Saturday, September 13, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.40: Missing the Mark, or Meeting the Tathāgata?

tatra samyaṅ-matir-vidyān-mokṣa-kāma catuṣṭayam |
pratibuddhāprabuddhau ca vyaktam-avyaktam-eva ca || 12.40

In that absence, O desirer of release!,

A right-minded man may know the four:

The Awake and the Not Awake;

The Manifest and the Not Manifest.

The question, once again, is whether Arāḍa is still right on target or whether he is completely wide of the mark.

Taking the latter case first, as being the easiest to deal with, Arāḍa is totally wide of the mark if, in the context of addressing a bodhisattva who is hungry for release, he is saying it is necessary to understand four separate concepts in Sāṁkhya philosophy.

In this case the optative in the 1st pāda vidyāt expresses necessity or obligation (let him know, should know, ought to know), and each of the three professors translated vidyāt as such:

EBC: Let the wise man who has right views know these four things, O thou who desirest liberation...

EHJ: In that matter, 0 prince desiring salvation, the man of right knowledge should know the group of four...

PO: Of these, you who desire release, a right thinking man ought to know these four...

In the former case, taking Arāḍa (intentionally or unintentionally) to be expressing the Buddha's truth, I read tatra (in that, in that state) as referring to that very state of truth, which is expressed in yesterday's verse as absence of cause (ignorance) and absence of effect (suffering). 

At the same time, hearing Arāḍa expressing the Buddha's truth (whether he knows it or not), I take today's verse as the fourth in another series of four verses.

Though only just, I am still memorizing the verses of the present canto not only one by one but also in series. In so doing, I continue to find it helpful, or vital, to read the verses in groups of four (or a group of eight in BC12.25 – 32).

I thus find it helpful to remember that 
  1. BC12.37 contains the word duḥkha, suffering (the 1st noble truth);
  2. BC12.38 suggests negation of aham, I the subject;
  3. BC12.39 is related with the truth of cessation (the 3rd noble truth).

Today's verse, then, being at the fourth phase, is required to suggest reality itself, or to reflect the transcendent truth of action, and especially that act of knowing which Dogen said perfectly realized the Buddha's awakening.

Read in that light, today's verse again brings to mind (see also comment to BC12.22) the Buddha's teaching quoted in Shobogenzo chap. 61 that
“If we see [both] the many forms and [their] non-form, we at once meet the Tathāgata.”

In conclusion, then, I think Aśvaghoṣa's intention is for us to consider, at least as a possibility, that even though Arāḍa was not himself a fully awakened sambuddha, and even though he is speaking (as the Buddha would later speak) of a set of four, his words are a kind of song praising mother nature, as the one bright pearl.

Apropos of which, if any Scottish voter is reading this, for what it is worth I would like to appeal to you personally and from the heart to vote No on Thursday. Separatism and nationalism – along with every other divisive -ism, along with sectarianism of every stripe – suck. Let's stick together.

tatra: ind. therein
samyaṅ-matiḥ (nom. sg. m.): a man of right mind, a right-minded man, a right-thinking person
samyaṅ-mati: f. correct opinion
mati: f. devotion, prayer; thought , design , intention , resolution , determination , inclination , wish , desire ; opinion , notion , idea , belief , conviction , view , creed ; mind, perception
vidyāt = 3rd pers. sg. optative vid: to know ; to know , understand , perceive , learn , become or be acquainted with , be conscious of , have a correct notion of ; to wish to know , inquire about (acc.) to wish to know , inquire about (acc.) ; to recognize

mokṣa-kāma (voc. sg.): O one who desires release!
catuṣṭayam (nom. sg.): n. a set of four

pratibuddhāprabuddhau (acc. dual): the Awake and the Not Awake
ca: and

vyaktam (acc. sg. m.): the Manifest
avyaktam (acc. sg. m.): the Not Manifest
eva: (emphatic)
ca: and

謂彼正思惟 四法向解脱
黠慧與愚闇 顯現不顯現 

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