Sunday, August 31, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.27: The Blur – Enemy of Aldous and Arāḍa Alike (But Not in Equal Measure)

yas-tu bhāvān a-saṁdigdhān-ekī-bhāvena paśyati |
mt-piṅḍavad-asaṁdeha saṁdehaḥ sa ihocyate || 12.27

But what sees not blurred things

As coalesced into one mass,

Like a ball of mud,
O one who is free of blur!

– Here that is called blurring of sight.

In today's verse saṁdeha could literally be translated “confusion,” as each of the three professors translated it (EBC/PO: confusion; EHJ: confusion of thought); and eki-bhāva could be translated accordingly as “fused into one,” so that “fuse” and “con-fuse” resonated with each other.

But as I wrote in the comment to BC12.24, I read saṁdeha in this context as “blurring of vision” – an impediment belonging to the 2nd phase, since it is related with how the devotee of saṁsāra is connected, through sensory perception, with the external world. And the word in today's verse that seems to support this reading is paśyati, “sees.”

On further reflection, and remembering the title of a booklet written by a colleague in developmental work titled "My Vision is Perfect, Why Don't I See?",  I think "blurring of sight" may be better than "blurring of vision." 

If we thus understand saṁdeha to mean blurring of sight, it is the elimination of this interference to which Aldous Huxley, author of The Doors of Perception and one-time pupil of FM Alexander, devoted much of his life.

Huxley's eyesight had been impaired in his youth by an illness; and learning Alexander's means-whereby principle under the tutelage of Alexander himself had evidently helped Huxley to see better, in more ways than one.

Later, however, Huxley resorted to study of the Bates method under a teacher in California, and with reference to Huxley's efforts to improve his eyesight by these means, FM Alexander apparently denigrated what he called Huxley's “beastly end-gaining exercises.”

For Alexander, any exercise which aims at specific improvements by a means which is not truly holistic, was a variation on the theme of beastly end-gaining. Alexander's only exception when it came to exercises was an exercise he called “the Whispered Ah” – which is an exercise in non-doing, or non-endgaining. 

For Alexander, then, whatever growth Huxley felt he had achieved from practising the Bates Method, from taking LSD in the attempt to open the Doors of Perception, and from his effort to see God through his association with Vedanta philosophy, Huxley had not been able to see what Alexander meant by application of the means-whereby principle. This in spite of the fact that Huxley titled one of his later books Ends and Means.

A similar irony may be noted with regard to Arāḍa himself, in that Arāḍa is in process of laying out a means-whereby the bodhisattva might liberate himself from saṁsāra. This means-whereby, Arāḍa is teaching in today's verse, involves overcoming the obstacle of blurred seeing. And yet, the bodhisattva ultimately realizes, Arāḍa himself still has dust in his eyes regarding such liberation.

In the case of Arāḍa, however, who was the truest of sages, the dust was not much.

Thus, in the Discourse to Prince Bodhi (Bodhirājakumārasuttaṁ; MN85), the Buddha relates, in the part about deciding who to teach after his awakening, that he thought first about Arāḍa, since Arāḍa for a long time had been one with little dust on his eyes (dīgharattaṁ apparajakkhajātiko).

Aldous Huxley, evidently, as FM Alexander saw him and his “beastly end-gaining” was still a man with a lot of dust on his eyes. But Arāḍa was the truest of sages, a man with only a little dust on his eyes.

That's why I think a certain sharpness of the critical faculties deserves to be brought to the present Canto. We are not dealing, as EHJ and PO have opined, with an early form of Sāmkhya philosophy, which would have brought with it a whole lot of eye-dust. Neither is Arāḍa as I hear him necessarily to be understood as representing the Brahmanist tradition -- though he does refer in the end to brahma. Rather, we are dealing with the truest of sages, a man with but a little dust on his eyes, expounding his own teaching (svasya śastrasya; 12.15). 

Equally, though for brevity I have translated iha in today's verse and in yesterday's verse as "here," I think Arāḍa means by iha "in this teaching of mine." 

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): that which
tu: but
bhāvān (acc. pl.): m. that which is or exists , thing or substance , being or living creature (sarva-bhāvāḥ , all earthly objects)
a-saṁdigdhān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. not indistinct; undoubted , unsuspected , certain

ekī-bhāvena (inst. sg.): m. the becoming one , coalition
paśyati = 3rd pers. sg. paś: to see

mṛt-piṅḍavat: ind. like a lump of clay
mṛt-piṅḍa: m. a clod of earth , lump of clay
mṛḍ: f. earth , soil , clay , loam ; a piece of earth , lump of clay
piṅḍa: m. any round or roundish mass or heap , a ball , globe , knob , button , clod , lump , piece
asaṁdeha (voc. sg.): O one free of doubt!

saṁdehaḥ (nom. sg.): m. a conglomeration or conglutination (of material elements); doubt , uncertainty
saṁ- √ dih: to smear , besmear , cover ; to heap together ; to be doubtful or uncertain (said of persons and things
deha: ( √ dih , to plaster , mould , fashion) the body ; form , shape , mass , bulk (as of a cloud)
sa (nom. sg. m.): it
iha: ind. here, in this system
ucyate: is called

於諸性猶豫 是非不得實
如是不決定 是説名爲疑 

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