Friday, March 21, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.64: Striving for Release vs An Effort of Allowing

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
ke-cid-vadanty-ātma-nimittam-eva prādur-bhavaṁ caiva bhava-kṣayaṁ ca |
prādur-bhavaṁ tu pravadanty-ayatnād-yatnena mokṣādhigamaṁ bruvanti || 9.64 

There are others who say that the individual soul is the cause

Of both coming into being and being no more;

But whereas coming into being happens, they say, without effort,

Only by strenuous effort, they assert, is release attained.

According to a footnote by EHJ,

This verse refers to the Sāṁkhya; that ātman stands for the Sāṁkhya soul appears from BC12.20, and ayatnāt is equivalent to svabhavāt, which is the principle underlying the action of the eightfold prakṛti.

Whether the counsellor is borrowing ideas from the Sāṁkhya or from another source, it is evident that the counsellor is borrowing, rather than taking ownership of, the ideas he discusses.

The counsellor's own lack of conviction is emphasized by his repetition in the 1st, 3rd and 4th pādas of vadanti (they say), pravadanti (they say), and bruvanti (they say/proclaim).

Having considered the case, as other people make it, for not making any effort, the counsellor now crosses over and considers the case, as other people make it, for making effort.

What the counsellor is talking about, without knowing what he is talking about, is effort (yatna) and release (mokṣa).

So although the counsellor has switched to the other side and changed his viewpoint, my reading of what Aśvaghoṣa is up to remains the same. Aśvaghoṣa is goading us to engage our own grey matter and consider what effort is, and what release is, not in the shifting views of fickle people, but in the teaching of the buddhas.

In his negation of making effort, does the counsellor's view bear any comparison with the Buddha's teaching? No.

In his affirmation of making effort, does the counsellor's view bear any comparison with the Buddha's teaching? No.

In working in the direction of true release, or undoing (mokṣa), say those who know, considerable effort is required. But the effort is not an effort of unconscious striving. On the contrary, it is a conscious effort, an effort of allowing.

Hence Patrick Macdonald wrote:
In learning the [FM Alexander] Technique considerable effort on the part of the pupil is required. A first step is to learn what sort of effort is necessary. The first essay nearly always produces more muscular tension, particularly in the neck, and this is exactly the opposite of what is required. The pupil must learn to stop doing...

Finally, and on further reflection, I have criticized the counsellor for speaking only in the 3rd person plural, and have quoted Alexander hero Patrick Macdonald in the 3rd person singular, but have failed to say anything in the 1st person singular about what I mean by an effort of allowing, in the direction of release.

Despite having spent much of February ill in bed, for the last couple of days I have been ill in bed again, with the kind of sore throat and swollen glands from which I used to suffer when I was young. My neck has not been free, and to ask the neck to release has seemed pointless. My neck has been congested, bunged up, not expanding in a lengthening and widening direction but on the contrary swelling into itself. Rather than being released forward and up, my head has intermittently been gripped by a headache. In this situation, my best effort in the way of allowing has been to cancel my appointments and allow myself to be ill.

ke-cid (nom. pl. m.): some, others
vadanti = 3rd pers. pl. vad: to say
ātma-nimittam (acc. sg. m.): caused by the self
ātman: m. (variously derived fr. an , to breathe ; at , to move ; vā , to blow ; cf. tmán) the breath ; the soul , principle of life and sensation ; the individual soul , self , abstract individual ; the highest personal principle of life , brahma
nimitta: mfn. ifc. caused or occasioned by
eva: (emphatic)

prādur-bhavam = prādur-bhāvam (acc. sg.): m. becoming visible or audible , manifestation , appearance (also of a deity on earth)
prādur: ind. (prob. fr. prā = pra dur , " out of doors ") forth , to view or light , in sight (with √ as , or bhū , to become manifest , be visible or audible , appear , arise , exist ; with √ kṛ , to make visible or manifest , cause to appear , reveal , disclose).
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
bhava-kṣayam (acc. sg. m.): ending of existence; termination of being
ca: and

prādur-bhavam (acc. sg.): m. becoming visible or audible , manifestation , appearance
tu: but
pravadanti = 3rd pers. pl. pra- √ vad: to speak out , pronounce , proclaim , declare , utter , say , tell
ayatnāt: ind. (abl. sg.) without effort or exertion.

yatnena: ind. (inst. sg.) with effort, strenuously
mokṣādhigamam (acc. sg. m.): the accomplishment of liberation
adhi- √ gam: to go up to, overtake, accomplish
adhigama: m. the act of attaining , acquisition
bruvanti = 3rd pers. pl. brū: to speak, say, tell ; to proclaim , predict

有言我令生 亦復我令滅
有言無由生 要方便而滅

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