Tuesday, November 6, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 3.41: A Pathetic Scrounger

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bālā)
sthūlodaraḥ śvāsa-calac-charīraḥ srastāṁsa-bāhuḥ kṛśa-pāṇdu-gātraḥ |
ambeti vācaṁ karuṇaṁ bruvāṇaḥ paraṁ samāśritya naraḥ ka eṣaḥ || 3.41

“That individual with an expanded belly, 
whose body moves as he breathes,

Whose arms hang loose from his shoulders, 
whose limbs are wasted and pale,

And who keeps saying 'Mother!', pathetically,

While leaning on others for support: Who is this man?”

Ostensibly in today's verse the prince is describing a man who is sick in the conventional sense, with distended belly and laboured breathing, with drooping arms and shoulders, and with limbs that are emaciated and pasty because of disease. Literally unable to stand on his own two feet, he cries out for his mother. Hence,

EBC: ‘Yonder man with a swollen belly, his whole frame shaking as he pants, his arms and shoulders hanging loose, his body all pale and thin, uttering plaintively the word "mother," when he embraces (samāśliṣya) a stranger, — who, pray, is this?’

EHJ: “Who is this man with swollen belly and body that heaves with his panting? His shoulders and arms are fallen in, his limbs emaciated and pale. He call out piteously, “mother”, as he leans on another for support.”

And PO: “His belly swollen, his body heaves as he pants; his arms and shoulders droop, his limbs are thin and pale; Leaning on someone, he cries 'Mother!' piteously; tell me, who is this man?”

But the real, hidden meaning of “with an expanded/strong belly,” as I read it, is to point to the beneficial effect of sending the knees forwards and away while sitting in lotus. This beneficial effect is namely the lengthening and widening of the torso, and especially the lower back and belly. A person sitting like this breathes not with his diaphragm, nor with any other bit of himself, but breathes with nothing less than the whole of his body, which even in sitting still is not fixed but is a moveable feast. Because his energy when he sits naturally concentrates itself in his centre, and the influence of fear abates, there is no undue tension in his shoulders. His arms, in other words, are not being pulled in towards his neck; rather there is a certain freedom, or separation, at the shoulder joints. If he is really caught by the still-still state, as for example Bodhidharma was famously caught, then his legs might be in danger of wasting away. And if, like Bodhidharma, he spends all day every day sitting in full lotus looking at the wall of a cave, then all his limbs are liable to be pale. On the occasions when he does venture out, carrying his begging bowl, this pathetic scrounger politely greets every woman he meets with the word amba! “Mother!”, a title of respect.

With the latter reading, “Who is this man?” means, in other words, “This man is Who?”

And “This man is Who?” means “This is a human being whose condition is ineffable.”

That woman who was strong in her centre, who let her body do the breathing, who practised and preached letting the arms be separate from the shoulders, whose limbs were thin and pale, and whose name was Marjory Barlow: Who was that woman?

I do not know who she was. I know that the principle of inhibition that she taught primarily involved giving up the idea or desire that triggers those wrong inner patterns in a person's brain and nervous system which constitute the "doing" that has to be stopped. It is a very indirect principle -- a principle so indirect that Marjory feared it was getting lost, even among those who purport to be teaching it.  

Reading today's verse, for example, people with end-gaining minds are liable to to create some extra tension in their abdominal region with the idea of having a strong belly. I know whereof I speak. Whereas real strength in the centre comes from sending the knees forward and away, which is nothing more than a thought, a new message being transmitted in the brain and nervous system. 

sthūlodaraḥ (nom. sg. m.): with distended stomach ; with a big/stout/expanded belly
sthūla: mfn. large , thick , stout , massive , bulky , big , huge
udara: n. the belly , abdomen , stomach , bowels
śvāsa-calac-charīraḥ (nom. sg. m.): his bodily frame shaking as he gasps in air / his body moving as he breathes
śvāsa: m. hissing , snorting , panting; respiration, breathing ; inspiration
calat = pres. part. cal: to be moved , stir , tremble , shake , quiver , be agitated , palpitate
śarīra: n. the body , bodily frame

srastāṁsa-bāhuḥ (nom. sg. m.): with shoulders and arms drooping / being separate
srasta: mfn. fallen , dropped , slipped off ; loosened , relaxed , hanging down , pendent , pendulous ; separated , disjoined
aṁsa: m. the shoulder , shoulder-blade
bāhu: m. the arm , (esp.) the fore-arm , the arm between the elbow and the wrist
kṛśa-pāṇdu-gātraḥ (nom. sg. m.): his body lean/feeble and yellow/jaundiced
kṛśa: mfn. lean , emaciated , thin , spare , weak , feeble
pāṇdu: mfn. yellowish white , white , pale ; jaundiced
gātra: n. " instrument of moving " , a limb or member of the body ; the body

ambā (nom. sg. f.): a mother
amba (voc. sg. f.): “Mother,” “O good woman” (as a title of respect)
iti: “....,” thus
vācam (acc. sg.): f. speech ; a word , saying , phrase , sentence , statement
karuṇam: ind. mournfully , woefully , pitifully , in distress
karuṇa: mfn. mournful , miserable , lamenting ; compassionate ; m. m. " causing pity or compassion " , one of the rasas or sentiments of a poem , the pathetic sentiment
bruvāṇaḥ = nom. sg. m. pres. part. brū: to speak , say , tell ; (A1. , rarely P.) to call or profess one's self to be (nom. , rarely with iti)

param (acc. sg.): m. another (different from one's self) , a foreigner , enemy , foe , adversary
samāśritya = abs. sam-ā- √ śri: to go or have recourse to together (esp. for protection) , fly to for refuge , seek refuge with , lean on , trust to , confide in (acc.) ; to resort to, approach
ā- √ śri: to adhere , rest on ; to betake one's self to , resort to ; to depend on
naraḥ (nom. sg.): m. man
ka: who?
eṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): this

身痩而腹大 呼吸長喘息
手脚攣枯燥 悲泣而呻吟
太子問御者 此復何等人  

No comments: