Thursday, September 26, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.36: Thinking, Feeling, Action – and a Splendid Tree.

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Chāyā)
tato jaṭā-valkala-cīra-khelāṁs-tapo-dhanāṁś-caiva sa tān-dadarśa |
tapāṁsi caiṣām-anurudhyamānas-tasthau śive śrīmati vkṣa-mūle || 7.36

Then those men whose capital was painful practice

He saw, in matted locks, strips of bark, and flapping rags;

So seeing, and yet feeling towards their austerities a fond respect,

He remained there standing,
at the foot of an auspicious and splendid tree.

The first difficulty to deal with in today's verse is the passive present participle anurudhyamānaḥ in the 3rd pāda.

EBC's text has anubudhyamānas, and EBC translates tapāṁsi caiṣām-anubudhyamānaḥ as “considering their penances.”

EHJ's text, as per the old Nepalese manuscript (of which EBC only had copies) has tapāṁsi caiṣām-anurudhyamānaḥ which EHJ translates as “in deference to their austerities.” EHJ notes that to render anurudhyamāna 'considering' or 'approving', would go against the context.

I agree with EHJ that “considering” does not fit in the 3rd pāda, since the prince has done his considering already, as expressed in the first half of today's verse; the prince has arrived inwardly, by a process of reasoning, at his conclusion that asceticism is not the way (ayam-apy-amārga; “this also is not the path;” SN3.3). But since anurudhyamānaḥ is passive, and the root √rudh includes the meaning of to restrain or to touch [the heart], is there some sense that the Buddha-to-be, despite having arrived, on the basis of reason, at this view, still cannot help feeling a certain sneaking admiration for the stoic manner in which ascetics subject themselves to painful practices?

The double ca (in caiva in the 2nd pāda and caiṣām in the 3rd pāda) can be understood as expressing simultaneity (he saw/considered that and at the same time was subject to feeling this) or a “though - yet” relation (though now indeed he saw that, yet still he continued to feel this). 

If we understand anurudhyamānpaḥ like this, as an expression of what the prince couldn't help feeling, then the verse in the round can be read as climbing up the dialectic triangle of 
thinking (dadarśa ; he regarded / considered),
feeling (anurudhyamānaḥ ; while being touched / restrained by fondness / liking / respect) and
action (tasthau ; he stood).



So in his thinking mind/brain the prince had inwardly (and only temporarily) arrived at a view or conclusion, which was negative towards asceticism; and yet in his feeling heart he continued to be prey to feelings that were sympathetic towards painful ascetic practices. 

What counted, however, was his action. The karma that caused the Buddha-to-be to be the Buddha was primarily not a function of his reasoning and not a function of his feelings, but was a function of his action. (Action, carita, let us remember in passing is what this epic tale of Awakened Action, buddha-carita,  is all about.) And in his action, the Buddha-to-be refrained from doing what a lesser person might have done. He refrained from expressing his intellectual conclusion outwardly, in a manner that might be offensive to his hosts, and equally he refrained from simply running away. Nor did he follow his feeling of fondness and decide to grow matted locks. Rather what he did was to stand there, to stand firm – to practice the action of standing up.

Going further on up, Aśvaghoṣa may have been suggesting the readily observable truth that trees, on an individual basis, regardless of the views and habits of human beings, grow auspiciously and splendidly. Auspicious and splendid trees grow in the woods of Indian ashrams where would-be holy men go to practise asceticism; they grow in English farmers' fields where Londoners in large 4 x 4s go glamping; they grow in remote rain forests where monkeys howl unheard by any human ear; they grow in the middle of fields in the French countryside, providing shelter for cows; they grow on verges in leafy London suburbs; they grow on traffic islands in polluted city centres; they grow on top of cliffs, precariously, by the seaside; and so on. Even in Syria now, as millions of Syrians are forced to flee the fighting in their own country, even in the very midst of the human sectarian madness being expressed there, an auspicious and splendid tree is doubtless, somewere, just carrying on growing regardless. 

In order to save human beings from their sectarian madness, I believed when I lived in Tokyo during my twenties, the best hope would be for the likes of me to convey to everybody my teacher's teaching of four philosophies, or three philosophies and one reality. 

The belief was arrived at not on the basis of real experience, but on the basis of reason. In retrospect, I think there may have been more sectarian madness in me and my delusions of grandeur than there was anywhere else in the world. Am I free of those delusions yet? Probably not, I suspect. If I am, even for a moment, that might be the nearest I get to nirvāṇa. But what I am rather doing, here and now, writing this blog, in all probability, is giving vent to those lingering delusions. And the flag counter continues to indicate that nobody much cares ...

In the end, what was Bodhidharma's intention in going from India in the west to China in the east?

Just the practise of Zazen! Just sitting! cry conscientious Zen practitioners with one voice. But that wasn't the answer of the Tang dynasty Zen master known in Japanese as Joshu Jushin (Ch: Zhaozhou Congshen).

tataḥ: ind. then
jaṭā-valkala-cīra-khelān (acc. pl. m.): with their dreadlocks, bark garments, and strips waving
jaṭā: f. the hair twisted together (as worn by ascetics , by śiva , and persons in mourning)
valkala: mn. the bark of a tree , a garment made of bark (worn by ascetics &c )
cīra: n. a strip , long narrow piece of bark or of cloth , rag , tatter , clothes ; the dress of a Buddhist monk (cf. cīvara, n. the dress or rags of a religious [esp. Buddhist or Jain] monk)
khela: mfn. moving , shaking , trembling
cela [Schulz]: n. clothes , garment ; ifc. " the mere outward appearance of " , a bad representative of (e.g. bhāryā-cela n. " a bad wife ")

tapo-dhanān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. rich in religious austerities , (m.) a great ascetic
dhana: n. the prize of a contest or the contest itself (lit. a running match , race , or the thing raced for; booty , prey ; any valued object , (esp.) wealth , riches , (movable) property , money , treasure , gift ; capital (opp. to vṛddhi interest)
ca: and
eva (emphatic)
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tān (acc. pl. m.): them
dadarśa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. dṛś: to see , behold , look at , regard , consider ; to see with the mind , learn , understand ;

tapāṁsi (acc. pl.): n. ascetic practices
ca: and ; ca-ca, though-yet; ca-ca may express immediate connection between two acts or their simultaneous occurrence
eṣām (gen. pl. m.): of these
anurudhyamānaḥ = nom. sg. m. pres. part. passive anu- √ rudh: to bar (as a way) ; to surround , confine , overcome ; Passive, to adhere to , be fond of , love ; to coax , soothe , entreat ; mfn. adhering to , loving
anurodha: m. obliging or fulfilling the wishes (of any one) ; obligingness , compliance ; consideration , respect
√ rudh: to obstruct , check , arrest , stop , restrain , prevent , keep back , withhold ; to touch , move (the heart)
anubudhyamānaḥ [EBC] = nom. sg. m. pres. part. passive anu- √ budh: to awake ; to recollect ; to learn (by information)

tasthau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. sthā: to stand, stand firm, stand there ; to stay , remain , continue in any condition or action
śive (loc sg. n.): mfn. auspicious
śrīmati (loc sg. n.): mfn. beautiful , charming , lovely , pleasant , splendid , glorious
vṛkṣa-mūle (loc sg. n.): at the root of a tree

諸長宿梵志 蓬髮服草衣
追隨菩薩後 願請小留神 
菩薩見諸老 隨逐身疲勞
止住一樹下 安慰遣令還

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