Wednesday, April 24, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 5.40: Meditation on Lamentation (Using Sorrow)

¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑−−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−   Aupacchandasaka
sacivais-tu nidarśito yathāvad-bahu-mānāt praṇayāc-ca śāstra-pūrvam |
guruṇā ca nivārito 'śru-pātaiḥ praviveśāvasathaṁ tataḥ sa śocan || 5.40

Apprised, following protocol, by ministers

With great respect and affection
and with reference to sacred books;

While forbidden by his father, with falling tears,

He went then into his lodging quarters, sorrowing.

When somebody asked an old buddha in China “What is the mind of an old buddha?”, the old buddha replied: “Fences, walls, tiles and pebbles.”

In today's verse as I read it, the well-intentioned attentions of ministers are a variety of tiles and pebbles, and the emotional edict of the king is a kind of a fence or a wall.

The sense of the strength of the prince's emotional response to his perception of these obstacles and mundane circumstances, big and small, is given added emphasis by the position at the end of today's verse of the word śocan, from the root √suc, which means to sorrow, to grieve, to feel intense emotional pain.

Two of many lines in Saundara-nanda which convey the same emotion of sorrow, but from the other side of the fence, are these two:
As his hair was thus being banished, his tearful downcast face / Resembled a rain-sodden lotus in a pond with the top of its stalk sagging down. // SN5.52 //
Now he leant against 'the tree of freedom from sorrow,' the a-śoka tree, and he became a sorrower (sa jāta-śokaḥ): he sorrowed (śuśoca) for a lover of a-śoka groves, his beloved wife. // SN7.5 //
After Nanda has accomplished what was for him to accomplish, in contrast, Aśvaghoṣa describes him as being free of sorrow (vi-śuc):
Having attained to the seat of arhathood, he was worthy of being served. Without ambition, without partiality, without expectation; / Without fear, sorrow (vi-śuc), pride, or passion; while being nothing but himself, he seemed in his constancy to be different. // SN17.61 //
Buddhas, then, as Aśvaghoṣa describes them, seem not to be susceptible to feeling sorry for themselves. But if we think that buddhas are not liable to harbour desires whose eventual realization brings them joy, the lie to that thought might reside in what the sorrowless Buddha tells the sorrowless Nanda:
'When shall I see Nanda settled, given over to the living of a forest beggar's life?', / So thinking, I had harboured from the start the desire to see you thus (āsīt purastāt-tvayi me didṛkṣā tathā). What a wonderful sight you are for me to behold! // SN18.33 //
And here is the evidence, also in the Buddha's own words, that even one who has succeeded in the aim of practice, though he might no longer feel sorry for himself, is still liable to sorrow for the world of living beings:
One who eats anything at any place, and wears any clothes, Who dwells in enjoyment of his own being and loves to be anywhere without people: /  He is to be known as a success (kṛtārthaḥ), a knower of the taste of peace and ease, whose mind is made up --  He avoids involvement with others like a thorn. // SN14.50 //  
If, in a world that delights in duality and is at heart distracted by objects,  He roves in solitude, free of duality, a man of action, his heart at peace, /  Then he drinks the essence of wisdom as if it were the deathless nectar and his heart is filled.  Separately he sorrows for the clinging, object-needy world (viviktaḥ saṃsaktaṃ viṣaya-kṛpaṇaṃ śocati jagat). // SN14.51 //
In light of the above reflections, if we look as usual for an ostensible meaning of today's verse and a deeper, hidden meaning that presages the wisdom of buddha, the ostensible meaning is that the prince feels sorry for himself, and the hidden meaning might be that the prince sorrows not only for himself but for the unenlightened human condition, as demonstrated by the ministers in their attachment to their piffling protocol and by the king in his attachment to his political agenda.

In the former reading praviveśāvasatham might better be read praviveśa + avasatham, but in the latter reading praviveśa + āvasatham, since āvasatham has a connotation of a temporary lodging for a homeless student or a practitioner. 

Having slept, but not very well, on this meditation, I realized just before 4 a.m. that I omitted to mention what might be the most pertinent passage about sorrow, or grief, in Aśvaghoṣa's epic story of Beautiful Joy, where the Buddha tells Nanda: 
In fear, in joy and in sorrow (śoke), one does not succumb to sleep; / Therefore against the onslaughts of sleep resort to these three: // SN14.26 // Feel fear from death's approach, joy from grasping a teaching of dharma, /And from the boundless suffering inherent in a birth, have recourse to sorrow (śokam āgantum). // 14.27 // Such a step may need to be taken, my friend, in the direction of being awake; / For what wise man, out of sleep, makes a wasted life? // 14.28 // To neglect the reptilian faults, as if ignoring snakes in the house, / And thus to slumber on, does not befit a man of wisdom who wishes to overcome the great terror. // 14.29 // For while the world of the living burns with the fires of death, disease and aging, / Who could lie down insensibly, any more than in a burning house? // 14.30 // Therefore, knowing it to be darkness, you should not let sleep enshroud you / While the faults remain unquieted, like sword-wielding enemies. // 14.31 // But having spent the first of the three night-watches actively engaged in practice, / You should, as one who is pulling his own strings, go to bed to rest the body. // SN14.32 //

sacivaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. an associate , companion , friend ; esp. a king's friend or attendant , counsellor , minister
tu: but; sometimes used as a mere expletive
nidarśitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. shown , presented , offered (as a seat)
ni- √ dṛś: Caus. -darśayati , to cause to see , show , point out , introduce , indicate ; to impart knowledge , teach , instruct , advise
yathāvat: ind. duly , properly , rightly , suitably , exactly ; according to what is right , properly , correctly (= yathāvat)

bahu-mānāt (abl. sg.): m. high esteem or estimation , great respect or regard for
praṇayāt (abl. sg.): m. affection , confidence in (loc.) , love , attachment , friendship , favour
ca: and
śāstra-pūrvam: ind. in accordance with the śāstras
śāstra: n. an order , command , precept , rule ; teaching , instruction , direction , advice , good counsel ; any instrument of teaching , any manual or compendium of rules , any bock or treatise , (esp.) any religious or scientific treatise , any sacred book or composition of divine authority
pūrva: ifc. also preceded or accompanied by , attended with

guruṇā (inst. sg.): m. any venerable or respectable person (father , mother , or any relative older than one's self)
ca: and
nivāritaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. kept off , hindered , forbidden , prevented
ni- √ vṛ: to ward off , restrain ; to hold back from (abl. , rarely acc.) , prohibit , hinder , stop , prevent , withhold , suppress , forbid
aśru-pātaiḥ (inst. pl.) = áśru-nipāta m. flow of tears
pāta: m. flying, alighting, downfall

praviveśa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. pra- √ viś: to enter , go into , resort to
avasatham (acc. sg.): m. (for ā-vasatha q.v.) habitation; n. a house , dwelling
ā-vasatham (acc. sg.): m. dwelling-place , abode , habitation , night's lodging ; a dwelling for pupils and ascetics
vasatha: m. a house
tataḥ: ind. then, from that
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
śocan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. śuc: to suffer violent heat or pain , be sorrowful or afflicted , grieve , mourn at or for (loc. or acc. with prati) ; to bewail , lament , regret (acc.)

國中諸群臣 來詣太子所
廣引諸禮律 勸令順王命
太子見父王 悲感泣流涙
且還本宮中 端坐默思惟

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