Wednesday, March 5, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.48: Opposite Approaches (You Cannot Do an Undoing)

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Māyā)
yā ca śrutir-mokṣam-avāptavanto npā gha-sthā iti naitad-asti |
śama-pradhānaḥ kva ca mokṣa-dharmo daṅḍa-pradhānaḥ kva ca rāja-dharmaḥ || 9.48

Again, as for the tradition that rulers of men realized liberation

While maintaining their status in the royal family – that is not so.

How can the dharma of liberation, 
in which peace is paramount,

Be reconciled with the dharma of a king, 
in which the rod is paramount?

Today's verse (along with the maligned and doubted 9.47[b]) brings to mind what FM Alexander, the re-discoverer of the secret of Zen for our time, wrote about the taking of the direct route, and the taking of an indirect route, being different – nay, opposite –conceptions:  
These terms stand for two different, nay, opposite conceptions and for two different procedures. According to the first or end-gaining conception, all that is necessary when an end is desired is to proceed to employ the different parts of the organism in the manner which our feeling dictates as necessary for the carrying out of the movements required for gaining the end, irrespective of any harmful effects due to misuse of the self during the process; a conception which implies the subordination of the thinking and reasoning self to the vagaries of the instinctive guidance and control of the self in carrying out the activities necessary to achieve the end. It will be seen therefore that end-gaining involves the conception and procedure of going direct for an end without consideration as to whether the "means-whereby" to be employed are the best for the purpose....

Understanding the incompatibility of two approaches, one of which is associated with “unduly excited fear reflexes and emotions,” and one of which isn't so associated, Alexander famously observed:

There is no such thing as a right position, but there is a right direction.

Though I am not sure who is echoing who, I do find a strong echo of this realization in the final verse of Nāgārjuna's Mūla-madhyamaka-kārikā (MMK, which might mean something like “A Concise Statement, from Bang in the Middle, of the Fundamental"). 

In that verse Nāgārjuna writes of the Buddha teaching the true dharma sarva-dṛṣṭi-prahāṇāya, “towards the abandonment of all views” or “in the direction of abandonment of all views.”

The significance of this phrase being in the dative, which expresses not something static, but movement in a direction, should not be overlooked.

If somebody overlooked it, it might be due to his or her lack of acumen as a translator. Or it might be due to a lack of appreciation of what, from bang in the middle, is truly most fundamental. 

What truly is most fundamental, in my book, is the truth of a right direction, there being no such thing as a right position.

yā (nom. sg. f.): [that] which
ca: and
śrutiḥ (nom. sg.): f. hearing , listening ; that which is heard or perceived with the ear , sound , noise ; that which has been heard or communicated from the beginning , sacred knowledge orally transmitted by the Brahmans from generation to generation , the veda
mokṣam (acc. sg.): m. emancipation , liberation , release
avāptavantaḥ = nom. pl. m. past active part. ava- √āp: to reach , attain , obtain , gain , get

nṛpāḥ (nom. pl.): m. 'protector of men'; king
gṛha-sthāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. ifc. living or staying in any one's house; m. a householder ; a Brahman in the 2nd period of his religious life (performing the duties of the master of a house and father of a family after having finished his studies and after investiture with the sacred thread)
iti: thus
na: not
etat (nom. sg. m.): this
asti: exists

śama-pradhānaḥ (nom. sg. m.): in which peace is paramount
pradhāna: n. a chief thing or person , the most important or essential part of anything; mfn. chief , main , principal , most important
kva - kva or kutra-kva (implying excessive incongruity) where is this? where is that? how distant is this from that? how little does this agree with that? (e.g. kva sūrya-prabhavo vaṁśaḥ kva cālpa-viṣayā matiḥ , how can my limited intellect describe the solar race? )
ca: and
mokṣa-dharmaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the dharma of release

daṅḍa-pradhānaḥ (nom. sg. m.): in which the rod is paramount
kva (see above)
ca: and
rāja-dharmaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the dharma of kings

處宮修解脱 則無有是處
解脱寂靜生 王者如楚罰 

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