Saturday, June 2, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.33: Indian Tribalism

[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti
* * * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * * * *  | 
* * * * * * * * * * *   * * * * * * * * * * *  || 1.33

According to EHJ's translation from the Tibetan, the Brahmans tell the king “your race will certainly flourish.”

The corresponding gist in Chinese is 靈祥集家國, “spiritual fortune will be concentrated in your family and nation.” 

I am familiar with such delusions particularly from having lived in Japan in the 1980s during the period of Japan's bubble economy, when the sense of national hubris was probably on a par with Britain's at the height of the Pax Britannica. 

Again, the Brahmans' gist can be contrasted with what the Buddha tells Nanda in Saundarananda Canto 15: 
Among beings dragged by our own doing through the cycle of saṁsāra / Who are our own people, and who are other people? It is through ignorance that people attach to people. // 15.31 //  For one who turned on a bygone road into a relative, is a stranger to you; /And a stranger, on a road to come, will become your relative.  // 15.32 //  Just as birds in the evening flock together at separate locations, / So is the mingling over many generations of one's own and other people. // 15.33 //  
As corroboration of this teaching of the Buddha, I recently heard on the radio two views on the extinction of Neanderthal man – or rather what sounded to me like a view and its falsification by a discovery. The view was that Neanderthals who inhabited a cave on the rock of Gibraltar were among the last of their species to survive, before human beings wiped them out. What sounded to me like the falsification of this view, following on from reconstruction of most of the Neanderthal genome, was that in certain parts of the world Neanderthal DNA survives in modern human beings

Speaking of genetics, the practice of marrying one's cousin is a backward cultural practice that a large proportion of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent seem to want to import into Britain. The tradition arises from the desire to keep wealth in the family. Ignorant British Pakistanis say that the resulting increase in recessive genetic disorders is the will of God. But is it fuck the will of God. It is cause and effect. And the root cause is just what the Brahmans in today's verse are propagating: Indian tribalism. 

So for the giving up, in short, of all these ideas, / Mindfulness of inward and outward breathing, my friend, you should make into your own possession. // 15.64 //  

This mindfulnesss, as I practice it, is not a religious practice, but there is something in it in the spirit of “Thy will be done.”  That might be the baby that we should avoid throwing out as we throw out the old bath water of religion. 

“Thy will be done” is the essence of the Lord's Prayer – the Lord, in this case, referring to a man of the tribe of Judah named Jesus. So the “Thy” in the Lord's Prayer originally means the jealous, racist God of the tribe of Judah -- the God of Abraham, the God of Judaism, Christianity, and latterly Islaam. 

When I was in Japan, very few Japanese people were overtly racist towards me as a white man. Covertly might have been a different matter. And if I had been black or from Southeast Asia, that might have been a different matter too. But stronger than race is the importance that Japanese tend to attach to what group you belong to. 

My teacher Gudo Nishijima won a place to study Law to Tokyo University, then he went to war in China, then he got a top job in Japan's Ministry of Finance. This meant that he belonged to Japan's elite. In a society in which the group mattered more than the individual, his group was the top group. So at least he had a good vantage point, at the pinnacle of a group-oriented society, from which to look down on others. 

As I have pointed out before, nowhere in Saundarananda does Aśvaghoṣa use the term saṁgha to mean a group or community of practitioners. He never uses saṁgha in the sense of a religious congregation. This seems to me to be of very great significance – remembering that Aśvaghoṣa invariably uses indirect means to get across a message that might otherwise have set the cat among the pigeons. 

“God is Dharma. Dharma is God,” Gudo said to me, laughing, “This is a compromise. The truth is that Dharma is Dharma. But this compromise can save all people in the world.” 

That's how things seemed to Gudo from his vantage point sitting up there on the topmost rim of the Japanese goldfish bowl. Observing world events from that lofty pinnacle, he opined that Hitler may have been right: that Jews, and especially Jewish financiers, may indeed have been skillfully manipulating the course of world history. That being so, let us compromise and agree that the Buddha-Dharma is God, the God of Abraham, the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islaam. 

When I was young and impressionable, I thought that since Gudo gave credence to Jewish conspiracy theory, there might be some truth in it. But nowadays I do not have any doubt that it was just one of many ideas that Gudo failed to abandon. 

And as for his idea to save everybody by preaching oneness of God and Dharma,  I ask you: Is Dharma really God? 

Is it fuck. 

So when I say that “Thy will be done” is inherent in mindfulness as I practice it, I am not sure exactly what “Thy” is referring to – maybe Nature. But not fucking God. God is an idea, it seems to me, whose time has come to be totally and utterly abandoned. 

And yet “Thy will be done,” is inherent in the practice of allowing, or “non-doing.” Inherent in the practice of allowing, in other words, is recognition that I wished or I wish things to go in a certain direction, but I accept that I am powerless to change what happened already and am powerless to force things to go in the direction I wish them to go, by direct muscular intervention. 

