Friday, July 25, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.64: Making Sacrifices

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
yad-āttha cādīpta-phalāṁ kulocitāṁ kuruṣva dharmāya makha-kriyām-iti |
namo makhebhyo na hi kāmaye sukhaṁ parasya duḥkha-kriyayā-yad-iṣyate || 11.64

Again, as for you telling me, for the sake of dharma,

To carry out a sacrificial act which is proper to my noble house
and which will bring a brilliant result –

All hail and farewell to sacrifices! For I do not desire the happiness

Which is sought by an act that causes others suffering.

Today's verse is the first of four devoted to falsifying a false idea about making sacrifices which King Bimbisāra expressed in the previous Canto. Though to put it like this may be to do King Bimbisāra a disservice. What the King actually said was:

ath' o cikīrṣā tava dharma eva yajasva yajñaṁ kula-dharma eṣaḥ
Now if your desire is to practise nothing but dharma,
then offer up the act of offering, as is the dharma of your noble house;
yajñair-adhiṣṭhāya hi nāka-pṛṣṭhaṁ yayau marutvān-api nāka-pṛṣṭham || BC10.39
For, having gone, by means of acts of offering, up to the upper reaches of heaven,
even 'Marut-attended' Indra, by means of acts of offering,
reached those uppermost reaches.

suvarṇa-keyūra-vidaṣṭa-bāhavo maṇi-pradīpojjvala-citra-maulayaḥ |
For, with arms hugged by golden bands,
with conspicuous crowns blazing with the light of gems,
nṛparṣayas-tāṁ hi gatiṁ gatā makhaiḥ śrameṇa yām-eva mahārṣayo yayuḥ || BC10.40
Seers who were protectors of men have walked that same path, by their sacrifices,
which the maharishis, the great seers, reached by their hard practice.”

Ostensibly, then, the King was recommending the bodhisattva to carry out cruel sacrifices involving the killing of animals, but it is also possible to read the King's words as encouraging the bodhisattva to make beneficial sacrifices, by serving up his own practice as an offering to ancestors.

Equally, on the surface the bodhisattva in today's verse – with his ironic salute of namo makebhyaḥ, “All hail [and farewell] to sacrifices!” – is simply expressing his disapproval of animal sacrifices. Hence EHJ translated namo makebhyaḥ “I do not approve of sacrifices.”  

It is very clear that Gautama, either as a bodhisattva or as the Buddha, never approved of animal sacrifices. But in this first in a series of four verses about sacrifice, Aśvaghoṣa may be making a more general point about any kind of sacrifice that brings needless suffering on self or others. 

A deeper reading, then, may be that the bodhisattva is expressing disapproval not only of animal sacrifices but of any action that is motivated by the desire to go directly for some result, without due attention to a proper means-whereby. Read like that, the deeper meaning of duḥka-kriyā, lit. “an act of suffering,” might be an act in which is sacrificed the integrity of the agent.

This is the kind of action that the ignorant one, the doer, is constantly engaging in. Thus, even though he may have the very best of intentions, the ignorant one, the doer, acts in such a way that unintended side-effects are produced.

Ordinarily, this happens when a Zen master teaches his followers to sit upright in a good posture, and those followers end up with stiff-necks, frozen shoulders, head-aches, and associated psychological symptoms like mental rigidity.

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.

How, here and now, does one prevent oneself from doing the doings (or forming the volitional formations) which are the root of saṁsāra? How does one allow, encourage or invite reality to make itself known? 

A child on the autistic spectrum, whose difficulties are not only psychological, whose difficulties are deeply to do with sensory processing -- how the hell is he to let reality be realized at the moment when he is faced with the stimulus that makes him want to cover his ears with his hands and scream and kick out at the nearest person? I am not talking here about philosophy. I am talking about the noise of a fucking angle grinder being used all day to cut through solid rock. 

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.

Somehow it is necessary to hold it together, by temporarily running away from one's sitting platform, until the angle grinder is put away for the weekend and the opportunity once again arises to sit in quietness practising non-doing, bringing into being the act of knowing. 

I don't know. I spend my life running away from loud noise, but loud noise seems to follow me around, as if seeking me out. Probably in a past life I badly offended somebody's ears by making too much noise, and so this is karmic retribution. 

The contrast here by the forest is so stark. When human beings and all their noisy machines and noisy domesticated cockerels and dogs are quiet, circumstances are unbelievably peaceful.... and as I finish this sentence, up the angle grinder starts. 

I will sacrifice myself long enough to publish this post, and then find somewhere to shelter my ears. 

yad: that, what
āttha = 2nd pers. sg. perf. √ah: to say
ca: and
ā-dīpta-phalām (acc. sg. f.): mfn. bringing a blazing/brilliant result
ā-dīpta: mfn. set on fire , blazing up
vā (EBC): or
dīpta-phalām (acc. sg. f.): mfn. bearing glorious fruit, Bcar.
dīpta: mfn. blazing , flaming , hot , shining , bright , brilliant , splendid
api (EHJ): also
iṣṭa-phalām (EHJ) (acc. sg. f.): having a desired fruit
kulocitām (acc. sg. f.): mfn. customary in a family Bcar.
ucita: mfn. delightful , pleasurable , agreeable ; customary , usual ; proper , suitable , convenient

kuruṣva = 2nd pers. sg. imperative kṛ: to do, make
dharmāya (dat. sg.): for dharma
makha-kriyām (acc. sg.): f. a sacrificial rite
iti: “...,” thus

namaḥ: n. bow , obeisance , reverential salutation , adoration (by gesture or word ; often with dat. e.g. rāmāya namaḥ , salutation or glory to rāma)
makhebhyaḥ (dat. pl.): m. a sacrifice , sacrificial oblation
na: not
hi: for
kāmaye = 1st pers. sg. kam: to wish, desire
sukham (acc. sg.): n. pleasure, happiness

parasya (gen. sg.): of/for the other
duḥkha-kriyayā (inst. sg.) f. an act [that causes] suffering
duḥkha-kara [p= 483,2] [L=93409] mf(ī)n. causing pain to (gen.)
yad (acc. sg. n.): [that] which
iṣyate = 1st pers. sg. iṣ: to seek, wish for, desire

祠祀修大會 是皆愚癡故
應當崇正法 反殺以祠天
害生而求福 此則無慈人 

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