Saturday, November 12, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 18.47: How the Tathāgata Exhausted Himself for Others (Doing Just What He Wanted)

aho hi sattveṣv-atimaitra-cetasas-
tathāgatasyānujighṛkṣutā parā /
apāsya yad-dhyāna-sukhaṃ mune paraṃ
parasya duḥkhoparamāya khidyase // 18.47 //

- = - = / = - - / = - = - = // - = - = / = - - / = - = - =
- = - = / = - - / = - = - = // - = - = / = - - / = - = - =

Oh! high indeed, then, is the order of that desire
to favour living beings

Which the Tathāgata,
overflowing with benevolence, has:

Since, O Sage, you throw away
the highest-order happiness of meditation

And are consumed by your effort
to stop others suffering.

Implicit in today's verse as I read it is the fact that in Aśvaghoṣa's mind the highest happiness of full awakening (saṁbodhi-sukham uttamam) is totally identified with the highest-order happiness of sitting-meditation (dhyāna-sukhaṃ param).

Also implicit in today's verse might be the principle that only a fully-enlightened buddha such as Nanda now is can appreciate the benevolence of a fully-enlightened buddha -- because only one who has perfectly realized for himself the happiness of full awakening (saṁbodhi-sukham) can fully appreciate a buddha's throwing away of the supreme happiness of sitting-zen (dhyāna-sukhaṃ param).

For those of us who have not yet perfectly realized the happiness of full awakening, arrival at this principle might be a bit of a conversation stopper....

All I would venture to add is that if Dogen is called a Zen patriarch, then Aśvaghoṣa too should be called a Zen patriarch. And if Aśvaghoṣa was never a Zen patriarch, then Bodhidharma and Dogen also were never Zen patriarchs. But they might have been blokes whose sitting-meditation perfectly realized happiness of the highest order -- on the basis of which they did what they liked.

For anybody who thinks that the realized Tathāgata was a man without desire it might be instructive to count the number of instances in Saundara-nanda in which the Buddha is described using a desiderative form such as anujighṛkṣutā (desiring to treat with kindness) is in today's verse.

What the happiness of full awakening (saṁbodhi-sukham) is, I do not know. If I know anything, I know that the kind of altruism in which the head leads and the heart does not follow, cannot be it. A striver's altruism, altruism in which the striving altruist makes himself unhappy being where he doesn't want to be and doing what he doesn't want to do, is no good to man nor beast.

So what Nanda is praising in today's verse, as I read it, must be something on a higher level than altru- or any other kind of -ism.

EH Johnston:
For wonderful indeed is the favour shown to all beings by the Tathagata in the exceeding benevolence of His mind that, throwing aside the supreme bliss of trance, the Sage should labour to put an end to the sufferings of others.

Linda Covill:
How wonderfully kind is the favor shown to living beings by the realized one, in the extraordinary benevolence of his mind! O sage, you lay aside supreme meditational rapture, and work for the cessation of the suffering of others.

aho: ind. a particle (implying joyful or painful surprise) etc.
hi: for; indeed, often merely an expletive
sattveShu (loc. pl.): to living beings
ati-maitra-cetasaH (gen. sg. m.): exceedingly benevolent
ati: (prefixed to nouns and adjectives in the sense excessive , extraordinary) too, exceedingly
maitra: friendly , amicable , benevolent , affectionate , kind
cetas: mind

tathaagatasya = gen. sg. tathaagata: m. the realised one, the Tathagata
anujighRkShutaa (nom. sg.): f. (from desiderative anu√grah) the desiring to treat with kindness; the favour
anu-√grah: to follow in taking or plundering , to support ; to uphold ; to receive , welcome ; to treat with kindness , favour , oblige ; to foster.
anujighRkShu: mfn. wishing to favour
- taa: f. abstract noun suffix
paraa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. on the other side, superior, highest, supreme

apaasya = abs. apaas: to fling away , throw away or off, leave behind
yad: (relative pronoun) that
dhyaana-sukham (acc. sg.): the pleasure of meditation
dhyaana: n. [sitting-]meditation , thought , reflection;
sukha: n. ease, comfort, happiness, pleasure
mune (voc. sg. m.): O sage!
param (acc. sg. n.): mfn. on the other side, superior, highest, supreme

parasya (gen. sg.): of the other
duHkh'-oparamaaya (dat. sg.): for the stopping of suffering
uparama: m. cessation , stopping , expiration ; leaving off , desisting , giving up
khidyase (2nd pers. sg. passive khid): you are distressed, wearied , exhausted

No comments: