Monday, February 17, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.32: Towards Abandonment of the Guru

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Rāmā)
draṣṭuṁ priyaṁ kaḥ sva-janaṁ hi necchen-nānte yadi syāt-priya-viprayogaḥ |
yadā tu bhūtvāpi ciram-viyogas-tato guruṁ snigdham-api tyajāmi || 9.32

For who would not wish to see his nearest and dearest

If, in the end, there were no separation from loved ones?

But since separation, however long delayed, happens,

On those grounds the guru, however sticky with affection, I abandon.

Today's verse again can be read on more than one level.

That is the case whether one reads the 3rd pāda, as per EBC,
yadā tu bhūtvāpi bhaved-viyogaḥ
EBC: but since even after it has been once, separation will still come again,
or, as per EHJ,
yadā tu bhūtvāpi ciram-viyogaḥ
EHJ: But since, however long delayed, separation does take place.

The point is that separation, in accordance with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, sooner or later happens, and it is not necessarily a once-and-for-all occurrence, like a rock formation falling into the sea, but it invariably happens again and again, like rock becoming sand, and like drying sand being separated from water on the sea-shore.

On those grounds (tataḥ), the bodhisattva abandons the guru.

The guru means King Śuddhodana. At the same time the guru means what is heavy, what weighs a bodhisattva down. Hence:

Primary pathways were blocked by gates with heavy bars
[or by gates whose bars were gurus; guru-parigha-kapāṭa],

– Gates not easily opened, even by elephants –

But as the prince went into movement,

Those major arteries, noiselessly and spontaneously, became open.

Speaking of heaviness, I heard Marjory Barlow say, in Birmingham in 1995, something along the lines (quoting from memory) of “Shall I tell you something? The teaching of FM Alexander is the most serious thing in the world, the most important thing there is. But you mustn't take it seriously. If you are serious or heavy about it, it doesn't work.”

In the United States certain constitutional privileges, and tax advantages, are afforded to any old ragbag of absurd views, or any new cult, that weightily calls itself a religion. For that reason, the Zen establishment in America has got little to gain by asserting that the Buddha's teaching is not a religion. Except possibly that negating the view that “Buddhism is a religion” might help gain the credence of that minority of rational Americans who don't believe that God created the world in seven days. I like to think – maybe I flatter myself – that this minority of rational, irreligious Americans are the kind of Americans who read this blog.

My major guru, Gudo Nishijima, who had no financial interest in the matter of whether the Buddha's teaching is originally religious or not, often used to say that Buddhism was not a religion but was a philosophy. But from where I sit Buddhism as a philosophy is also something to abandon.

In any event, tomorrow I am going to the local hospital for a scan in preparation for which yesterday I had to fill out a form that asked me to specify my religion. In all honesty and without any hesitation, I wrote in capital letters one word:


draṣṭum = infinitive dṛś: to see
priyam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. dear, beloved
kaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who?
sva-janam (acc. sg. m.): kin, own people
hi: for
na: not
icchet = 3rd pers. sg. optative iṣ: to seek, to wish

na: not
ante (locs. sg.): in the end , at last
yadi: if
syāt= 3rd pers. sg. optative as: to be
priya-viprayogaḥ (nom. sg. m.): separation from the beloved

yadā: when, since
tu: but
bhūtvā = abs. bhū: to be, happen, occur
api: even
bhavet [EBC] = 3rd pers. sg. optative bhū: to be, happen, occur
ciram: ind. after a long time , slowly
viyogaḥ (nom. sg. m.): m. disjunction , separation (esp. of lovers) , loss or absence

tataḥ: ind. from that, on those grounds
gurum (acc. sg.): m. 'heavy one', guru ; any venerable or respectable person (father , mother , or any relative older than one's self)
snigdham (acc. sg. m.): mfn. sticky , viscous or viscid ; adhesive , attached , affectionate , tender , friendly , attached to or fond of (loc.)
api: even
tyajāmi = 1st pers. sg. tyaj: to leave , abandon , quit ; to give up , surrender , resign , part from , renounce

誰不重所生 以終別離故
正使生相守 死至莫能留
是故知所重 長辭而出家 

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