Saturday, May 3, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.24: A Question of Selection

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
gātraṁ hi te lohita-candanārhaṁ kāṣāya-saṁśleṣam-an-arham-etat |
hastaḥ prajā-pālana-yogya eṣa bhoktuṁ na cārhaḥ para-dattam annam || 10.24

For your body is worthy of red sandal unguents,

Not of contact with reddy-brown cloth.

This hand is fitted for the protection of subjects,

And not for the eating of food given by others.



Manipulating others from a position of maximum political and economic power
relying on others' kindness from a position of minimum politico-economic power

Today's verse as I read it thus echoes, from the king's side, the dichotomy highlighted by the bodhisattva, from the side of the freedom-seeker, in several verses in BC Canto 9. For example:

Again, as for the tradition that rulers of men realized liberation while maintaining their status in the royal family – that is not so. / How can the dharma of liberation, in which peace is paramount, be reconciled with the dharma of a king, in which the rod is paramount? //BC9.48// When he delights in peace and quiet, his kingship is lax, when his mind turns to kingship, the peace and quiet is spoilt. / For peacefulness and severity are incompatible – as a unity of the cold and the hot is impossible, in water and fire. //BC9.49//

Marjory Barlow used to say, in connection with the Alexander Technique, "You cannot do an undoing." That being so, a direction is something to be allowed, but not to be done, even a little bit. 

It is a difficult point to understand for us who have evolved to do things. But I think it relates to the kind of irony Aśvaghoṣa is always alive to, whereby if I try to release my neck, the trying causes the neck to stiffen; if I try to direct my head forward and up, the trying pulls the head back and down; if I try to lengthen my spine, the trying shortens the spine; if I try to make my pelvis part of my back, the trying creates a distortion; and so on. 

Again, I once described myself to Marjory Barlow as a terrible end-gainer. In a sense, I still think that is true -- in the sense that some people with immature vestibular reflexes are more prone than most to compensate for the underlying weakness in their nervous constitution by trying particulary hard. 

But Marjory was having none of it. "Listen," she said, "You either end-gain. Or you work to the means-whereby principle. You choose." 

A question of selection. 

gātram (nom. sg.): n. " instrument of moving " , a limb or member of the body ; the body
hi: for
te (gen. sg.): your
lohita-candanārham (nom. sg. n.): deserving of red sandal oil
lohita: red
candana: mn. sandal (Sirium myrtifolium , either the tree , wood , or the unctuous preparation of the wood held in high estimation as perfumes
arha: mfn. meriting, deserving

kāṣāya-saṁśleṣam (nom. sg. n.): being in close contact with a beggar's red robe
kāṣāya: n. a brown-red cloth or garment
saṁśleṣa: m. junction , union , connection , close contact with (instr. or comp.
an-arham (nom. sg. n.): not deserving
etat (nom. sg. n.): it

hastaḥ (nom. sg.): m. hand
prajā-pālana-yogyaḥ (nom. sg. m.): being fit to protect subjects
prajā: f. offshoots, subjects, living creatures
pālana: n. the act of guarding , protecting , nourishing , defending
pāl: to watch , guard , protect , defend , rule , govern ; to keep , maintain , observe (a promise or vow)
yogya: mfn. fit for the yoke ; useful , serviceable , proper , fit or qualified for , able or equal to , capable of (gen. loc. dat. inf. with act. or pass. sense , or comp.)
eṣa (nom. sg. m.): this

bhoktum = infinitive bhuj: to enjoy , use , possess , (esp.) enjoy a meal , eat , eat and drink , consume
na: not
ca: and
arhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. meriting , deserving, worthy of , having a claim or being entitled to (acc. or Inf. or in comp.)
para-dattam (acc. sg. n.): given by others
annam (acc. sg.): n. food or victuals , especially boiled rice

超世聖王子 乞食不存榮
妙體應塗香 何故服袈裟
手宜握天下 反以受薄餐

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