Friday, February 21, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.36: The Quitter Separates Himself

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Mālā)
ihaiti hitvā svajanaṁ paratra pralabhya cehāpi punaḥ prayāti |
gatvāpi tatrāpy-aparatra gacchety-evaṁ jane tyāgini ko 'nurodhaḥ || 9.36

Here the quitter comes, having left relations elsewhere. 

Eluding them here as well, off he goes again.

Even after going there, again he goes, to yet another place.

What attachment can there be towards such a serial deserter?

A quitter never wins, they say, and a winner never quits.

To paraphrase (and subvert) the motivational maxim beloved of American football coaches:
A quitter is a loser, and a loser is one who quits.

A loser in the subversive sense means a practitioner who loses his own body and mind, or a worker who has forgotten his own body and life, or a happy wanderer who has lost himself in his surroundings.

Thus is the bodhisattva in today's verse, as I hear him, expressing the realization of one who has already taken to the life of freedom from attachments of the wandering beggar.

Pra-√labh is given in the dictionary as 1. to lay hold of, seize; 2. to get, obtain ; 3. to overreach, cheat, deceive, befool. The third of these definitions would seem to apply in today's verse, as a description of the behaviour of a man who defies the attempts of others to tie him down.

Hence in the 2nd pāda EBC translates pralabhya as “having stolen away from them,” EHJ as “he gives them the slip,” and PO as “having tricked them.” PO adds a footnote, which seems as reasonable as far as it goes: “The trickery here may consist in the relatives thinking that their link to him is permanent.”

To me pralabhya in today's verse suggests something akin to a rugby player who evades a tackle by selling his opponent the dummy – sidestepping or wrong-footing others who would like to get the player in their clutches. In other words, I am thinking of the kind of sidestep with which the legendary Phil Bennet used to confound opponents in the 1970s, as opposed to the less indirect approach (the so-called Maori sidestep) with which the equally legendary Jonah Lomu used to confound opponents in the 1990s.

In the 4th pāda, the old Nepalese manuscript, along with the copies on which EBC based his text, has
evaṁ jano yogini ko 'nurodhaḥ.
what consideration can the yogin have for them? (EBC)

But EBC noted:
The Tibetan has for the fourth line de·ltar (evaṁ) odor·ldan skye·la rjes·su rten rnam ci, ‘thus what kind of reliance is there on man who is of a leaving disposition?’ Should we read in the orginal ity-evaṁ jane tyāgini ko ’nurodhaḥ?

EHJ noted that the difference between yogini and tyāgini paleographically is minute and so he saw no reason for not accepting the reading of the Tibetan translation. 

Either way, today's verse as I read it is about freedom, and it has stimulated me to reflect again on the meaning of the direction “back to lengthen and widen” or “spine to lengthen, back to widen.”

(For fear of falling too deeply into hypocrisy, I have to bring the discussion back to the area of my only virtue, which is regularly sitting in lotus.)

The point is that directing the spine to lengthen vertically is absolutely a true teaching and the right direction when sitting in lotus. But if one reacts to this stimulus on the basis of faulty sensory apprecation, or habitual misuse of the self, lengthening is gained at a cost in terms of loss of freedom, in terms of tightening. So I want the spine to lengthen in such a way that the back does not narrow; in other words, I want the spine to lengthen in such a way that the back widens.

So at this most fundamental of levels also, freedom is a function of separation – separation where the ribs meet the spine, the separation of shoulders releasing apart from each other, separation where the shoulders-blades meet the arms, separation in all the joints of the pelvis. Not pulling in. Not contraction. Releasing out. Expansion. Separation.

I write this primarily to remind my own stupid self what I want. Because if I don't remind myself – if, in other words, I am not truly mindful in deciding what I want – instinct takes over and emotion dictates what I want. 

Qu' est ce-que vous voulez? 

As opposed to habitual unconscious stiffening and fixity, and as opposed also to collapse, I want freedom, release, separation.

iha: ind. in this place , here ; to this place
eti = 3rd pers. sg. i: to go, to go away ; to go to or towards (with acc.) , come
hitvā = abs. hā: to leave, abandon
svajanam (acc. sg.): m. own people, kindred
paratra: ind. elsewhere , in another place , in a future state or world , hereafter

pralabhya = abs. pra- √ labh: to lay hold of , seize ; to get , obtain ; to overreach , cheat , deceive , befool
ca: and
iha: ind. here
api: also
punaḥ: ind. once more, again
prayāti = 3rd pers. sg. pra- √ yā: to go forth , set out , progress , advance ; to proceed

gatvā = abs. gam: to go
api: even, also
tatra: ind. there
api: even, also
apara-tra: ind. in another place
gaccha = 2nd pers. sg. imperative gam: to go
iti: “...,” thus
gacchati [EHJ] = 3rd pers. sg. gam: to go

evam: ind. thus
janaḥ (nom. sg.): m. people
yogini (loc. sg.): m. a devotee of yoga, practitioner
jane [EHJ] (loc. sg.): m. people
tyāgini [EHJ] = loc. sg. tyāgin: mfn. one who has resigned (as an ascetic who abandons worldly objects) ; m. a hero
tyāgin = tyājaka: mfn. one who abandons or expels
kaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who? which? what? (interrogative pronoun)
anurodhaḥ (nom. sg. m): m. obliging or fulfilling the wishes (of any one); obligingness , compliance ; consideration , respect
anu- √ rudh: to adhere to , be fond of , love ;
anurudh: mfn. adhering to , loving

此世違親愛 他世更求親
暫親復乖離 處處無非親

常合而常散 散散何足哀

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