Saturday, April 26, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.17: Back to Springing Up

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Ārdrā)
sa pāṇḍavaṁ pāṇḍava-tulya-vīryaḥ śailottamaṁ śaila-samāna-varṣmā |
maulī-dharaḥ siṁha-gatir-n-siṁhaś-calat-saṭaḥ siṁha ivāruroha || 10.17

The hill of the Pāṇḍavas, that most exalted of rocks,

He of rock-like stature and heroic power on a par with the Pāṇḍavas,

A human lion, 
wearing the royal headdress and going with a lion's gait,

Like a lion with bouncing mane – that hill he did ascend.

When I woke up this morning the clock in my head said 6.30. But the clock by the side of the futon said it was already ten past eight. So that was not the best of starts, and furthermore it was grey outside and raining. I wore shorts, so that the many weeds on the gravel path would not make my tracksuit bottoms wet, and walked the sixty yards to my dojo/hut at the bottom of the garden without any spring in my step to speak of. 

But on some days at this time of year when I am sitting outside by the forest, I have the experience of petals of apple and ash blossoms falling down around about me, while I am going in the opposite direction. Yesterday, when I was preparing this comment, was one such day. 

What has that got to do with today's verse? you might well ask.

The unifying factor is going up (or otherwise).

In today's verse, in other words, as I read it, the act of going up a hill is a metaphor for springing up as a result of a lengthening-and-widening direction. The doing of an external act involving gross physical movement is a metaphor for an act involving no gross external movement (except for preliminary bowing and swaying) but rather involving an internal process of undoing, or coming undone.

So if the construction of the translation of today's verse is clumsy, that is because I wanted to give pride of place at the end of the verse to the verb, the action word. That action word, as in BC10.14, is aruroha, “he went up” or “he ascended.”
Having accepted whatever food was offered, he went to a solitary mountain spring, / And there, according to principle, that food he did eat, and the hill of the Pāṇḍavas he did ascend. //BC10.14//

I think it is neither a coincidence nor an infelicity of style that Aśvaghoṣa thus ended two of the last four verses with the same word aruroha. Aruroha means “ascended” or “went up,” in which phrasal verb up is a direction, and went is an action, or a realization.

“He went up,” might be pointing us to the essence of what the Buddha taught.

What the Buddha taught, in Nāgārjuna's words, was pratītya-samutpāda, which broadly means “directed arising” or “directed springing up” or, “springing up together, with direction,” or, less succinctly but more evocatively, “springing up as all of one piece, with direction.”

“Directed arising” or “directional arising” or “dependent origination” or “conditional origination” was used to describe the twelvefold process whereby
1) ignorance gives rise to 2) volitional processes;
2) volitional processes give rise to 3) consciousness;
3) consciousness gives rise to 4) mind and bodily form;
4) mind and bodily form give rise to 5) the six sense spheres;
5) the six sense spheres give rise to 6) contact;
6) contact gives rise to 7) feeling;
7) feeling gives rise to 8) craving;
8) craving gives rise to 9) attachment;
9) attachment gives rise to 10) continuation;
10) continuation gives rise to 11) birth;
11) birth gives rise to
12) aging, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair...
and so there is an origination of this whole mass of suffering.

Such is directed/directional arising at what my teacher used to call “the second phase.” The second phase includes objective consideration of objective reality (or what George Soros calls “harsh reality”) which is governed by causality, and which is largely immune to our subjective thoughts and feelings about it (but which is sometimes changed by those thoughts and feelings in unpredictable ways via what GS calls reflexivity).

So in general our subjective thoughts and feelings belong to the first phase, and twelvefold directional arising stands opposed to subjectivity at the second phase.

But samutpāda is a noun from the verb sam-ut-√pad, “to spring up together,” and a verb belongs to the third phase – except when it suggests the reality of sitting itself, in which case it belongs to the fourth phase.

Ultimately, it is as a suggestion of springing up in sitting itself, at the fourth phase, that I read pratītya-samutpāda.

If, as Nāgārjuna asserts, what the Buddha taught is just pratītya-samutpāda, why one might wonder does the Buddha not speak to Nanda of pratītya-samutpāda in Aśvaghoṣa's record of what the Buddha taught Nanda?

The answer I think is contained in passages like the two verses that begin SN Canto 15:

yatra tatra vivikte tu baddhvā paryaṅkam-uttamam /
In whatever place of solitude you are,
cross the legs in the supreme manner
ṛjuṃ kāyaṃ samādhāya smṛtyābhimukhayānvitaḥ // SN15.1 //
And align the body so that it tends straight upward;
thus attended by awareness that is directed

nāsāgre vā lalāṭe vā bhruvor-antara eva vā /
Towards the tip of the nose or towards the forehead,
or in between the eyebrows,
kurvīthāś-capalaṃ cittam-ālambana-parāyaṇam // SN15.2 //
Let the inconstant mind be fully engaged with the fundamental.

The answer, in other words, is that Aśvaghoṣa is always at pains to point to the truth of pratītya-samutpāda, or “springing up, with direction” except not in so many words.

This I think is why Aśvaghoṣa ends BC10.14 and today's verse with the same word arurhoha. He is pointing us in that direction, towards the integral practice and experience of springing up – in opposition to that most fundamental of forces (ālambana) which causes fruit to hang down and blossoms to fall down.

In conclusion, then, I venture to submit that it is not wrong to understand pratītya-samutpāda, or “directional/conditional arising/origination,” as a description of the twelvefold causal process outlined above. But to attach to that view, in a know-it-all kind of a way, and thereby fail to acknowledge other ineffable dimensions of pratītya-samutpāda, as suggested by inadequate words like “directed arising” or like “integral springing up, with direction,” might be the kind of attitude for which the Buddha (in the Dīghanikāya; "Collection of Long Discourses”) rebuked Ānanda.

Gambhīro cāyaṁ, Ānanda, paṭiccasamuppādo gambhīrāvabhāso ca. DN 15

Deep, Ānanda, is this directed arising. And deeply it shines forth. 

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
pāṇḍavam (acc. sg.): Pāṇḍava; name of mountain
pāṇḍava-tulya-vīryaḥ (nom. sg. m.): with heroic energy equal to the Pāṇḍavas
tulya: mfn. equal
vīrya: n. manliness , valour , strength , power , energy ; heroism

śailottamam (acc. sg. m.): the uppermost mountain
śaila: m. a rock , crag , hill , mountain
uttama: mfn. uppermost, highest, excellent
śaila-samāna-varṣmā (nom. sg. m.): with stature like a mountain
samāna: mfn. alike, equal
varṣman: n. height , greatness , extent ; body ; a handsome form or auspicious appearance

maulī-dharaḥ (nom. sg. m.): crown-bearer
mauli: m. the head , the top of anything ; mf. a diadem , crown , crest ; mf. hair ornamented and braided round the head (= dhammilla)
maulī: f. the earth
siṁha-gatiḥ (nom. sg. m.): with a lion's gait
nṛ-siṁhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): a lion among men

calat-saṭaḥ (nom. sg. m.): with bouncing mane
cal: to be moved , stir , tremble , shake , quiver , be agitated
saṭā: f. an ascetic's matted or clotted hair , a braid of hair (in general) ; the mane (of a lion or horse)
siṁhaḥ (nom. sg.): m. lion
iva: like
āruroha = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ruh: to ascend

天冠佩花服 師子王遊歩
簡擇諸宿重 安靜審諦士
導從百千衆 雲騰昇白山

No comments: