Thursday, October 3, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.43: Abiding - As a Means of Lifting Others Up

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (ddhi)
ime hi vāñchanti tapaḥ-sahāyaṁ tapo-nidhāna-pratimaṁ bhavantam |
vāsas-tvayā hīndra-samena sārdhaṁ bhas-pater-apy-udayāvahaḥ syāt || 7.43

For these want as their companion in ascetic practice

You who resemble a repository of ascetic practice
[or who represent the laying aside of asceticism] –

Because abiding with you, the equal of Indra,

Would be a means of lifting up even Bṛhas-pati,
'the Lord of Spiritual Growth.' ”

The speaker says that the privilege of abiding with the prince bṛhaspater-abhyudayāvahaḥ syāt, lit. “might be what conveys uplift to Bṛhas-pati”; or, if we accept Luders' reading, bṛhaspater-apy-udayāvahaḥ syāt, “might be what conveys uplift even to Bṛhas-pati.” 

Luders' reading, EHJ notes, is better than the text, but not adequately substantiated by the Tibetan translation. In memorizing today's verse (or at least committing it to short-term memory) I found myself reciting api rather than abhi- and so I can't help thinking that Luders' reading is indeed more likely, and have gone with that :--  
bṛhaspater-apy-udayāvahaḥ syā 
lit. “might be what conveys uplift even to Bṛhas-pati” 
i.e., “would be a means of lifting up even Bṛhas-pati.”

Whether we read 
api + udaya + āvahaḥ
abhyudaya + āvahaḥ
the ud- of udaya originally means up

 The three professors translated abhyudayāvahaḥ syāt as “would bring prosperity” [EBC] or “would bring sucess” [EHJ/PO], which is literal enough but fails to convey any connotation of 仏 向 (BUTSU KOJO [no] JI), the matter of buddha going on up.

What it really means to go up. That is the question. That is question number one that I have been investigating these past thirty years -- largely unsuccessfully, I feel at the moment. Nothing is more impermanent than my feelings, but I don't feel so happy living in the crowded Southeast of England, just as I wasn't really happy living in crowded Tokyo. Ironically, we came to Aylesbury 18 years ago because there was in Aylesbury an Alexander teacher training school – a place to study what it really means to go up. Aylesbury turned out to be a good place for our sons to get an education, since they passed their eleven plus exams and went to Aylesbury Grammar School. Now they have flown the nest, and the Alexander training school has long since moved elsewhere. But here I am, not like a dragon who found water, still stuck in Aylesbury... and just at the moment it is getting me down. That being so, my wife would surely agree, abiding with me might not be an effective means of lifting up Bṛhas-pati.

As a noun, bṛh means prayer, and as a verbal root it means to grow thick, fat, or strong, so Bṛhas-pati's name conveys the sense of a man who is uppermost in the arena of Spiritual Growth – an ancient Indian equivalent of the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The veteran practitioner, then, in telling the prince that abiding with him would boost up even Bṛhas-pati, is ending his monologue on a note of high praise.

How we understand this praise, however, once more depends on whether we rate the veteran practitioner as one of them or as one of us.

As one of them, when he describes the prince as tapo-nidhāna-pratimam he means “you are like a repository of/for ascetic practice.”

But ni-√dhā, as well as meaning “to deposit a treasure for safekeeping” also means “to put down,” “to bury” or “to bring to an end.” So as well as meaning “a repository,” nidhāna means “a place of cessation or rest.”

To add a further layer of ambiguity, nidhāna can also mean (as EHJ points out in a footnote) the ritual putting down of the sacred fires, in which case tapaḥ is perhaps to be understood as the 'heat' (tapas) of a fire.

In any event, the 2nd pāda of today's verse, as I read it, is playing on the multiple meanings of nidhāna in such a way as to allow us to hear the veteran practitioner not only as one of them ascetic others, but also as one of us. As one of us, he is presaging that the Buddha-to-be will cause asceticism to be, if not buried, then at least laid aside.

The 3rd pāda of today's verse begins with the word that concluded yesterday's verse, vāsaḥ (abiding). And vāsaḥ may be taken as suggesting what the most basic task of sitting-meditation is – because it is most basically a matter, for the first hour of the day, or for however many minutes one has decided to sit, of simply staying there.

