Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 5.74: Preparing to Go Into the Middle

¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑−−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−   Aupacchandasaka
upagṛhya sa taṁ viśāla-vakṣāḥ kamalābhena ca sāntvayan kareṇa |
madhurākṣarayā girā śaśāsa dhvajinī-madhyam-iva praveṣṭu-kāmaḥ || 5.74

He whose chest was broad reached up
and drew him to himself;

Then, while comforting with a lotus-like hand,

He bade him with a song of soothing noises,

As a warrior might when preparing to go,
where banners fly, into the middle:

Last night an enlightened individual from California named Monty Roberts, of whom the British queen is a fan, was featured in a BBC documentary on the Queen's horses. Today's verse could be a description of Monty, the original horse-whisperer, at work.

The verse also brings to my mind a moment when I was lying on the teaching couch of another enlightened individual named Marjory Barlow, and somewhat “over-breathing” – as per FM Alexander's observation “That is not breathing. That is lifting your chest and collapsing.”

For a human being, it should be noted in my defence, holding the breath is not healthy. So “breathing” in the sense of doing as opposed to truly allowing the breathing is a lot more conducive to spontaneous flow than is the alternative of not breathing at all.

In any event, Marjory's memorable response to my unenlightened effort to breathe well was to pat me around my sternum and make a sound like a horse-whisperer steadying a nervous horse – something like “whoa boy.”

Aśvaghoṣa, similarly, must have observed that the same basic techniques that a good horseman or horsewoman uses to calm horses are effective in meditative work on the self. At the same time, Aśvaghoṣa  must have observed or supposed that the time when those techniques are most needed are, ironically, not when little white puffs of blue cloud are floating in a blue sky and the birds are intermittently breaking the silence with their song... but rather in a time of readiness for a stressful event, like preparing to go into battle.

On the metaphorical battlefield the prince is preparing to enter, on one side there is consciousness; and on the other side, under the banners of greed, anger, faulty sensory appreciation, and the rest, are the forces of unconsciousness.

Opposing unconsciousness might be the subtlest thing in the world. Why? Because when the warrior tries to oppose unconsciousness, taking sides against unconsciousness under the banner of consciousness, just in that very trying the warrior has already lost the battle, and has lost the middle – as when an Alexander teacher who should know better, while lying on the teaching table of an Alexander teacher who does know better, tries to get away with breathing as if he knew how to do it.

upagṛhya = abs. upa- √ grah: to seize from below ; to seize , take possession of , take , obtain ; to subdue , become master of ; to draw near (to one's self)
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tam (acc. sg. m.): him
viśāla-vakṣāḥ (nom. sg. m.): he of the broad chest
viśāla: spacious , extensive , broad , wide , large
vakṣas: n. the breast , bosom , chest ; m. an ox , bullock

kamalābhena (inst. sg. m.): lotus-like
kamala: mfn. pale-red , rose-coloured; mn. a lotus
ā-bhā: f. splendour, light ; ifc. like , resembling , appearing
ca: and
sāntvayan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. sāntv: to console , comfort , soothe , conciliate , address kindly or gently
kareṇa (inst. sg.): m. " the doer " , the hand

madhurākṣarayā (inst. pl. f.): with melodious speech ; with soothing noises
madhura: mfn. sweet , pleasant , charming , delightful ; sounding sweetly or uttering sweet cries , melodious , mellifluous
akṣara: n. a syllable, vowel, sound
akṣarā: f. (cf. a-kṣára n. above ) , word , speech
girā = inst. sg. gir: f. invocation , addressing with praise , praise , verse , song ; speech , speaking , language , voice , words ; f. a kind of mystical syllable
śaśāsa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. śās: to chastise , correct , censure , punish ; to restrain , control , rule , govern ; to direct, bid , order, command ; to teach, instruct

dhvajinī-madhyam (acc. sg.): the middle of an army
dhvajin: mfn. having or bearing a banner
dhvajinī: f. " a bannered host " , an army
iva: like, as if
praveṣṭu-kāmaḥ (nom. sg. m.): desiring to go into
pra- √ viś: to enter, go into ; to enter upon , undertake , commence , begin , devote one's self to ; to enter into i.e. be absorbed or thrown into the shade by (acc.)
kāma: n. (ifc.) desirous of , desiring , having a desire or intention (cf. go-k° , dharma-k° ; frequently with inf. in tu)

太子撫馬頸 摩身而告言 

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