a-jñānaṁ karma tṣṇā ca jñeyāḥ saṁsāra-hetavaḥ |
⏑−−⏑¦⏑−−−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑−sthito 'smiṁs tritaye jantus tat sattvaṁ nātivartate || 12.23
Ignorance, karma, and thirsting
Are to be known as the causes of saṁsāra;
A creature set in these three ways
Fails to transcend the aforementioned Sattva, Being –
In today's verse Arāḍa can be heard to point to the core practical problem. Arāḍa can be heard to ask the question that the bodhisattva will answer as the newly enlightened Buddha in BC Canto 14.
Sadly, since most of the original Sanskrit of BC Canto 14 is missing, we do not have Aśvaghoṣa's original account of how the Buddha identified the causes of saṁsāra and described how he had elminated them, by the teaching and practice of pratītya-samutpāda, Springing Up by going back. But we do have other reliable sources in Sanskrit, not least that of Aśvaghoṣa's Dharma-grandson Nāgārjuna.
In today's verse, then,
- ajñānam can be taken as synonymous with avidyā, ignorance, no. 1 in the twelvefold chain that Nāgārjuna describes as following from the ignorant doings which are the root of saṁṣāra;
- karma can be taken as synonymous with saṁskārāḥ, doings, no. 2 in the chain; and
- tṛṣṇā is tṛṣṇā, thirsting, no. 8 in the chain.
- avidyā ignorance
- saṁskārāḥ doings
- vijñāna consciousness
- nāmarūpam psychophysicality
- ṣaḍ-āyatanam six senses
- saṁsparśaḥ contact
- vedanā feeling
- tṛṣṇā thirsting
- upādānam grasping hold
- bhavaḥ becoming
- jātiḥ birth
- jarā-maraṇa-duḥkhādi śokāḥ saparidevanāḥ.... the suffering of aging and death, and so on, sorrows, lamentations...
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.
tasya tasya nirodhena tat-tan nābhipravartate |
duḥkha-skandhaḥ kevalo 'yam evaṁ samyaṅ nirudhyate ||MMK26.12||
By the destruction of each,
Each is discontinued.
This whole edifice of suffering
Is thus totally demolished.
The most fundamental problem in practice might be, in four words, the force of habit. Thinking today along those lines, I have translated sthito 'smims tritraye accordingly, somewhat creatively, as "set in these three ways." Sthito 'smims tritraye would be more literally translated "staying in this triad [singular]" or even "stuck in this three-way groove." In any event, I think Arāḍa is pointing to the tendency that I and others have to become set in our ways, or to get stuck in a groove.
In terms of sitting-meditation, a tendency to avoid might be to sit as an expert, as a veteran who already knows all the pitfalls. To sit as a veteran who knows all the pitfalls, having almost completely lost the beginner's mind, might be already to sit in the pit!
a-jñānam (nom. sg.): n. non-cognizance ; ignorance
karma (nom. sg.): n. action; former act as leading to inevitable results , fate (as the certain consequence of acts in a previous life)
tṛṣṇā (nom. sg.): f. thirst ; desire
jñeyāḥ (nom. pl. m.): to be known
saṁsāra-hetavaḥ (nom. pl. m.): causes of saṁsāra
sthitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. staying, remaining ; standing , staying , situated , resting or abiding or remaining in (loc. or comp.); engaged in , occupied with , intent upon , engrossed by , devoted or addicted to (loc. or comp.); abiding by , conforming to , following (loc.); adhering to or keeping with (loc.) ; turned or directed to , fixed upon (loc. or comp.) ; resting or depending on (loc.)
asmin (loc. sg. n.): in this
tritaye (loc. sg.): n. triad, threesome
jantuḥ (nom. sg.): m. creature
tat (acc. sg. n.): that
sattvam (acc. sg.): n. being
ativartate = 3rd pers. sg. ati- √ vṛt: to pass beyond , surpass , cross