Going further, but hopefully not too far (because I have been known to push things too far), I would like to return for a moment to the double use of vāsaḥ in yesterday's verse. In yesterday's verse as I commented on it vāsaḥ  was used in the 3rd pāda to suggest inactivity (no desire to dwell) and in the 4th pāda to suggest sitting-meditation itself (on the act of abiding, let light be shone). Reflecting on this causes me to think that vāsaḥ can be read as parallel or equivalent to ni-vṛtti, which insofar as it means “withdrawal/abstention from active life” suggests inactivity, but which insofar as it means “non-doing” expresses action itself, in its purest form.

This action, in Alexander work, is called the right thing doing itself or, for short, going up.

In the end, I suspsect that when Aśvaghoṣa put into the mouth of the veteran ascetic the words vāsas-tvayā sārdham, “abiding together with you,” Aśvaghoṣa might secretly have had in mind the ultimate teaching of the Buddha on the night before he died – i.e. having small desire, being content, and enjoying peace and quiet. Enjoying peace and quiet, the Buddha explained, means living alone  in a quiet place -- or, in other words, abiding in solitude. 

ime (nom. pl. m.): these ones
hi: for
vāñchanti = 3rd pers. pl. vāñch: to desire , wish , ask for , strive after , pursue
tapaḥ-sahāyam (acc. sg. m.): a companion in ascetic practice
sahāya: m. " one who goes along with (another) " , a companion

tapo-nidhāna-pratimam (acc. sg. m.): who is like a place for laying asceticism down / aside [EBC: who art like a storehouse of penance; EHJ: who are as it were a depositary of asceticism; PO: who are the store of ascetic toil]
nidhāna: n. putting or laying down , depositing , keeping , preserving ; laying aside ; placing (the sacrificial fire) ; place for depositing anything , receptacle ; a place of cessation or rest ; anything laid up , a store , hoard , treasure
ni- √ dhā: to put or lay down , deposit , lay up , preserve ; (with bhūmau or avaṭe to bury) ; to keep down , restrain ; to end , close
pratimā: likeness; (ifc. like , similar , resembling , equal to )
bhavantam (acc. sg.): m. your honour , your worship , your lordship or ladyship , you (lit. " the gentleman or lady present ")

vāsaḥ (nom. sg.): m. staying , remaining (esp. " overnight ") , abiding , dwelling , residence
tvayā (inst. sg.): with you
hi: for
īndra-samena (inst sg.): who is like Indra
sama: mfn. same , equal , similar , like , equivalent , like to or identical or homogeneous with
sārdham: ind. jointly , together , along with , with; mfn. joined with a half

bṛhaspateḥ (gen. sg.): m. (fr. bṛh pati ; cf. brahmaṇas-pati) " lord of prayer or devotion " N. of a deity (in whom Piety and Religion are personified ; he is the chief offerer of prayers and sacrifices , and therefore represented as the type of the priestly order , and the purohita of the gods with whom he intercedes for men ; in later times he is the god of wisdom and eloquence , to whom various works are ascribed ; he is also regarded as son of aṅgiras , husband of tārā and father of kaca , and sometimes identified with vyāsa ; in astronomy he is the regent of Jupiter and often identified with that planet)
bṛh: prayer
√bṛh: to be thick , grow great or strong , increase
pati: m. a master , owner , possessor , lord , ruler , sovereign
abhyudayāvahaḥ (nom. sg. m.): what brings happiness
abhyudaya: m. sunrise or rise of luminaries (during or with reference to some other occurrence) ; elevation , increase , prosperity , happiness , good result
api [Luders]: even
udaya [Luders]: m. going up , rising ; swelling up ; rising , reaching one's aim , elevation ; success , prosperity , good fortune ; profit , advantage , income
āvaha: mfn. bringing ; what bears or conveys
syāt = 3rd pers. sg. optative as: to be

此諸梵志等 常求苦行伴
汝爲苦行長 云何相棄捨
若能止住此 奉事如帝釋
亦如天奉事 毘梨訶鉢低 

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