Wednesday, July 31, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.49: Separation as Dropping Off, Among Ones Who Are Different

sahajena viyujyante parṇa-rāgeṇa pāda-pāḥ |
anyenānyasya viśleṣaḥ kiṁ punar-na bhaviṣyati || 6.49

Trees shed the redness

Of leaves generic to them;

How much surer is separation to come to pass

Between one individual and another one who is different.

A verse like today's verse, in my book, undermines the whole idea that the individual who is known as “the Buddha” founded a religion, or an ideology.

In the case of a religion or an ideology, the individual submits in the spirit of thy will be done.

In the Buddha's teaching as I hear Aśvaghoṣa transmitting it, both thy will be done and my will be done are subordinated to something else, something that transcends both subject and object, or something in the middle, and this subordination can only be realized on an individual basis. It cannot be imposed from above on a mass basis. 

In today's verse as in many other verses, the primacy of the individual is represented by the innocuous and yet totally subversive word anya, which means other, different, individual – in which case other might mean other than a concept, different might mean different from what was expected, and individual might mean not conforming to anybody's generic stereotype.

In the 3rd pada anyenānyasya combines the instrumental anyena, which means “by an individual” or “in the presence of an individual” or "through the agency of an individual" with the genitive anyasya which ostensibly means “from an individual” but which could also mean “in an individual" or “for an individual.”

Ostensibly anyenānyasya viśleṣaḥ means “the separation of one thing from another thing which is different from it” – in contrast with the shedding by a tree of the leaves which originally belong to it. Hence:

Since the trees are parted from the innate colour of their leaves, why should there not still more be the parting of two things which are alien to each other? (EBC)

Trees are parted from the colouring of their leaves, though it is connate with them. How much more then must there be a severance of one thing from another that is separate from it? (EHJ)

If innate leaves fall from trees as their colour turns, Why surely will not one being be severed from another? (PO)

To convey this ostensible meaning today's verse might be rendered:

Trees shed the redness of leaves generic to them; / How much more inevitable is separation of one individual from another one who is different? //

A more literal rendering of the instrumental and genitive in anyenānyasya, however, hints at the hidden meaning that I think Aśvaghoṣa had in mind:

Trees shed the redness of leaves generic to them; / How much surer is separation to come to pass through the agency of one individual  for/in another individual ? //

Read like this, today's verse might be alluding to the one-to-one transmission of that realization of separation which Dogen experienced in China as “body and mind dropping off.”

The shedding of body and mind suggests, at one and the same time, separation and union... 
"The fact to be faced is that the human self was robbed of much of its inheritance when the separation implied by the conception of the organism as 'spirit,' 'mind' and 'body' was accepted as a working principle, for it left unbridged the gap between the 'subconscious' and the conscious. I venture to assert that if the gap is to be bridged, it will be by means of a knowledge, gained through practical experience, which will enable us to inhibit our instinctive, 'subconscious' reaction to a given stimulus, and to hold it inhibited while initiating a conscious direction, guidance, and control of the use of the self that was previously unfamiliar."
"I suggest that only those who become capable of translating into practice what is involved in the procedure just described can justly claim to have experienced detachment in the basic sense."
-- F. M. Alexander, The Universal Constant in Living, 1946

In this quote, similarly, Alexander is discussing a kind of union, or coming together, i.e. the bridging of a gap between unconsciousness and consciousness. At the same time, what he writes is born of practical understanding of a process of coming undone, or bringing about a loosening ( = lit. meaning of viśleṣaḥ) of the grip of unconscious habit. Alexander is talking, in other words, about the possibility of sitting in a way that is separated, or dissevered, or disjoined from from the downward pull and forward push of unconsciousness. Hence the process can be called "separation." And it can also be called "turning back" or "turning back and up." 

What it all means in practice to me, as one non-generic oddball, is that four times a day I come back to sitting in full lotus, at which time I direct my head to go forward and up, this being a one-to-one transmission from Śākyamuni Buddha and at the same time a one-to-one transmission from FM Alexander.

sahajena (inst. sg.): mfn. born or produced together or at the same time as ; congenital , innate , hereditary , original , natural
viyujyante = 3rd pers. pl. passive vi- √ yuj: to be separated from or deprived of , lose (instr.)

parṇa-rāgeṇa (inst. sg.): by the colouration of their leaves
parṇa: n. a leaf
rāga: m. the act of colouring ; colour , hue , tint , dye , (esp.) red colour , redness ; any feeling or passion , (esp.) love , affection or sympathy for , vehement desire of , interest or joy or delight in (loc. or comp.) ; loveliness , beauty (esp. of voice or song)
pāda-pāḥ (nom. pl.): m. " drinking at foot or root " , a tree , plant

anyena (inst. sg.): by one (anya anya or eka anya , the one , the other)
anyasya (gen. sg.): of another
anya: mfn. other, different, opposed ; odd, individual
viśleṣaḥ (nom. sg.): m. loosening , separation , dissolution , disjunction , falling asunder ; separation (esp. of lovers)
vi- √ śliṣ: to be loosened or dissolved or relaxed ; to be divided or separated

kiṁ punar: ind. how much more? how much less? however, but
na: not
bhaviṣyati = 3rd pers. sg. future bhū: to be

譬如春生樹 漸長柯葉茂
秋霜遂零落 同體尚分離
況人暫合會 親戚豈常倶

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