Saturday, August 2, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.72: Anticipating Accomplishment

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
npo 'bravīt-sāñjalir-āgata-spho yatheṣṭam-āpnotu bhavān-avighnataḥ |
avāpya kāle kta-ktyatām-imāṁ mamāpi kāryo bhavatā tv-anugrahaḥ || 11.72

With hands joined as if in prayer, the protector of men spoke, inspired:

“May you gain your end without hindrance, just as you desire.

But when in time you have accomplished this task,

Please show favour towards me too.”

Today's verse is another one of those that forms an essential part of the narrative of the Buddha's life. We would not necessarily expect it, as such, to be full of philosophical meaning.

And yet, as was also the case with for example BC11.69, progression through four phases is readily discernible in today's verse.

Thus, in the 1st pāda, the king is described as exhibiting religious behaviour with body and mind.

In the 2nd pāda the king says something which, when we stop and think about it, is antithetical to usual religious sensibilities, and totally antithetical in particular to the religious notion that pursuit of what one desires is sinful.

In the 3rd pāda the discussion becomes practical. In practice there are jobs to be done. But a proper job – like the one I am endeavoring to do now with this translation – cannot be done all at once. It has to be done over time. And sometimes the more time one gives oneself, the better the job one is able to do.

In the 4th pāda the king's words suggest the phase beyond a bodhisattva's doing of his proper job, which is the teaching of a buddha who takes pity on others – as per the concluding verse of Nāgārjuna's MMK:

sarva-dṛṣṭi-prahāṇāya yaḥ saddharmam-adeśayat |
anukampām upādāya taṁ namasyāmi gautamam || MMK27.30

In the direction of abandoning all views,
He taught the true dharma,
Taking pity.
I bow to him, Gautama.

A further reflection on today's verse, having slept on it and sat, is that when we talk about accomplishment of a task, we usually can't help thinking in terms of doing something. I scythe the grass and look at a big stack of hay with a sense of accomplishment. I keep translating one verse per day and approach the end of this Canto with a sense of accomplishment. But the job the bodhisattva has referred to in the previous verse is not a job to be done. On the contrary, what the bodhisattva has in mind is going in the direction of undoing, of coming un-done. 

Because of this dichotomy between doing and non-doing, pravṛtti and nivṛtti, the Buddha as Aśvaghoṣa records him, is constantly making reference to those two terms, pravṛtti (progressive action, getting somewhere, doing) and nivṛtti (regressive action, going nowhere, non-doing). 

And the thing that occured to me afresh this morning, as I sat, is that when I fail to realize in my sitting a Springing Up (samutpāda), it is invariably because of not having gone back (pratītya) far enough in the direction of non-doing. 

The real root of suffering is always further back than I thought it was. 

Look at what is going on between Israel and Gaza. The Israeli government and Hamas -- two groups full of people who believe they are right. In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was God. Their God. 

But in the beginning, in the Buddha's teaching, in practice, suffering goes all the way back to ignorance. The original root of all suffering is ignorance. My ignorance. 

nṛpaḥ (nom. sg.): m. king, protector of men
abravīt = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect brū: to speak
sāñjaliḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. with hands hollowed and joined (in supplication » añjali)
āgata-spṛhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): visited/filled by longing / delight
spṛhā: f. eager desire , desire , covetousness , envy , longing for , pleasure or delight in

yatheṣṭam: ind. according to wish or inclination , at pleasure , agreeably
āpnotu = 3rd pers. sg. imperative āp: to reach, obtain ; passive - to be reached or found or met with or obtained ; to arrive at one's aim or end
bhavān (nom. sg m.): the gentleman present, you
avighnataḥ: ind. without obstacle

avāpya = abs. ava-√āp: to reach, attain, obtain
kāle (loc. sg.): in time
kṛta-kṛtyatām (acc. sg.): f. the full discharge of any duty or realisation of any object , accomplishment , success
kṛta: n. deed , work , action ; n. aim
kṛtya: mfn. " to be done or performed "
imām (acc. sg. f.): this

mama (gen. sg.): for me
api: also
kāryaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. to be done, to be shown
bhavatā (inst. sg. m.): by the gentleman present, by you
tu: but
anugrahaḥ (nom. sg.): m. favour , kindness , showing favour , conferring benefits , promoting or furthering a good object

時王即叉手 敬徳心歡喜
如汝之所求 願令果速成
汝速成果已 當還攝受我

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

In the direction of abandoning all views,
He taught the true dharma,
Putting compassion into practice.
I bow to him, Gautama.