Monday, November 19, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 3.54: Effortless Walking of the Walk

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Kīrti)
tatas-tathā gacchati rāja-putre tair-eva devair-vihito gatāsuḥ |
taṁ caiva mārge mṛtam-uhyamānaṁ sūtaḥ kumāraś-ca dadarśa nānyaḥ || 3.54

Consequently, as the son of the king thus went into movement,

Those same old gods conjured up one who had breathed his last;

And as he, being dead, was borne along the road,

Nobody saw him but the charioteer and the prince.

The real intention of gatāsuḥ, “one who had breathed his last,” might be to describe a bloke who is totally through with breathing, like a former devotee of the kind of yoga that aims to establish direct control over movements of the diaphragm, rib-cage, and abdominal muscles – so that “he had breathed his last” means that he had totally given up on all of that.

The real intention of mṛtam, “being dead,” then, might be related to what Dogen discussed, with no little irony, as “losing body and life.”

Equally, might “being dead” be related to the principle discussed by Bob Dylan that “When you ain't got nothing you got nothing to lose”? 

Or when Dylan nearly 50 years ago famously shouted out to a member of his audience in Manchester, “You're a liar. I don't believe you,” was that just another example of the mirror principle at work? Was Dylan in fact just like one of those pseuds one sees in the Alexander world and equally in the world of Zen, especially in the mirror, a talker of a good talk who turns a bit of nothing into something he would like to grab onto like a security blanket? Like a rolling stone gathering rather a substantial nest-egg? 

The fact that nobody saw the dead man who had totally given up on trying to breathe better, except for the charioteer and the prince, suggests, via the principle that only a buddha sees a buddha, that in today's verse, the charioteer symbolizes the one who tames men and the prince symoblizes a man in the process of being tamed. At least that is one way of looking at it, seeing the charioteer, aka master of the horse, as subject who tames, and prince as object who is tamed. In view of the description of the son of the king in the 1st pāda as gacchati (lit. in going/moving), however, and in view of the description of the one who was effortlessly borne along as mṛtam (being dead), it may be more to the point to understand that that the state of buddha is being described not as subject or as object, but as that death of distinctions like subject and object which can occur as a result of going into movement.

What a lot of talking a good talk, the above paragraph is.

The hero of today's verse does not carry himself along the road. Rather he is borne along seemingly without any effort on his part. He thus epitomizes enlightened walking of the walk, without talking the talk at all.

tataḥ: ind. thence, from that, on that basis
tathā: ind. thus, in this manner
gacchati = loc. sg. m. pres. part. gam: to go , move , go away , set out
rāja-putre (loc. sg.): m. the king's son

tair-eva devaiḥ (inst. pl.): those very same gods
vihitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (pp. vi- √dhā) distributed , divided , apportioned , bestowed , supplied &c; put in order , arranged , determined , fixed , ordained , ordered; contrived , performed , made , accomplished , done
gatāsuḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. one whose breath has gone , expired , dead
gata: gone
asu: breath, life

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
mārge (loc. sg.): m. road, path, way
mṛtam (acc. sg. m.): n. dead, deceased, departed
uhyamānam = acc. sg. m. passive pres. part. vah: to carry , transport , convey (with instr. of vehicle); to bear along (water , said of rivers) ; to draw (a car) , guide (horses &c ); to carry away , carry off , rob

sūtaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the charioteer
kumāraḥ (nom. sg.): m. the prince
ca: and
dadarśa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. dṛś: to see
na: not
anyaḥ (nom. sg. m.): another

時彼淨居天 復化爲死人
四人共持輿 現於菩薩前
餘人悉不覺 菩薩御者見 

[Conflated with next verse] 

No comments: