Sunday, June 30, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.18: Leaving Sorrow & Turning Back

śoka-tyāgāya niṣkrāntaṁ na māṁ śocitum-arhasi |
śoka-hetuṣu kāmeṣu saktāḥ śocyās-tu rāgiṇaḥ || 6.18

For me who has left, to leave sorrow behind,

You ought not to sorrow.

Those stuck on sorrow-causing desires –

Carriers of the taint of redness, rather,
are the ones to sorrow for.

There is no word in the English dictionary that adequately translates the Sanskrit rāgin, which as a noun is given in the Sanskrit-English dictionary as “lover” or “libertine,” but which as an adjective means dyed or coloured, and especially dyed or coloured red. The English word that might come closest, in my mind, would be “redster.” Such a word is not recorded in the English dictionary, yet – though an internet search reveals that redster is a brand name for a kind of ski boot, and it has been used as a term of affection for a gaudily-painted Chevrolet pick-up truck. In any event, today's verse seems to provide a kind of definition of what a human redster is – redster: one who is stuck on the desires that cause sorrow.

As regards the gist of today's verse, it seems worthy of note that the prince, before he became the enlightened Buddha, already had the recognition that sorrow is rooted in certain desires. This recognition, then, can be understood to be associated not only with the ultimate realization of the four noble truths by one who is no longer tainted by redness; but also with anybody's (even a redster's) establishment of the will to realize the truth.

Inhibition of, or in other words, turning back from, the redness of sorrow-causing desires, is the third noble truth (śāntir-iyam); and the prince was aware of it long before he prepared a seat for himself under the bodhi tree. What changed under the bodhi tree, I suppose, is that the Buddha must have come into full possession of inhibition as something more than a true principle; hence ayam-upāyahere is a means.

This, I think, was Dogen's confidence when he came back in his twenties from China to Japan. He had the confidence of a man in full possession of a means of inhibition – not only knowledge, that is, of the truth of inhibition. Though he was not yet 30 years old, Dogen already knew the path, as a turning back. 

In the title of the present canto, chandaka-nivartanaḥ, chandaka is ostensibly the object of nivartanaḥ – Turning Back Chandaka. But I think what is really going on is that Aśvaghoṣa is using chandaka as a stimulus to investigate various aspects of nivartanaḥ – In Relation to Chandaka, Turning Back.

Ostensibly Aśvaghoṣa's purpose in Buddha-carita is to tell the story of the Buddha's life or the Buddha's career, from before his birth to after his death, following the direction of Time's arrow. But Aśvaghoṣa's real purpose, in every verse he wrote, is not that. Hence in SN Canto 16 he has the Buddha tell Nanda:
Comprehend, therefore, that suffering is doing; witness the faults impelling it forward; / Realise its stopping as non-doing; and know the path as a turning back // SN16.42 //

Learn the backward step of turning the light and letting it shine

nivartakaṃ cāpy-avagaccha mārgam
and know the path as a turning back.

śoka-tyāgāya (dat. sg.): for the quitting of sorrow
śoka: m. sorrow , affliction , anguish , pain , trouble , grief
tyāga: m. leaving , abandoning , forsaking ; quitting
niṣkrāntam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. gone out , departed , come forth

na: not
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

śoka-hetuṣu (loc. pl. m.): the causes of sorrow
kāmeṣu (loc. pl.): m. desires

saktāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. clinging or adhering to , sticking in (loc); fixed or intent upon , directed towards , addicted or devoted to , fond of , engaged in , occupied with (loc. )
śocyāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. to be sorrowed for ; to be lamented , deplorable , miserable
tu: but
rāgiṇaḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. (fr. √ rañj , and rāga) coloured , having a partic. colour ; red ; m. a painter ; a lover , libertine

爲斷憂出家 勿爲子生憂
五欲爲憂根 應憂著欲者 

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