Saturday, May 26, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.26: Clarity of Directions, Without Doing

[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * |
−⏑−  ¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−
diśaḥ praseduḥ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * || 1.26

EHJ notes that in the 3rd line phyogs rnams rab snaṅ = diśaḥ praseduḥ (the quarters/directions became clear), and that dge-ba, the epithet of the sky, probably stands for śuci (“the white/clear one”), as in BC12.119.

The sense of spontaneous action is absent from EHJ's translation based on the Tibetan, but is once again conspicuously present in the Chinese translation, represented again by the character , used in today's verse in the adverbial compound自然, which means spontaneously or naturally.

Spontaneity, in the sense of something doing itself, is by definition not something that a practitioner can do. This being so, there might be times when the job of a sitting practitioner in pursuit of spontaneity, is simply to be clear what he wants, and firmly to decide not to do anything to muddy the waters.

Today's verse, I am guessing from the various translations of it that we have, relates to this principle of being clear in one's directions, without doing.

I am late posting this, by the way, having set off early this morning on a carbon-framed bike borrowed from my son, to get a train from Aylesbury to London, then to Paris by Eurostar, and then a dash across Paris brandishing a big bag with the dismantled bike in it to the Gare Montparnasse, and a train to Normandy, followed by 12-miles of pedalling. I might be getting a bit old for this kind of travel. There were huge queues at the ticket machine for the Metro at the Eurostar Gare du Nord and there was nobody at the gate provided for large items of luggage, like my bike bag. Intuiting that I was going to miss my connection, I pushed the bike bag through the gap provided for large items of luggage,  and followed through myself, thereby dodging a fare and making the connection. Whether it was bad behaviour, or the right thing doing itself, I honestly don't know. But having arrived by the forest, taken a cold shower, and sat outside just now listening to the bird's singing in the silence, the contrast between the noise and bustle of the journey through London and Paris, and the peace and quiet of the forest, could hardly be more marked.

The smaller Chinese characters shown below in square brackets, by the way, are a variant reading which the translations of Beal and Willemen always seem to follow. What the meaning of  <三> is, I haven't been able to ascertain yet. There must be two versions, one of which  the character   stands for.  If anybody can enlighten me as to what the two versions are, I would be grateful. 

Tibetan Text:
| mkha’ ’gro’i bya ni mtho min sgra sgrogs ri dag kyaṅ |
| chu kluṅ dag ni chu yaṅ źi bar bab gyur la |
| phyogs rnams rab snaṅ dge ba’i nam mkha’ rab mdzes śiṅ |
| lha yi rṅa rnams mkha’ la rab tu grags par gyur |

EHJ's translation (from the Tibetan):
26. The birds and deer did not call aloud and the rivers flowed with calm waters. The quarters became clear and the sky shone cloudless; the drums of the gods resounded in the air.

Chinese Text:
亂鳴諸禽獸 恬默寂無聲
萬川皆停流 濁水悉澄清
空中無雲翳 天鼓自然鳴


S. Beal's translation (from the Chinese):
33. The various cries and confused sounds of beasts were hushed and silence reigned; the stagnant water of the river-courses flowed apace, whilst the polluted streams became clear and pure. 34. No clouds gathered throughout the heavens, whilst angelic music, self-caused, was heard around

C. Willemen's translation (from the Chinese):
32. The birds and animals with their confused cries fell silent, not making any sound. The ten thousand rivers all stopped flowing and muddy waters all became clear. In the sky there were no clouds, and celestial drums sounded all by themselves.

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