Sunday, September 28, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.55: More Talk of Gods

yas-tu tasmin sukhe magno na viśeṣāya yatnavān |
śubha-ktsnaiḥ sa sāmānyaṁ sukhaṁ prāpnoti daivataiḥ || 12.55

He who, immersed in this ease,

Has no will to higher distinction,

Experiences ease as one with Śubha-kṛtsna deities,

The Gods of Resplendent Wholeness.

EHJ notes that the word sāmānyaṁ (in common with, as one with) is possibly significant, as the Śubhakṛtsna deities are all alike in body and mentality, according to Vasubandhu's Abhidharma-kośa (II.20).

Arāḍa's ironic reference to the Gods of Resplendent Wholeness is mirrored in the description of the four dhyānas which Aśvaghoṣa narrates in his own voice in SN17.51:

yasmāt paraṃ tatra sukhaṃ sukhebhyas-tataḥ paraṃ nāsti sukha-pravṛttiḥ /
Since the ease here is beyond any ease, 
and there is no progression of ease beyond it,
tasmād babhāṣe śubha-kṛtsna-bhūmiṁ parāpara-jñaḥ parameti maitryā // SN17.51
Therefore, as a knower of higher and lower,
he realised it as a condition of resplendent wholeness
which he deemed – in a friendly way – to be superlative.

Arāḍa is thus emerging as a Zen master with an ironic sense of humour. Not only that, he encourages the bodhisattva to make effort in the direction of higher distinction -- in the direction of the fourth dhyāna and in the direction of progress beyond the fourth dhyāna. The bodhisattva, however, is not about to recognize Arāḍa as a fully awakened Sambuddha.   

When it comes to describing the four dhyānas, it seems, there is not a hair's breadth between the teaching of Arāḍa and the teaching of Zen patriarchs in India who were buddhas in the line of Śākyamuni Buddha -- Zen patriarchs like Aśvaghoṣa (12), Nāgārjuna (14), Vasubandhu (21), and Bodhidharma (28). 

So this Canto can be read as an exercise in spotting where the crack begins to appear, such that the bodhisattva is able to intuit, "No. It is not that." 

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
tu: but
tasmin (loc. sg. n.): that
sukhe (loc. sg.): n. ease
magnaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. sunk , plunged , immersed in (loc. or comp.)
majj: to sink (into) , (acc. or loc.) , go down , go to hell , perish , become ruined RV. &c ; to sink (in water) , dive , plunge or throw one's self into (loc.)

na: not
viśeṣāya (dat. sg.): m. distinction, superiority
yatnavān (nom. sg. m.): mfn. possessing energy
yatna: m. activity of will , volition , aspiring after ; effort , exertion , energy , zeal , trouble , pains , care , endeavour after (loc. or comp.)

śubha-kṛtsnaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. pl. (with Buddhists) N. of a class of gods
śubha: mfn. splendid , bright , beautiful , handsome ; pleasant , agreeable ; auspicious , fortunate , prosperous ; good (in moral sense) , righteous , virtuous , honest ; pure (as an action)
kṛtsna: mfn. all , whole , entire
saḥ (nom. sg. m.): he
sāmānyam: ind. after the same manner as , like

sukham (acc. sg.): n. ease
prāpnoti = 3rd pers. sg. pra- √āp: to attain to ; reach , arrive at , meet with , find; to obtain
daivataiḥ (inst. pl.): mfn. (fr. devatā) relating to the gods or to a partic. deity , divine ;
n. a god , a deity (often coll. " the deities "

安樂不求勝 生於遍淨天


Rich said...

Well if it's not that, it must be THIS or both. Ease is pretty good. Just smiling makes my day. It allows energy to flow.

anyway what fault or omission is there in arada's teaching?

Mike Cross said...

That is the question.

BC12.42 might contain the answer. Or it might be an invitation to jump too hastily to a wrong conclusion.