babhraaje shaantayaa lakShmyaa
dharmo vigrahavaan iva
- = - = - = = =
= = = - - = - =
= = = = - = = =
= = = - - = - -
To one who was a lamp of honour
Came a supreme bringer
of the brightness of higher good:
He shone with tranquil splendour
Like dharma in a separate bodily form.
This verse, as I read it, and as LC also read it, means that the baby Gautama (supreme maker of the brightness of higher good) was born to King Shuddhodhana (a lamp of honour). EHJ understood that the Buddha was both subject and object of samaayayau.
In line 4 Ashvaghosha compares the shining baby to dharma in a separate bodily form (dharmo vigrahavaan). This expression dharmo vigrahavaan, as I read it, can only mean the bodily form of a person sitting upright with spontaneous ease, free from the fetters of bad habits, wrong views and conceit, right leg on left thigh and left leg on right thigh.
In the earlier verses of this Canto the word dharma seems to carry more of a connotation of duty, and especially the duty of an ancient Indian king to his ancestors, to his brahmins, and to his other subjects. With discussion of the dharma-loving denizens of heaven in 2.46 - 2.47, the meaning of dharma seems to be freed up a bit so as to include the sense of something (or a bit of nothing) in movement. And in the previous verse, 2.55, true dharma (sad-dharma) that is held in high esteem would seem to mean truth itself.
When Ashvaghosha's great grandchild Dogen proclaims that sitting is the Buddha-Dharma and the Buddha-Dharma is sitting, these three senses of dharma -- as a buddha-ancestor's sole duty, as something in movement/non-movement, and as truth itself -- would seem to be relevant.
Dogen does not say that Dharma takes a bodily form; he says that Dharma is sitting and sitting is Dharma. Similarly Ashvaghosha as I hear him does not say that the baby Gautama was sitting; he says that the baby Gautama, in shining with tranquil splendour, was like sitting.
Yesterday I was flicking through Brian (Daizen) Victoria's book Zen At War which on page 32 contains a cartoon, from the March 1937 issue of the nonsectarian Buddhist magazine Daihorin, showing a line of soldiers on a parade ground all keeping their neck bones straight vertically and pulling in their chins. The cartoon is to illustrate a point made by a contributor that KI O TSKETE NO SHISEI WA ZAZEN TO ONAJI KYOCHI, "The attitude in standing to attention is the same state as sitting-zen."
Oh really? So when the baby Gautama emerged he was like a Japanese soldier of the 1930s standing on a parade ground, was he, with his neck held straight and his chin pulled in?
No, he bloody well was not. I may not have got very far in 30 years of pursuing true dharma, but I do know that the true dharma is not that.
When my Zen master taught me to hold my neckbones straight and pull my chin in, he was just totally and utterly wrong. Because of esteeming true dharma so highly, I believed the dharma he was teaching as a buddha-ancestor must be true. But the real truth is that what he was teaching was not true dharma: it was just a wrong view.
What FM Alexander taught with regard to the matter of upright posture, in contrast, was, the other side of abandonment of all views, just true dharma.
So we have had a situation where so-called Zen masters have been endeavouring to propagate a "true Buddhism" that is originally rooted in a wrong view, while Alexander teachers have been endeavouring to clarify true dharma. In the 15 years I have been aware of this problem, an increasing number of Zen practitioners have become aware of Alexander's discoveries, and, conversely, more and more Alexander teachers and students have got into Zen. So confusion reigns.
Fifteen years ago I thought that I was just the guy to cut the roots of the confusion, as Bodhidharma cut through confusion when he came to China. When I look back now at what I thought and felt then, it just seems like faulty sensory appreciation and vanity.
The Supreme One, the banner-bearer of the highest good, attained the pinnacle of fame and shone with the majesty of holy calm like the Law of Righteousness in bodily form.
To him whose banner was fame came the bearer of the banner of Excellence, the supreme one, radiating calm splendor like dharma incarnate.
samaayayau = 3rd pers. sg. perfect sam-aa-√yaa: to come together , meet ; to come near , come to (acc.) ; to fall upon , get into any state or condition (acc.)
yashaH-ketum (acc. sg.): him who was a lamp/banner of honour
yashas: n. beautiful appearance , beauty , splendour , worth; honour , glory , fame , renown
ketu: m. (fr. √cit) , bright appearance , clearness , brightness (often pl. , " rays of light "); lamp , flame , torch ; sign , mark , ensign , flag , banner ; a chief , leader , eminent person
√cit: to perceive , fix the mind upon , attend to , be attentive , observe , take notice of
shreyaH-ketu-karaH (nom. sg. m.): maker of the brightness of higher good
shreyas: mfn. most excellent, best ; n. the better state , the better fortune or condition ; m. good (as opp. to " evil ") , welfare , bliss , fortune , happiness
ketu: m. brightness; lamp; banner etc.
kara 1. (from √kR) a doer , maker , causer , doing , making , causing , producing (esp. ifc. ; duHkha-kara, causing pain)
2. (from √kRR) , a ray of light , sunbeam , moonbeam
paraH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. far , distant , remote (in space) , opposite , ulterior , farther than , beyond , on the other or farther side of , extreme ; best , highest , supreme , chief
babhraaje = 3rd pers. sg. perfect braaj: to shine , beam , sparkle , glitter
shaantayaa (inst. sg. f.): mfn. (fr. √sham) appeased , pacified , tranquil , calm , free from passions , undisturbed
lakShmyaa = inst. sg. lakShmii. a good sign , good fortune , prosperity , success , happiness ; wealth , riches ; beauty , loveliness , grace , charm , splendour , lustre
dharmaH (nom. sg.): m. dharma, the law etc.
vigrahavaan = nom. sg. m. vigraha-vat: mfn. having form or figure , embodied , incarnate ; having a handsome form or shape , fine , beautiful
vigraha: m. keeping apart or asunder , isolation ; separate i.e. individual form or shape , form , figure , the body
vi- √ grah: to stretch out or apart , spread out ; to distribute , divide ; to hold apart , separate , isolate