So I think directions, without doing anything to try to implement them. I wish my head to go forward and up, my spine to lengthen and back to widen, my legs to release out of the pelvis, and my arms to release, right down to my mutually touching thumb and fingertips, so that I might widen across the upper part of the arms as I widen my back, so that breathing might do itself well, or at least might do itself better than when I am held in the grip of some parochial concern. 

Latest data confirms that the global economy is heading for a depression and the gold price, just like I hoped, turns up sharply. Hooray!  Never mind if employment prospects  have darkened for millions of young people around the world. I'm all right, Jack. Never mind if Syria descends into a sectarian civil war in which dozens more innocent children have their throats cut. 

In the end, what can any of us do to combat tribalism, sectarianism, parochialism? Shall we form a group, and start a movement. Bags I be the leader. 

So for the giving up, in short, of all these ideas, / Mindfulness of inward and outward breathing, my friend, you should make into your own possession. // 15.64 // 

Tibetan Text: 
| de phyir brtan par rnam dpyod med par dgar mdzod daṅ | 
| rigs ni ṅes pa ñid du mchog tu ’phel bar ’gyur |
| ’di ni khyod kyi bu źes skyes par gyur ba ste | 
| ’jig rten sdug bsṅal dag (6)gis mṅon par bcom pa’i mgon | 

EHJ's translation (from the Tibetan/Chinese): 
33. Therefore in all steadfastness renounce anxiety and be merry; for your race will certainly flourish. He who has been born here as your son is the leader for those who are overcome by the suffering of the world.  

Chinese Text: 
安心自欣慶 莫生餘疑慮 
靈祥集家國 從今轉休盛
所生殊勝子 必爲世間救  

[休=興<三> ] 

S. Beal's translation (from the Chinese): 
44. ’Let then his heart be joyful and glad, banish all anxiety and doubt, the spiritual omens that are everywhere, manifested indicate for your house and dominion a course of continued prosperity. 45. ’The most excellently endowed child now born will bring deliverance to the entire world, 

C. Willemen's translation (from the Chinese): 
41. Be assured and pleased, and do not feel uncertain anymore!  42. “Good luck will be concentrated in your house and country. From now on you will be increasingly prosperous. The excellent son born to you will certainly be the world’s salvation. 


Dorella Belle said...

(50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.' Gospel of Thomas

Mike Cross said...

Jesus said that, did he?

Well Mike Cross says this:

"Ignorance leads to confidence more often than knowledge does. It is generally religious believers who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."

Here is another of my thoughts:

"It is neither the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

(Read more of the gospel according to Mike at

Dorella Belle said...

Religious believers? Species that survives?
Ops... now I understand "the elect of the living father"...
Can it be simply a problem of translation?

You talked about the "God" of Jesus and I simply suggested the idea that the "living father" he was talking about was not a traditional "God".

"But the theory says that if you could probe smaller, much smaller than we can with existing technology, you'd find something else inside these particles -- a little tiny vibrating filament of energy, a little tiny vibrating string. And just like the strings on a violin, they can vibrate in different patterns producing different musical notes. These little fundamental strings, when they vibrate in different patterns, they produce different kinds of particles -- so electrons, quarks, neutrinos, photons, all other particles would be united into a single framework, as they would all arise from vibrating strings. It's a compelling picture, a kind of cosmic symphony, where all the richness that we see in the world around us emerges from the music that these little, tiny strings can play."

"The Big Bang leaves out something pretty important, the Bang. It tells us how the universe evolved after the Bang, but gives us no insight into what would have powered the Bang itself. And this gap was finally filled by an enhanced version of the Big Bang theory. It's called inflationary cosmology, which identified a particular kind of fuel that would naturally generate an outward rush of space. The fuel is based on something called a quantum field"

"we came from the place where the light came into being on its own accord"

I cannot say I have a clear understanding of what is the meaning of this sentence but I cannot associate it with "the jealous, racist God of the tribe of Judah" and, from the rest of the gospel, what come out is, in my understanding, similar to your "Nature" or "Dharma".

There is only a sentence in the Gospel with the word "God" an it is the following:
"100. They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "The Roman emperor's people demand taxes from us."
He said to them, "Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."

Dorella Belle said...

Let me add this:
when I quoted Jesus, I meant simply to say that I think he might have given to the words “Thy will be done” the same meaning you are giving them.
And that in your words:
"I am not sure exactly what “Thy” is referring to"
I recognized myself.

Mike Cross said...

The general consensus among scholars seems to be that Aśvaghoṣa was interested in "religious conversion."

Behind this false assumption I think there is a wider general assumption that the Buddha's teaching is a religion.

I don't know of anybody who denies that Christianity or Judaism or Islaam are religions.

So a job I want to do is to clarify the difference between the Buddha's teaching and religious teachings.

If you see similarlity between what the Buddha taught and what Jesus said, then my point is: who came first?

There is no chance that the Buddha was plagiarizing Jesus, any more than Darwin could have plagiarized me.