−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Indravajrā)tan-mā kṛthāḥ śokam-imaṁ prati tvam asmin sa śocyo 'sti manuṣya-loke |
−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−mohena vā kāma-sukhair-madād-vā yo naiṣṭhikaṁ śroṣyati nāsya dharmam || 1.76
Therefore do not sorrow for him;
Those who deserve sorrow
are those in this human world who,
Whether through the delusion
that stems from sensual desires
or because of fervent inspiration,
Will not learn his ultimate dharma.
In today's verse, as I read it, Asita expresses his awareness of the dual impediments of (1) delusion (mohena), and (2) intoxication by sensual desires (kāma-sukhair-madāt). [But, on second thoughts, see comment below.]
In EBC's translation the impediments are threefold: (1) illusion (mohena), (2) the pleasures of desire (kāma-sukhaiḥ), and (3) intoxication (madāt).
In EHJ's translation the impediments are twofold: (1) delusion by reason of the sensual pleasures (mohena kāma-sukhaiḥ) and intoxication of the mind (madāt).
In PO's translation the impediments are threefold: (1) delusion (mohena), (2) pride (madāt), and the love of pleasures (kāma-sukhaiḥ).
So I agree with EHJ in seeing the impediments as twofold, but I have read kāma-sukhaiḥ with madāt. (I would be grateful if any benevolent pandit out there who thinks I have got the grammar wrong would leave a comment.)
On the surface, the impediments Asita is talking about are listening impediments. He is feeling sorry for the man who will not hear or listen (śroṣyati na) to the ultimate dharma.
I usually think -- based on my own experience of various listening impediments which seem to be centred in a dodgy vestibular-auditory system -- of listening impediments having a neuro-developmental basis.
But for all my vestibular-auditory faults, one thing I have not done is befuddle my brain and nervous system by ingesting industrial quantities of those varieites of strong cannabis known as skunk.
This use of strong cannabis seems to be associated in some habitual ingesters with both impediments cited in today's verse as I read it, namely: (1) a delusional paranoia (moha) that manifests itself in gullible acceptance of conspiracy theories, and at the same time (2) an over-attachment to sensual pleasures (kāma-sukhair madāt) that manifests itself in symptoms like the munchies and a certain reluctance to get out of bed and go to work.
This is a reflection stimulated by recent dealings with one or two long-term smokers of cannabis.
Digging deeper, today's verse calls into question what it might really mean to hear or listen to the ultimate dharma. That is to say, is Asita really describing impediments to hearing or listening? On reflection, I think not.
As translations of yo naiṣṭhikaṁ śroṣyati nāsya dharmam,
EBC's “who... refuse to hear his perfect Law,”
EHJ's “who... refuses to hear, his, the final Law,”
and PO's “who... listens not to his absolute dharma,”
all seem to presuppose that there is such a thing as “perfect/final Law” or “absolute dharma” that can be heard or listened to. But when I investigate this supposition from the inside of practice, there is nothing for it but to abandon such a supposition.
From the inside of practice, I think the Chinese translator was closer to hitting the target with his 違正法 , "who go against the true dharma." The reason I think the Chinese translator was nearer the mark is that it is evidently possible to go against the true dharma -- for example by approaching sitting-zen in an extremely doing manner, like what I did ad nauseam in my 20s. But whether it is ever possible to hear or listen to a perfect/final/absolute Law/dharma, I somehow doubt.
On the basis of deluded thinking (mohena), we are liable to THINK that there is such a thing as an ultimate truth that can be told and heard, but that nobody has yet found this theory of everything. Or, on the outer edges of delusion, with minds beffudled by skunk, some suppose that there are those who know the ultimate truth -- the conspiratiorial cognoscenti who wish to keep us in the dark – but those cognoscenti are deliberately ensuring that we their oppressed victims do not hear the truth.
On the opposite basis of being intoxicated by sensual desires (kāma-sukhair madāt), we are liable to FEEL that there might be such a thing as an ultimate truth that can be felt – perfect enlightenment as a kind of cosmic orgasm, probably heralded by a fanfare of trumpets.
Both those views having been abandoned, what might the ultimate dharma sound like?
I am skeptical about it sounding like anything. The sound of one hand clapping?
When we cross our legs, place our sitting bones roughly in the centre of a round black cushion, adopt something along the lines of what Alfred Tomatis called “the listening posture,” and listen, what does the ultimate dharma sound like?
Again, I am skeptical about it sounding like anything. At the same time, such an act of listening, when sincerely practised, as an integral act of allowing/obeying, might itself just be the ultimate dharma.
The whole point of this blog is to demonstrate a kind of obedience. But if anybody would like me to listen to their dharma and obey it, they can fuck right off. The kind of obedience I would like to demonstrate, as underlined by my use of rough language, is not any kind of religious obedience. It is the obedience of an individual who is endeavouring, against the habits of a lifetime, to work to a principle. The habits of a lifetime are habits of doing. The habits, in other words, are those wrong inner patterns which are stimulated by the idea of doing or getting or achieving something. The principle is non-doing.
The essence of the struggle is to carry out an activity -- primarily sitting -- against the habits of life.
tad: ind. so, therefore
mā: a particle of prohibition or negation
kṛthāḥ = 2nd pers. sg. injunctive kṛ: to make
śokam (acc. sg.): m. sorrow , affliction , anguish , pain , trouble , grief
imam (acc. sg. m.): this one, him
prati: ind. towards
tvam (nom. sg.): you
asmin (loc. sg. m.): this
sa (nom. sg.): m. he
śocyah (nom. sg. m.): mfn. to be lamented, deplorable , miserable
asti = 3rd pers. sg. as: to be
manuṣya-loke (loc. sg. m.): the world of men, the human world
mohena (inst. sg.): m. delusion
vā: ind. or (generally immediately following the word to which it refers)
kāma-sukhair (inst. pl.): sensual pleasures, delight in desires, sensual desires
kāma: m. wish, desire, object of desire or of love or of pleasure ; pleasure, enjoyment
sukha: n. ease , easiness , comfort , prosperity , pleasure , happiness ; joy , delight in
madāt (abl. sg.): m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication
yah (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
naiṣṭhikam (acc. sg.): mfn. forming the end , final , last ; highest, ultimate
śroṣyati = 3rd pers. sg. future śru: to hear , listen or attend to anything (acc.) , give ear to any one (acc. or gen.) , hear or learn anything about (acc.) ; to hear (from a teacher) , study , learn ; to be attentive , be obedient , obey
asya (gen. sg.): his, of him
dharmam (acc. sg.): dharma