Tuesday, January 14, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 8.87: Doing the Necessary

⏑⏑⏑⏑⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−⏑   Puṣpitāgrā
paramam-iti narendra-śāsanāt-tau yayatur-amātya-purohitau vanaṁ tat |
ktam-iti sa-vadhū-janaḥ sa-dāro npatir-api pracakāra śeṣa-kāryam || 8.87

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye 'ntaḥ-pura-vilāpo nāmāṣṭamaḥ sargaḥ || 8 ||

“Agreed!” said the two, 
in accordance with the order of the first among men.

And to that forest went the two of them, 
close advisor and family priest.

“Enough said!” said the lord of men. 
And along with daughters and queen,

He got on and did what remained to be done.

The 8th canto, titled Lamenting Within the Battlements, 
in an epic tale of awakened action.

The Buddha's truth is least authentically expressed in words when some pretentious Buddhist twit – like a 3rd-rate Alexander teacher going around doing a physical impersonation of somebody who is going up   has got the intention of expressing it. I myself, you understand, would never be guilty of such sins. Pretentious?  Moi 

For the most authentic, natural, and spontaneous expression of the Buddha's truth, conversely, it may be difficult to beat bird song.

But sometimes even a human word or a string of human words can strike us as expressing the Buddha's truth authentically, naturally, and spontaneously. Aśvaghoṣa's words fit easily into that category. So also, in my book, do the words of a bloke who is skilled in some practical arena when he says something to the effect of “Can do!”

The heroic car mechanic, or heroic plumber, or heroic dentist, who is there for us in a crisis, saying words like  "Can do" and "No problem," without any intention of ripping us off. 

That is how the words paramam and kṛtam strike me in today's verse.

In thinking how to translate those two words, I found myself reflecting on the French expressions D'accord and Voilà.

I tend to think of America, along with Germany, as filled with can-do types – not that I have spent much time in either country. In France, where I have spent time, people can be unbelievably impractical, in line with the stereotype of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. I think of experiencing massive traffic grid-lock after a mid-summer fireworks display, and being told, with a gallic shrug, “It is like this every year.” But on several occasions I have been impressed by how admirably practical French people can be – not least French artisans who take particular pride in their work. 

D'accord,” I remember my local mayor saying at the end of a brief exchange with the JCB-driver who was asking where he should dig the trenches for the drainage of a septic tank, “On fait comme ca” – “Agreed. We'll do it like that.”

The paramam at the beginning of today's verse, as I hear it, has got the same kind of practical ring to it. OK. Will do. No further discussion necessary. 

This kind of practical attitude, Aśvaghoṣa seems to wish to remind us, below the surface, as the present canto draws to a conclusion, is in accordance with the order / teaching / direction of the first among men. 

The corresponding French word for kṛtam at the beginning of the 3rd pāda might be voilà. Kṛtam literally means “[it is] done” or “[it is] finished,” but its usage in today's verse, as I hear it, is more akin to an expression, as voilà seems often to be used in France, that brings discussion to an end and points into the realm of practical reality. Something along the lines in English of “that's that” or “enough said.”

“Sorted!” according to the dictionary is an informal British adjective, meaning “organized, arranged, or dealt with satisfactorily.” So to my ears it has the right can-do register for today's verse, and also conveys the right meaning. But it has the drawback of being informal and British, in view of which I have translated kṛtam as “Enough said!”

For the past several verses, I have been blathering on as usual – not, I suspect, that anybody noticed – about not doing and non-doing. 

Such blathering on is, up to a point, in accord with the order, direction, or royal edict of a first among men named Marjory Barlow who, as documented here, demonstrated to me in practice that when it came to an action like moving a leg, the most important thing is what one does NOT DO.

But another thing I also noted during those lessons with Marjory Barlow is that she never dished out any praise until the action of moving a leg was actually accomplished, until the end in view was gained, until the deed was done. 

Doing without the principle of non-doing is not a skillful means of coming back to quiet. But there again, today's verse seems designed to remind us, there comes a point where it is necessary to go ahead and get the job done, treading on the head of Vairocana Buddha.

Enough said.

paramam: ind. yes , very well
iti: thus
narendra-śāsanāt (abl. sg.): following the order of the first among men
śāsana: n. an order , command , edict , enactment , decree , direction ; n. a royal edict
tau (nom. dual): those two

yayatur = 3rd pers. dual yā: to go
amātya-purohitau (nom. dual): the minister and priest
amātya: m. inmate of the same house , belonging to the same house or family ; " a companion (of a king) " , minister
amā: ind. (Ved. instr. fr. 2. áma q.v.) (chiefly Ved.) at home , in the house , in the house of (gen.) , with
ama: mfn. (pron.) this
purohita: m. the family priest
vanam (acc. sg.): n. forest
tat (acc. sg. n.): that

kṛtam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. done , made , accomplished ; n. (with saha or with instr.) " done with " , away with , enough of , no need of , &c (e.g. kṛtaṁ saṁdehena , away with doubt )
iti: thus
sa-vadhū-janaḥ (nom. sg. m.): with his wife; with his women
vadhū-jana: m. a woman or wife (also collectively , " women ")
sa-dāraḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. accompanied by a wife
dāra: m. pl. a wife (wives)

nṛ-patiḥ (nom. sg. m.): man-lord, king
api: also
pracakāra = 3rd pers. sg. perf. pra- √ kṛ: to make , produce , accomplish , perform , achieve , effect ; to make a person perform anything
śeṣa-kāryam (acc. sg. n.): what remained to be done
śeṣa-karaṇa: n. the doing what remains to be done
śeṣa: mn. remainder , that which remains or is left , leavings , residue (pl. " all the others ") , surplus , balance , effect , the rest
kārya: n. work or business to be done ; n. a religious action or performance

iti: thus
buddha-carite mahā-kāvye (loc. sg.): in an epic tale of Awakened Action
antaḥ-pura-vilāpaḥ: lamenting within the battlements
nāmā: ind. by name
aṣṭamaḥ sargaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the eighth canto

二人既受命 王與諸眷屬
其心小清涼 氣宣餐飮通


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