Sunday, February 3, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 4.64: Targeting Friendship

ahitāt pratiṣedhaś-ca hite cānupravartanam |
vyasane cāparityāgas-trividhaṁ mitra-lakṣaṇam || 4.64

Keeping one out of harm's way,

Urging one on in the good,

And not deserting one in adversity

Are the three marks of a friend.

In Saundara-nanda Canto 16 the Buddha tells Nanda, in connection with the four truths of suffering, its cause, its inhibition, and a way of inhibition:
For he who knows suffering as it really is, who knows its starting and its stopping: / It is he who reaches peace by the noble path -- going along with friends in the good (kalyāṇa-mitraiḥ saha vartamānaḥ). // SN16.39 // He who fully appreciates his illness, as the illness it is, who sees the cause of the illness and its remedy: / It is he who wins, before long, freedom from disease -- attended by friends in the know (mitrair-abhijñair-upacaryamāṇaḥ). // SN16.40 // So with regard to the truth of suffering, see suffering as an illness; with regard to the faults, see the faults as the cause of the illness; / With regard to the truth of stopping, see stopping as freedom from disease; and with regard to the truth of a path, see a path as a remedy. // SN16.41 // Comprehend, therefore, that suffering is doing; witness the faults impelling it forward; / Realise its stopping as non-doing; and know the path as a turning back. // SN16.42 //
Udāyin's words in today's verse are somehow reminiscent of the Buddha's teaching. So what exactly are the similarities, and what are the differences?

The main similarity I see is that Udāyin's words seem to follow the order inherent in the universal precept of the seven ancient buddhas, the first thing being prevention of the wrong thing, followed by promotion of the good.

The main difference is the difference between where Udāyin is coming from and where the Buddha is coming from.

Udāyin has got an agenda, by appointment to the King, in consequence of which he is targeting friendship. In Udāyin's approach, friendship is an end which, following a particular methodology – borne of knowing the Fundamental Techniques for Handing People – he is hoping to gain.

When the Buddha speaks of friendship, in contrast, the goal he is working towards is cessation of suffering. On that way, the Buddha seems to indicate, one is naturally accompanied and attended by friends.

Friendship, in the latter understanding, is not something to be targeted – and neither is friendliness a thing to be targeted. Rather, in following a way, friends on that way naturally come and go. And if, while going on that way, malice arises – for example, towards a person enjoying himself in an old aircraft flying low overhead – then friendliness might be a thing to be cultivated, as an antidote to malice.

The Buddha's teaching, as I see it, is not a religion of kindness, or compassion, or friendliness, though it often seems to be thought of as such. It is rather just to sit in lotus, not so much as a standard for doing stuff as a way of inhibition, upon which way it is only natural to be friendly, and along which way friends naturally come and go – without being targeted as such, and not necessarily relying on a theory about what friendship is. 

ahitāt (abl. sg. n.): mfn. unfit , improper ; unadvantageous ; noxious , hostile ; n. damage , disadvantage , evil
pratiṣedhaḥ (nom. sg.): m. keeping back , warding off , prevention , repulsion (of a disease) ; prohibition , refusal , denial
prati-ṣidh: (√sidh) to drive away ; to keep back , ward off , prevent , restrain from (abl.) ; to forbid , prohibit , disallow
ca: and

hite (loc. sg. n.): mfn. beneficial , advantageous , salutary , wholesome , suitable , agreeing with; n. (sg. or pl.) anything useful or salutary or suitable or proper , benefit , advantage , profit , service , good , welfare , good advice &c
ca: and
anupravartanam (nom. sg.): n. urging to (loc.)
anu-pra- √ vṛt : to proceed along or after
vartana: n. the act of turning or rolling or rolling on or moving forward or about (trans. and intrans.)

vyasane (loc. sg.): n. moving to and fro , wagging (of a tail) ; evil predicament or plight , disaster , accident , evil result , calamity , misfortune (vyasanāni pl. misfortunes) , ill-luck , distress , destruction , defeat , fall , ruin
ca: and
a-: (negative prefix)
parityāgaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the act of leaving , abandoning , deserting , quitting , giving up , neglecting , renouncing
pari- √ tyaj : to leave , quit , abandon , give up , reject , disregard , not heed

trividham (nom. sg. n.): mfn. of 3 kinds , triple , threefold
mitra-lakṣaṇam (nom. sg. n.): the mark of a friend
mitra: m. a friend , companion , associate
lakṣaṇa: mfn. indicating , expressing indirectly ; n. a mark , sign , symbol , token , characteristic , attribute , quality (ifc. = " marked or characterized by " , " possessed of ")

朋友有三種 能除不饒益
成人饒益事 遭難不遺棄

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