Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.99 A State Like the Sea

¦−−−−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑−   mavipulā
tvag-asthi-śeṣo niḥśeṣair medaḥ-piśita-śoṇitaiḥ |
kṣīṇo 'py akṣīṇa-gāmbhīryaḥ samudra iva sa vyabhāt || 12.99 

Reduced to skin and bone,

With no reserves remaining of fat or flesh or blood,

Diminished, and yet undiminished in his inner depths,

Like the sea, he sparkled.

The word play in the 1st pāda between tvag-asthi-śeṣaḥ (with [only] skin and bone remaining) and niḥ-śeṣaiḥ (with nothing remaining of) is difficult to convey, and maybe not necessary to convey.

The word play in the 3rd pāda between kṣīṇa and akṣīṇa is conveyed easily enough by “diminished” and “undiminished.” Hence e.g. EBC: “though diminished, he still shone with undiminished grandeur like the ocean.” Another option I considered was “pared down” for kṣiṇa and “unimpaired” for akṣiṇa. It would be a dubious pairing in view of the different etymology of pare and impair, but it would have the advantage of not repeating the diminished and undiminished used in yesterday's verse.

Perhaps, on reflection, pared down and unimpaired would fit better in yesterday's verse, hence:
Pared down as he was, yet with his glory and majesty unimpaired, he gladdened other eyes, / As the hairy moon-lilies are gladdened, at the beginning of the bright fortnight, by the autumn moon.//12.98//

Either way, the point of both yesterday's verse and today's verse is that the bodhisattva, despite losing so much weight, continued to shine, like the moon, and like the sea.

Shobogenzo chap. 31 is titled 海印三昧, KAI-IN-ZANMAI, Samādhi, State Like the Sea.

(KAI; umi) means the sea, from the Sanskrit sāgara or, as in today's verse, samudra. And (IN) means a stamp or seal, from the Sanskrit mudrā. So 海印三昧 represents the Sanskrit compound sāgara-mudrā-samādhi or samudra-mudrā-samādhi.

In today's verse the bodhisattva himself is described in the 4th pāda as sparkling like the sea, and at the same time is described in the 3rd pāda in a way that evokes the stillness of the ocean's depths, far below the waves that are disturbing the surface.

Apropos of which an Alexander teacher friend of mine who in a previous life was a submariner told me a few years ago, “The deeper you go, the stiller it gets.”

Thus, if the metaphor of the moon serves a reminder that the primary direction in sitting is up, the metaphor of the sea serves as a reminder that the primary direction in sitting is also back and down.

And on these grounds, the Buddha's core teaching of pratītya-samutpāda, which is generally understood as something like “Dependent Origination,” I think is more practically understood as “Springing Up, by Going Back.”

tvag-asthi-śeṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): with skin and bone remaining
tvac: f. skin (of men , serpents &c ) , hide (of goats , cows &c )
asthi: n. a bone
śeṣa: remaining (used as an adj. at the end of adj. comp. )
niḥ-śeṣaiḥ (inst. pl.): without remainder , (either = ) finished , passed away ; (or = ) complete , whole , entire , all ; niḥ-śeṣeṇa, totally , completely

medaḥ-piśita-śoṇitaiḥ (inst. pl.): fat, flesh and blood
medas: n. fat , marrow , lymph (as one of the 7 dhātus , q.v. ; its proper seat is said to be the abdomen)
piśita: n. (also pl.) flesh which has been cut up or prepared , any flesh or meat
śoṇita: n. blood ; n. the sap of trees , resin

kṣīṇaḥ (nom. sg. m.):mfn. diminished , wasted , expended , lost , destroyed , worn away , waning (as the moon) ; weakened , injured , broken , torn , emaciated , feeble
kṣi: to destroy , corrupt , ruin , make an end of (acc.) , kill , injure
api: even, though
akṣīṇa-gāmbhīryaḥ (nom. sg. m.): being undiminished in the depths
akṣīṇa: mfn. not perishing or failing ; not waning (the moon) ; not diminishing in weight
gāmbhīrya: mfn. being in the depths ; n. deepness , depth (of water , sound , &c ) ; n. depth or profundity of character , earnestness ; n. depth of meaning , deep recondite sense ; n. dignity ; n. calmness , composure

samudraḥ (nom. sg.): m. the sea
iva: like
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
vyabhāt = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect vi- √ bhā : to shine or gleam forth , come to light , become visible , appear ; to shine upon , illumine ; to procure light i.e. to kindle (fire dat.) ; to shine brightly , glitter , be resplendent or beautiful , strike or catch the eye , excel by (instr. ; to seem or appear as , look like (nom. with or without iva)

苦形如枯木 垂滿於六年
[Relation with Sanskrit tenuous]

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