Thursday, October 9, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.66: The Dust in Arāḍa's Eye

ity upāyaś ca mokṣaś ca mayā saṁdarśitas tava |
¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦⏑−−⏑¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
yadi jñātaṁ yadi rucir yathāvat pratipadyatām || 12.66

Thus the means, and the liberation,

I have revealed to you;

If you have understood it, and if it pleases you,

Undertake it properly.

Śīla, samādhi, and prajñā, it occurred to me just now, on this Thursday morning, can be translated in any number of ways, but one way is as integrity (śīla), integration (samādhi), and integral wisdom (prajñā). 

The means which the Buddha taught can be summarized as those three, which are all embodied together in the practice of sitting in full lotus and allowing oneself, in Dogen's words, “naturally to become one piece.”

The means which Arāḍa has just outlined, also, when we are awake to the sub-text of Arāḍa's words, contains those three elements of integrity (śīla), integration (samādhi), and integral wisdom (prajñā). 

It is thus ironic that when it came to discussing the end of liberation, Arāḍa was seduced by the ancient escapist notion that something spiritual might be able to slip away from the grubby material realm and realize itself as Brahma.

Arāḍa can be heard as saying, in so many words, “The means is all about psychophysical integration, but the end is all about psychophysical dis-integration.”

And yet the awakened Buddha, the Pali Suttas inform us, recognized Arāḍa as one of the people most likely to be able to understand what he, as the awakened Buddha, had realized. The Buddha, we are told, saw Arāḍa as having only a little dust on his eye.

And so here is the evidence of that bit of dust.

Exhibit A, it might be argued, is the separation implied by the two ca in the 1st pāda of today's verse, so that release or liberation is conceived of as the end to which the means is subordinate. Whereas in the Buddha's teaching, even the samādhi which is king of samādhis itself is included in what the Buddha described as upāyaḥ, a means:

iti duḥkham etad
"This is suffering;
iyam asya samudaya-latā pravartikā
this is the tangled mass of causes producing it;
śāntir iyam
this is cessation;
ayam upāya iti
and here is a means."
[SN3.12 ]

But more damningly still, Exhibit B, is Arāḍa's conviction that he has shown, displayed, manifested or revealed (saṁdarśitaḥ) to the bodhisattva a liberation or release that, in the history of mankind, has never ever taken place – except in people's deluded imagination. That liberation or release is the liberation of something spiritual from the material, like a bird released from a cage.

In conclusion, it would therefore be easy to dismiss today's verse as representing only the dust in Arāḍa's eye....

“I have revealed to you nothing less than Liberation!”

Oh, really, Master? Are you sure you are not deluding yourself.

To dismiss Arāḍa like this, however, might not be entirely fair. I think the truth is that Aśvaghoṣa has been taking pains in his construction of Arāḍa's speeches not only to shine a light on the dust on Arāḍa's eyeball, but also to let Arāḍa's eyeball shine its light.

Thus, even though Arāḍa's teaching concludes with very dusty talk of liberation as an end, below the surface of today's verse, as I read it, what Arāḍa is telling the bodhisattva is essentially true; namely:

 “I have manifested to you a means.”

iti: thus
upāyaḥ (nom. sg.): m. coming near , approach , arrival ; that by which one reaches one's aim , a means or expedient (of any kind) , way , stratagem , craft , artifice ; (esp.) a means of success against an enemy
ca: and
mokṣaḥ (nom. sg.): m. release, liberation
ca: and

mayā (inst. sg. ): by me
saṁdarśitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. shown , displayed , manifested
saṁ- √ dṛś: to see together or at the same time » well or completely , behold , view , perceive , observe , consider ; to be observed , become visible , appear ; Caus. -darśayati , to cause to be seen , display , show
tava (gen. sg.): for you

yadi: if
jñātam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. known , ascertained , comprehended , perceived , understood
yadi: if
ruci (nom./acc. sg. n.): mfn. pleasant , agreeable
EHJ notes that ruci, neuter, does not seem possible.
ruciḥ [EHJ] (nom. sg.): f. light; liking , taste , relish , pleasure

yathāvat: ind. ind. duly , properly , rightly , suitably , exactly
pratipadyatām = 3rd pers. sg. passive imperative prati- √ pad: to set foot upon , enter , go or resort to , arrive at , reach , attain ; to get into (acc.) , meet , with , find , obtain , receive , take in or upon one's self.

汝所問方便 及求解脱者
如我上所説 深信者當學 

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