Saturday, April 27, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 5.43: Opposing Darkness

¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑−−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−   Aupacchandasaka
vigate divase tato vimānaṁ vapuṣā sūrya iva pradīpyamānaḥ |
timiraṁ vijighāṁsur-ātma-bhāsā ravir-udyann-iva merum-āruroha || 5.43

Then, when day was done,

Blazing like the sun with his handsome form,

The one who would by his own brightness dispel darkness

Ascended the palace, like the rising sun ascending Meru.

I was busier than usual yesterday so didn't have time to prepare any commentary for today's verse, other than a note to myself to connect the final word āruroha (he ascended, he went up) with Master Tendo Nyojo's poem about the cuckoo, which, similarly, ends with the Chinese character 上  (which means up above, or going up).
There are calves on Tendo mountain tonight,
And golden-faced Gautama is manifesting real form.
If we wanted to buy it, how could we afford the impossible price?
The cry of a cuckoo above a lonely cloud.
Despite my busy schedule, I did find time to drink half a bottle of wine last night, however, so I woke this morning with a bit of a headache. Nonetheless I woke thinking about today's verse, and I fancied titling this post Blazing Golden Sun Light Going Up a Mountain.

Blazing, pradīpyamānaḥ.

Gold, kāñcana. 

Sun, sūryaḥ / raviḥ. 

Light, bhās.

Going Up, udyan / āruroha. 

A Mountain,  parvata / meru. 

I would write a comment, I fancied, linking those elements.

Then, 45 minutes into my morning sitting, a mini-digger rolled up to start the work of landscaping a neighbour's garden, and so I got up to go for a long cycle ride, swearing because I couldn't find a hat, and beginning to realize that what I am better qualified to comment on is not Blazing Golden Sun Light Going Up a Mountain, but rather another element of today's verse, which is namely 

Darkness, timiram.

Trying to do an undoing, as I did for 13 years in Japan, is darkness. Trying to be right is the essence of darkness. Blind unconscious reaction is darkness. Darkness is wanting to kill (vijighāṁsuḥ)  a person because they unduly excited my fear reflexes by presenting an auditory stimulus. 

It didn't happen this morning but this morning I remembered a couple of occasions when I have been cycling along and some motorist has loudly and unnecessarily beeped his horn behind me. On one particularly memorable occasion, in 1997/98 when I was in my last year of Alexander teacher training, some old git accompanied his beep of the horn with a dismissive sweep of his hand as he drove past, as if to say “Get over to the side of the road.” I cycled for all I was worth yelling at him at the top of my voice. If I had caught him up I probably wouldn't have killed him, but I felt like I would have. I felt like I would have been happy to give up my life for the privilege of breaking every rib in his ribcage. Not the psychology of a dove. The psychology of a hawk. And a moment of true darkness. So much for Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual. At a moment like that there is no desire in me to dispell darkness; what I am desirous of killing (vijighāṁsuḥ) is the twat who made the offending noise.

What means are at a person's disposal to oppose such darkness?

Spiritual light? The light of Jesus? The light of Asia? I don't think so. I don't think today's verse has anything to do with such universal spiritual light. I think it is rather about a person using the real means of his own light, his own brightness (ātma-bāsā), i.e., the reality of his own energy.

At the same time, coming back to my original thought about today's verse, today's verse is about a person's movement, in an upward direction – in short, going up.

And the other main element, in today's verse as in yesterday's verse, is a very massive object, namely a mountain.

Energy, movement, and mass. Or energy, mass, and movement – anybody for E = mc2?

Some day soon somebody brighter and more virtuous than me, a bona fide scientist like David Attenborough or Brian Cox, will come along and make the kind of connection I would like to make between energy itself, as studied in physics, chemistry and biology, and Aśvaghoṣa's irreligious teaching about that dharma which, in the real world, is truly imperishable (a-kṣaya-dharma); i.e., energy itself. 

 I would be happy if I could somehow open a way for such scientists, by my unskilfull efforts to break the ground – and not by using a fucking JCB either, at 7.30 in the morning, when people are trying to be right. 

vigate (loc. sg.): mfn. gone away , departed , disappeared , ceased , gone
divase (loc. sg.): m. heaven; a day
tataḥ: ind. then
vimānam (acc. sg.): m. the palace of an emperor or supreme monarch (esp. one with 7 stories)

vapuṣā (inst. sg.): n. form, handsome form
sūryaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the sun
iva: like
pradīpyamānaḥ = nom. sg. m. pres. part. pra- √ dīp: to flame forth, blaze

timiram (acc. sg.): n. darkness
vijighāṁsuḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (Desid. of √ han) wishing to slay or to kill or to remove or to destroy
ātma-bhāsā (inst. sg.): by his own brightness
bhās: n. light or ray of light , lustre , brightness

raviḥ (nom. sg.): m. the sun (in general) or the sun-god
udyan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. ud- √i: to go up to , proceed or move up , proceed ; to rise (as the sun)
iva: like
merum (acc. sg.): m. N. of a fabulous mountain (regarded as the Olympus of Hindu mythology and said to form the central point of jambu-dvīpa
āruroha = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ā- √ ruh: to ascend , mount , bestride , rise up

漸已至日暮 太子處幽夜
光明甚輝耀 如日照須彌

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