Friday, June 27, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.36: Glad Rags - for Symptomatic Relief of Suffering

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
kāmās-tu bhogā iti yan-matiḥ syād-bhogyā na ke-cit-parigaṇyamānāḥ |
vastrādayo dravya-guṇā hi loke duḥkha-pratīkāra iti pradhāryāḥ || 11.36

As for the view “But desires are enjoyments!”,

No desire is to be reckoned as enjoyable.

Clothes and other such material goods in the world,

Are rather to be regarded as pain relievers.

The key word in today's verse might be pratīkāraḥ in the 4th pāda, which each of the three professors translated as “remedies.” EBC and PO translated duḥkha-pratīkāraḥ as “remedies for pain,” and EHJ translated “remedies against suffering.”

This stimulated me to go back to Saundara-nanda and check exactly what vocabulary Aśvaghoṣa used in connection with the remedy for suffering, after which I felt as if another small bit of the jigsaw had fallen into place.

When in SN Canto 16 the Buddha, in order to clarify the fourth noble truth, uses the metaphor of a remedy, the word he uses for a remedy is not pratikāra but bhaiṣajya (from bhiṣaj, to heal):

tad-vyādhi-saṃjñāṃ kuru duḥkha-satye doṣeṣv-api vyādhi-nidāna-saṃjñām /
So with regard to the truth of suffering, see suffering as an illness;
with regard to the faults, see the faults as the cause of the illness;
ārogya-saṃjñāṃ ca nirodha-satye bhaiṣajya-saṃjñām-api mārga-satye // SN16.41
With regard to the truth of stopping, see stopping as freedom from disease;
and with regard to the truth of a path, see a path as a remedy.

As part of that healing process, the Buddha advises Nanda to take counter-measures against ideas, thoughts, and fancies. In so advising, the Buddha favours the word pratipakṣa (opposite side, opposition, antagonist, opponent):

tad buddhvā pratipakṣeṇa vitarkaṃ kṣeptum-arhasi /
Being awake to this, you must see off thought by antagonistic means,
sūkṣmeṇa pratikīlena kīlaṃ dārv-antarād-iva // SN15.29
As if using a finely-honed counter-wedge to drive a wedge from a cleft in a log....

tasmād-eṣāṃ vitarkāṇāṃ prahāṇārthaṃ samāsataḥ /
So for the giving up, in short, of all these ideas,
ānāpāna-smṛtiṃ saumya viṣayī-kartum-arhasi // SN15.64
Reflective awareness while breathing out and in, my friend,
you should make into your own possession.

ity-anena prayogeṇa kāle sevitum-arhasi /
Using this device you should take in good time
pratipakṣān vitarkāṇāṃ gadānām-agadān-iva // SN15.65
Counter-measures against ideas, like remedies against illnesses.

(In this verse "remedies" is agadān -- agada meaning a medicine or drug, but especially an antitdote.)

te ced-alabdha-pratipakṣa-bhāvān naivopaśāmyeyur-asad-vitarkāḥ /
If their counteragent cannot be found and unreal fancies do not subside,
muhūrtam-apy-aprativadhyamānā gṛhe bhujaṃgā iva nādhivāsyāḥ // SN16.82 
They must not for a moment be left unchecked:
no whiff of them should be tolerated, as if they were snakes in the house.

In SN Canto 17 the Buddha does use the word pratīkāra, but – as in today's verse – it is in a somewhat pejorative sense:

yataḥ prasūtasya ca karmayogaḥ prasajyate bandha-vighāta-hetuḥ /
Insofar as a creature's industry, 
motivated by bond-making or bond-breaking impulse,
duḥkha-pratīkāra-vidhau sukhākhye tato bhavaṃ duḥkham-iti vyapaśyat // SN17.19 
Is dependent on a prescription, named "pleasure," for symptomatic relief of pain,
he saw, on that account, that existence is suffering.

Exactly thinking, then, on the evidence of Aśvaghoṣa's choice of words in Saundarananda, and also following the gist of the argument that the bodhisattva is about to unfold, we should not understand pratīkāra in today's verse as meaning a remedy, in the sense of a medicine that promotes true healing. We should rather understand duḥkha-pratīkāra as meaning a painkiller, an analgesic or mild anaesthetic, something that gives temporary symptomatic relief from pain and suffering without going to the real root of the problem.

Read like this, then, today's verse gives me another excuse to carry on with what I hope is the good work of connecting root and branch.


Avijjāya tveva asesavirāganirodhā saṅkhāranirodho...
But from the complete fading away and cessation of ignorance
there is the cessation of (volitional) processes...

