sūkṣmatvāc caiva doṣāṇām avyāpārāc ca cetasaḥ |
dīrghatvād āyuṣaś caiva mokṣas tu parikalpyate || 12.75
And yet, because of the subtlety of the faults,
Because of the inactivity of the mind,
And because of the length of a lifetime,
Liberation is posited.
Meanings of pari-√kḷp include to fix, to arrange, and to contrive. So a translation of parikalpyate is desirable that at least hints at these negative connotations, while also following in the logical stream from yesterday's verse.
EBC translated parikalpyate “is held (by some)”; EHJ “is a creation of the imagination”; and PO “one imagines.”
EHJ's translation of the whole verse conveys the meaning like this:
But such liberation is a creation of the imagination based on the subtility of the faults, the inactivity of the mind and the length of life in that state.
The metaphor which EHJ's translation thus implies, of something created on a base, is an apt one, in view of the meaning which pari-√kḷp has of physical as well as mental fabrication.
Based on a, b, and c...
Liberation is allowed to form itself into a figment of the imagination.
Since that is a bit long-winded, using ten words where one might do, my tentative solution, at the risk of arousing the ire of Jordan Fountain, has been to opt for a $64 word – posited.
However we handle the translation of parikalpyate, the gist of the bodhisattva's argument is that what Arāḍa's believes to be liberation is only a fabrication, a figment of the imagination, which is facilitated as a practitioner progresses through progressively refined stages of meditative practice.
And the logic of the bodhisattva's argument seems to be that there cannot be true and full liberation, as the bodhisattva sees it, so long as ignorance, thirsting and karma remain. Equally there cannot be true and full liberation, as the bodhisattva sees it, so long as the delusory concept of a separable soul remains.
In today's verse no direct mention is made of ignorance, thirsting and karma, nor of the soul. But below the surface I think Aśvaghoṣa might wish us to understand that
- ignorance tends to go unrecognized because of the subtlety of associated faults;
- thirsting tends to go unrecognized because of inactivity of the mind; and
- the influence of karma tends to go unrecognized because of the length of time over which karma operates.
And these three are the grounds or the causal roots (pratyayāḥ) for the continued existence, as a figment of people's imagination, of a separable soul.
From the practical standpoint, so what?
I remember at the end of one Alexander lesson Marjory Barlow saying to me quite feistily, in connection with Alexander work, “It has to be real.”
From that standpoint today's verse as I read it challenges us to ask what is a figment of people's imagination, and what, on the contrary, is real.
As a conception of liberation, how real is the escape from the body of a separable soul? When people talk of the soul, as a pure spiritual essence (viśuddho...ātmā ; BC12.71), how real is that?
Conversely, as I sit here, just here and now, how real is the ignorance that pulls my head back and down?
How real here and now is the influence of wrongs that I did in the distant past?
How real is the tendency to thirst for arrival at a given destination, thereby failing to drive with due care and attention?
Again, if the king of samādhis is just liberation itself, is it a sitting posture that can be fixed or arranged? Is it an enlightenment that can be contrived or fabricated?
True enlightenment, from my reading of the records of Zen ancestors, is nothing contrived but just utter forgetting of oneself in the act of sitting.
And a Zen master who could fabricate that might have it made.
In writing the above, I am half joking. But there again FM Alexander did famously say:
When an investigation comes to be made it will be found that every single thing we do in the work is exactly what is done in Nature, where the conditions are right, the difference being that we are learning to do it consciously.
sūkṣmatvāt (abl. sg. n.): because of subtlety
doṣāṇām (gen. pl.): m. fault
avyāpārāt (abl. sg. m.): because of inactivity
cetasaḥ (gen. sg.): n. mind, consciousness
dīrghatvāt (abl. sg. n.): because of length
āyuṣaḥ (gen. sg.): n. life , vital power , vigour , health , duration of life , long life
mokṣaḥ (nom. sg.): m. liberation, release
tu: but, and yet
parikalpyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive pari- √ kḷp: to fix , settle , determine ; to perform , execute , accomplish , contrive , arrange , make ; to suppose