Monday, June 10, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 5.87: Moving Swiftly On...

¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−    Puṣpitāgrā
hari-turaga-turaṅgavat-turaṅgaḥ sa tu vicaran manasīva codyamānaḥ |
aruṇa-paruṣa-tāram-antar-ikṣaṁ sa ca su-bahūni jagāma yojanāni || 5.87

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye 'bhiniṣkramaṇo nāma pañcamaḥ sargaḥ ||

But while he with his horse
[or while he being a horse]
as quick as the bay horse of Indra,

Moved swiftly on, as if being spurred in his mind,
[or being spurred, as if in his mind,]

He rode into the dawn sky,
where ruddy Aruṇa tarnishes the stars,

And a good many miles he went.

The 5th canto, titled Getting Well & Truly Out, in an epic tale of awakened action.

The grammar of today's verse, in which a singular verb (jagāma) has two subjects (sa in the 2nd and 4th pādas) calls for the reader's attention – which may be precisely what Aśvaghoṣa wanted.

Aśvaghoṣa may have wanted us to question whether the first subject is that horse (turaṇgaḥ sa) which is like the horse of Indra (hari-turaga-turaṅgavat)? Or is the first subject he (sa; the prince) who is “with-a-horse-like-the-horse-of-Indra” (hari-turaga-turaṅgavat-turaṅgaḥ)?

Again, in the 2nd pāda who is being spurred on, and how? Is Kanthaka being spurred by spurs, like a man being spurred in his mind by a desire to get to the bottom of living and dying? Or is the prince being spurred by his will to the truth so strongly that it is as if metal horse-spurs were in his mind?

And ultimately who is the one who is riding into the dawn sky? Is it the horse who is carrying the prince? Or is it the prince who is directing the horse?

Does the question even matter? 

You bet it fucking matters. It matters to me. 

It matters to me because what it boils down to is this question: 

Is there sitting with body which is different from sitting with mind? Is there sitting with mind which is different from sitting with body?

Answer that you old so and so! Don't dodge the question by trying to hide behind senility and death! The buddhas of the three times all know that when I asked you again the question that Dogen posed seven hundred years and seventy years ago, you didn't know how to respond, and what is more you did not know how not to respond. Your seventy years of sitting and studying Shobogenzo might all, in the end, have been a waste of fucking time. You thought you had got to the bottom of it, but had you fuck. You were deluding yourself and and you deluded others. You said that it was difficult, and you said that it would be difficult, as if you knew. But you did not fucking know the half of it.

As I sat down at the computer thirty minutes ago, I had no intention to launch this attack on my own Zen teacher. So if you don't like it, blame it on Aśvaghoṣa for writing the verse that stimulated the spontaneous outburst out of me. Again, blame it on Gudo himself, who taught me not to worry about good and bad, but to sit every day and let the chips fall where they may.

When Gudo taught me not to worry about good and bad but just to act, evidently, he didn't teach me all that well – because I DO worry, constantly, unconsciously, relentlessly, practically every minute of every day and night. 

That I am here on this blog preaching about consciousness, to tell the truth, is a bloody joke. I am about as conscious as a black night when the moon and stars are totally absent behind thick layers of the dark thunderclouds of worry, and when the only light seems to come in flashes of anger. 

I always felt that Gudo was expecting me some day to stop worrying and burst forth, like a full moon from behind the clouds, onto some great world stage of action – as opposed to retreating back, as I have done, into solitary practice and translation work.

That, I think, is why my wife observed that Gudo did not know me at all. Marjory knew better, when she told me “You are an inveterate worrier, aren't you?” And then she added, “I know. Because I am too.”

I understand, on the basis of my own experience, the anger and frustration that dyslexic and dyspraxic children feel when called upon in the classroom and in the playground to perform tasks that, developmentally, they lack the equipment to perform easily and well.

When a teacher, in his ignorance, asks you to do what is never going to be possible for you to do, anger might be understandable. Gudo with his grand hopes and expectations was not like the fireflies in yesterday's verse who knew the difficulty; he was more like the gods in the verse before who only conveyed their lofty and vacuous expectations.

