Monday, January 20, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.5: Having Arrived, All Because of Buddha

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
tasyendra-kalpasya jayanta-kalpaḥ putro jarā-mtyu-bhayaṁ titīrṣuḥ |
ihābhyupetaḥ kila tasya hetor-āvām-upetau bhagavān-avaitu || 9.5

A son, like 'Victorious' Jayanta, of that Indra-like king,

Wishing to transcend the terror of aging and dying,

Has, it is said, come here.

May you, venerable one, see us two as having arrived because of him."

Today's verse is the 5th verse in the 9th canto of the poem that Aśvaghoṣa called buddha-carita.

Yesterday, in connection with the 4th verse in the 9th canto of the poem that Aśvaghoṣa called buddha-carita, we discussed the hidden meaning of the word mantra which, according to the MW dictionary, literally means “instrument of thought,” but which, in context, ostensibly expressed the work of a king's counsellor – i.e, strategic thinking.

Reflecting further on what kind of instrument of thought a mantra is, I remembered the story of a Thai monk (Ajahn Fun) who was famous for using the two syllables BUD-DHO as a kind of mantra in his vipassana meditation and teaching...


These two syllables, apparently, were just about the extent of Ajahn Fun's teaching. The Thai Royal Family would come to visit him, and he would just teach


The root √ budh means to wake up or be awake or be aware.
The ending -dha expresses the past participle.
So buddha as one unit of meaning means awakened or conscious, but if one recites the two syllables slowly the meaning manifests itself as something like
BUDH (waking up)... DHO (a pleasing sound a bit like Homer Simpson makes)...

A bloke who just sits, according to one view, eschews such a thing as a mantra, or “an instrument of thought.” But investigation of the practical usefulness of the Alexander mantra of “head forward and up,” as an instrument of thought and an instrument of waking up, and at the same time as an aid to lengthening and widening of the whole torso, caused me, for one, to drop off that stupid old Japanese view. This bit of progress on my part, I must say, was thanks in no small part to Marjory Barlow (tayā hetoḥ).

In the 3rd pāda of today's verse tasya hetoḥ ostensibly means “on account of him” – i.e. [we have arrived] in order to find him, the prince. But the real or suggested meaning, below the surface, might be we have arrived, because of him, or  thanks to him...

When in the epic tale of Beautiful Happiness, Nanda has arrived, Aśvaghoṣa describes him as having become nothing but himself:
Having attained to the seat of arhathood, he was worthy of being served. Without ambition, without partiality, without expectation; / Without fear, sorrow, pride, or passion; while being nothing but himself, he seemed in his constancy to be different. // SN17.61 //
But when Nanda himself tells the Buddha about his having arrived, Nanda, like the king's two emissaries in today's verse, says it is all thanks to the Buddha, all because of him (tasya hetoḥ):
Like gaining safety after great danger; like gaining release after long imprisonment; / Like having no boat and yet gaining the far shore, after a mighty deluge; and like gaining clarity, after fearful darkness; // 17.68 // Like gaining health out of incurable illness, relief from immeasurable debt, / Or escape from an enemy presence; or like gaining, after a famine, plentiful food: // 17.69 //Thus have I come to utmost quiet, through the quieting influence of the teacher. / Again and repeatedly I do homage to him: Homage, homage to the Worthy One, the Realised One! // 17.70 // By him I was taken to the golden-peaked mountain, and to heaven, where, with the example of the she-monkey, / And by means of the women who wander the triple heaven, I who was a slave to love, sunk in girl-filled strife, was lifted up and out. // 17.71 // From that extreme predicament, from that worthless mire, up he dragged me, like a feeble-footed elephant from the mud, /To be released into this quieted, dustless, feverless, sorrowless, ultimate true reality, which is free from darkness. // 17.72 //I salute the great supremely compassionate Seer, bowing my head to him, the knower of types, the knower of hearts, / The fully awakened one, the holder of the ten powers, the best of healers, the deliverer: again, I bow to him. // SN17.73 //
A theme running through the present series of verses, then, going back to vinīta-ceṣṭau (in a modest/humble manner) in BC9.2, and sauhārda-śīghram (with good-hearted swiftness) in BC9.1, is the exemplary modesty and humility of counsellor and priest. Neither knowing counsellor nor veteran priest makes much of his own knowledge or his own seniority. On the contrary, as described yesterday, they describe themselves as adhīram (MW: deficient in calm self-command).

Apropos of which, I remember Marjory Barlow used to say that if we want to teach the FM Alexander Technique “modesty has got to be your middle name.” Or did she say “humility has got to be one's middle name”?

Any way up, the point might be that for a humble emissary, a servant, of any kind of king, it doesn't do to be too big-headed.

Perhaps that's why the example stays in the memory of the Thai teacher who, in a manner soemwhat reminiscent of Homer Simpson, was content not to venture beyond

tasya (gen. sg.): of him
indra-kalpasya (gen. sg.): who is Indra-like
kalpa: m. (ifc.) having the manner or form of anything , similar to , resembling , like but with a degree of inferiority , almost
jayanta-kalpaḥ (nom. sg. m.): Jayanta-like
jayanta: mfn. victorious ; m. the moon ; m. N. of a son of indra

putraḥ (nom. sg.): m. son
jarā-mṛtyu-bhayam (acc. sg. n.): fear of aging and death
titīrṣuḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. desirous of crossing (with acc. or ifc.)

iha: ind. here, in this world
abhyupetaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. approached , arrived at (acc.)
abhyupa- √i: to go near , approach , arrive at , enter
kila: " so said " " so reported " , pretendedly (kila is preceded by the word on which it lays stress)
tasya (gen. sg.): him
hetoḥ (gen sg.): m. " impulse " , motive , cause , cause of , reason for (loc. , rarely dat. or gen. ; hetunā,hetoḥ,hetave,hetau , " for a cause or reason " , " by reason of " , " on account of " [with gen. or comp. e.g. mama hetoḥ or mad-dhetoḥ , " on account of me "]

āvām (acc. dual): us two
upetau (acc. dual): mfn. one who has come near or approached , one who has betaken himself to , approached (for protection) , arrived at , abiding in
bhagavān (nom. sg. m.): mfn. possessing fortune; fortunate , prosperous , happy; glorious , illustrious , divine , adorable , venerable ; holy (applied to gods , demigods , and saints as a term of address , either in voc. bhagavan , bhagavas , bhagos [cf. Pa1n2. 8-3 , 1 Va1rtt. 2 Pat. , and viii , 3 , 17] f. bhagavatī m. pl. bhagavantaḥ ; or in nom. with 3. sg. of the verb ; with Buddhists often prefixed to the titles of their sacred writings)
avaitu = 3rd pers. sg. imperative ava-√i: to look upon , consider ; to perceive , conceive , understand , learn , know

王如天帝釋 子如闍延多
爲度老病死 出家或投此
我等爲彼來 惟尊應當知

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