⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Haṁsī)
varaṁ hi bhuktāni tṇāny-araṇye toṣaṁ paraṁ ratnam-ivopaguhya |
sahoṣitaṁ śrī-sulabhair-na caiva doṣair-adśyair-iva kṣṇa-sarpaiḥ || 9.43
For foraging herbs, out in the wilds,
While clasping the highest contentment to one's breast
like a hidden jewel,
Is much better than living with the faults
That tend easily to go, like unseen black snakes, with royal glory.
The bodhisattva's metaphor comparing the faults to snakes brings to mind two metaphors used by the Buddha in SN Canto 16.
But balance (samādhiḥ) casts off the afflictions like a mountain casts off the mighty torrents of rivers. / The faults do not attack a man who is standing firm in balanced stillness (sthitaṁ samādhau): like charmed snakes, they are spellbound. // SN16.35 //
If their counteragent cannot be found and unreal fancies do not subside (naivopaśāmyeyur-asad-vitarkā), / They must not for a moment be left unchecked: no whiff of them should be tolerated, as if they were snakes in the house. // SN16.82 //
If we compare the bodhisattva's words and the Buddha's words, they are pointing in one and the same direction, namely, towards elimination of the faults – beginning with greed, anger, and delusion – that stem from thirsting.
The major difference might be that the Buddha has realized, and is clarifying for Nanda's benefit, a practical means-whereby a person can work in that direction, whereas the bodhisattva has yet to clarify such a method. At the centre of the method, when the bodhisattva does eventually clarify it, abandoning asceticism and defeating Māra, is the practice that was called in Chinese 三昧王三昧 (Jap: ZANMAI-O-ZANMAI), “the Samādhi which is King of Samādhis,” or “The State of Balanced Stillness which is King of States of Balanced Stillness.”
The ultimate kingship, then, might be a kind of kingship which is not easily attended by faults. It is not a kingship in which I am mindful of my power over others or my responsibility for others; it might be a kind of kingship in which I lose all ambition and totally forget everything.
In conclusion, neither the bodhisattva nor the Buddha hated the whole idea of royal glory (śrī), like some late 18th century revolutionary French intellectual, with guillotine standing by. But when it came to seeing faults as an enemy that should not be tolerated, the bodhisattva is already singing from the same hymn sheet that the Buddha would later sing from.
For just as a man afraid of thieves in the night would not open his door even to friends, / So does a wise man withhold consent equally to the doing of anything bad or anything good that involves the faults. // SN16.79 //
My great uncle on my father's side, Sir Eugene Cross, was a close friend of a better known working-class hero of the South Wales valleys, the Labour politician Nye Bevan. Eugene, at any rate, was certainly a hero to my grandfather, from whom I felt a certain unspoken pressure – especially after I passed an exam to go to the top school in my local area – to somehow follow in Uncle Eugene's footsteps, preferably finding spare time, along the way to rank and power, to play rugby for Wales.
Since my mother's father ran off when she was an infant and she was an only child, the only male blood relative I had as a role model on my mother's side was her grandfather Bill Haworth, a clog-wearing labourer in a Darwen paint factory, Mr. Nobody. A man of lower rank and less power, or less personal ambition, it would be difficult to imagine. A pipeful of strong tobacco and a half pint of ale at the Anchor Pub over the road were all that Bill Haworth aspired to.
On the face of it, the bodhisattva's words are an encouragement to me to emulate Bill Haworth, Mr. Nobody, and to totally to forget the unreal fancy (asad vitarka) of being somebody of momentous import like Uncle Eugene.
For whatever reason, I find that not so easy. Is it a question of naivopaśāmyeyur-asad-vitarkāḥ?
upaśāmyeyur = 3rd pers. pl. optative upa- √ śam: to become calm or quiet; to cease, become extinct
asad: not being , not existing , unreal ; untrue, wrong ; bad
vitarka: m. conjecture, supposition, fancy
Unreal fancies might not, indeed, subside.
Maybe so. But on further reflection, I come back to the title of the present canto, kumarānveṣāṇaḥ, one of whose meanings is "The Investigation of a Prince."
In some sense every bodhisattva, whether he or she likes it or not, is unavoidably a prince, a king-to-be, an heir to the original king of dharma. Moroever, when, even for a moment, he or she sits in full lotus and forgets everything, it must be already that the king of samādhis is sitting in full lotus and forgetting everything – in which condition of royal glory, the Buddha's teaching suggests, faults do not get a look-in.
varam: ind. preferably , rather , better (also = preferable , sometimes with abl. which in veda is often followed by ā e.g. agníbhyo váram , " better than fires " RV. ; sákkibhya ā́ váram , " better than companions " ib. ; exceptionally with acc. e.g. śiṣyaiḥ śata-hutān homān , ekaḥ putra-kut varam , " better one sacrifice offered by a son than a hundred offered by disciples " )
bhuktāni (nom. pl. n.): mfn. enjoyed , eaten , made use of , possessed &c
tṛṇāni (nom. pl.): n. grass , herb , any gramineous plant , blade of grass , straw (often symbol of minuteness and worthlessness)
araṇye (loc. sg.): n. a distant land ; a wilderness , desert , forest
toṣam (acc. sg.): m. ( √ tuṣ) satisfaction , contentment , pleasure , joy
param (acc. sg. m.): of the highest order ; better or worse than , superior or inferior to , best or worst , highest , supreme
ratnam (acc. sg.): n. a jewel , gem , treasure , precious stone (
iva: like, as if
upaguhya = abs. upa- √ guh : to hide , cover , conceal ; to clasp , embrace , press to the bosom
sahoṣitam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. one who has dwelt with another
saha: together with
uṣita = past. part. vas: to dwell , live , stop (at a place)
śrī-sulabhaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): easily obtained with royal glory
śrī: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory ; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches (śriyā , " according to fortune or wealth ") , high rank , power , might , majesty , royal dignity ; symbol or insignia of royalty
su-labha: mfn. easy to be obtained or effected , easily accessible or attainable , feasible ; fit or suitable for , answering to (mostly comp.)
doṣaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. fault , vice , deficiency , want , inconvenience , disadvantage
a-dṛśyaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): mfn. invisible , latent ; not fit to be seen
kṛṣṇa-sarpaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): black snakes