Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.62: Good Luck & Trouble

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
jarāyudho vyādhi-vikīrṇa-sāyako yadāntiko vyādha ivāśivaḥ sthitaḥ |
prajā-mgān bhāgya-vanāśritāṁs-tudan vayaḥ-prakarṣaṁ prati ko mano-rathaḥ || 11.62

When Death, with old age as his weapon
and diseases as his strewn projectiles,

Stands by like an implacable hunter,

Striking down the man-deer
that seek refuge in the forest of good fortune,

Who can relish the prospect of a ripe old age?

The metaphor in today's verse speaks for itself, except to say that the compound bhāgya-vana strikes me as expressing a certain irony, since bhāgya generally carries a connotation of good luck.

EBC translated the 3rd pāda as “smiting down living creatures who fly like deer to the forest of destiny, EHJ “as he strikes down like deer the people, who dwell in forests of fate,” and PO “striking down people as if they were deer entering the forest of doom.

But if we take bhāgya to mean good luck, the sense is of people who are as ignorant, in regard to cause and effect, as deer are ignorant.

Because, if we weren't so ignorant in regard to cause and effect, how would we go on thinking so often in terms of good and bad luck?

The golfer Gary Player was resisting this kind of ignorance when he famously said, "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

The question then arises: what kind of practice? For example, if we are talking about sitting, is it practice in which I try to arrange myself? Or is it practice in which I do not even think about arranging myself? 

"You cannot do an undoing," Marjory Barlow used to say. But that does not prevent the ignorant one from trying. 

This morning I got up way too early and pushed myself to keep on sitting in my tired and sleepy state. Pushing oneself to practice like this, Dogen said, is delusion. Enlightenment, conversely, is when practice spontaneously pushes us. 

To perk myself up, at the risk of disturbing sleeping birds with my droning, I recited out loud Fukan-zazengi, and my bleary attention alighted on one phrase in particular: 

Revere a person who is through with study and free of doing...

For not a few years I fancied myself to be such a person. But then six years ago, suffering from a nagging pain in the stomach, I decided that I had better return to study, channeling my energy into this translation effort -- willfully engaging in what Dogen denigrated as GON O TAZUNE GO O OU NO GEGYO, the intellectual work of pursuing sayings and chasing words. 

In translating the 4th pāda I have followed PO in using a bit of poetic license, since the literal translation --something like “what chariot/joy of the mind [is there] in the direction of prolongation of life?” -- seems to call for it. PO translated, "How can one dream about a ripe old age?" 

Ratha can mean either joy or chariot and so mano-ratha is an inherently ambiguous compound, but it generally suggests an inclination of the mind in a direction it rejoices to go in. On this occasion, however, EHJ translates, “what illusion can there be about the prolongation of one’s days?” and notes: The context makes it necessary to take manoratha in this very rare sense.

jarāyudhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): having old age as a weapon
āyudha: n. a weapon
vyādhi-vikīrṇa-sāyakaḥ (nom. sg. m.): having diseases as his scattered missiles
vyādhi: m. disorder , disease , ailment , sickness ,
vikīrṇa: mfn. scattered , thrown about , dispersed &c
sāyaka: mfn. intended or fitted to be discharged or hurled; m. a missile , arrow

yadā: ind. when
antikaḥ (nom. sg.): m. death; mfn. (fr. anta, end, death) , only ifc. reaching to the end
vyādhaḥ (nom. sg.): m. a hunter
iva: like
āśritaḥ (nom .sg. m.): mfn. attaching one's self to , joining; inhabiting , dwelling in , resting on , being anywhere , taking one's station at
aśivaḥ (EHJ) (nom. sg. m.): mfn. unkind , envious , pernicious , dangerous
sthitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. standing, standing firm, remaining

prajā-mṛgān (acc. pl. m.): men-deer 
prajā: f. offspring; a creature , animal , man , mankind
mṛga: m. a forest animal or wild beast , game of any kind , (esp.) a deer
bhāgya-vanāśritān (acc. pl. m.): taking refuge in the forest of their destiny
bhāgya: n. fate , destiny (resulting from merit or demerit in former existences) , fortune , (esp.) good fortune , luck , happiness , welfare
āśrita: mfn. having recourse to , resorting to as a retreat or asylum , seeking refuge or shelter from
vana: n. forest
tudan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. tud: to push , strike , goad , bruise , sting , vex

vayaḥ-prakarṣam (nom. sg.): m. prolongation of life
prakarṣa: m. pre-eminence , excellence , superiority , excess , intensity , high degree; length of time , duration
prati: ind. towards
kaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who? which? what?
mano-rathaḥ (nom. sg. m.): " heart's joy " , a wish , desire (also = desired object) ; the heart compared to a car

無常爲獵師 老弓病利箭
於生死曠野 常伺衆生鹿

得便斷其命 孰聽終年壽 

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