Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.28: A False Dichotomy, Based on a Wrong Assumption

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
tad-buddhim-atrānyatarāṁ vṇīṣva dharmārtha-kāmān vidhivad-bhajasva |
vyatyasya rāgād-iha hi tri-vargaṁ pretyeha ca bhraṁśam-avāpnuvanti || 10.28

So decide, in respect of these two options, between one and the other,

And pursue dharma, wealth, and pleasure in a principled manner –

For when men in this world, because of passion, 
overdo [any one of] the triple set,

In both this world and the next they suffer ruination.

In one of the early Indiana Jones films the eponymous hero is confronted with an adversary skilfully wielding sharp blades, as if to say: “Come and fight we with your whip and bare hands, or else run away.” Indiana Jones promptly pulls a gun and downs his opponent with a single bullet, before turning to the camera and shrugging – as if to say “He presented me with a false dichotomy based on a wrong assumption.”

In today's verse, the two options King Bimbisāra has placed before the bodhisattva seem to be:
1. To throw his lot in with Bimbisāra, sharing Bimbisāra's kingdom and immediately becoming the joint ruler of Magadha.
2. To join Bimbisāra in a compaign to conquer foreign foes and thereby gain sovereignty over new territories.
These are the two options referred to in the 1st pāda, as I read it.

Bimbisāra also, then, is making a false dichotomy based on a wrong assumption. And the wrong assumption arises from his not being able to see a true dichotomy.

The effect is to underline in the reader's mind the true dichotomy, which is namely the incompatibility, or mutual exclusivity, between the dharma of kings, as understood by Bimbisāra, and the dharma of liberation, as understood by the bodhisattva.

According to Bimbisāra's conception, pursuit of the triple set of dharma, wealth and pleasure is a given. The choice for a king, in that case, is between alternative ways of pursuing the dharma of kingship.

According to the bodhisattva's conception, the original choice is between the dharma of kings and the dharma of liberation.

Thus, when Bimbisāra in his ignorance now proceeds, in this and the next several verses, to discuss the pursuit of the three things or the triple set (trivargam) of dharma, wealth and pleasure, he thinks he is being reasonable. He discusses the pursuit of dharma, wealth and pleasure vidhivat, “with principle,” or “according to a rule” – as opposed to haphazard, imbalanced pursuit of one element at the expense of the other two.

What Bimbisāra doesn't know, but we know because the bodhisattva spelled it out for us in BC Canto 9, is that the dharma of kings, in the first place, is incompatible with the dharma of liberation:

śama-pradhānaḥ kva ca mokṣa-dharmo daṅḍa-pradhānaḥ kva ca rāja-dharmaḥ || BC9.48
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?

The dharma of kings, in which the rod is paramount, involves coercion, or force. And the use of force tends to proceed from ignorance and to usher in unintended consequences.

One doesn't have to be a student of international history to observe this: one can observe it on one's own round black cushion.

It is all there in the unenlightened practice of sitting-meditation – ignorance, force, irony.

tad: ind. so, therefore
buddhim (acc. sg.): f. intention , purpose , design ; (buddhiṁ- √kṛ or pra- √kṛ , to make up one's mind , resolve , decide , with loc. dat. acc. with prati , or inf.)
atra: ind. in this matter , in this respect
anyatarām (acc. sg. f.): either of two , different
vṛṇīṣva = 2nd pers. sg. imperative vṛ: to choose, select

dharmārtha-kāmān (acc. pl. m.): dharma, wealth, and pleasure
dharmārtha-kāma-mokṣa: m. pl. religious merit , wealth , pleasure and final emancipation (the 4 objects of existence)
vidhivat: ind. according to rule , duly
vidhi: m. a rule , formula , injunction , ordinance , statute , precept , law , direction; any prescribed act or rite or ceremony
bhajasva = 2nd pers. sg. imperative bhaj: to turn or resort to , engage in ; to pursue , practise , cultivate

vyatyasya = abs. vy-aty-√as: to be above , excel , surpass
aty- √ as 1: to excel, surpass
aty- √ as 2: to shoot beyond , overwhelm , overpower (as with arrows).
rāgāt (abl. sg.): m. colour, redness ; any feeling or passion , (esp.) love , affection or sympathy for , vehement desire of , interest or joy or delight
iha: ind. here, in this world
rāgādi [EBC] (?): “love and the rest”
ha [EBC]: ind. indeed , assuredly , verily ,
hi: for
tri-vargam (acc. sg.): m. the three things

pretya: ind. having died , after death , in the next world , in the life to come , hereafter (opp. to iha)
abs. pra- √i: to come forth , appear , begin ; to go on , proceed , advance ; to go out or away , depart (this life)
iha: ind. here, in this world
ca: and
bhraṁśam (acc. sg.): m. falling or slipping down or off ; decline , decay, ruin
avāpnuvanti = 3rd pers. pl. ava-√āp: to reach , attain , obtain , gain , get ; to suffer

自力廣收羅 天下孰不推
明人知時取 法財五欲増

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