Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.69: Having a Social Conscience vs Having No Worries

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Upendravajrā)
tapo-vana-stho 'pi vtaḥ prajābhir-jagāma rājā puram-ambarīṣaḥ |
tathā mahīṁ vipraktām-anāryais-tapovanād-etya rarakṣa rāmaḥ || 9.69 

When he was petitioned by his subjects,
though he had been abiding in the ascetic forest,

King Ambarīṣa went to the city.

So too, when the Great Earth was being abused by ignoble people,

Did Rāma return from the ascetic forest and reign over her.

EBC took vṛtaḥ prajābhiḥ as “surrounded by his children” and EHJ followed in the same groove with “surrounded by his subjects.” I too would have trodden in this ever-deepening furrow if PO had not noticed that vṛta in today's verse is better understood as from √vṛ to choose or request, and not from √vṛ to cover or surround. Hence “petitioned by his subjects.”  

EHJ notes that it is natural to see the reference to Rāma as alluding to Paraśurāma (as distinct from Rāma son of Ten Chariots Daśaratha), and as alluding in particular to Paraśurāma's delivery of the earth from Arjuna Kārtavīrya.

EHJ notes further the same four names mentioned in today's and tomorrow's verses also appear in SN7.51: 
For the Śālva king, along with his son; and likewise Ambarīṣa and Rāma and Andha, and Rantideva, son of Sāṅkṛti / Cast off their rags and clothed themselves again in finest fabrics; they cut their twisted dreadlocks off and put their crowns back on. // SN7.51 //

The counsellor is proposing two good reasons why a bodhisattva might not stick to his decision to practise in solitude in the forest; namely (1) people who need him ask him to return to the city, and (2) not only people but the Earth herself is in need of the bodhisattva's protection.

A bodhisattva who had a social conscience, the counsellor seems to expect, in such circumstances might be tempted to go back on his decision to devote himself to practice in the forest

Teaching of the Buddha that contrasts with the expectations of the counsellor can be found for example at the end of SN Canto 14:

tasmāc-caran caro 'smīti sthito 'smīti ca dhiṣṭhitaḥ /
Therefore walking with the awareness that "I am walking"
and standing with the awareness that "I am standing" --
evam-ādiṣu kāleṣu smṛtim-ādhātum-arhasi // 14.45 //
Upon such moments as these, you should bring mindfulness to bear. 

yogānulomaṃ vijanaṃ viśabdaṃ śayyāsanaṃ saumya tathā bhajasva /
In this manner, my friend, repair to a place suited for practice,
free of people and free of noise, a place for lying down and sitting;
kāyasya kṛtvā hi vivekam-ādau sukho 'dhigantuṃ manaso vivekaḥ // 14.46 //
For by first achieving solitude of the body it is easy to obtain solitude of the mind.

alabdha-cetaḥ-praśamaḥ sa-rāgo yo na pracāraṃ bhajate viviktam /
The man of redness, the tranquillity of his mind unrealized,
who does not take to a playground of solitude,
sa kṣaṇyate hy-apratilabdha-mārgaś-carann-ivorvyāṃ bahu-kaṇṭakāyām //14.47//
Is injured as though, unable to regain a track, 
he is walking on very thorny ground.

adṛṣṭa-tattvena parīkṣakeṇa sthitena citre viṣaya-pracāre /
For a seeker who fails to see reality 
but stands in the tawdry playground of objects,
cittaṃ niṣeddhuṃ na sukhena śakyaṃ kṛṣṭādako gaur-iva sasya-madhyāt //14.48//
It is no easier to rein in the mind than to drive a foraging bull away from corn.

anīryamāṇas-tu yathānilena praśāntim-āgacchati citra-bhānuḥ /
But just as a bright fire dies down when not fanned by the wind,
alpena yatnena tathā vivikteṣv-aghaṭṭitaṃ śāntim-upaiti cetaḥ // 14.49 //
So too, in solitary places, does an unstirred mind easily come to quiet.

kva-cid-bhuktvā yat-tad vasanam-api yat-tat-parihito
One who eats anything at any place, and wears any clothes,
vasann-ātmārāmaḥ kva-cana vijane yo 'bhiramate /
Who dwells in enjoyment of his own being 
and loves to be anywhere without people:
kṛtārthaḥ sa jñeyaḥ śama-sukha-rasa-jñaḥ kṛta-matiḥ
He is to be known as a success, a knower of the taste of peace and ease,
whose mind is made up --
pareṣāṃ saṃsargaṃ pariharati yaḥ kaṇṭakam-iva // 14.50 //
He avoids involvement with others like a thorn.

