Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.85: Suppressing the Self in Selfish Pursuit of an End

⏑⏑⏑⏑⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−− Puṣpitāgrā
bahu-vidha-viṣayās-tato yatātmā sva-hṛdaya-toṣa-karīḥ kriyā vidhāya |
guṇavati divase śive muhūrte matim-akaron-muditaḥ pura-praveśe || 1.85

With his self reined in, then, on that basis

-- After performing sacrificial acts
which were variously oriented towards his end
and which made him feel gratified in his heart --

At an auspicious moment in a good day,

He rejoicingly resolved to enter the city.

On that basis (tataḥ) means on the basis of having the ulterior motive of his son's advancement. The self-restraint that Aśvaghoṣa is describing in today's verse, then, is self-restraint of the order that Nanda practises in Saundara-nanda Canto 11. It is the self-restraint of the man who, dead set on the gaining of an object or end (sexual union with celestial nymphs in Nanda's case; his son's advancement in the king's case), ties himself to restraint as a tethering post. Hence:
And so, having gazed upon those women who wander in the Gladdening Gardens of Nandana, / Nanda tethered the fickle and unruly mind to a tethering post of restraint. // SN11.1 // Failing to relish the taste of freedom from care, sapless as a wilting lotus, / He went through the motions of dharma-practice, having installed the apsarases already in his heart. // SN11.2 // Thus did one whose sense-power had been restless, whose senses had grazed on the pasture of his wife, / Come, by the very power of sense-objects, to have his sense-power reined in. // SN11.3 //
But still more pertinent is the following verse in Saundara-nanda Canto 3 in which Aśvaghoṣa contrasts the shining splendour of the Buddha with the multifarious dark end-gaining of ordinary people:
To people possessed by ends (viṣayātmakasya janasya), serving many and various paths (bahu-vividha-mārga-sevinaḥ), / Splendour had arisen that seemed like the sun: Gautama was like the sun, dispelling darkness. // SN3.16 //
Read in this light, the key word in today's verse is viṣaya (object, end).

In a footnote to his translation, however, EHJ notes: “The European translations omit viṣaya as pleonastic.”

EBC was one of the guilty ones who omitted viṣaya, simply translating, “having performed all kinds of ceremonies,” 
EHJ himself, did not make the mistake of omitting viṣaya, but neither did he seem to grasp the full significance of the word. EHJ translated “he prescribed the performance of ceremonies directed to many ends."
EHJ added in his footnote on viṣaya that The literal meaning is either 'having many kinds of scope,' or 'having many kinds of objects' (sacrificial victims?).
PO's translation followed EHJ with the pithier, “he carried out rites for varied ends.”

In Aśvaghoṣa's description of the king as I read it, the king was not concerned with many ends and was not concerned with varied ends. The king was concerned with only one end, namely, the advancement of his son. But his concern with this end influenced him, as end-gaining is ever liable to influence a person, in all sorts of ways -- because going directly for an end, as if with tunnel vision, invariably has all sorts of unintended side-effects.

It is for this reason, I think Aśvaghoṣa wishes us to understand, that the Buddha encourages Nanda not to pursue any end, even liberation itself, in an end-gaining way, but rather to have confidence in a means-whereby, and to stick always, with mindfulness, to the means-whereby principle.

Again, Aśvaghoṣa describes the rites or ceremonies that the king performed as sva-hṛdaya-toṣa-karīḥ lit. “producing gratification in his own heart,” i.e. making him feel deeply right in himself. What Aśvaghoṣa is describing here, as I hear him, is just the consummation of that desire which FM Alexander identified as the end-gainer's primary desire – the desire to feel right in the gaining of his end.

Remembering that FM Alexander had written about the end-gainer's “desire to feel right in the gaining of his end,” in connection with The Golfer Who Cannot Keep His Eyes on the Ball, I initiated a google search accordingly, thinking that some wordy Alexander advocate might have bothered to type up the relevant passages and posted them onto the internet. Sure enough, some guy who really ought to get a life had indeed typed up the passages I was seeking:
The lure of the familiar proves too strong for him and keeps him tied down to the habitual use of himself which feels right. This is not surprising, seeing that the golfer's desire to employ his habitual use at all costs in gaining his end, on account of the familiar sensory experiences that go with it, is an instinctive desire which mankind has inherited and continued to develop all through the ages. The desire to feel right in the gaining of his end is therefore his primary desire, in comparison with which his desire to make a good stroke is new and undeveloped, and exerts only a secondary influence. This is proved by the fact that although he starts out with the desire to make a good stroke, his desire to repeat sensory experiences that 'feel right' acts as a stimulus to him to use himself in the habitual way which is associated with these experiences, although it is this very manner of use that prevents him from satisfying his newer desire to make a good stroke.

