Friday, November 9, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 3.44: This Fault In Here

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Premā)
tato babhāṣe sa ratha-praṇetā kumāra sādhāraṇa eṣa doṣaḥ |
evaṁ hi rogaiḥ paripīḍyamāno rujāturo harṣam-upaiti lokaḥ || 3.44

Then the driver of that vehicle of joy said:

“This fault, O Prince, is common to all.

For, while thus pressed all around by forces of disintegration,

People pained by disorder move towards pleasure."

Today's verse relates to the pleasure principle that Nanda is described as recognizing in Saundara-nanda Canto 17:
Insofar as a creature's industry, motivated by bond-making or bond-breaking impulse, / Is dependent on a prescription, named "pleasure," for counteracting pain, he saw, on that account, that existence is suffering. // SN17.19 //
That being so, in the 1st pāda two meanings of ratha-praṇetā may be relevant, namely, driver of a chariot, and guide to pleasure/joy. The suggestion is that the Buddha, the tamer of men, is also a guide to pleasure, via the reality of a means-whereby principle.

EBC translated today's verse thus: Then the charioteer answered, ‘O prince, this evil is common to all; thus pressed round by diseases men run to pleasure, though racked with pain.’

This sounds fine, but only because EBC failed to translate hi (“for” or “because”) in the 3rd pāda.

EHJ has the great merit as a translator of always endeavouring to be true to the original Sanskrit, even if it makes the task of translation more awkward. Thus he refuses to overlook hi, but dutifully translates it as “For,” and then struggles to make sense of it: Then the chariot-driver said, “Prince, this evil is shared by all. For men feast and yet they are thus oppressed by disease and racked by pain.”

EHJ adds in a footnote that the connexion in sense of the two lines [the connection between the first and second yugapādas, i.e. the connection indicated by hi] is not obvious at first, but the charioteer has in mind the festal crowds around and explains how they too are subject to disease.

What EHJ failed to understand was that eṣa doṣaḥ (“this fault”) is not the evil of disease but is rather, as explained yesterday, the fault of being moved. The point is, then, that we are all, through our common genetic inheritance – from before the time when as crying babies we were guided by the suck and root reflex to be soothed by the pleasure of feeding at our mother's breast -- moved by the pleasure principle.

Only when eṣaḥ doṣaḥ is understood like this does hi makes sense. This fault of being moved is common to all. For/because (hi) we all instinctively recoil from pain and are moved emotionally to move towards pleasure – until such time as we realize, in terms of Freudian psychology, the reality principle, or until such time as we acquire, in the symbolism of Chinese Zen, black beads for eyes and bamboos for nostrils.

My teacher Gudo Nishijima was greatly influenced by Sigmund Freud, and in particular by the writings of a Freudian psychologist named Karl Menninger. Gudo said that if it were not for Freud, he could never have understood the Buddha's teaching. 

If, however, not necessarily accepting Freud's "reality principle," we dig deeper, today's verse causes us to ask what the relation is between eṣa doṣaḥ (this fault in here) and the behaviour of people out there in the world who are governed by the pleasure principle.

Eṣa doṣaḥ (this fault in here) in my book is very much tied to feeling, and to what FM Alexander identified as faulty sensory appreciation.

Alexander understood – much more clearly than Gudo Nishijima ever understood – that when feeling is faulty it is does not do to pursue any goal directly, even such a worthy goal as living according to the reality principle. For a person who is pained by disorder, for a person in other words who is suffering from faulty sensory appreciation, the first practical step is to do nothing. This means in practice giving up all idea of realizing this or improving that. It doesn't mean sitting on a round cushion with the idea of “keeping the spine straight vertically.” It means giving up all idea of doing anything.

This is Alexander's principle of inhibition, which is very different from what inhibition means in Freudian psychology. According to Freudian psychology, inhibition means something harmful associated with the suppression of desire. In Alexander work, inhibition means giving up the idea that triggers habitual movement in order to be truly free to move or not move.

