viyujyamāne hi tarau puṣpair-api phalair-api |
patati cchidyamāne vā tarur-anyo na śocate || 4.61
For at a tree's shedding
Of its flowers and fruits,
And at its falling, or at its felling,
No other tree mourns.”
Ostensibly today's verse, following on from yesterday's verse, provides with the example of a tree an illustration of an organism which, though living, does not depend for its existence on the exercise of reason.
Ostensibly, then, the prince in today's verse is still criticizing those others who, like trees, fail to exercise their reason in establishing the will to the truth.
The alternative or contrary way of reading today's verse, which is the concluding verse in a series of six verses containing the prince's reflections, is to read it as a suggestion of the ultimate truth of a buddha – which might be just to stand, or just to sit, like a tree.
There is a chapter of Shobogenzo titled 無情説法 (Jap: MUJO-SEPPO) , “The Non-Emotional Preaches Dharma.” Today's verse, as I read it, relates to that teaching.
If you want to look at an actual example of a human being who lives his or her life undisturbed by emotion then I honestly wouldn't bother looking at me. I am, in the words of Marjory Barlow, “an inveterate worrier.”
When I sit and look out of my bedroom window, however, and see white clouds floating west to east in a blue sky, and a bare apple tree glinting in the winter sunshine, the clouds and the tree are immaculate exemplars of the one golden dharma that physicists suspect the universe will never be found to disobey – namely, the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Though I have described it as an immaculate exemplar, as it stands there, totally undisturbed by thoughts and feelings, temporarily obstructing the 2nd law with its upward and outward direction of energy, the apple tree in my garden has individual peculiarities. It is by no means symmetrical. It has twists and bumps and scars like no other apple tree. It belongs to that genus of tree that Aśvaghoṣa describes in Saundara-nanda Canto 10, as anyāḥ vṛkṣāḥ – trees which are different, individual, other.
In conclusion then, to understand what Aśvaghoṣa really means in today's verse by tarur anyaḥ, “another tree,” it may be necessary to understand what he means in SN10.19 by anye vṛkṣāḥ, “other/odd/different trees.” Again, in order to understand the real meaning of anye vṛkṣāḥ, it might be necessary to understand what the likes of Dogen and his Chinese ancestors meant by 非仏 (HI-BUTSU), “a non-buddha.” And ultimately, in order to understand the real meaning of 非仏 (HI-BUTSU), “a non-buddha,” it might be necessary to understand what the likes of Dogen and his Chinese ancestors meant by 非思量 (HI-SHIRYO), “non-thinking.”
In a comment to yesterday's post, some bloke called Rich seemed to opine that top rugby players exercise reason in training but when they are actually playing in a match, reason goes out of the window and everything is pure action. What a totally fucking stupid and baseless opinion! I may not know much, I may know almost nothing, but I know a groundless view when I see one.
One senses that Rich is familiar with the Buddhist theory of the likes of my teacher, Gudo Nishijima, but one wonders if Rich has ever actually played rugby, or any challenging sport.
My confidence in this matter comes out of real experience. For several years playing rugby was at the centre of my universe, and so I know from real experience that excellent practice of non-thinking on a rugby pitch invariably arises out of thinking, out of exercise of the faculty of reason, out of what ex-Welsh international rugby player and BBC rugby commentator Jonathan Davies frequently refers to as using the top two inches, and out of what FM Alexander called "thinking in activity."
I knew this well enough as a teenager, but then in my twenties I temporarily set aside what I knew from experience in favour of what Gudo Nishijima taught me in the way of “true Buddhist theory.” Because I can be incredibly slow on the uptake, it took me many years to work out that Gudo Nishijima, in the primary matter of using or negating reason in Zazen, and pursuing or negating right posture in Zazen, was talking through his arse. But as a result of such painfully slow progress, nowadays I know pretty well when would-be experts on Zen, and on right posture, and on the Alexander Technique, are talking through their arse, expressing their own stupid views which have no basis in reality.
So when Rich says in his comment that he knows nothing, and neither do I, I find something to be applauded in his fighting spirit. At the same time, I would like to say to Rich that, in the matter under discussion, I dare say that I know a fucking sight more than you do, mate.
And if I sound angry, the person I mainly feel anger towards is not Rich, and not even that other great talker through his arse Gudo Nishijima. I feel anger towards the gullible sap in me who bought into a baseless view. At least Jack in Jack & The Beanstalk got some beans for his trouble. All I got was the "true Buddhist theory" of a Zen master who – in the primary matter of sitting – did not know what he was talking about.
viyujyamāne = loc. sg. m. pres. part. passive vi- √ yuj: to be separated from or deprived of , lose (instr.);
tarau (loc. sg.): m. a tree
puṣpaiḥ (inst. pl.): n. a flower , blossom
api: and, also
phalaiḥ (inst. pl.): n. fruit
api: and, also
patati = loc. sg. m. pres. part. pat: to fall down
chidyamāne = loc. sg. m. pres. part. passive chid: to be cut down, hewn, chopped
taruḥ (nom. sg.): m. a tree
anyaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. another
śocate = 3rd pers. sg. śuc: to suffer violent heat or pain , be sorrowful or afflicted , grieve , mourn at or for (loc.)