Anyway, thus having failed again to move swiftly on, I in my habitual state of inveterate worrying – mindful of a certain anger-entangled tension that has invaded my neck, shoulders, and arms – shall conclude this comment by noting two further points:

First, I think the tu (“but”) in the 2nd pāda suggests that the acting subject faced enormous  difficulty ahead of him, BUT he carried on undaunted. Inhibiting unconscious behaviour is an incredibly difficult thing to resolve to do, as the fireflies well knew, BUT he (whether he was human or horse) pressed on regardless.

Second, Aśvaghoṣa often seems to finish off a Canto with a poetic allusion to Indra and other heroes of ancient Indian mythology, and today's verse also seems to me to fit that pattern, with allusions to Indra and Aruṇa. EHJ, however, followed the Tibetan translator in taking hari-turaga ("he of the bay swift-goer") not as Indra but as Sūrya, the sun. 

Aruṇa (centre) as charioteer of Surya (right)

hari-turaga-turaṅgavat-turaṅgaḥ (nom sg. m.): with his horse like Indra's horse
hari-turaga-turaṅgavat: like the 'swift-goer' of he of the bay 'swift goer' = like Indra's horse [EHJ: like a steed of the sun] 
hari-turaga: m. a horse of Indra; name of Indra (“he of the bay horse”); [EHJ = the sun]
hari: mfn. bay (esp. applied to horses); m. a horse , steed (esp. of indra)
turaga: m. " going quickly " , a horse
-vat: an affix added to words to imply likeness or resemblance , and generally translatable by " as " , " like "
turaṅgaḥ (nom. sg.): m. " going quickly " , a horse
hari-turaṁgamāyudha: n. indra's thunderbolt
āyudha: n. a weapon

sa (nom. sg. m.): he, the [horse]
tu: but
vicaran = nom. sg. m. pres. part. vi- √ car: to move in different directions , spread , expand , be diffused ; to rove; to sally forth ; to act , proceed , behave , live
manasi (loc. sg.): n. mind
iva: like
codyamānaḥ = nom. sg. m. passive pres. part. cud: to impel , incite , animate

aruṇa-paruṣa-tāram (acc. sg. n.): with dawn-discoloured stars
aruṇa: m. red colour ; m. the dawn (personified as the charioteer of the sun) ; m. the sun ; n. red colour ; gold ; mfn. reddish-brown , tawny , red , ruddy (the colour of the morning opposed to the darkness of night)
paruṣa: mfn. knotted ; spotted , variegated , dirty-coloured
tāra: m. n. a star
antar-ikṣam (acc. sg.): n. the intermediate space between heaven and earth ; the atmosphere or sky

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ca: and
su-bahūni (acc. pl. n.): mfn. very much , very many , very numerous
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gam: to go ; to go to or towards , approach (with acc.)
yojanāni (acc. pl.): n. joining , yoking , harnessing ; that which is yoked or harnessed , a team , vehicle (also applied to the hymns and prayers addressed to the gods) ; course, path ; a stage or yojana (i.e. a distance traversed in one harnessing or without unyoking ; esp. a partic. measure of distance , sometimes regarded as equal to 4 or 5 English miles , but more correctly = 4 krośas or about 9 miles ; according to other calculations = 2 1÷2 English miles , and according to some = 8 krośas)

iti: “thus”
buddha-carite mahā-kāvye (loc. sg.): in the epic poem “Awakened Action”
abhiniṣkramaṇaḥ (nom. sg.): n. going forth ; leaving the house in order to become an anchorite ; getting [oneself] out ; getting the hell out of there
kramaḥ (nom. sg.): m. a step ; going , proceeding , course ; uninterrupted or regular progress , order , series , regular arrangement , succession
√kram: to step , walk , go , go towards , approach ; to proceed well , advance , make progress , gain a footing , succeed , have effect ; to be appliable or practicable
niṣ- √ kram: to go out , come forth , go or come from (abl. , rarely gen.) , depart ; to leave worldly life; (in dram.) to make an exit:
nis: ind. out , forth , away &c, used mostly as a prefix to verbs and their derivatives or to nouns not immediately connected with verbs , in which case it has the sense , " out of " , " away from ", or that of a privative or negative adverb " without " , " destitute of " , " free from " , " un- ", or that of a strengthening particle " thoroughly ".
nāma: ind. by name
pañcamaḥ sargaḥ (nom. sg.): the 5th canto

人馬心倶鋭 奔逝若流星
東方猶未曉 已進三由旬


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