Wednesday, April 2, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.76: Bodhisattva-Wisdom / Buddha-Wisdom –> Towards True Freedom

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
imaṁ tu dṣṭvāgamam-avyavasthitaṁ yad-uktam-āptais-tad-avehi sādhv-iti |
prahīṇa-doṣa-tvam-avehi cāptatāṁ prahīṇa-doṣo hy-antaṁ na vakṣyati || 9.76

Notice, pray!, 
that this tradition you describe is not exactly determined,

And know to be truly unerring that which is spoken by true people.

Again, know the state of a true person to be freedom from faults,

For one without faults will never speak an untruth.

What has mainly come across in our present seeking of a bodhisattva-prince, is the firmness of the bodhisattva's resolve. The bodhisattva will re-affirm that resolve in the next three verses  (BC9.77-79) which conclude his present speech. But in today's verse as in yesterday's verse, as I read them, the bodhisattva is expressing something different from (though rooted in) his iron resolve, and that is his bodhisattva-wisdom. This bodhisattva-wisdom, the implication might be, is what every bodhisattva most needs to know.

The bodhisattva, as expressed in yesterday's verse as I read it, has expressed his confidence in there being a right direction. And in today's verse as I read it he is expressing his understanding of where the direction must lead. The right direction must lead away from faults. Or, in other words, towards freedom from faults.

Perhaps it is because a bodhisattva needs above all to know that the right direction is away from faults, and towards freedom from faults, that in SN Canto 16, in encouraging Nanda to make the four noble truths into his own possession, the Buddha refers to the faults no less than 26 times – as searching for “fault” (or doṣ) in this text will readily confirm.

Have I learned anything in these last 20 years, since I came back to England to train as a teacher of the FM Alexander Technique, about freedom from faults?

One of Alexander's proteges named Patrick Macdonald wrote:

Remember, you are slowly eliminating the wrong.
Finality, for most of us, and that includes me, is not in sight.

This slow elimination of the wrong, as I understand it (or as Marjory Barlow, for one, seemed to me to be at pains to teach it), does not involve inhibition of faults directly, so much as it involves inhibition of the thirsting, or the end-gaining desire, or the end-gaining idea, that triggers the faulty doing. 

And the truest form of inhibition, so they say, is direction.

True freedom from faults, then, I venture to suggest, if I have ever experienced it at all, I might have experienced in a moment of sitting when I was truly and totally allowing myself to be directed up – as opposed to trying to direct myself up and in the process, on the basis of faulty sensory appreciation, pulling myself down.

Too much of my life, I confess, I have spent engaged in the latter kind of activity, in the grip of an infantile fear reflex, lying to self and others. And I might not be the only one!

Having written the above comment yesterday and slept on it, and with the thoughts stimulated by the word pratyaya in BC9.74 sill resonating somewhere, I reflected as I sat this morning on the four primitive vestibular reflexes which I have come to regard as the four cornerstones of living. To the extent that they are not well bedded in, these four reflexes are also the four cornerstones of what FM Alexander called “faulty sensory appreciation.”

I understand more about this subject than I am able to express in words, partly because of having been taught, mainly non-verbally, by some very excellent teachers, generally boys aged between eight and eleven who exhibit the symptoms of so-called dyslexia (difficulty with reading, handwriting etc) and dyspraxia (difficulty with balance and coordination).

When I sit in the morning, more and more as time goes by, I am aware of wanting to go in the direction of freedom from being in the unconscious grip of the four primitive vestibular reflexes. That doesn't mean that I see the four reflexes as my enemies. On the contrary, I see them as the four cornerstones of working on the self, in the direction of what might be called a Springing Up Together (sam-ut-pāda). Certainly in my work with children whose faulty sensory appreciation makes them markedly insecure in their balance, the four reflexes are the four cornerstones.

If an ancient Zen patriarch in India had intuitively grasped how fundamental in human life these four cornerstones are, I think he might have talked in Sanskrit of there being catvāraḥ pratyayāḥ, four cornerstones

Since evolution has equipped us with four, and only four, nāsti pañcamaḥ, he might have added – there is no fifth.

imam (nom. sg. m.): this
tu: ind. pray! I beg , do , now , then ; but
dṛṣṭvā = abs. dṛś: to see ; to see with the mind , learn , understand ; notice
āgamam (nom. sg.): m. a traditional doctrine or precept , collection of such doctrines , sacred work , brāhmaṇa ; anything handed down and fixed by tradition
avyavasthitam (nom. sg. m.): mfn. not conformable to law or Practice ; not in due order , unmethodical ; unsettled, uncertain, Bcar.
vy-avasthita: mfn. placed in order , drawn up (in battle) ; placed , laid , put , stationed ; settled , established , fixed , exactly determined ; constant

yad (acc. sg. n.): [that] which
uktam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. uttered , said , spoken
āptaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. a fit person , a credible or authoritative person , warranter , guarantee ; mfn. reached , overtaken , met ; apt , fit , true , exact , clever , trusted , trustworthy , confidential
tad (acc. sg. n.): that
avehi = 2nd pers. sg. imperative ava-√i: to understand, know
sādhu (nom. sg. n.): mfn. straight, right ; leading straight to a goal , hitting the mark ; good
iti: “....” thus

prahīṇa-doṣa-tvam (acc. sg. n.): faultlessness
prahīṇa-doṣa: mfn. one whose sins have vanished , sinless
prahīṇa: m. removal , loss , waste , destruction
tva: neuter abstract noun suffix
avehi = 2nd pers. sg. imperative ava-√i: to understand, know
ca: and
āptatām (acc. sg.): f. the quality of being a fit person ; true-ness ; trustworthiness
āpta: m. a fit person
-tā: feminine abstract noun suffix

prahīṇa-doṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): one who is free of faults
hi: for
anṛtam (acc. sg.): n. falsehood , untruth
na: not
vakṣyati = 3rd pers. sg. future vac: to speak, say

觀彼相承説 無一決定相
眞言虚心受 永離諸過患

語過虚僞説 智者所不言

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