Thursday, July 11, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.29: Learning a Purpose, Then It Doing It

śrutvā tu vyavasāyaṁ te yad-aśvo 'yaṁ mayāhtaḥ |
balāt-kāreṇa tan-nātha daivenaivāsmi kāritaḥ || 6.29

But when I learned from you your purpose, Master,

And I brought for you this horse,

I was caused to do it, inescapably,

By a doing which really was divine.

From BC6.31 through to the end of this monologue at BC6.41 Chandaka appeals directly to the prince not to abandon his father the king (6.31), his step-mother the queen (6.32), his wife Yaśodhara (6.33), his son Rāhula (6.34), and finally Chandaka begs that the prince should not abandon Chandaka himself (6.35).

In the verses leading up to these appeals, I have been trying to figure out the logical relation  between BC6.28 and BC6.29 indicated by tu (but); between BC6.29 and BC6.30 by hi (for); and between BC6.30 and BC6.31 by tad (so, therefore).

Ostensibly in yesterday's verse Chandaka expressed a doubt, BUT in today's verse he is recalling a vivid experience of being moved to act decisively, by some force beyond his ken, as was described in BC Canto 5:
He acquiesced, on those grounds, in his master's wisdom  –  Though he knew the meaning of a king's command – / And he made the decision, as if his mind were being moved by another, to bring the horse. //BC5.71//
Below the surface, however, the point of yesterday's verse was not to express a doubt. The point of yesterday's verse was to point to the surest standard there is, namely, 自受用三昧 (Jap: JI-JU-YO-ZANMAI), the samādhi of accepting and using the self.

In that case, what is the meaning of tu (but)?

Philosophically thinking, the meaning of tu might be like this: thesis A and anti-thesis B can co-exist harmoniously, BUT the synthesis is C.

So, for example, there is sitting with the body as opposed to sitting with the mind. And there is sitting with the mind as opposed to sitting with the body. BUT there is sitting as body and mind spontaneously dropping off and one's original features really emerging . . .   as opposed to “body and mind dropping off ” as a nice idea that I read about once in a book called Shobogenzo.

To put it another way, the meaning of tu might be like this: turning back to the samādhi of accepting and using the self is unquestionably the gold standard for the transmission of the Buddha-dharma, BUT never mind about that – just step right ahead, treading on the head of Vairocana Buddha.

In the second half of today's verse, in his discussion of being caused to do what he did forcibly, or inescapably, or against his own will, Chandaka seems in his anguish is be trying to absolve himself from responsibility of doing a deed which looks like getting him in hot water with the king. But what Aśvaghoṣa might really be doing, as also he did in BC5.71, is encouraging us to investigate the dynamic truth of non-doing – apropos of which here follows a selection of pertinent quotes from the Alexander Technique teacher Patrick Macdonald:
Of course non-doing is a kind of doing, but it is very subtle. The difference is that, in doing, you do it, whereas in nondoing, it does you.
It is noteworthy that the Alexander Technique, like Zen, tries to unlock the power of the unknown force in man. Compare the Zen “Let it do it” to Alexander's “allow your body to work as Nature wishes.”
You must learn to get out of the teacher's way, learn to get out of your own way, then learn to get out of ITS way.

Going further, or digging deeper, I think that into today's verse as into other verses where mention is made of a horse (aśva), Aśvaghoṣa is intending to put something of himself, in which case:

- the prince stands for the enlightened Buddha;

- the prince's purpose stands for the Buddha's one great purpose (Skt: paramārtha ; Ch: 一大事因縁 ; Jap: ICHI-DAIJI-INNEN);

- bringing this horse means serving up oneself, evam-ādi, with words like these, and otherwise... but mainly otherwise.

When, in answer to the question of what the purpose was of Bodhidharma coming from the west, for example, Taiso Eka served up himself, without any words like these but only otherwise. That kind of effort, or that kind of realization, might be what Aśvaghoṣa has in mind with the metaphor of being caused, by some unknown force, to bring forth a horse.

When some unknown force took Taiso Eka's reins and caused him inescapably to get the marrow, there were no words like these. But when other heirs to Bodhidharma's dharma got his skin, flesh, and bones, there were excellent and valuable words – golden words like nivartakaḥ, “turning back,” and turning words like nair-guṇyam, “the virtue of being without.”

śrutvā = abs. śru: to hear , listen or attend to anything (acc.) , give ear to any one (acc. or gen.) , hear or learn anything about (acc.) ; to hear (from a teacher) , study , learn ; to be attentive , be obedient , obey
tu: but ; sometimes used as a mere expletive
vyavasāyam (acc. sg.): m. strenuous effort or exertion ; settled determination , resolve , purpose , intention [5.33; 5.39; 5.47]
te (gen. sg.) your

yad: that , in which case, when
aśvaḥ (nom. sg.): m. horse
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this
mayā (inst. sg.): by me
āhṛtaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. mfn. brought near , fetched ,

balāt (abl. sg.): .n. power, force; balāt " forcibly , against one's will , without being able to help it "
kāreṇa (inst. sg.): mfn. a maker, doer ; an author ; m. (ifc.) an act , action ; m. effort , exertion ; m. determination ; m. a husband , master , lord ; m. ( √2. kṛ) , a song or hymn of praise
tad: ind. then, at that time ; thus , in this manner , with regard to that
nātha (voc.): m. a protector , patron , possessor , owner , lord

daivena (inst. sg.): mfn. (fr. devá) belonging to or coming from the gods , divine , celestial ; n. divine power or will , destiny , fate , chance (°vāt ind. by chance , accidentally)
eva (emphatic)
asmi = 1st pers. sg. as: to be
kāritaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. caused to be made or done

初命我索馬 下情甚不安
天神見驅逼 命我速莊嚴 


jiblet said...

Small point, Mike -

In the vocab, you've missed the long a in mayā.

I took a look at EBC's transliteration (initially to see how he dealt with kāreṇa daivena asmi kāritaḥ) and noticed that he reads mayāṛhtaḥ (the manuscript?) as mayā hṛtaḥ. Your reading - mayā āhṛtaḥ - seems more likely to me. For what it's worth.

That's all.

...Apart from passing on a thought I had, having not bothered to check into your blog for a couple of days -

It's remarkable to me that you've kept up this demanding verse-a-day commitment for as long as you have. There's no way I could ever do such a thing. No way. Just the kind of guy you are, I suppose; someone caused to do something, inescapably, by...something or other?

Anyway, whoever/whatever's doing the doing - thanks.

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Malcolm.

I changed the maya to mayā in the vocab.

mayā + āhṛtaḥ is as per the Clay Sanskrit Library version whose conventions for punctuation, I must acknowledge, are very handy.

I have got EBC's variant noted already on the text file I prepare as I go along, but didn't bother to mention it here as the meaning is not materially affected.

Not sure if you are describing a kind of heroism there at the end, or a kind of OCD. But thanks anyway.