Saturday, November 8, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.96: To the Ends of Saṁsāra

anna-kāleṣu caikaikaiḥ sa kola-tila-taṇḍulaiḥ |
apāra-pāra-saṁsāra-pāraṁ prepsur apārayat || 12.96 

At mealtimes,

With jujube fruits, sesame seeds,
and grains of rice, one by one,

In his quest for the far end of saṁsāra,
where there is no end to ends,

He kept himself alive.

The word-play in the phrase apāra-pāra-saṁsāra-pāram prepsuḥ can be understood in many more ways than one way.

EBC went with “longing to cross (pāram prepsuḥ) the world whose farther shore (pāra) is so difficult to reach (apāra).”
EHJ translated “yearning to reach the further shore (pāram prepsuḥ) of the cycle of transmigration whose further shore (pāra) is unbounded (apāra).”
And PO “the farther shore (pāram) of saṁsāra, the shore (pāra) that has no further shore (apāra), yearning to reach (prepsuḥ)...”

My understanding of the phrase, and my translation, are influenced by the Zen teaching of polishing a tile, and at the same time by Alexander work.

In Alexander work, the “end-gaining” mind is the mind that looks directly ahead to the far shore which is the gaining of an end, and in so looking fails to give due attention to the means or the process or the way.

End-gaining, therefore, might be said to be the very essence of ignorance. And to put an end to end-gaining might be to stop the doings which are the root of saṁsāra.

But if, wanting to be Buddha, and trying to be Buddha, the end-gaining mind turns “putting an end to end-gaining” into an end to be gained, then...

saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the dopey one do.

What is the way out of this bind?

One way might be to cut some wood for the fire, with all due care and attention. 

Another way might be to have a nap.

A way I have been playing with on this blog these past six years is to treat as an end in itself the next step, the next pāda, or singly -- one by one (ekaikam) -- the next series of four footsteps.

The above, by the way, is one example of how writing these verbose comments sometimes has the redeeming merit of helping me understand the verse better. Because it was not until I came to write the preceding paragraph that I was hit by the significance in the 1st pāda of today's verse of the adverbial ekaikaiḥ, one by one.

Over the summer, I watched (and heard) Frederique the exacting (Fr: exigeant) builder erect an extension to my neighbour's house. The work cost my neighbour an arm and a leg and caused me to plan my day around the noise, so that I would sit once in the early morning before building work started, once at lunchtime, once straight after work finished for the day, and once later in the evening. Frederique first built the inner walls using concrete blocks and then, for the exterior stonework, used two powerful angle grinders (an electric one that was just about bearable and a petrol one that called for ear protection even from 30 yards away) to cut each stone, and each lintel, singly, one by one. And by the end of the summer he had built an extension, with really beautiful stonework, that will probably still be standing in 400 years time.

So here again, I think, in work that proceeds singly, one step at a time -- ekaikam -- there might be a means.

Here might be a means.
syād upāyo' yam (BC12.94).

And where there might be a means, Māra might quake in his boots, knowing that the game for him might soon be up.

anna-kāleṣu (loc. pl.): m. meal-time , proper hour for eating
ca: and
ekaikaiḥ (inst. pl.): mfn. one by one , single

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
kola-tila-taṇḍulaiḥ (inst. pl.): with jujube fruit, sesame seed, and grain of rice
sa (possessive prefix)
kola: n. the fruit of the jujube
tila: m. Sesamum indicum (its blossom is compared to the nose Gi1t. x , 14 Sin6ha7s. ; cf. -puṣpa) , sesamum seed (much used in cookery ; supposed to have originated from viṣṇu's sweat-drops)
taṇḍula: m. grain (after threshing and winnowing) , esp. rice

apāra-pāra-saṁsāra-pāram (acc. sg. n.): the end of saṁsāra, where ends are endless
apāra-pāra: mfn. carrying over the boundless sea (of life) VP; whose farther shore is difficult to be reached, Bcar. xii, 93.
apāra: mfn. not having an opposite shore ; not having a shore , unbounded , boundless; difficult to be got at ; m. " not the opposite bank " , the bank on this side (of a river); n. the boundless sea.
pāra: n. the further bank or shore or boundary , any bank or shore , the opposite side , the end or limit of anything ; m. crossing ;
prepsuḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. desiring to attain
apārayat = 3rd pers. sg. causative imperfect (1) pṛ: to bring over or out , rescue , protect , save , preserve , keep alive ; or (2) pṝ: to fill

日食一麻米 形體極消羸
欲求度未度 重惑逾更沈 

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