Saturday, October 25, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.82: Towards Springing Up, By Going Back

parataḥ paratas tyāgo yasmāt tu guṇavān smtaḥ |
tasmāt sarva-parityāgān manye ktsnāṁ ktārthatām || 12.82 

But since abandonment that goes further and further back,

Is known, according to tradition, to be excellent,

Therefore I suppose that from abandoning all

Follows complete accomplishment of the task.”

The 14-verse speech which ends with today's verse, I have been memorizing in a 2-6-3-3 formation. Hence,
  • BC12.69-70 is the bodhisattva's subjective view (memorable words: avaimi, manye);
  • BC12.71-76 is objective consideration grounded in causality (memorable words: pratyaya; saty ātmani);
  • BC12.77-79 presages the third noble truth (memorable word: nairguṇya); and
  • BC12.80-82, in representing the bodhisattva's conclusion, also presages the complete accomplishment of his task (memorable words: kalpitena kim ātmanāmanye kṛtsnāṁ kṛtārthatām).
Just as the fourth line in a 4-line Chinese poem traditionally brings together the themes developed in the previous three lines, the manye (“I suppose”) of the 4th pāda of today's verse completes a circle by echoing the manye of BC12.70. Similarly, the parataḥ parataḥ of today's verse echoes the same phrase in BC12.69, bringing the whole of the bodhisattva's speech together.

The effect is to give added force to the conclusion of the concluding verse in the speech:
sarva-parityāgān manye kṛtsnāṁ kṛtārthatām,  
"I suppose that from abandoning all follows complete accomplishment of the task."

In MMK chap. 26, Nāgārjuna outlines in brief the twelvefold chain whereby ignorance (1. avidyā) leads to doings (2. saṁskārāḥ), leading to consciousness (3. vijñānam), leading to psychophysicality (4. nāmarūpam), leading to six senses (5. ṣaḍ-āyatanam), leading to contact (6. saṁsparśaḥ), leading to feeling (7. vedanā), leading to thirsting (8. tṛṣṇā), leading to grasping hold (9. upādānam), leading to becoming (10. bhavaḥ), leading to birth (11. jātiḥ), leading to the suffering of aging and death, and so on (12. jarā-maraṇa-duḥkhādi).

But this twelvefold chain, working backwards -- going further and further back -- is also the means whereby the task of stopping suffering is completely accomplished. Hence, having outlined the twelvefold chain whereby ignorance feeds through to the suffering of aging, death and the rest, Nāgārjuna concludes MMK chapter 26 by stating:
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 reality making itself known. //MMK26.10// In the ceasing of ignorance, there is the non-coming-into-being of doings./ The cessation of ignorance, however, is because of the allowing-into-being of just this act of knowing.//MMK26.11// By the cessation of this one and that one, this one no longer advances and that one no longer advances. / This whole edifice of suffering is thus well and truly demolished.//MMK26.12//
This is the teaching of pratītya-samutpāda, generally rendered into English as conditional / dependenent / interdependent / co-dependent (pratītya) origination / arising (samutpāda).

But the translation of pratītya-samutpāda that I am proposing is “springing up, by going back.”

I understand pratītya-samutpāda not as it is generally understood to be a doctrine, or a way of seeing the world. I understand pratītya-samutpāda to be something much more practical and (in its indirect manifestations) much more physical than that.

I think the samutpāda describes not only the arising or origination of the world, but also the arising of my whole being whenever I am able, primarily in sitting, to prevent my ignorance manifesting itself in the form of the doings that I habitually do. Thus, samutpāda = springing up.

I think the pratītya describes the practical process whereby a practitioner understands that true cessation / inhibition is always further back than I had previously realized. I think this is what is hinted at in today's verse by parataḥ parataḥ,  and I know that this is what Marjory Barlow took pains to teach me in the context of Alexander lessons.

Nowadays it is what my Alexander pupils teach me in the context of Alexander lessons -- that true inhibition is always further back than they thought, and further back than I thought too. 

There is no better way for me to be taught the real meaning of pratītya-samutpāda than to endeavor to teach (which generally means to fail to teach) the FM Alexander Technique as Marjory Barlow taught it to me.

What I am required to clarify in practice is that when I ask a pupil to meet the stimulus of my request that they perform a movement, inhibition does not mean stopping the movement, and does not mean stopping the wrong inner patterns which are the habitual doing. Inhibition does not mean stopping the doing itself, because habitual reaction – so long as it is being triggered – cannot be inhibited directly. What has to be inhibited is further back. What has to be inhibited is whatever it is that triggers the doing in the first place – a wrong idea, an erroneous assumption, a deluded desire, a bit of ignorance. 

This is why Marjory never tired of reminding her pupil that Alexander described his work as “the most mental thing there is.”

At the same time, Marjory very often reminded me that "Being wrong is the best friend you have got in this work." 

I think that was because a very pernicious bit of ignorance is trying to be right. As Nāgārjuna so truly observed, "The doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the dopey one do."

Here in trying to be right, for sure, is dopiness itself, ignorance itself. It is a kind of dopiness to which religious people are very prone. Again, it is a kind of dopiness to which academics, in their own more intellectual way, are also prone. So when Aśvaghoṣa is interpreted by academics who think that Buddhism is some kind of religion, what chance has he got? 

In today's verse as I read it endeavour -- primarily on a round black cushion -- to get back to and to abandon such buried roots of suffering, is suggested in the 1st pāda by parataḥ paratas tyāgaḥ, “abandonment that goes further and further back.”

And success in this endeavour is expressed in the 4th pāda as kṛtsnāṁ kṛtārthatām, “complete accomplishment of the task.”

parataḥ parataḥ: ind. further and further, progressively, further and further back
parataḥ: ind. farther , far off , afterwards , behind
tyāgaḥ (nom. sg.): m. abandoning

yasmāt: ind. since
tu: but
guṇavān (nom. sg. m.): mfn. " furnished with a thread or string " and " endowed with good qualities " ; excellent
smṛtaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. remembered ; handed down , taught , prescribed , (esp.) enjoined by smṛti or traditional law , declared or propounded in the law-books; declared as , passing for (nom. loc. , or dat.) ; termed , styled , named (nom. with or without iti)

tasmāt: ind. therefore
sarva-parityāgāt (abl. sg.): from the abandoning of everything

manye = 1st pers. sg. man: to think , believe , imagine , suppose , conjecture
kṛtsnām (acc. sg. f.): mfn. all , whole , entire
kṛtārthatām (acc. sg.): f. accomplishment of an object , success

具知其精麁 背麁而崇微

No comments: