Sunday, August 24, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.16: Our Ultimate Purpose (To Listen?)

[Wednesday, August 20th]

śrūyatām ayam-asmākaṁ siddhāntaḥ śṇvatāṁ vara |
yathā bhavati saṁsāro yathā caiva nivartate || 12.16

“Let this be learned, O best of listeners,

As our ultimate purpose:

How saṁsāra comes into being,

And how it ceases to be.

Today's verse as I read it is the fourth verse in the fourth series of four verses with which the present Canto opens. As such, at the fourth phase, it naturally points to the ultimate point of sitting-meditation. The point might be somehow to get oneself off the merry-go-round of saṁsāra.

For the 4th pāda, the old Nepalese manuscript has yathā vai parivartate, but EHJ notes:
A's [the old Nepalese manuscript's] reading in d is faulty and vai is suspicious ; for the Saṁkhya use of parivartate cp MBh xii, 7667 (samparivartate) and Bhag Gīta, ix 10 (viparivartate). The corruption is easily explained paleographically.

If we accept EHJ's amendment, the irony might be that Arāḍa ultimately cannot tell, because he does not yet know, the means whereby the bodhisattva might accomplish as our ultimate purpose the ceasing of saṁsāra. And yet, if we also accept the teaching of the Zen ancestors that the ultimate purpose is just to sit, then below the surface Arāḍa might be pointing directly in today's verse to that ultimate purpose, with his exhortation that it should be learned by listening.

Just to sit, I venture to submit, is what Nāgārjuna meant by bringing-into-being the act of knowing. As such, just sitting is not an act of doing, but it might be an act of true listening.

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.

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.

Being too quick when it comes to doing, and not quick enough when it comes to listening, might be the essence of saṁsāra.

The Heart Sutra as recited in Japanese begin with the words KAN-JIZAI-BOSATSU..., which can literally be translated “Free in listening is the bodhisattva...”

Of massive assistance in my life, in that direction, has been the teaching of FM Alexander.

When I listen to the words “Let the neck be free,” the ignorant one, the doer, wants to do something to the neck. Similarly, listening to the words “Head forward and up,” the ignorant one wants to make a little arrangement of the head on the neck. Listening to the words “Back to lengthen and widen,” the doer worries about symmetry. And listening to the words “Knees forwards and away,” again, the ignorant one always wants to do something.

So freedom in listening develops in the understanding that, in each of these cases, No, the real thing – real freedom, and real listening – is not that.

śrūyatām (3rd pers. sg. passive śru): let it be listened to
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this
asmākam (nom. sg. m.): our

siddhāntaḥ (nom. sg.): m. established end , final end or aim or purpose ; any fixed or established or canonical text-book or received scientific treatise on any subject (esp. on astronomy and mathematics)
śṛṇvatām = gen. pl. m. pres. part śru: to listen
vara (voc. sg.): O best!

yathā: ind. in which manner, how
bhavati = 3rd pers. sg. bhū: to become, come into being
saṁsāraḥ (nom. sg.): m. going or wandering through , undergoing transmigration

yathā: ind. in which manner, how
vai: ind. a particle of emphasis and affirmation , generally placed after a word and laying stress on it (it is usually translatable by " indeed " , " truly " , " certainly " , " verily " , " just "  &c  ; it is very rare in the  RV.  ; more frequent in the  AV.  , and very common in the brāhmaṇas and in works that imitate their style ; in the sūtras it is less frequent and almost restricted to the combination yady u vai )
parivartate = 3rd pers. sg pari- √ vṛt:  to turn round , revolve , move in a circle or to and fro , roll or wheel or wander about , circumambulate ; (also with anyathā) to change , turn out different ; to abide , stay , remain ; to act , proceed , behave
caiva [EHJ]: and
nivartate [EHJ] = 3rd pers. sg ni- √ vṛt: to turn back , stop (trans. and intrans.)

汝是機悟士 聰中之第一
今當聽我説 生死起滅義

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