...jātinirodhā jarāmaraṇaṁ,
...from the cessation of birth, old age, death,

sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā nirujjhanti,
grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair (all) cease,

evam-etassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hotī” ti.
and so there is a cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”


saṁsāra-mūlaṁ-saṁskārān-avidvān saṁskaroty-ataḥ 
Volitional formations, the root of saṁsāra, thus the unconscious one forms. 
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||MMK26.10||
The unconscious one therefore is the doer; 
the conscious one is not, because of reality showing itself.

avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
In the inhibition of unconsciousness, 
there is the non-coming-into-being of formations.
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||MMK26.11||
The inhibition of unconsciousness, however,
is because of the bringing into being of just this knowing.

tasya tasya nirodhena tat-tan nābhipravartate |
By the ending of this and that [link] this and that [link] no longer continue.
duḥkha-skandhaḥ kevalo 'yam evaṁ samyaṅ nirudhyate ||MMK26.12||
This whole aggregate of suffering in this way is well and truly ended.


Learn the backward step of turning light and reflecting.

Body and mind will spontaneously drop off

And the original features will emerge.


A final reflection is that when we go back to the original root, by which I mean that original teaching of the Buddha which the Pali Suttas endeavor to transmit verbatim and in which the writings of Aśvaghoṣa are evidently firmly grounded, the original root is very much concerned with eradication of the original root of suffering, which is namely unconsciousness or ignorance – avidyā in Sanskrit, avijjā in Pali.

But when I observe my habitual pscychophysical tendency in response to a recognition like the above, my habitual tendency as one who like solving puzzles is to be too seriously focused – at least for a time – on the target I have identified. My vision thus tends to become tunnel vision, I lose touch with Aśvaghoṣa's ever-present sense of ironic humour, and forget what Marjory Barlow used to emphasize as rule number one in Alexander work, which is that it should be enjoyable. (“It has to be fun.”)

So in the specific context of today's verse, the way I took it yesterday, when preparing the above comment, before I slept on it and sat and observed my self-righteous self, was as expressing a “somewhat pejorative” judgement on aspirin, paracetomol, ibuprofen, and the like. But on reflection the 1st dhyāna is a stage which is defined as being enjoyable, and  also as containing thoughts, considerations, reflections. It is not always a question of sitting on a round black cushion and going directly to jail without passing Go. The 1st dhyāna, moreover, is defined as separated, secluded, or distanced from desires – even from the desire to get swiftly to the original root of suffering and eradicate it.

At least as a starting point, I reflected this morning, bring on a bit of pain relief !


kāmāḥ (nom. pl.): m. desires
tu: but
bhogāḥ (nom. pl.): m. enjoyment , eating ; sexual enjoyment ; enjoyment of the earth or of a country i.e. rule , sway ; experiencing , feeling , perception (of pleasure or pain)
iti: “..,” thus
yad (acc. sg. n.): which
matiḥ (nom. sg.): f. thought, design ; opinion , notion , idea , belief , conviction , view , creed
matam [EBC] (acc. sg. n.): mfn. thought , believed , imagined , supposed , understood
syāt = 3rd pers. sg. opt. as: to be

bhogāḥ (nom. pl.): m. enjoyment , eating ; sexual enjoyment ; enjoyment of the earth or of a country i.e. rule , sway ; experiencing , feeling , perception (of pleasure or pain)
bhogyāḥ [EHJ] (nom. pl. m.): mfn. to be enjoyed , to be used (in the sense " to be eaten " bhojya is more common) , what may be enjoyed or used , useful , profitable
na ke-cit (nom. pl. m.): none, not any of them
parigaṇyamānāḥ = nom. pl. pres. part. passive pari- √ gaṇ: to count over , reckon up completely , ascertain by calculation ; to calculate , reckon , consider , reflect

vastrādayaḥ (nom. pl. m.): clothes et cetera
vastra: n. cloth , clothes , garment , raiment , dress , cover
dravya-guṇāḥ (nom. pl. m.): the accessories of (i.e. unimportant) things, Bcar. xi, 36
dravya: n. a substance , thing , object ; the ingredients or materials of anything ; medicinal substance or drug ; object of possession , wealth , goods , money
guṇa: m. a secondary element , subordinate or unessential part of any action (e.g. sarva-guṇa mfn. " reaching to all subordinate parts " , hence " valid throughout ") ; good quality , virtue , merit , excellence ; an organ of sense
EBC: “only the accessories of things”; EHJ: “the material objects of sense”; FN: For guṇa in the meaning 'object of sense', cp. the Buddhist use of kāmaguṇa.
kāmaguṇa: m. " quality of desire " , affection , passion ; satiety , perfect enjoyment ; an object of sense ; m. pl. the objects of the five senses , sensual enjoyments
hi: for
loke (loc. sg.): in the world

duḥkha-pratīkāraḥ (nom. sg.): m. a remedy for pain, Bcar.
pratīkāra = pratikāra: m. requital , retaliation , reward , retribution , revenge ; opposition , counteraction , prevention , remedy
prati- √ kṛ: to do or make an opposition; to counteract , resist ; to treat , attend to , cure (a disease)
iti: “...,” thus
pradhāryāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. to be regarded as (nom.), Bcar.
pra- √ dhṛ: , to set the mind upon anything (dat.) , resolve , determine : Caus. P. -dhārayati , to chastise , inflict a punishment on any one (loc. ; cf. daṇḍaṁ- √dhṛ) ; to keep in remembrance ; to reflect , consider

觀察資生具 非爲自在法

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