tad-evam-abhiniṣkrāntaṁ na māṁ śocitum-arhasi |
bhūtvāpi hi ciraṁ śleṣaḥ kālena na bhaviṣyati || 6.16
So you ought not to grieve for me
Who thus am well and truly gone;
Since any union, for however long it has existed,
In time will cease to exist.
In the 1st pāda of today's verse evam-abhiniṣkrāntam “thus well and truly gone,” means gone into the forest as reliably and completely as described in yesterday's verse – i.e. with clarity of purpose, and no emotional volatility; in such a way, in other words, that the kind of backsliding into which Nanda will later be tempted to fall, is unlikely or impossible.
The 2nd pāda (1st line in translation) is an exhortation not to be emotional.
In the 3rd and 4th pādas, as I read them, the prince counterposes against an emotion like grief a reasoned examination of the real world, in which life is only possible, including at the molecular level, by the breaking and making of bonds.
The chemical formula for the oxidation of glucose during aerobic respiration, for example, is
C6 H12 O6 + 6 O2 –> 6 CO2 + 6 H2O
So when we sit practising mindfulness of breathing, the union of the carbon and hydrogen which are combined together in glucose is, for however long it has existed, now ceasing to exist.
This thinking on the part of the prince thus presages the wisdom that will later be shown by the enlightened Buddha in the famous story of the mustard seed and the grieving mother who, in this rendering of the story, is caused to reflect to herself: "How selfish am I in my grief!”
This causes me to reflect, in turn, on the importance in the 2nd pāda of mām (me). The prince is not attempting here to forestall grief per se, and nor does the enlightened Buddha negate the practical usefulness of grief per se; hence he tells Nanda in SN Canto 14:
In fear, in joy and in grief, 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, feel the grief. // SN14.27 //
What reasoned investigation of reality is being counterposed against, then, is feeing sorry for oneself because of the loss of a particular object, e.g. mām (me).
If we are to grieve loss, the implicit point seems to be, we might more wisely grieve for the loss inherent in the human condition, as played out on the slaughter-bench of history.
tad: ind. therefore
evam: ind. thus, in this way
abhiniṣkrāntam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. gone out towards ; having left the house (abl.) in order to become an anchorite
mām (acc. sg. m.): me
śocitum = inf. śuc: to suffer violent heat or pain , be sorrowful or afflicted , grieve , mourn at or for (loc. or acc. with prati)
arhasi (2rd pers. sg. arh): you ought
bhūtvā = abs. bhū: to be
api: even, however
ciram: ind. for a long time
śleṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): m. adhering or clinging to (loc.) ; connection , junction , union (also applied to sexual union); embracing , an embrace
kālena (inst. sg.): ind. instr. in the course of time
bhaviṣyati = 3rd pers. sg. future bhū: to be