of non-doing practice. And it is on this basis, I think the Buddha is telling us, on the difficult basis of momentary practice, that we should opt for love and compassion towards all beings.
To opt for love and compassion on this basis turns out not to be so easy.
On this basis, sarveShu bhuuteShu ("towards all beings") might mean, for example, towards foxes and towards fox-hunters.
On this basis, the Buddha seems to be saying, right in the moment of the present, you should opt (vikalpayitum arhasi) -- not only before the event, when reading the golden words of the ancients, but also at the centre of the action, just in that moment when your progress up the motorway is being impeded by some half-asleep Mr Magoo dawdling along in the fast lane at a steady 65 mph.
I can decide here and now to devote the rest of my life to acting with love and compassion for all sentient beings. But what kind of decision is that? It is a decision to sign up to an idea which is highly likely to prove to be empty -- as the words "I love you" are ever prone to turn out to have been the expression of an empty idea. Having a nice idea isn't really engaging with the fundamental at all.
So tasmaat, "on this basis," as I read it, means not so much on the basis of the idea of love and compassion for all living beings, but more on the basis of giving up that idea, and using one's brain in this moment in a constructive manner.
Therefore you should cultivate thoughts of benevolence and compassion towards all beings, not of malevolence or the desire to hurt.
it follows that you should choose loving-kindness and compassion towards all living creatures as the alternative to malice and aggression.
tasmaat: ind. (abl. of ta) from that , on that account , therefore
sarveShu = loc. pl. n. sarva: all
bhuuteShu = loc. pl. bhuuta: n. (cf. above ) that which is or exists , any living being
maitriim (acc. sg.): f. friendship , friendliness , benevolence , good will
kaaruNyam (acc. sg.): n. compassion , kindness
vyaapaadam (acc. sg.): m. destruction , ruin , death ; evil intent or design , malice
vihiMsaam (acc. sg.): f. injuring, hurting, harming
vikalpayitum = inf. vi-√klRp: to change or alternate ; to be undecided ; to choose one of two alternatives
arhasi: you should