Thursday, September 13, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 2.44: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd) - Not Doing Wrong

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−    Upajāti (Upendravajrā)
na cājihīrṣīd-balim-apravttaṁ na cācikīrṣīt-para-vastv-abhidhyām
na cāvivakṣīd-dviṣatām-adharmaṁ na cādidhakṣīdd-hdayena manyum || 2.44

No inclination did he have
to raise tax (or pay tribute) that had not accrued,

To covet what belonged to others,

To discuss the wrongness of hateful foes,

Or to ignite anger in his own heart.

Not doing wrong,
Allowing the right thing to do itself,
Purifying one's own mind,
Is the teaching of the buddhas.

If 2.42 is read as an introductory consideration, carried out with reason and balance, of wrongness; and if 2.43 is read as affirmation of being wrong as an objective fact, then today's verse has a more practical emphasis, being an expression of not being inclined to do wrong actions and wrong reactions.

A difficulty in translating the 1st pāda is that balim hṛ generally means not “to raise tax,” but rather “to present an offering" or "to pay a tribute.” The dictionary gives a-pravartin as “not due, unjust (as taxes),” but a-pra-vṛttam, another word from the root √vṛt, to act (see especially BC2.40), could be interpreted as meaning “one who does not act” or “one who is not engaged in action.” On the surface then, the meaning is that the king had no inclination to levy unjust tax, but is there also a hidden meaning which negates the giving of offerings or paying of tributes to those who, for example, wear the uniform but lack the real dignity of acting buddhas?

Again, the 2nd pāda on the surface has a material emphasis, refering to the coveting of others' property or wealth, but if I failed in my mind to give credit where credit was due, that lack of acknowledgement of the other might also be included in "coveting what belonged to others." 

The 3rd pāda, as I read it, expresses understanding of the mirror principle, by which I use the hateful other as a mirror in which to criticize tendencies that I hate or fear in myself.

In the 4th pāda, EHJ notes that the verb is uncertain but avivakṣīt, from vah (to bear, carry), corresponds fairly with the Tibetan translation and is the soundest paleographically -- hence EHJ: "nor did he wish to bear wrath in his heart."  The Old Nepalese manuscript has avidhakṣīt. EBC's manuscripts had adidhakṣīt, presumably from dah (to burn) -- hence EBC: “nor did he wish to fan wrath in his heart.”

Today's verse is the same as yesterday's in that the 4th pāda, whatever its original verb was, points right back to the reality of work on the self --

Not doing wrong,
Allowing the right thing to do itself,
Purifying one's own mind,
Is the teaching of the buddhas.

In the 1st phase, philosophically thinking, the approach of a follower of the buddha to the problem of wrongness ought to be in the middle way – so that the administration of criminal justice, for example, should be neither too liberal nor too draconian; and so that, at the individual level, we should neither beat ourselves up about, or expect to be absolved for, past mistakes.

In the 2nd phase, we look the bugger in the eye. We neither try nor expect to be right. We affirm the fact that we are wrong. We take ownership of our own greed, hatred, and delusion.

What today's verse is saying, at the 3rd phase, is that being wrong is no excuse for doing wrong.

To take ownership of anger is one thing, part of being wrong. To have the will or inclination to ignite or inflame anger in one's heart is another thing altogether, an intentional violation of the principle of not doing wrong.

Whatever the Buddha meant by “purify your own heart/mind,” he did not mean that.

na: not
ca: and
ajihīrṣīt = 3rd pers. sg. aorist desid. hṛ: to wish to take to one's self or appropriate
√ hṛ: to offer , present (esp. with balim)
balim (acc. sg.): tribute , offering , gift , oblation (in later language always with √ hṛ); tax , impost , royal revenue ; any offering or propitiatory oblation (esp. an offering of portions of food , such as grain , rice &c , to certain gods , semi-divine beings , household divinities , spirits , men , birds , other animals and all creatures including even lifeless objects ; it is made before the daily meal by arranging portions of food in a circle or by throwing them into the air outside the house or into the sacred fire )
apravttam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. not acting , not engaged in ; not commenced , not instigated
pra- √vṛt: to be set in motion; to come forth , issue , originate , arise , be produced , result , occur , happen , take place ; to hold good , prevail ; to be , exist
a-pravartin: mfn. not due, unjust (as taxes),

na: not
ca: and
acikīrṣīt = 3rd pers. sg. aorist desid. kṛ: to wish to make or do , intend to do , design , intend , begin , strive after
para-vastv-abhidhyām (acc. sg. f.): coveting of another's property
para: m. another
vastu: n. any really existing or abiding substance or essence , thing , object ; goods , wealth , property
abhidhyā: f. wish , longing for , desire.

na: not
ca: and
avivakṣīt = 3rd pers. sg. aorist desid. vac: to desire to say or speak or recite or proclaim or declare
dviṣatām = gen. pl. dviṣat: mfn. (pres. part. of √dviṣ) hating or detesting , hostile , unfriendly , foe , enemy
adharmam (acc. sg.): m. unrighteousness , injustice , irreligion , wickedness; demerit, guilt

na: not
ca: and
avivakṣīt = 3rd pers. sg. aorist desid. vah: to desire to carry
adidhakṣīt = 3rd pers. sg. aorist desid. dah [?]: to burn
hṛdayena (inst. sg.): n. the heart
manyum (acc. sg.): m. spirit; high spirit or temper , ardour , zeal , passion ; rage , fury , wrath , anger , indignation

主匠修明徳 率土皆承習

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