Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.68: Constant Direction vs Haphazard End-gaining

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
na ca pratāryo 'smi phala-pravttaye bhaveṣu rājan ramate na me manaḥ |
latā ivāmbho-dhara-vṣṭi-tāḍitāḥ pravttayaḥ sarva-gatā hi cañcalāḥ || 11.68

I am not to be swayed in the direction of going for results.

My mind, O king!, does not delight in continuities of becoming.

For, like creepers beaten down under a cloudburst,

End-gaining actions waver haphazardly in every direction. 

Today's verse highlights the link between an undue orientation towards results and inconstancy of direction. 

In general creepers are symbols of what is fragile and inconstant. The counter-example, of constancy of direction, is water flower constantly -- whether in a trickle or in a torrent -- in one channel. Hence: 

A man obtains water if he digs the ground with unflagging exertion,
And produces fire from fire-sticks by continuous twirling. /
But those are sure to reap the fruit of their effort whose energies are harnessed to practice,
For rivers that flow swiftly and constantly cut through even a mountain. // SN16.97 //

In the metaphor on which today's verse centres, the fragile inconstancy of creepers is shown up when rain beats down on their leaves, which waver to and fro haphazardly and inconstantly, going all over the place. In this the creepers stand for our end-gaining actions, by which our energy becomes dispersed every which way. 

Reflecting further on the metaphor, in terms of direction, clouds are up in the sky and the rain they release travels down towards the earth. The creepers, conversely, are growing up out of the earth and spiralling up towards the sky.  When the rain beats down on the creepers' leaves, it is true, those leaves are battered this way and that in a wavering, haphazard fashion. But even fragile creepers, so long as they keep growing, maintain a constant direction. And that direction is up

My seeing the metaphor in this light -- in terms not only of the downward direction of the rain, and not only of the haphazard directions which are produced when rain beats down on creepers, but in terms also of the constant upward direction of the creepers' growth -- is very much influenced by the teaching of FM Alexander. 

In Alexander work the central aim is to allow oneself to be directed up. Alexander clearly saw, however, the irony that if one (a) sees the aim as going up, and (b) goes for that result directly, relying on unconscious guidance, the result is invariably that one pulls oneself down, with all kinds of unwanted side-effects manifesting themselves all over the place -- in stiff neck, tight shoulders, poor circulation and digestion, headaches, back pain, et ceter, et cetera -- in every direction. 

Hence the importance of understanding, not only in theory but in practice, why Dogen spoke of sitting-Zen as a backward step; and, equally, why the awakened Buddha took pains to draw a line between pravṛtti (progressive/endgaining action; going for it; doing) and nivṛtti (non-doing). 
Comprehend, therefore, that suffering is doing (pravṛtti); witness the faults impelling it forward; / Realise its stopping as non-doing  (nivṛtti); and know the path as a turning back. // 16.42 //
It is evident from today's verse that the bodhisattva already had no lack of insight into this distinction even before he became the fully awakened sambuddha. 

na: not
ca: and
pratāryaḥ = nom. sg. m. gerundive causative pra- √tṛṛ: to mislead , take in , deceive; to lead astray , seduce , persuade to (dat. or loc.)
asmi = 1st per. sg. as: to be
phala-pravṛttaye = dat. sg. phala-pravṛtti = phala-prayukta: mfn. connected with or producing consequences , yielding fruit

bhaveṣu (loc. pl.): m. birth; becoming ; being , state of being , existence , life ; worldly existence , the world (= saṁsāra); (with Buddhists) continuity of becoming (a link in the twelvefold chain of causation)
rājan (voc. sg.) : O king!
ramate = 3rd pers. sg. ram: to delight in
na: not
me (gen. sg.): my
manaḥ (nom. sg.): n. mind

latāḥ (nom. pl.): f. a creeper , any creeping or winding plant or twining tendril
iva: like
ambho-dhara-vṛṣṭi-tāḍitāḥ (nom. pl. f.): beaten by rain from water-bearers
taḍ: to beat , strike , knock , strike (with arrows) , wound , punish ; (in astron.) to obscure or eclipse partially

pravṛttayaḥ (nom. pl.): f. moving onwards; coming forth ; activity , exertion , efficacy , function ; active life, doing
sarva-gatāḥ (nom. pl. f.): mfn. all-pervading
hi: for
cañcalāḥ (nom. pl. f.): mfn. (fr. Intens. √cal) moving to and fro , movable , unsteady , shaking , quivering , flickering ; unsteady , inconstant , inconsiderate

三界有爲果 悉非我所樂
諸趣流動法 如風水

No comments: