Thursday, April 24, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.15: The Matter of a Bodhisattva Going On Up

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bhadrā)
tasminn avau lodhra-vanopagūḍhe mayūra-nāda-pratipūrṇa-kuñje |
kāṣāya-vāsāḥ sa babhau n-sūryo yathodayasyopari bāla-sūryaḥ || 10.15

On that hill covered with lodhra groves,

Its thickets filled with the crying of peacocks,

Wearing the ochre robe, that human sun shone forth

Like the morning sun up above the eastern mountain.

Nature in the raw with her verdant growth and abundant songs of birds tends to encourage us human beings, if we allow her, in a direction that can only be called up. That is why many of us, when we can, head for the hills or for the forest to recharge our batteries. That might also be one reason why the Buddha recommended Nanda to go and practice in solitude out in the wilds:

etāny-araṇyāny-abhitaḥ śivāni yogānukūlāny-ajaneritāni /
These salubrious wilds that surround us 
are suited to practice and not thronged with people.
kāyasya kṛtvā praviveka-mātraṃ kleśa-prahāṇāya bhajasva mārgam // SN16.86 //
Furnishing the body with ample solitude, 
cut a path for abandoning the afflictions.

So the first half of today's verse is about nature, but the real turning word in today's verse as I read it comes in the 4th pāda, and that word is upari.

In today's verse upari is used as a preposition indicating location (up above); at the same time upari can be used as an adverb indicating direction (up, upwards).

Shobogenzo chapter 28 is titled BUTSU-KOJO-JI, in which title the JO of KOJO means up. BUTSU-KOJO is a difficult phrase to translate. “Going Beyond Buddha” is one option, but that fails to convey the explicit sense of an upward orientation. “The Ascendant State of Buddha” struck me, on the basis of Alexander experience, as too static, and so in preparing Shobogenzo Book 3 for publication, I preferred “The Continuing Upwardness of Buddha.” (Therein lies a story which, if I told it again, might pull me down; so I won't.) Six years ago when I turned my hand to a freer translation in my own words, I translated the chapter title “The Matter of Buddha Going On Up.”

As I have written many times before on this blog, FM Alexander understood that the pursuit of “right posture” practised on military parade grounds and Japanese Zen dojos is a temporary descent into a kind of insanity – because there is no such thing as a right position. But there is such a thing as a right direction. And that direction is, primarily, up; or in Sanskrit, upari.

This is a matter, Dogen emphasizes in Shobogenzo chap. 28, not only for bodhisattvas but also for buddhas.

In the present series of verses, as I read it, Aśvaghoṣa is suggesting, conversely, that it was a matter that Gautama realized not only as the Buddha but also as a bodhisattva.

Thus in BC10.18 Aśvaghoṣa compares the bodhisattva sitting in full lotus to a rising moon; and in today's verse he compares the bodhisattva being alone in nature, wearing a kaṣāya, to the morning sun starting its ascent.

As a postscript, on further reflection, the yellow flowers of the lodhra tree might be agreeable to the eye and to the nose. Peacocks, in contrast, are said to have a raucous and repetitive cry that can be annoying to the untrained ear. So in today's verse also, it may be possible to trace a dialectic progression. 

tasmin (loc. sg. n.): that
vane [EBC] (loc. sg.): n. a forest , wood , grove , thicket , quantity of lotuses or other plants growing in a thick cluster (but in older language also applied to a single tree) ; plenty , abundance
avau = loc. sg. avi: m. a mountain
lodhra-vanopagūḍhe (loc. sg. n.): covered with groves of lodhra trees
lodhra: m. (prob. connected with rudhira) the tree Symplocos Racemosa (it has yellow flowers , and the red powder scattered during the holī festival is prepared from its bark)
upagūḍha: mfn. hidden , concealed , covered ; clasped round , embraced
upa- √ guh: to hide , cover , conceal

mayūra-nāda-pratipūrṇa-kuñje (loc. sg. n.): its bowers filled with crying of peacocks
mayūra: m. a peacock
nāda: m. a loud sound , roaring , bellowing , crying
pratipūrṇa: mfn. filled with , full of ; satisfied, contented
kuñja: m. a place overrun with plants or overgrown with creepers , bower , arbour

kāṣāya-vāsāḥ (nom. sg. m.): with his brown-red robe
kāṣāya: n. a brown-red cloth or garment
vāsas: n. cloth , clothes , dress , a garment
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
babhau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhā: to shine , be bright or luminous ; to shine forth
nṛ-sūryaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the sun of mankind, Bcar.

yathā: as
udayasya (gen. sg.): m. going up , rising ; the eastern mountain (behind which the sun is supposed to rise)
upari: ind. (as a separable adverb) above , upon , on , upwards , towards the upper side of (e.g. upari- √yā , to go upwards) ; (as a separable preposition , with acc. loc. , or gen.) over , above , upon , on , at the head of , on the upper side of , beyond (e.g. upari śailaṁ- √gam , to go over the mountain)
bāla-sūryaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the newly-risen sun
bāla-sūrya: n. lapis lazuli
bāla: mfn. young ; newly risen , early (as the sun or its rays)
sūrya: m. the sun

青林別高崖 丹華殖其間
孔雀等衆鳥 翻飛而亂鳴
法服助鮮明 如日照扶桑

No comments: