vimśed-yadi yoṣitāṁ manuṣyaḥ praktiṁ svapna-vikāram-īdśaṁ ca |
dhruvam-atra na vardhayet-pramādaṁ guṇa-saṁkalpa-hatas-tu rāgam-eti || 5.65
If a man reflected on women's original nature,
And on how such change is wrought by sleep,
Surely by these means he would not be making intoxication grow.
Smitten by a notion of excellence, however, he is moved to redness.
The ambiguity discussed at length in connection with yesterday's verse continues in today's verse. And the more one digs into today's verse for deeper meaning, the more ambiguity seems to be unearthed; and the more questions seem to be raised.
On the surface, what the prince means by “the original condition of women” (yoṣitāṁ prakṛtiṁ) and “the change brought about by sleep” (svapna-vikāram) are ugliness; and a man's reflection on such female ugliness, the prince is postulating, might be a means of not causing himself to be intoxicated by the redness of sexual desire for women. Reflection or meditation (e.g. “impurity meditation”), in other words, might be a means of preventing the intoxication, or red infatuation, that is liable to grow in a man when he obsesses about a woman's sexual attractiveness.
But below the surface, now that I have sat on it and slept on it – now that changes in my understanding of it have been wrought by dropping off and sleeping – today's verse speaks to me of things that sometimes interest me even more than the sexual attractiveness of women. Now that I have slept on it, today's verse seems to speak of sitting itself; it seems to speak of the Buddha's four noble truths; it seems to speak of the Buddha's ultimate practical teaching of wanting little and being content (alpecchu saṁtuṣṭa); and it seems to speak, conversely, of the mirror principle by which an idealistic young prince expresses his discontented scorn and contempt for others who are smitten by an idealistic notion of excellence.
More than that, today's verse raises questions:
- about human nature and about buddha-nature;
- about what it means consciously to meditate/reflect on one's human/buddha-nature;
- about consciousness and unconsciousness/sleep;
- about the relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness/sleep;
- about the parallel relationship between enlightenment and delusion/intoxication;
- about what it might mean to allow one's delusion to be, or indeed to allow it to grow, by the reflective means of sitting-meditation (as opposed to using the direct, non-reflective, forceful means of making and doing);
- about how to counter in practice, using reflective means, the reflexive relationship that exists between idealistic thinking and those unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions which manifest themselves as redness.
Thus, if I am not careful, I shall fall once more into the trap using too many words in the effort to clarify every little nuance that Aśvaghoṣa might or might not have intended to convey. The truth may be that, if Aśvaghoṣa did indeed intend to raise the above questions, he did so clear in the knowledge that they are questions that can't be answered adequately in words.
So suffice to say the following:
Dogen's instructions for how to sit do not recognize any distinction between the nature of men and the nature of women. Dogen called his instructions 普勧坐禅儀 (Jap: FUKAN-ZAZEN-GI). The 普 (FU) means “universal” or “for everybody everywhere.” So 普勧坐禅儀 means the rule[s] of sitting-meditation recommended for everybody everywhere.
That being so, for a bloke to reflect on what women originally are, in the truest sense, might mean for that bloke to sit on a round black cushion and to investigate what it is for his own self to have two arms, two legs, one head, one heart, two ears, two eyes, two lungs, one body, and one mind.
He might ask what it means, going further, for a bloke to allow his whole self to expand, in a lengthening and widening direction like a tree growing upward and outward?
He might ask what it means to let the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, while sending the knees forwards and away?
He might ask what it means to allow body and mind spontaneously to drop off, so that one's original face emerges?
A small aircraft flies overhead at an unreasonably low level, while I am sitting out in the garden, and my mind in an instant is as red in tooth and claw as the mind of a snarling wolf.
vimṛśet = 3rd pers. sg. opt. vi- √ mṛś : to touch (with the hands) , stroke , feel ; to touch (mentally) , be sensible or aware of , perceive , consider , reflect on , deliberate about ; to investigate , examine , try , test
yoṣitām (gen. pl.): f. a girl , maiden , young woman , wife
manuṣyaḥ (nom. sg.): m. a man , human being
prakṛtim (acc. sg.): f. " making or placing before or at first " , the original or natural form or condition of anything , original or primary substance ; nature , character , constitution , temper , disposition
svapna-vikāram (acc. sg. m.): change of form/nature due to sleep
svapna: m. sleep , sleeping
vikāra: m. change of form or nature , alteration or deviation from any natural state , transformation , modification , change (esp. for the worse)
īdṛśam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. endowed with such qualities , such
dhruvam: ind. assuredly
atra: ind. in this matter , in this respect
vardhayet = 3rd pers. sg. opt. causative vṛdh: to cause to increase or grow , augment , increase , make larger or longer , heighten , strengthen , further , promote; to rear , cherish , foster , bring up ; to elevate , raise to power , cause to prosper or thrive ; to exalt , magnify , glorify (esp. the gods) ,
pramādam (acc. sg.): m. intoxication ; madness , insanity ; error, mistake
guṇa-saṁkalpa-hataḥ (nom. sg. m.): smitten by a conception of her excellence
guṇa: m. good quality , virtue , merit , excellence
saṁkalpa: m. conception or idea or notion formed in the mind or heart , (esp.) will , volition , desire , purpose , definite intention or determination or decision or wish for (with loc. dat. , or ifc.) , sentiment , conviction , persuasion
hata: mfn. struck , beaten (also said of a drum) , smitten , killed , slain
rāgam (acc. sg.): m. colour , hue , tint , dye , (esp.) red colour , redness; any feeling or passion , (esp.) love , affection or sympathy for , vehement desire
eti = 3rd pers. sg. i: to go
[Relation to Sanskrit tenuous]