Monday, August 6, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 2.6: Politics & Economics (VI) – Transcendent Diplomacy

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−    Upajāti (Sālā)
madhya-stha-tāṁ tasya ripur-jagāma madhya-stha-bhāvaḥ prayayau suhṛttvam
viśeṣato dārḍhyam-iyāya mitraṁ dvāv-asya pakṣāv-aparas-tu nāsa || 2.6

An enemy of his entered into neutrality;

Neutrality turned into friendship;

Friendship became something exceptionally solid.

For him, though he had two sides,
“the other” did not exist.

Today's verse as I read it is related with the mirror principle. That is to say, existence of “the other” is related with the mirror principle whereby I project onto and hate in “the other” a tendency that I fear in myself.

“The other” might therefore be a group-minded Japanese, a money-loving Jew, an irresponsible black, a Buddhist scholar who is long on words but short on practice, a self-righteous religious type who criticizes others, et cetera, et cetera.

If one practises sitting-meditation every day, it is not hard to see the mirror principle operating in the self – not only in the mind but in the whole self, including head, neck, back, and arms and legs right down to the fingers and toes because, as FM Alexander observed: “You translate everything, whether physical, mental or spiritual, into muscular tension.”

“There being two sides to him,” or “there being for him two sides” (dvāv-asya pakṣau) could mean any number of things. As today's verse appears on the surface to be about a kingdom's external relations with other kingdoms, I found myself as I sat first thing this morning thinking about two sides as external factors or factions -- like the US vs the Soviet Union in the cold war, for example.

Then I woke up (relatively speaking, partially), and came back to thinking, as described yesterday, my head, arms, and legs out of a lengthening and widening back. Straight away a meaning of dvāv-asya pakṣau presented itself that made sense, which is that the king in himself, not outside of himself, like me and like everybody else, had two sides, a left side and a right side.

Before Dogen described the secret of sitting-dhyāna as 非思量 HI-SHIRYO (GN: “[action which is] different from thinking”; MC “non-thinking”) he said the secret was 自成一片JI-JO-IPPEN, “naturally to become all of one piece.”

And this process of becoming all of one piece is associated with an outward release, away from each other, of a person's two sides, so that the left side releases leftward and the right side releases rightward, away from the spine lengthening up the middle.

There is an irony here that I am sure was not lost on Aśvaghoṣa – namely, that non-existence of “the other” is a condition of wholeness, or absence of conflict, within the self. And realization of this condition of the self being all of one piece, is somewhat dependent on a person recognizing the reality that he or she, like everybody else, has two sides, a left side and a right side.

This recognition of left and right, incidentally, as I know from developmental work, tends to be surprisingly difficult for children and adults who have retained an immature asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR). If you tend easily to confuse left and right, I'll bet you anything that the root cause is an immature ATNR. The recognition of left and right is facilitated by actions that involves cross-pattern movements, the most basic of these actions being going on the hands and knees and crawling. So practising prostrations is a good place to start.

The outward release of my two sides away from each other, which I want, is akin to a tree branching outwards. It is not my job to try to fiddle about and arrange myself symmetrically, any more than a tree worries about how balanced it looks from the outside.

For several years I did labour under that wrong conception. I used to sit with a spotlight shining directly behind me so that I could observe on the wall in front of me whether my ears were level with each other. Alexander work, thankfully, made me see that to go directly for that kind of symmetry is sheer end-gaining stupidity.

Asymmetry has its root causes in patterns deep in the brain and nervous system, related in many cases with immature primitive reflexes, and especially the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex. That being so, to thirst for symmetry is to promote the very cause of asymmetry. A better course is to recognize that everybody has two sides and that – whereas under stress we tend to pull the two sides of ourselves in towards each other, adding to asymmetrical distortions – sitting in lotus is an opportunity to allow those two sides to release away from each other, left side leftward, right side rightward.

madhya-stha-tām (acc. sg.): f. intermediate situation , indifference , impartiality
madhya-stha: mfn. being in the middle ; belonging to neither or both parties , (only) a witness , impartial , neutral , indifferent
tasya (gen. sg.): his
ripuḥ (nom. sg.): m. an enemy , adversary , foe
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perfect gam: to go ; to go to any state or condition

madhya-stha-bhāvaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the state of being in the middle ; neutrality
bhāva: m. state of being anything , esp. ifc. e.g. bālabhāva , the state of being a child , childhood = bālatā , or tva ; sometimes added pleonastically to an abstract noun e.g. tanutā-bhāva , the state of thinness)
prayayau = 3rd pers. sg. perfect pra- √ yā: to go forth; to get into a partic. state or condition , enter , undergo
suhṛt-tvam (acc. sg.): n. friendship , friendliness , affection
su-hṛd: m. " good-hearted " , " kindhearted " , " well-disposed " , a friend , ally

viśeṣatas: ind. especially , particularly , above all ; individually, singularly
dārḍhyam (acc. sg.): n. (fr. dṛḍha) hardness , fixedness , stability , strength , corroboration
dṛḍha: mnf. fixed , firm , hard , strong , solid , massive
iyāya = 3rd pers. sg. perf. i: to go, to go to
mitram (nom. sg.): n. friendship ; n. a friend , companion ; an ally

dvau = nom. du. m. dva: two, both
asya (gen. sg.):
pakṣau (nom. du.): m. wing ; the flank or side or the half of anything ; a side , party , faction ; multitude , number , troop , set , class of beings ; partisan , adherent , follower , friend (śatru- " the enemy's side " or " a partisan of the enemy ") ; side i.e. position , place , stead ; one of two cases or one side of an argument , an alternative
aparaḥ (nom. sg. m.): m. the hind foot of an elephant ; (also apare), m. pl. others ;
tu: but
na: not
āsa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. as: to be , live , exist , be present

怨憎者心平 中平益淳厚
素篤増親密 亂逆悉消除

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