Friday, July 11, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.50: Two Aspects of Sincerity

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Indravajrā)
tan-nāsmi kāmān prati saṁpratāryaḥ kṣemaṁ śivaṁ mārgam-anuprapannaḥ |
smtvā su-httvaṁ tu punaḥ punar-māṁ brūhi pratijñāṁ khalu pālay' eti || 11.50

So not to be persuaded am I in the direction of desires,

Since I have entered on the peaceful, wholesome path.

But with friendship in mind, please tell me again and again:

“Hold firm to your promise!”

Today's verse can be read as introducing the concluding section of the present Canto whose ironic title (ironic assuming that Aśvaghoṣa chose it) is “Blaming Desires.”

But today's verse, and the twenty-odd verses that follow, do not seem to me at first glance to have an ironic sub-text. They seem rather to be designed to convey to us the wholehearted sincerity of a bodhisattva's mind.

Thus, in the first half of today's verse,  in relation to miscellaneous desires, the bodhisattva declares himself not liable to be swayed, not liable to be drawn off course, by miscellaneous desires. This is very different from blaming desires. At the same time, it is in accordance with his one overriding desire, which is to obtain peace. Thus in BC11.57 the bodhisattva describes himself as śāntim avāptu-kāmaḥdesirous of obtaining peace.

In the first half of today's verse, then, the bodhisattva is showing himself to be immune to any entreaty, even from a well-meaning friend like King Bimbisāra, that would draw him off course.

Lest this sounds like the defensive response of one who is a closed system, however, the bodhisattva asks his friend to keep telling him, “Keep your promise.” “Stick to your vow of practice.”

The promise the bodhisattva is referring to, let us remind ourselves, looking back, is the lion's roar with which he made a promise to himself to cross to the far shore beyond saṁsāra:
Then he with the lengthened eyes of a lotus – one born of mud, not of water – surveyed the city and roared a lion's roar: / “Until I have seen the far shore of birth and death I shall never again enter the city named after Kapila.” //BC5.84//

At the same time, in the final verse of the present Canto, looking ahead, the bodhisattva makes to King Bimbisāra a firm promise that he will, having accomplished his task, show favour to the King – by teaching him. This also is a promise that, as would have been confirmed in the second half of the poem if we had it, the bodhisattva did keep.

The bodhisattva's promise, then, we are going to be reminded by the exchange with King Bimbisāra, is a promise that I will cross over to the far shore, in order to help others across.

Hence, earlier in BC Canto 5, the prince tells the horse Kanthaka:
Fully appreciate, then, this act of mine, yoked to dharma, of getting out, proceeding from here, for the welfare of the world; / And exert yourself, O best of horses, with quick and bold steps, for your own good and the good of the world.”//BC5.78//

And again, in his portrait of the Tathāgāta in SN Canto 3, Aśvaghoṣa writes:

sa hi doṣa-sāgaram-agādham-upadhi-jalam-ādhi-jantukaṁ /
For the fathomless sea of faults, whose water is falsity, where fish are cares,
krodha-mada-bhaya-taraṅga-calaṁ pratatāra lokam-api ca vyatārayat // SN3.14
And which is disturbed by waves of anger, lust, and fear;
he had crossed, and he took the world across too.

In conclusion, then, although the last twenty or so verses of the present Canto may prove to be relatively light on irony, they do contain a paradox. It is a paradox which is also recognized in Alexander work, and especially on an Alexander teacher-training course, which is namely that it is necessary to keep working on oneself, in the way of non-doing, in order to be able to do anything truly constructive in the world for others. 

And in today's verse the bodhisattva seems to touch on this paradox by blanking out the other like a complete emotional brick, and in the same breath asking for the other's morale support. 

tad: therefore
na: not
asmi: I am
kāmān (acc. pl. m.): desires
prati: towards
saṁpratāryaḥ = nom. sg. m. causative gerundive sam-pra √tṛṛ: to cross over (acc.)
pra √tṛṛ: to go to sea , pass over , cross ; to set out, start ; to raise , elevate , augment , increase , further , promote ; (causative) to mislead , take in , deceive ; to lead astray , seduce , persuade

kṣemam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. habitable ; giving rest or ease or security ; at ease , prosperous , safe
śivam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. auspicuous, wholesome, happy
mārgam (acc. sg.): m. path, road
anuprapannaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. following after , conformed to
anu-pra- √ pad: to enter or approach or arrive after ; to follow , act in conformance to.

smṛtvā = abs. smṛ: to remember, be mindful, bear in mind
su-hṛttvam (acc. sg.): n. friendship , friendliness , affection
tu: but
punaḥ punaḥ: ind. repeatedly, again and again

mām (acc. sg. m.): me
brūhi = 2nd pers. sg. imperative brū: to speak, tell
pratijñām (acc. sg.): f. promise, vow, pledge
khalu: ind. (as a particle of asseveration) indeed , verily , certainly , truly; (as a continuative particle) now , now then , now further
pālaya = 2nd pers. sg. causative imperative pā: to watch , keep , preserve, protect
iti: “...,” thus

我情之所期 清涼虚通道
汝欲相饒益 助成我所求

[Relation with Sanskrit tenuous] 

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