Monday, July 14, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.53: Devotion to Objects (And Its Opposite)

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bālā)
andhāya yaś-ca sphayed-an-andho baddhāya mukto vidhanāya cāḍhyaḥ |
unmatta-cittāya ca kalya-cittaḥ sphāṁ sa kuryād-viṣayātmakāya || 11.53

Again, the sighted man who envies a blind man,

The free man who envies a prisoner,
The rich man who envies a pauper;

And the sane man who envies the madman –

He would feel envy towards the devotee of objects.

Today's verse features five pairs of opposites, one of whose elements is not defined.
(1) the blind is opposed to the sighted,
(2) the bound to the free,
(3) the poor to the rich, and
(4) the insane to the sane;
but it is left up to the reader to figure out
(5) the devotee of objects is opposed to whom?

One way of filling in the gap is like this:

Viṣayātmaka means devoted to worldly or sensual objects (hence EBC: one who is devoted to worldly objects; EHJ: the man given up to the objects of sense; PO: a person who's a slave to objects of sense). Therefore the opposite of viṣayātmakaḥ might be a man who is devoted not to worldly or sensual objects but rather to a spiritual object.

This line of thought might be supported at the beginning of the present Canto when the bodhisattva describes his own desire for release:
Having become aware of the terror of ageing and dying, I with desire for release (mumukṣayā) have taken to this dharma (BC11.7).

The gap may be filled more completely, however, by understanding the opposite of viṣayātmakaḥ (being devoted to objects) as not being devoted to objects, whether sensual or spiritual, but rather as being devoted to a process, or a path.

Another candidate to represent the opposite of viṣayātmakaḥ, then, is the man of wisdom (prājñaḥ) who knows how troublesome it can be to desire any object – even release, when release is so understood, as a spiritual object. Hence:
There is nothing in the world as troublesome as desires, and yet it is to them that people, out of ignorance, are attached. / Knowing the truth to be so, what trouble-wary man of wisdom (an-artha-bhīruḥ prājñaḥ) would wilfully covet trouble? //BC11.11//

But the strongest candidate to represent the opposite of viṣayātmakaḥ is the one who appears as the subject of the twelve verses from BC11.22 – 33, namely the man in possession of himself (ātmavān).

The man in possession of himself is not devoted to objects, is not governed by objects, and is not governed by what ordinarily governs all of us. 

When I sat this morning, and directed my head to go forward and up, I  remembered what a teacher of non-doing said to me several years ago, along the lines of we wish to be freed from what ordinarily governs us.  

The man in possession of himself (ātmavān) might thus be the man or woman who is released from the grip of what ordinarily governs him or her. This man in possession of himself is not the man who Nāgārjuna calls the ignorant one (avidvān), not the doer (kārakaḥ): he might rather be the wise one, the one who knows (vidvān), the one who knows the cessation of doings, the one who knows the act of that-ness realizing itself, the one who knows the bringing into being of just this act of knowing. 

This man in possession of himself, then, this wise one (vidvān), might be the wise one (prājñaḥ) mentioned in BC11.39:
What wise one (prājñaḥ) would admit “I am relishing enjoyments,” while engaged in the counteraction? (BC11.39)

Going further, he might also be the protector of men, and the one in the royal state mentioned in BC11.46 – 47:
Sovereignty is fleeting and faced with many enemies: when a protector of men (nṛpaḥ) believes in it and breathes easy, he is come to nought. (BC11.46)
Is not the royal state (rāja-bhāvaḥ) the exhausting of oneself for others? (BC11.47).

Finally, the bodhisattva speaks of the non-devotee of objects in the first person singular: 

So not to be persuaded am I (asmi) in the direction of desires, since I have entered on the peaceful, wholesome path (BC11.50).

Reviewing the present Canto in this light, BC11.50 can be read as bringing the discussion back full circle, so that the protector of men (BC11.46), who is wise (BC11.39; BC11.11), and who is in possession of himself (BC11.22-33), turns out again to be the one who is not devoted to or governed by objects of desire, because of devoting himself to a process or a path (BC11.50; BC11.7).

Thus stimulated by today's verse to review the Canto to date, we see again the irony of the Canto title kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ, Blaming Desires. The Canto is in fact much less concerned with blaming desires in the plural than it is concerned with encouraging self-possession, wisdom, and desire – in the singular – for a process of release. 

The bodhisattva describes the process in BC11.50 as (kṣemaṁ śivaṁ mārgam), a peaceful, wholesome path. At the same time, he speaks in BC11.7 of having the desire for release (mumukṣayā). 

In conclusion, I feel stimulated to venture, it really is not a question of blaming desires or of blaming objects of desire -- whether those objects be spiritual, sexual, sensory, or practical. It is ultimately all a question of being released from the grip of what ordinarily governs us, by -- in Nāgārjuna's words -- bringing into being just this act of knowing (jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt). 

saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ |
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||MMK26.10

The doings which are the root of saṁsāra

Thus does the ignorant one do.

The ignorant one therefore is the doer;

The wise one is not, because of reality making itself known.

avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||MMK26.11

In the ceasing of ignorance,

There is the non-coming-into-being of doings.

The cessation of ignorance, however,

Is because of the bringing-into-being of just this act of knowing.

tasya tasya nirodhena tat-tan nābhipravartate |
duḥkha-skandhaḥ kevalo 'yam evaṁ samyaṅ nirudhyate ||MMK26.12

By the destruction of each [link],

Each is discontinued.

This whole edifice of suffering

Is thus totally demolished.

If the Pali Suttas provide the most faithful guide to the root, which is firmly and deeply planted in the earth of bhāvana, and if Dogen's teaching of just sitting is the branch and the flower, then there might be nothing better than the Sanskrit verse of Aśvaghoṣa and Nāgārjuna for connecting root and branch. 

andhāya (dat. sg. n.): mfn. blind ; n. darkness
yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
ca: and
spṛhayet = 3rd pers. sg. optative spṛh: to be eager , desire eagerly , long for (dat. gen. , or acc.)
an-andhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. not blind

baddhāya (dat. sg. n.): mfn. bound, tied ; captured , imprisoned , caught , confine
muktaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. set free, let loose
vidhanāya (dat. sg. n.): mfn. devoid of wealth , poor
ca: and
āḍhyaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. opulent , wealthy , rich

unmatta-cittāya (dat. sg. n.): mfn. disordered in mind, a maniac, Bcar.
unmatta: mfn. disordered in intellect , distracted , insane , frantic , mad
ca: and
kalya-cittaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. sound in mind, Bcar.
kalya: mfn. well , healthy , free from sickness

spṛhām (acc. sg.): f. eager desire , desire , covetousness , envy , longing for , pleasure or delight in (dat. , gen. loc. , or comp.; with √ kṛ , " to envy any one [loc.])
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
kuryāt = 3rd pers. sg. optative kṛ: to do, make
viṣayātmakāya (dat. sg. n.): mfn. consisting of or identified with worldly objects , sensual, carnal

有目羨盲人 已解復求縛
富者願貧窮 智者習愚癡

世有如此人 則我應樂國

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