Thursday, August 14, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.10: Going Against Convention

śiṣye yady-api vijñāte śāstraṁ kālena varṇyate |
gāmbhīryād-vyavasāyāc-ca na parīkṣyo bhavān mama || 12.10

Although the teaching [as a rule]
is elucidated after some time,

When the student has been investigated,

From the depth of your sincerity, 
and the strength of your resolve,

There is no need for me to examine you.”

Today's verse can be read as antithetical to yesterday's verse in a couple of ways.

Firstly, and most evidently, the 1st pādas of both verses have a verb from vi-√jñā, to investigate. (The 2nd pāda of tomorrow's verse does too.) Yesterday's verse describes investigation conventionally, in terms of a student investigating the dharma. Today's verse turns the tables, describing how a teacher may investigate a student before deciding whether or not to teach anything to him or her. In other words, the subject of investigation in yesterday's verse has become the object of investigation in today's verse.

Secondly, yesterday's verse can be read as expressing a general rule. The general rule is that human knowledge is like a raft by means of which we are to overcome hardships and difficulties and approach our human aims. In today's verse, on the contrary, Arāḍa is expressing his willingness to make a special case of the bodhisattva-prince, dispensing with preliminaries and thereby breaking a general rule.

In the spirit of going against convention, I would like to express my opposition to all -isms, and especially Buddhism.

On the radio this morning it was reported, as a possibly anti-semitic incident, that FREE GAZA was daubed on the wall of a synagogue in Brighton, and so the rhetorical question was raised, what has the bombing of Gaza got to with Judaism? 

Quite a lot, it seems to me.

To condemn the actions of the Israeli state, evidently, is regarded as politically acceptable, or maybe even politically imperative, in my country, Britain (including Scotland!) at the present time. But any view that is perceived to be rooted in anti-semitism is not acceptable, as if such a view ran the risk of being the thin end of the wedge leading to another Nazi genocide.

So when I hear on my beloved BBC Radio 4 people dancing on the head of a pin so as to distinguish between Judaism and the actions of the Jewish state of Israel, so as not to commit the cardinal sin of appearing to be anti-semitic, I feel the urge to poke my head above the parapet and declare my own anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism, according to Wikipedia is prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group.

In that case, where do I sign?

I am totally prejudiced against Jews as a religious group. In equal measure I am Islamophobic. And I am not overly keen on Christianity either. But most of all I abhor Buddhism, in all its forms.

This morning a robin hopped onto the porch of my meditation hut. And in its very action of bob-bob-bobbing along, the red red robin seemed to be expressing the essence of the Buddha's teaching, and I loved it. But Buddhism in all its forms – Theravada, Zen, Tibetan, you name it – I hate.

If the Buddha appeared in the world today, he would lack the qualifications to get an academic position in the field known as Buddhist studies. But if he earned a degree in say, Sanskrit, and then explained in a detailed historical thesis, amply cross-referenced to the literature of other Buddhist scholars, how his own original teaching evolved into all the various schools and sects of Buddhism, then they would give him a Ph. D. no problem.

It is the same perverse situation that Ken Robinson has pointed out in connection with Picasso and art historians. In the educational hierarchy as it stands, those who go to university to study art history are higher up the pecking order than artists who go to art college to make art. So somebody who couldn't paint a barn door with a 6-inch brush but who had earned a Ph. D. by writing about Picasso, would be higher up the educational food chain than Picasso himself.

śiṣye (loc. sg.): m. pupil, student
yadi: ind. if
api: even
vijñāte (loc. sg. m.): mfn. discerned , understood , known &c
vi- √ jñā: to distinguish , discern , observe , investigate , recognize , ascertain , know , understand ; to have right knowledge ; to become wise or learned

śāstram (nom. sg.): n. order ; teaching , instruction , direction , advice , good counsel; any instrument of teaching , any manual or compendium of rules , any bock or treatise , (esp.) any religious or scientific treatise , any sacred book ; a body of teaching (in general)
kālena: ind. (inst.) after a long time
varṇyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive varṇ: to paint , colour , dye ; to depict , picture , write , describe , relate , tell , explain

gāmbhīryāt (abl. sg.): n. deepness , depth (of water , sound , &c ) ; n. depth or profundity of character , earnestness
vyavasāyāt (abl. sg.): m. strenuous effort or exertion ; settled determination , resolve , purpose , intention
ca: and

na: not
parīkṣyaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. to be tried or tested or examined or proved
bhavān (nom. sg.): m. the gentleman present, you
mama (gen. sg.): for me

凡人誘來學 審才而後教
我今已知汝 堅固決定志
但當任意學 終無隱於子


George O'Donoghue said...

Are you okay??

Mike Cross said...

Hi George. Thank you for the concern. My neighbour by the forest (who lets me piggy-back on his wifi) has gone on holiday. And on the night he went a thunderstorm seemed to knock out his internect connection. Am writing this from a wifi hotspot in the local town. Hope to resume normal service ASAP.

George O'Donoghue said...

Good to hear. I can usually set my clock by your posts.

Mike Cross said...

I am sorry about the hiatus. Part of this project has been a desire to demonstrate constancy. But even monkeys fall from trees. I shall publish today all in one go the posts I haven't been able to publish and then hopefully get back into the usual rhythm. Thanks for having made this blog part of your own daily routine....