Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.7: A Whole Other Direction

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Rāmā)
anya-kriyāṇām-api rāja-mārge strīṇāṁ nṇāṁ vā bahu-māna-pūrvam |
taṁ deva-kalpaṁ nara-deva-sūnuṁ nirīkṣamāṇā na tatarpa dṣṭiḥ || 10.7

Though on the royal road they were engaged in different work,

Adoring women and men beheld him,

The god-like sun of a man-god,

But satisfaction was not realized by their admiring gaze.

There are some textual uncertainties in today's verse, the main one surrounding the two syllables (and one missing syllable) that EHJ read in his text as tatarpa. EBC read the same three syllables as tu tasya and translated the 4th pāda, “but his eyes never looked upon them.”

Assuming that EHJ's reading is correct, I think the suggestion, below the surface, might be another irreligious one – namely that what realizes satisfaction in the end is not an admiring gaze, or any other kind of view (dṛṣṭi). Ultimate satisfaction might rather lie in the direction of abandoning all views (sarva-dṛṣṭi-prahaṇāya).

That is not to say that criticism is necessarily implied of the women and men who adoringly beheld the bodhisattva. On the contrary, the api in the 1st pāda can be read as suggesting that the gazing was the momentary lapse of men and women who were sincerely devoted to practice on the royal road – the royal road meaning, for example, the way of ones who have given up habitual preoccupations and thrown themselves into work that his different, other, alternative (anya).

EBC tranlated anya-kriyāṇām api as “even though they were intent on other business,” EHJ as “busied though they were with other affairs,” and PO as “although they were busy with other tasks.” These translations are in line with the surface meaning, but as we saw numerous times in Saundara-nanda, Aśvaghoṣa often seems to use the word anya to mean different, other, alternative, individual, not conforming to generic stereotype or unexamined expectation.

Today I cycled from Caen to the Foret Des Andaines in Southern Normandy. Hence the late posting, and hence I am too tired right now to write anything succinct and original on the subject of anya-kriya, or being engaged in work/action/practice that is different/other/alternative.

I can remember what I was thinking this morning, though, as I cycled on busy main roads leading out of Caen. Last night I cycled in the dark along the canal tow path that leads from the ferry port of Ouistreham to Caen city centre, where I soon got lost. Relying on the kindness of strangers, I was pointed in the right direction by a young couple. They asked me to follow them in their battered old Fiat punto. They drove to the road I was looking for, the D613 on which a cheap hotel I had booked into was located, on a big industrial estate. Typically enough I got lost again looking for the hotel itself. I blame a combination of inadequate preparation (too much optimism) and a congenitally terrible sense of direction. 

This morning as I cycled out of Caen I reflected on how cycling on a busy main road was affecting my internal direction, which, under the influence of adrenaline, was not at all consciously controlled. As big trucks rumbled close by me, I cycled along too fast, as if I had energy to spare, which in fact I didn't. But at least as it was happening, I knew it was happening, and I knew that what I wanted to happen, and what I hoped would happen as the roads became quieter, was that the habitual, unconscious direction would give way to something different, something other, something anya – like allowing of the neck to be free, allowing of the head to go forward and up, allowing of the back to lengthen and widen, and allowing of the knees to go forwards and away.

As it turned out, the whole thing was a struggle with stiffened neck from beginning to end. I was no kind of advertisement at any stage in the process for Zen polishing of a tile, or for application of Aleander's means-whereby principle. In one Bar Tabac where I stopped for a cup of hot chocolate, I happened to read an article in which a winning cyclist had described his victory as not pretty (jolie) but beautiful (belle). Well my trip was neither pretty nor beautiful. It was same old, same old. Same old ugly end-gaining on a common and profane road. Satisfaction was not realized.

The fact remains, however, though I am demonstrably not immune from making a pig's ear of allowing a true upward direction, the FM Alexander Technique, starting 20 years ago, caused me to be aware of a whole other possibility in the matter of allowing myself to be directed up.

In 1959 I emerged out of the birth canal. I had a congenitally dodgy vestibular system, but I was surrounded by benevolent people in 1960s Britain – especially my working-class grandparents – who lovingly pointed me in the right direction. Twenty-two years later I met Gudo Nishijima and for 13 years, I did my damnedest to sit upright for as many hours in the days as I could find. Then 20 years ago I first became aware that what I thought and felt was up was actually down. There was this whole other direction that Alexander teachers were able to put me in touch with, which was truly up.

My feeling is not reliable, but I don't feel in touch right now with this whole other direction, even though I am writing about it. I feel knackered out.

anya-kriyāṇām (gen. pl.): mfn. intent on other business, Bcar.
api: even, though
rāja-mārge (loc. sg.): m. the king's highway , a royal or main road , principal street (passable for horses and elephants) ; (met.) the great path Sarvad. ; the way or method of kings

strīṇām (gen. pl.): f. woman
nṛṇām (gen. pl.): m. men
vā: or (sometimes interchangeable with ca and api , and is frequently combined with other particles , esp. with atha , atho* , uta , kim , yad , yadi q.v. [e.g. atha vā , " or else "] ; it is also sometimes used as an expletive)
bahu-māna-pūrvam: with high esteem, with great regard
bahu-māna: m. high esteem or estimation , great respect or regard for (with loc. of pers. or thing , rarely with gen. of pers.)
pūrvam: ifc. in the sense of " with " e.g. prīti-pūrvam , with love

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
deva-kalpam (acc. sg. m.) resembling a god
kalpa: m. (ifc.) having the manner or form of anything , similar to , resembling , like but with a degree of inferiority , almost
nara-deva-sūnum (acc. sg. m.): the son of a man-god

nirīkṣamāṇā = nom. sg. f. pres. part. nir- √ īkṣ: to look at or towards , behold , regard , observe (also the stars) , perceive
na: not
tatarpa = 3rd pers. sg. perf. tṛp: to satisfy one's self , become satiated or satisfied , be pleased with (gen. instr. , or rarely loc.)
dṛṣṭiḥ (nom. sg.): f. seeing , viewing , beholding ; sight; view; eye , look , glance

政素輕躁儀 寂默加肅敬結恨心永解 慈和情頓増 

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