Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.6: Thinking Straight in the Physical Presence of Dharma

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bhadrā)
taṁ jihriyuḥ prekṣya vicitra-veṣāḥ prakīrṇa-vācaḥ pathi maunam-īyuḥ |
dharmasya sākṣād-iva saṁnikarṣe na kaś-cid-anyāya-matir-babhūva || 10.6

Fancy dressers when they saw him felt ashamed.

Random chatterers on the road fell silent.

As when in the physical presence of dharma,

Nobody had an irregular thought.

Recently I have been studying the first chapter of Nāgārjuna's mūla-madhyamaka-kārikā and have noticed that in Nāgārjuna's writing metaphor seems to be conspicuous by its absence. When compared with Aśvaghoṣa's writing, Nāgārjuna's writing seems drier than a dry bone. Unlike Nāgārjuna's writing, Aśvaghoṣa's writing is bursting with metaphor  like a florist's van on mother's day is bursting with flowers.

Thus today's verse as I read it, like yesterday's verse and the day before's, contains another metaphor for sitting itself.

Dharma closely makes its presence felt, in bodily form, when we are just sitting. And the essence of just sitting, in my book, and on my zafu (on a good day), is a kind of thinking straight.

Similarly the FM Alexander Technique, though people regard it – with some justification – as having to do with posture, was described by Alexander himself as “the most mental thing there is” and as “an exercise in learning how to think.”  

Springing up is a state of just sitting, dropping off body and mind and bells and whistles. At the same time, springing up includes thinking up. 

To think up is not to clothe oneself in something fancy, and is not to indulge in miscellaneous intellectual thoughts. 

It is easier to say what thinking up is not, than it is to say what thinking up is. 

Up is a direction. 

Even though a simple reflex is a convenient fiction, it nevertheless seems to me reasonable to speak of four primitive vestibular reflexes which can usefully be called the four cornerstones of direction.

Since a simple reflex is a fictitious construct, what I have just written should be assiduously negated, and should not be believed by a gullible mind for one moment. 

What use in any case is intellectual understanding of reflexes? Actions involving reflexes, by definition, have a strong involunary component. 

The cornerstones of direction, one might say, are made of the involuntary. 

One might say, in Sanskrit, pratyayāś-cāsvayaṁ-mayāḥ. 

... to be continued. 

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
jihriyuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. hrī: to feel shame , blush , be bashful or modest , be ashamed of any one (gen.) or anything (abl.)
prekṣya = abs. pra- √īkṣ: to look at, behold
vicitra-veṣāḥ (nom. pl. m.): those in many-coloured clothing
vicitra: mfn. variegated , many-coloured , motley , brilliant
veṣa: m. dress, apparel

prakīrṇa-vācaḥ (nom. pl. m.): those who spoke on miscellaneous subjects
prakīrṇa: mfn. scattered about ; mixed , containing various subjects , miscellaneous
vi-vācas: mfn. speaking in various ways
pathi (loc. sg.): m. road
maunam (acc. sg.): n. silence , taciturnity
īyuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. √i: to go

dharmasya (gen. sg.): m. dharma
sākṣāt: ind. (abl. of sākṣa ) with the eyes , with one's own eyes ; before one's eyes , evidently , clearly , openly , manifestly ; in person , in bodily form , personally , visibly , really , actually
sākṣa: (fr. sa + akṣa) having eyes
iva: like
saṁnikarṣe (loc. sg.): m. drawing near or together , approximation , close contact , nearness , neighbourhood , proximity , vicinity (e , " in the vicinity of , near " , with gen. or comp. ; āt , " from the neighbourhood or proximity of ")
 saṁ-ni- √ kṛṣ: to come into close or immediate contact with (instr.)

na: not
kaś-cid (nom. sg. m.): anybody
a-nyāya-matiḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. having improper thoughts, Bcar.
a-nyāya: m. unjust or unlawful action ; impropriety , indecorum ; irregularity , disorder
mati: f. thought , design , intention , resolution , determination , inclination , wish , desire ; the mind , perception
babhūva = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhū: to be, become

咸皆大歡喜 隨宜而供養
瞻仰尊勝顏 俯愧種種形

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