Friday, September 27, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.37: Maturity & Respect

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Premā)
athopastyāśrama-vāsinas-taṁ manuṣya-varyaṁ parivārya tasthuḥ |
vddhaś-ca teṣāṁ bahu-māna-pūrvaṁ kalena sāmnā giram-ity-uvāca || 7.37

And so the ashram-dwellers stepped near

And stood surrounding that most excellent human being,

And the most mature among them, being full of respect,

Spoke in a soft voice these gentle words:

All buddhas of the ten directions and the three times
All revered and respected bodhi-sattvas and maha-sattvas

In the 3rd pāda of today's verse vṛddhaś-ca teṣām means the eldest among them and at the same the most developed or most experienced, the most mature, the one who has grown the most – vṛddha is the past participle from the root √vṛdh, which originally means to grow.

This most mature of ascetics described in today's verse is not a buddha, but he might be a maha-sattva, a great being. Which is not to say that asceticism is great, but is to acknowledge that even in sects of asceticism, and other schools that I don't wish to belong to, it is possible for great individuals to exist who are worthy of respect and reverence. 

As a rule, however, I don't think that the state of buddha is ever sectarian. So a sectarian buddha might be a contradiction in terms. 

After publishing yesterday's post, it occurred to me that I would like to start a campaign to end sectarian madness, and to say to anybody who would like to join with me: You are part of the problem!

As the Buddha-to-be stands now at the foot of an auspicious and splendid tree, he has made up his mind (at least for the moment) that asceticism is not the path and on that basis has set off out of the ashram. He has not wanted to express his conclusion to the ascetics in the ashram. He has felt no compulsion to tell them all that, in his judgement, they are barking up the wrong tree. He has simply made to leave. 

But since actions speak louder than words, the ascetics have seen him heading out, and they want to know why. In that sense, as the Buddha-to-be stands there now, surrounded by those sincere believers in an ascetic dharma, he really has entered the ascetic woods.

In BC7.48 the Buddha-to-be will tell the ascetics his conclusion (which is in fact not yet a conclusion, but only a view):
svargaya yuṣmākam ayam tu dharma mam' ābhilāṣas tv-apunar-bhavāya
This dharma of yours is directed towards heaven, 
but my desire is freedom from becoming.

I think Aśvaghoṣa is interested in the process whereby the Buddha-to-be is able to express this view without antagonizing the ascetics. And one of the circumstances which makes it possible for him to extricate himself harmoniously from the ascetic woods is the maturity shown by the veteran ascetic who is about to speak.

The implicit point that Aśvaghoṣa seems to be making in today's verse, then, and indeed throughout the present Canto, is that excellent human beings – whether the excellence is inherent or the outcome of a process of growth or age or experience – are able to agree to disagree, without antagonizing each other unduly.

Young sectarian firebrands of all stripes, in contrast, seem to wish to go out of their way to antagonize people who don't share their particular views. One such young firebrand, it may be argued, was the young Zen Master Dogen who, when he came back from China in his mid-twenties declaring in so many words that his return represented the entry point of the true Dharma into Japan, caused those he had antagonized – at least so the story goes as I heard it – to burn down his temple.

One might think that Zen, being about nothing if not attention and awareness (as opposed to trying unconsciously to be right), would be immune to sectarian folly. One might think the same about the FM Alexander Technique. And in that view one might be demonstrably wrong!

atha: ind. and so, then
upasṛtya = abs. upa- √ sṛ: to go towards, step near, approach
āśrama-vāsinaḥ (nom. pl. m.): the ashram-dwellers
tam (acc. sg. m.): him

manuṣya-varyam (acc. sg. m.): the best of men
manuṣya: m. a man , human being
varya: ifc. excellent , eminent , chief , principal , best of (gen. or comp.)
parivārya = abs. pari- √ vṛ : to surround
tasthuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. sthā: to stand

vṛddhaḥ (nom. sg.): m. an old man (ifc. " eldest among "); mfn. grown , become larger or longer or stronger , increased ; grown up , full-grown , advanced in years , aged , old , senior ; experienced , wise , learned ; exalted , joyful , glad
√ vṛdh: to increase , augment , strengthen , cause to prosper or thrive; to elevate , exalt , gladden , cheer , exhilarate ; to grow , grow up , increase , be filled or extended , become longer or stronger , thrive , prosper , succeed
ca: and
teṣāṁ (gen. pl. m.): of them, among them
bahu-māna-pūrvam: ind. with much respect

kalena (inst. sg. n.): mfn. low , soft (as a tone) , emitting a soft tone , melodious (as a voice or throat)
sāmnā = inst. sg. sāman: n. calming , tranquillizing , (esp.) kind or gentle words for winning an adversary , conciliation , negotiation
giram (acc. sg.): f. invocation , addressing with praise , praise , verse , song ; f. speech , speaking , language , voice , words
iti: thus
uvāca = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vac: to speak

梵志諸長幼 圍繞合掌請 

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