The desire to carry out his teacher's instructions to keep his eyes on the ball is a still newer desire, and consequently suffers in intensity as compared with the other two desires [to feel right; to make a good stroke]. Moreover, it stands even less chance of being carried out, firstly, because the stimulus which gives rise to it does not come from within, like the others, but from without, ie, from the teacher; and secondly, because the instruction is framed with the purpose of correcting something wrong with the pupil's use, ie, the use of the eyes, and so is bound to come at once into conflict with the pupil's desire to employ his faulty habitual use which, as we have just explained, is the dominating influence in whatever he tries to do. The conflict between these two desires is therefore bound to be an unequal one, and his desire to carry out his teacher's instruction goes by the board.
It is the dominating influence of his desire to gain his end by means of a use of his mechanisms which feels right, but is in fact wrong for the purpose, that explains not only why he continues to take his eyes off the ball and so to fail in his stroke, but also why, in spite of this repeated experience of failure, he does not give up 'end-gaining' and set to work in a different way. 
The nub of the matter, as I see it, is this: Dogen encouraged every individual, without distinction, to practise just sitting upright. But the truth for most if not all of us is that our sense of uprightness, our feeling of where up is, is faulty. That being so, to go directly for the end of an upright posture, and to rein oneself in on that basis, on the basis of what feels right, is a basic mistake. The best way to avoid making this mistake may be to entrust oneself into the hands of a reliable teacher.

The vital matter is first to direct the whole body up, and thereby to keep one's awareness turned towards the body (ṛjuṃ samagraṃ praṇidhāya kāyaṃ kāye smṛtiṃ cābhimukhīṃ vidhāya; SN17.4).

What does it mean to direct the whole body up? Nobody can say in words. But it doesn't necessarily mean to adopt that posture which, because it feels right, makes one feel gratified in one's heart.

I think of a friend of mine who likes to stand in a pose that feels familiar and right to him after many years practising the martial arts, but which involves pulling his legs into his pelvis, which feels to him like he is protecting himself in a martial way, but looks to me like he is just bone-headedly indulging in an old habit. (And no Ian, I am not thinking about you... though if the cap fits...)

If my friend's stubborn adherence to feeling and habit irritates me, nothing is more certain than that the mirror principle is at work.

bahu-vidha-viṣayāḥ (acc. pl. f.): having multiple objects, directed at sundry ends; variously concerned with, related in many and various ways with his end, variously oriented towards his end
bahu-vidha: mfn. of many sorts or kinds , manifold , various
bahu-vidham: ind. diversely , in several directions , up and down
viṣaya: m. scope ; special sphere or department , peculiar province or field of action , peculiar element , concern (ifc. = " concerned with , belonging to , intently engaged on "); an object
tatas: ind. then, thence, on that basis, on those grounds
yatātmā (nom. sg. m.): mfn. self-restrained
yata: mfn. restrained , held in , held forth , kept down or limited , subdued , governed , controlled &c
yam: to sustain , hold , hold up , support ; to stretch out ; to hold or keep in , hold back , restrain , check , curb , govern , subdue , control
ātman: m. self

sva-hṛdaya-toṣa-karīḥ (acc. pl. f.): which produced satisfaction in his own heart, which in his heart felt right
sva-hṛdaya: his own heart
hṛdaya: n. the heart (or region of the heart as the seat of feelings and sensations) , soul , mind (as the seat of mental operations); the heart or interior of the body
toṣa: m. ( √ tuṣ) satisfaction , contentment , pleasure , joy
√ tuṣ: to become calm , be satisfied or pleased with any one ; to satisfy , please , appease , gratify
kara: mf(ī , rarely ā)n. a doer , maker , causer , doing , making , causing , producing
kriyāḥ (acc. pl.): f. doing , performing , performance, act; a religious rite or ceremony , sacrificial act , sacrifice
vidhāya = abs. vi- √ dhā: to perform , effect , produce , cause , occasion , make , do (like √ kṛ to be translated variously in connection with various nouns)

guṇavati (loc. sg.): mfn. " furnished with a thread or string " and " endowed with good qualities "; endowed with good qualities or virtues or merits or excellences , excellent , perfect
divase (loc. sg.): m. heaven, a day
niyate (loc. sg.): mfn. fixed , established , settled
śive (loc. sg.): mfn. auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign
muhūrte (loc. sg.): m. n. a moment , instant , any short space of time

matim akarot = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect matiṁ kṛ: to set the heart on , make up one's mind , resolve , determine
muditaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. delighted , joyful , glad , rejoicing
pura-praveśe (loc. sg.): entry into the city
pura: n. city
praveśa: m. entering, entrance

卜擇選良時 遷子還本宮

No comments: