Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.6: A Mysterious One-to-One Transmission, between Devotees of Other Work

sarvathāsmy-anya-kāryo 'pi ghīto bhavatā hdi |
bhart-snehaś-ca yasyāyam-īdśī śaktir eva ca || 6.6

While altogether absorbed in alternative pursuit,

I am taken into the heart by you –

You who possess this allegiance to a master

And at the same time such proactive power.

The teachers I have taken into my core have all been oddballs who I took into my core while they were absorbed in their own alternative pursuit.

Describing Alexander work, for example, as “a funny business,” my Alexander head of training Ray Evans used to say “In a funny business, you meet some funny people.” From where Ray sat, no doubt, I was one of those funny people.

Again, Marjory Barlow used to describe herself as “a bit of an oddball.”

And of course the oddball who, for better or for worse, I accepted most deeply into my core when I was an impressionable and idealistic youth, was that self-confessed ippiki ookami (lone wolf) Gudo Nishijima. Gudo's main teachers, in turn, were the infamously alternative Kodo Sawaki and the less well-known Renpo Niwa – whom Gudo revered as “not like other Zen priests.”

In a kind of demonstration not only of the meaning of anya (different, other, alternative, odd, unconventional, unorthodox, individual, independent) in the 1st pāda but also of the meaning of the 3rd and 4th pādas of today's verse, as I read them, Master Kodo Sawaki used to say that buddha can do this (joining hands and bowing) and buddha can do this (pulling eyelid down with index finger and sticking tongue out).

The real or hidden meaning of today's verse, then, as I read it, centres once again on the irony implied by anya (other, different, alternative) which, like vikṛta (deformed, irregular) in BC Canto 5 means not necessarily conforming to generic assumptions and expectations.

Anya-karyaḥ, literally means “having other/different/alternative work to do.” So ostensibly the prince is saying to Chandaka something along the lines that a sentimental husband might say, on Valentine's Day, to a loving wife he has been neglecting, because of having other work to do: “While I have been so busy with other things, my darling, you have been clasping me to your heart, and so please accept these flowers and chocolates as a token of my appreciation...”

The irony might be that what anya really points to is the whole area which is different from, or opposed to, such sentimentality. That alternative area is what my Zen teacher Gudo Nishijima liked to call, in his stupid, simplistic, reductionist way “balance of the autonomic nervous system." Or sometimes he called it, less culpably, "the state of plus / minus zero." What Gudo was endeavoring to describe, in any event, was what Dogen called the standard for the one-to-one transmission of the Buddha's dharma, namely, 自受用三昧 (Jap: JI-JU-YO-ZANMAI), the samādhi of accepting and using the self. 

So what anya-kāryaḥ, “being absorbed in other work,” suggests to me, again, as discussed yesterday, is what Dogen called the standard for the one-to-one transmission of the Buddha's dharma, namely, 自受用三昧 (JI-JU-YO-ZANMAI), the samādhi of accepting and using the self.

In that case, the secret meaning of “I am taken into the heart by you” might be to point to the essential mechanism of that one-to-one transmission, called in Chinese/Japanese 以心伝心 (I-SHIN-DEN-SHIN), “the heart/mind being transmitted by means of the heart/mind,” and explained by Gudo Nishijima using the analogy of sympathetic resonance between tuning forks.

So ostensibly in the phrase gṛhīto bhavatā hṛdi, “I am taken into the heart by you,” the heart suggests the seat of feeling and emotion, as reflected in the translations of EBC (“Bent even though I am on other business, I am wholly won in heart by thee”), EHJ (“Although I am entirely given up to other matters, I am gripped to the heart by you”), and PO (“I'm given wholly to other pursuits, yet you have clasped me to your heart”). But  if we translate  gṛhīto bhavatā hṛdi literally, “I am taken into the heart/core by you” the phrase could also be referring to work that is as far removed from sentimentality as is the physical phenomenon of sympathetic resonance between one uncaring tuning fork and another uncaring tuning fork.

Since Dosho Mike Port was kind enough a few years back to send me a complimentary copy of his book “Keep Me In Your Heart Awhile,” this seems an appropriate place to refer to that title.

When a Zen teacher asks his student “Keep me in your heart awhile,” does he mean “Please think sweet and sentimental thoughts about me from time to time?” I don't think so, but I don't know. Maybe in the case of Dosho's teacher, he did. But whether he did or not, there has to be more to it, or less to it, than that. Because the gold standard is not sentimental thoughts and feelings. The gold standard is 自受用三昧 (JI-JU-YO-ZANMAI), the samādhi of accepting and using the self.

In the second half of today's verse the Old Nepalese manuscript has īdṛśas sakta, while EBC has īdṛśaḥ śakta. Gawronski conjectured īdṛśī śaktir. EHJ went with īdṛśaḥ śaktir, accepting Gawronski's śaktir but taking īdṛśaḥ as referring to bhartṛ-snehaḥ in the 3rd pāda. I have followed Gawronksi whose īdṛśī śaktir (“such power”) seems to me to make for a stronger contrast between passive and active elements.

My conclusion, then, is that bhartṛ-snehaḥ (allegiance to a master) suggests something more passive, dependent or submissive, corresponding to the 自受 (JI-JU), accepting the self, of 自受用三昧 (JI-JU-YO-ZANMAI). Or corresponding to submissively joining hands and bowing.

And, accepting Gawronski's conjecture, īdṛśī śaktir eva (such proactive power) suggests something more active, independent and self-assertive, corresponding to the 自用 (JI-YO), using the self, of 自受用三昧 (JI-JU-YO-ZANMAI). Or corresponding to proactively pulling one's eyelid and showing one's tongue.



           自受                                                                     自用 
accepting the self                                                      using the self

A final reflection stimulated in me by today's verse has to do with time's arrow, which has only ever been observed to point in one direction. So when the prince says to Chandaka "I am taken into the heart by you," Chandaka is not expected to reciprocate. The turning back of Chandaka takes place within the forward flow of time. When prince and Chandaka, master and servant, each exhibits a balance of passivity and activity, then it is the master who is taken into the heart by the servant. In that sense, while each is passive and each is active, the master is active and the servant should be passive. 

sarva-thā: ind. in every way , in every respect , by all means ; altogether , entirely , in the highest degree , exceedingly
asmi = 1st pers. sg. as: to be
anya-kāryaḥ (nom. sg. m.): intent on a different task
anya: mfn. different, other
kārya: n. work or business to be done , duty , affair
anya-kāra: mfn. intent on other business
api: though, even

gṛhītaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. ( √grah) grasped , taken , seized , caught , held , laid hold of
bhavatā (inst. sg. m.): your honour , your worship , your lordship or ladyship , you (lit. " the gentleman or lady present ")
hṛdi (loc. sg.): n. the heart (as the seat of feelings and emotions) , soul , mind (as seat of thought and intellectual operations ; hṛdy avedin , " having no capacity of knowledge in the heart or mind " , said of animals) , breast , chest , stomach , interior (also in older language , " interior of the body ")

bhartṛ-snehaḥ (nom. sg. m.): affection for a master
bhartṛ: m. one who bears or carries or maintains ; a preserver , protector , maintainer , chief , lord , master
sneha: m. blandness , tenderness , love , attachment to , fondness or affection for (loc. gen. , or comp.)
ca: and
yasya (gen. sg.): of whom
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this

īdṛśaḥ [EHJ/EBC] (nom. sg. m.): mfn. endowed with such qualities , such
īdṛśī [Gawronski] (nom. sg. f.): mfn. endowed with such qualities , such
saktaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. clinging or adhering to , sticking in ; fixed or intent upon , directed towards , addicted or devoted to , fond of , engaged in , occupied with (loc. acc. with prati , or comp.)
śaktah [EBC] (nom. sg. m.): mfn. able , competent for , equal to , capable of (instr. gen. dat. loc. acc. of person with prati inf. , or comp.)
śaktiḥ [Gawronski/EHJ] (nom. sg.): f. power , ability , strength , might , effort , energy , capability ; regal power ; the energy or active power of a deity personified as his wife and worshipped by the śākta (q.v.) sect of Hindus under various names ; the creative power or imagination (of a poet)
eva: (emphatic)
ca: and

餘事不足計 唯取汝眞心
心敬形堪勤 此二今始見

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