Sunday, April 13, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.4: Springing Up in Sitting

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
taṁ prekṣya yo 'nyena yayau sa tasthau yas-tatra tasthau pathi so 'nvagacchat |
drutaṁ yayau yaḥ sa jagāma dhīraṁ yaḥ kaś-cid-āste sma sa cotpapāta || 10.4

On seeing him, whoever was going the other way stood still;

Whoever was there in the road standing still, followed along;

Whoever was going hurriedly, went steadily;

And anybody who was sitting, sprang up.

Today's verse is one that anybody who is devoted to sitting practice will appreciate. In today's verse Aśvaghoṣa, down through the centuries,  is winking at us.

The 1st pāda of today's verse, as I read it, suggests the first teaching of the Buddha – not to do any evil. In other words, the first imperative, when we are going in the wrong direction, is to stop doing anything. When in a hole, stop digging.

What is thus expressed as vital in the 1st pāda is, by the time we get to the 2nd pāda, undesirable. The truth of cessation, does not always mean playing statues. It does not mean being stuck in the grip of fear of making a mistake. On the contrary, the truest form of inhibition might be direction. The way not to fall off a bicycle might be to keep pedalling.

There again, the 3rd pāda reminds us, going in the right direction does not mean running around the whole time like a blue-arsed fly.

So a kind of dialectic progression can be observed running through the first three pādas – thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

But the 4th pāda is an ironic suggestion of springing up in sitting.

So on the surface the 4th pāda suggests that people who were sitting down suddenly sprang to their feet – springing up from sitting. But below the surface it suggests the practice and experience of going up while sitting – springing up in sitting. And springing up in sitting means, in other words, body and mind dropping off.

Hence here in today's verse the 12th Zen patriarch in India Aśvaghoṣa wrote that anybody whoseover sprang up (utpapāta, from ut-√pat).

And hence the 14th Zen patriarch in India Nāgārjuna would later assert that what the Buddha taught was “springing up together, with direction.” (pratītya-samutpāda, from sam-ut-√pat).

And hence the 50th Zen patriarch (Jap: Tendo Nyojo) taught in China that burning incense, performing prostrations, contemplating the Buddha, practising confession, and reading sutras were all unnecessary, because Zen practice was nothing other than body and mind dropping off.

And hence the 51st Zen patriarch (Eihei Dogen) wrote when he came back to Japan, in his rules of sitting-Zen recommended for anybody whosoever (yasmai kaś-cid), of body and mind naturally or spontaneously dropping off.

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
prekṣya = abs.
yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
anyena (inst. sg.): n. another, in another direction
yayau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. yā: to go
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tasthau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. sthā: to stand, to stand still

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
tatra: ind. there
tasthau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. sthā: to stand, to stand still
pathi (loc. sg.): m. a way , path , road , course
saḥ (nom. sg. m.): he
anvagacchat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect anu- √ gam: to go after , follow , seek , approach , visit , arrive ; to practise , observe , obey , imitate

drutam: ind. quickly , rapidly , without delay ; mfn. quick , speedy , swift; quickly or indistinctly spoken
dru: to run , hasten , flee ; to become fluid , dissolve , melt
yayau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. yā: to go
yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gam: to go
dhīram: ind. steadily , firmly etc; mfn. steady , constant , firm , resolute , brave , energetic , courageous , self-possessed , composed , calm , grave

yaḥ kaś-cid (nom. sg. m.): any one whatsoever
āste = loc. sg. m. past. part. as: to sit , sit down
sma: joined with a pres. tense or pres. participle to give them a past sense
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ca: and
utpapāta = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ut- √ pat: to fly or jump up ; to rise

横行爲止足 隨後者速馳
先進悉迴顧 瞻目視無厭 


Malcolm M said...

Hi Mike,

Since starting to learn Sanskrit a few years ago I've always assumed the paada of sam-ut-paada to derive from the route pad, not pat (pad: nominally 'foot' or 'step', so verbally 'step, go' etc - and with prefixes like sam and ud having the sense of arising, occuring, producing). Generally, derivatives of pad that I've come across share the 'd', while derivatives ut pat share the 't'.

I'm sure you're familiar with pad, so I'm wondering why you've concluded that pat is the root of sam-ut-paada.

- jiblet

Malcolm M said...

Yes, I did mean 'occurring'. I also meant 'while derivatives of pat share the 't'.

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Malcolm.

Yes, well spotted. I should have written pratītya-samutpāda from sam-ut-√pad.

But since the dictionary gives sam-ut-√pad as "to spring up together," and since not only I but each of the three professors translated utpapāta in this verse as "sprang up," I think the connection I drew from Aśvaghoṣa's springing up to Nāgārjuna's springing up, and from springing up to dropping off, holds good.

The vital word, whether we are talking ut-√pat or sam-ut-√pad, is the ut-.

That the essence of what the Buddha taught is "Springing Up Together, with direction," makes a lot of sense to me, as a student of the teaching of both the Buddha and FM Alexander.

But since my understanding of pratītya-samutpāda is so alternative (Skt: anya), I need my grasp of the Sanskrit to be as close as possible to spot-on, and the technical side of any translation of Nāgārjuna that I do to be watertight.

So thanks again.

Malcolm M said...

Thanks for the explanation, Mike.

Mike Cross said...

Up is not an explanation, Malcolm. Up is a direction!