Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.57: Caution against Abhimāna, 増上慢, Conceit

tatra ke-cid vyavasyanti mokṣa ity abhimāninaḥ |
sukha-duḥkha-parityāgād avyāpārāc ca cetasaḥ || 12.57

Some settle for that stage

Thinking it, in their conceit, to be liberation –

Because of the giving up of ease and suffering

And because of the inactivity of the mind.

In today's verse also, as I read it, Arāḍa is still on the right track. No gap is discernible yet between Arāḍa's Zen teaching and the Buddha's Zen teaching. Both teachings caution us against conceitedly mistaking the fourth dhyāna for ultimate liberation.

In Nāgārjuna's parable of the monk who mistook the fourth dhyāna, as Dogen quotes the story in Shobogenzo chap. 90 Shizen-biku, it is conceit that causes the monk who mistook the fourth dhyāna vainly to live alone in solitude, instead of seeking to make further progress (in Arāḍa's words viśeṣāya, towards higher distinction) by visiting the Buddha and receiving instruction. It is also conceit that causes the monk who mistook the fourth dhyāna – on facing rebirth in an unexpectedly lowly realm – to blame the Buddha for having deceived him.

Despite a lifetime of practising sitting-meditation and keeping the precepts, the monk who mistook the fourth dhyāna thus ends up in avīci hell, much to the surprise of his fellow monks. “Everything” the Buddha tells them, “stems from his conceit.”

In the story as Dogen quotes it, translated into Chinese, the Buddha tells the monks
Jap: kare mina zo-jo-man ni yoru.
“Everything stems from his conceit.”

増上慢 (ZO-JO-MAN) are the Chinese characters which exactly represent the Sanskrit word abhimāna, conceit, the adjectival form of which Arāḍa uses in the 2nd pāda of today's verse.

増上 represents the prefix abhi-, over; and represents māna, conceit.

The second half of today's verse highlights the fact that transcendence of ease and suffering, and quietness of the mind, do not necessarily, in themselves, represent the ultimate step – even in Arāḍa's teaching. Those virtues of transcendence and quietness are characteristics of the fourth dhyāna. But, as illustrated by the example of the monk in Upagupta's order who mistook the fourth dhyāna, a monk who has attained only the fourth dhyāna (but not yet attained the fourth effect) is liable to lose his transcendence and quietness of mind when, for example, attacked by robbers or attracted by a beautiful woman. Whereas for an arhat who has conclusively realized the worthy state, I am guessing, the mind is not only unperturbed but imperturbable. Conclusive realization of the worthy state, I am guessing, involves what Nāgārjuna describes as the whole edifice of suffering being well and truly demolished:

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 the act 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 well and truly demolished.

Today's verse, then, though it is spoken by the non-Buddhist Arāḍa, contains an important principle for us to reflect on as Zen practitioners who are hungry for the Buddha's teaching.

The fourth dhyāna is a vital step on the way to demolishing the whole edifice of suffering. But if we mistake the transcendence of ease and suffering in the fourth dhyāna for the fourth effect which is the demolition of the whole edifice of suffering, that is a mistake born of conceit.

tatra: ind. there
ke-cid (nom. pl. m.): some
vyavasyanti = 3rd pers. pl. vy-ava- √ so: to settle down or dwell separately ; to differ (in opinion) , contest , quarrel ; to separate, divide ; to determine , resolve , decide , be willing to (acc. dat. , artham ifc. , or inf.) ; to settle , ascertain , be convinced or persuaded of , take for (acc.) ; to reflect, consider

mokṣaḥ (nom. sg.): m. liberation, release
iti: “....,” thus
abhimāninaḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. thinking of one's self , proud , self-conceited; (ifc.) imagining one's self to be or to possess , laying claim to , arrogating to one's self
abhimāna: m. high opinion of one's self , self-conceit , pride , haughtiness; conception (especially an erroneous one regarding one's self)

sukha-duḥkha-parityāgāt (abl. sg.): because of the transcendence of ease and hardship
parityāga: m. ) the act of leaving , abandoning , deserting , quitting , giving up , neglecting , renouncing ; separation from

a-vyāpārāt (abl. sg.): m. cessation from work
vy-āpāra: m. (ifc. f(ā).) occupation , employment , business , profession , function; doing , performance , action , operation , transaction , exertion , concern
ca: and
cetasaḥ (gen. sg.): n. mind, consciousness

苦樂已倶息 或生解脱想 

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