Monday, December 22, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.18: Māra Is Mindful - The Power of a Negative Thought

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bālā)
sasmāra māraś ca tataḥ sva-sainyaṁ vighnam śame śākya-muneś cikīrṣan |
nānāśrayāś cānucarāḥ parīyuḥ śala-druma-prāsa-gadāsi-hastāḥ || 13.18

No sooner then had Māra called to mind his personal army,

In his wish to form for the Śākya sage an impediment to peace,

Than multifarious followers surrounded him,

Carrying in their hands spears, trees, javelins, bludgeons and swords.

Today's verse begins with a euphonic play on sasmāra (from the root √smṛ, to call to mind, to be mindful of) and māra (from the root √mṛ, to die).

The play serves as a reminder that, although smṛti in the sense of “mindfulness” or “being aware” belongs to the eightfold path to peace as the Buddha taught that path, the wrong kind of mindfulness can make obstacles on that path. Hence the need, in the words of Alexander teacher Walter Carrington to “exercise control over your thinking processes”:
Non-doing is, above all, an attitude of mind. It's a wish. It's a decision to leave everything alone and see what goes on, see what happens. Your breathing and your circulation and your postural mechanisms are all working and taking over. The organism is functioning in its automatic way, and you are doing nothing. If you're going to succeed in doing nothing, you must exercise control over your thinking processes. You must really wish to do nothing. If you're thinking anxious, worried thoughts, if you're thinking exciting thoughts that are irrelevant to the situation at hand, you stir up responses in your body that are not consistent with doing nothing. It's not a matter of just not moving--that can lead to fixing or freezing--it's a matter of really leaving yourself alone and letting everything just happen and take over. This is what we're aiming at in an Alexander lesson, and if we're wise, and we understand, it's also what we aim at in our own practice of non-doing. It is something that requires practice. Like most other things in life, it isn't some-thing that you can achieve by simply wishing to do so, by just thinking, 'Well, I will now leave myself alone and not do anything.' Unfortunately, it doesn't work out like that. The whole process requires a lot of practice, and a lot of observation. Out of this process a tremendous lot of experience is to be gained...

EHJ notes that the two ca (in the 1st and 3rd pāda) here denote simultaneity, and that this is correctly rendered by the Chinese translator.

作此思惟時 魔軍忽然集
思惟 (thinking)
When he had this thought,

忽然 (at once)
Māra's army gathered at once.

EHJ translates nānāśrayāḥ in the 3rd pāda “in various forms” and notes further that āśraya in this sense is almost entirely restricted to Buddhism (but cp. Gauḍapāda in Sāṁkhyakārikā, 62)

MW for nānāśrayāḥ gives: wearing different forms (or, "resorting to various means").

Is nānāśrayāḥ pointing to symbolism variously hidden in the description of the miscellaneous fiends that Māra conjures up? Is there a sense of multiple allegiances, for example, to various spiritual religions and -- at the other extreme -- materialistic philosophies? 

If so, we may return to nānāśrayāḥ and reconsider how best to translate it. For the present I have gone with “multifarious.”

I do notice, looking ahead, that even among Māra's followers, one or two are described as being anya, other, different, individual. 

sasmāra = 3rd pers. sg. perf. smṛ: to remember , recollect , bear in mind , call to mind , think of , be mindful of
māraḥ (nom. sg.): m. Māra
ca: and
tataḥ: ind. then
sva-sainyam (acc. sg.): n. one's own army

vighnam (acc. sg.): m. an obstacle , impediment , hindrance , opposition , prevention , interruption , any difficulty or trouble
śame (loc. sg.): m. tranquillity, peace
śākya-muneḥ (gen. sg. m.): of the Śākya sage
cikīrṣan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. desiderative √ kṛ: to do

nānāśrayāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. wearing different forms (or, "resorting to various means"), Bcar. xiii, 18.
nānā: ind. differently , variously , distinctly , separately
āśraya: m. that to which anything is annexed or with which anything is closely connected or on which anything depends or rests ; a recipient , the person or thing in which any quality or article is inherent or retained or received; mfn. ifc. depending on , resting on , endowed or furnished with
ca: and
anucarāḥ (nom. pl. m.): m. companion , follower , servant
anu- √ car: to walk or move after or along ; to follow, serve, attend
parīyuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. pari- √i: to go about , move in a circle ; (trans.) to go or flow round (acc.) , circumambulate , surround , include , grasp , span

śala-druma-prāsagad-āsi-hastāḥ (nom. pl. m.): having spears, trees, javelins, clubs and swords in their hands
śala: m. staff ; dart, spear
druma: m. a tree
prāsa: m. throwing ; a barbed missile or dart
gadā: f. a mace , club , bludgeon
asi: m. a sword , scimitar , knife
hasta: m. the hand

作此思惟時 魔軍忽然集
種種各異形 執戟持刀劍

戟樹捉金杵 種種戰鬥具

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