Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 4.11: Insulting Women Who Are Expert in Movement & Stillness

śaktāś-cālayituṁ yūyaṁ vīta-rāgān-ṛṣīn-api |
−⏑−−¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦⏑−−⏑¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
apsarobhiś-ca kalitān grahītuṁ vibudhān-api || 4.11

You are able to spur into movement

Even dispassionate seers; 

And even gods enticed by heavenly nymphs

You are able to hold transfixed.

Udāyin in today's verse is cleverly discussing movement and stillness. He has observed how women can instigate in men both hyper-active panic and paralysis. He knows that arrestingly beautiful women are able to stir men sexually even as, paradoxically, they stop men in their tracks.

A particular truth of which Hurry-Up Udāyin is strikingly unaware is that women, by means which are neither sexual nor direct but which are rather softly-softly-catchee-monkey, can point men into that world of action where pure movement and stillness abide.

Women, in other words, are perfectly capable of transmitting the Buddha's teaching.

And Udāyin, although he is strikingly unaware of this truth, is once more expressing it in words which he does not understand.

The title of the present canto, incidentally, is strī-vighātanaḥ (EHJ: “The Women Rejected;” PO: “Rebuffing the Women”), which ostensibly describes the prince's effort to ward women away. However, vighātana is also given in the dictionary as “impeding, interrupting, disturbing,” and its root is √han, whose meanings include “to ward off,” but which originally means to strike or – worse -- to slay, kill, mar, destroy. I suspect that in the canto title Aśvaghoṣa intended to suggest not only the action of the prince but also the view of Udāyin, in which case strī-vighātanaḥ might include the sense of “Doing a Disservice to Women.” Strī-vighātanaḥ might be intended to mean, in other words, not only “Warding Women Away” but also “Getting in Women's Way.”

A woman who transmitted something (or a bit of nothing) to me used to teach, with unmatched clarity, a method for working on oneself, so as to cultivate what she liked to call (being a fan of TS Elliot) “stillness without fixity.”

The method began with giving oneself a stimulus to go into movement, and then “Say No, give your directions, and go into movement without a care in the world.”

The saying No is not saying No to the movement, and not saying No to the habitual reaction which is triggered by the idea of going into movement – because my habitual reactions do not have ears to listen to the word No. The saying No is not even saying No to the stimulus – whch is also liable to be deaf. The saying No is saying No to whoever has the bright idea of doing anything, or achieving anything, or being anything. The saying No, in short, corresponds to what the Buddha/Aśvaghoṣa call vitarka-prahāṇaḥ, “abandoning ideas.”

Going into movement means going into movement. That is the end in view, without the gaining of which the whole procedure is neither real nor complete. The spur to movement is a spur to movement. 

But in giving up the idea of going into movement, or of doing or achieving or being anything, depending on how real the abandonment is, a stillness is liable to be discovered which is quite different from trying to keep still.

I would say, in conclusion, that I was taught by a woman a method for holding myself transfixed which has nothing to do with fixity nor anything to do with sexuality – but a bloke like Udāyin, clever though he is, has never heard of the method even in a dream. He is strikingly unaware of it. But if I criticized Hurry Up 
Udāyin too harshly, that would only be the result of using him as a mirror for my own stupidly hasty and end-gaining self. 

śaktāḥ (nom. pl. f.): mfn. able
cālayitum = inf. causative cal: to cause to move , shake , jog , push , agitate; to drive , drive away ; to disturb , make confused or disordered ; to cherish , foster
yūyam (nom. pl.): you

vīta-rāgān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. free from passions or affections , dispassionate , desireless , calm , tranquil; colourless , bleached ; m. a sage with subdued passions (esp. applied to a Buddhist or jaina saint)
ṛṣīn (acc. pl.): m. seer
api: even

apsarobhiḥ (inst. pl.): f. an apasaras, celestial nymph
ca: and
kalitān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. impelled , driven &c ; furnished or provided with
√ kal: to impel , incite , urge on

grahītum = inf. grah: to seize, take ; grasp , lay hold of ; to arrest , stop ; to catch , take captive , take prisoner , capture , imprison ; to take possession of , gain over , captivate ; to eclipse
vibudhān (acc. pl.): m. 'very wise or learned,' a wise or learned man , teacher , Pandit ; a god ; the moon
api: even

容色世希有 状如王女形
[Relation to Sanskrit tenuous] 

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