yadi dvandvārāme jagati viṣaya-vyagra-hṛdaye
If, in a world that delights in duality and is at heart distracted by objects,
vivikte nirdvando viharati kṛtī śānta-hṛdayaḥ /
He roves in solitude, free of duality, a man of action, his heart at peace,
tataḥ pītvā prajñā-rasam-amṛtavat-tṛpta-hṛdayo
Then he drinks the essence of wisdom as if it were the deathless nectar 
and his heart is filled.
viviktaḥ saṃsaktaṃ viṣaya-kṛpaṇaṃ śocati jagat // 14.51 //
Separately he sorrows for the clinging, object-needy world.

vasañ-śūnyāgāre yadi satatam-eko 'bhiramate
If he constantly abides as a unity, in an empty abode,
yadi kleśotpādaiḥ saha na ramate śatrubhir-iva /
If he is no fonder of arisings of affliction than he is of enemies,
carann-ātmārāmo yadi ca pibati prīti-salilaṃ
And if, going rejoicing in the self, he drinks the water of joy,
tato bhuṅkte śreṣṭhaṃ tridaśa-pati-rājyād-api sukham // SN14.52 //
Then greater than dominion over thirty gods is the happiness he enjoys.

Even in an overly civilized place like the Southeast of England if one gets up early enough in the morning it can be as quiet as anywhere, all silent apart from the odd singing bird. Conversely, I am quite capable of waking up by the solitude of a national forest in France with a mind beset by all kinds of worries about absent family and friends, not to mention about the state of the world. So the city/forest dichotomy is in reality not an absolute one. The real choice, at least for somebody like me who a wise person once described as “an inveterate worrier,” is (a) to continue living as a slave to the worrying habit, or (b) to be released, even if only for a moment, from the grip of a pernicious habit. Mental solitude or mental slavery. To be or not to be. 

So when in SN14.51 the Buddha describes the happy rover in solitude as sorrowing separately (viviktaḥ) for the object-needy world, this is the kind of separateness he ultimately has in view – solitude of the mind, manaso vivekaḥ. The thing ultimately to avoid like a thorn, then, is not other people but rather our habitual way of relating with other people, or getting involved with them, or worrying about them. To put physical distance between ourselves and others by withdrawing to a remote forest location, in other words, is not an end in itself. But the Buddha, evidently and undeniably, regarded such physical solitude as a potentially useful means, a step which can be advantageous to the cultivation of solitude of the mind. Because he knew he had taken that step as such  as a constructive step  the bodhisattva's confidence was not shaken. 

tapo-vana-sthaḥ (nom. sg. m.): abiding in the ascetic forest
stha: mfn. (only ifc) standing , staying , abiding , being situated in , existing or being in or on or among
api: though
vṛtaḥ (nom. sg. m.): 1. mfn. concealed , screened , hidden , enveloped , surrounded by ; 2. mfn. chosen , selected , preferred , loved , liked , asked in marriage
vṛ: 1. to cover , screen , veil , conceal , hide , surround , obstruct
vṛ: 2. to choose , select , choose for one's self ; to solicit anything (acc.) from ; to like , love (as opp. to " hate ") ;

prajābhiḥ (inst. pl.): f. offspring, subjects
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gam: to go
rājā (nom. sg.): m.
puram (acc. sg.): n. the city
ambarīṣaḥ (nom. sg.): m.

tathā: ind. likewise
mahīm (acc. sg.): f. 'the great world', the earth
viprakṛtām (acc. sg. f.): mfn. hurt , injured , offended &c ; thwarted
vi-pra- √ kṛ: to treat with disrespect , hurt , injure , offend , oppress
an-āryaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. the non-aryan; mfn. not honourable or respectable , vulgar , inferior

tapovanāt (abl. sg.): n. the ascetic forest
etya = abs. ā- √i: to come near or towards , go near , approach ; (with and without punar) to come back , come again to
rarakṣa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. rakṣ: to guard , watch , take care of , protect , save , preserve; to rule (the earth or a country)
rāmaḥ (nom. sg.): m. Rāma

昔奄婆梨王 久處苦行林
捨徒衆眷屬 還家居王位
國王子羅摩 去國處山林
聞國風俗離 還歸維正化 

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