The 3rd noble truth, in Gudo Nishijima's teaching, is a philosophy of action. At least that is what Gudo understood from reading Dogen's Shobogenzo, in which the 3rd phase generally relates to action. But in his actual practice, and in what he taught, Gudo's 3rd phase was a philosophy not of true, free action; it was a philosophy of doing.

For Gudo, Alexander's principle of “inhibition” which required the practice of “thinking,” could never be similar to the Buddha's 3rd noble truth which is a philosophy not of thinking but of action. 

I also would say that Alexander's teaching of inhibition and the Buddha's 3rd noble truth are not similar. They are not two principles that are similar or parallel to each other. For me, they are just one and the same principle.

When people who are pained by disorder are moving towards pleasure, and thereby redoubling the pain of their disorder, the first step they need to be taught is not to follow the reality principle, and no to try to keep the spine straight vertically. The first step is simply to stop. Stop trying. Stop doing the wrong thing, and give the right thing a chance to do itself.

I woke for my sins this morning earlier than I would have liked and made my faulty way to the shed/cabin at the end of field/garden. As I did so, I was accompanied by the shadow of a crescent moon. After sitting I made a bonfire and a cup of coffee, and sat drinking the coffee watching the morning sun glint on frosty grass while leaves floated slowly down from tall ash trees. It struck me that being as faulty as hell, as I undoubtedly am, evidently need not stop a person from fully experiencing moments of existence like this.

Under Gudo Nishijima I translated a chapter of Shobogenzo called 有 時 U-JI, “Existence-Time,” and probably understood what Gudo Nishijima wanted to say well enough to do a serviceable translation, and a translation that Gudo felt was his own. But while, guided by a combination of my own faulty sensory appreciaton and Gudo's bad teaching around "right posture," I was pulling my pelvis and legs in towards each other, lifting my chest, and pulling my chin down towards my neck, I never really experienced a single moment of real existence. Not until Marjory Barlow gave me the golden key did I have any chance of finding my own way around the problem of faulty sensory appreciation. What was the golden key? “Being happy to be wrong,” Marjory said, “is the golden key.”

Eṣa doṣaḥ, “this fault,” does not mean, as previous translators have understood it to mean, “the evil of disease.” Eṣa doṣaḥ means “this fault in here, in me.” Eṣa doṣaḥ are the words of a person who is holding the golden key, even if he does not know it yet.

tataḥ: ind. then
babhāṣe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhāṣ: to speak , talk , say , tell
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ratha-praṇetā (nom. sg. m.): the driver of the chariot / the guide to joy
ratha: m. ( √ ṛ) " goer " , a chariot , car , esp. a two-wheeled war-chariot ; m. ( √ram) pleasure , joy , delight
praṇetṛ: m. leader, guide

kumāra (voc.): O prince!
sādhāraṇah (nom. sg. m.): mfn. " having or resting on the same support or basis " , belonging or applicable to many or all , general , common to all , universal , common
eṣa (nom. sg. m.): this, this here
doṣaḥ (nom. sg.): m. fault

evaṁ: ind. thus, in such a manner
hi: for
rogaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. " breaking up of strength " , disease , infirmity , sickness
paripīḍyamānaḥ = nom. sg. m. passive pres. part. pari- √ pīḍ: to press all round , press together , squeeze ; to torment , harass , vex

rujāturaḥ (nom. sg. m.): pained by breakdown
rujā: f. breaking , fracture ; pain , sickness , disease
ātura: mfn. suffering , sick (in body or mind); diseased or pained by (in comp.)
harṣam (acc. sg.): m. bristling , erection (esp. of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight); joy , pleasure , happiness ; erection of the sexual organ , sexual excitement , lustfulness
upaiti = 3rd pers. sg. pres. upa- √i: to go or come or step near , approach , betake one's self to , arrive at , meet with , turn towards
lokaḥ (nom. sg.): m. mankind, the world

對曰此世間 一切倶亦然
有身必有患 愚癡樂朝歡 

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