Sunday, December 7, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.3: Why Māra Was Worried

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Bālā)
tasyātmajā vibhrama-harṣa-darpās tisro rati-prīti-tṣaś ca kanyāḥ |
papracchur enaṁ manaso vikāraṁ sa tāṁś ca tāś caiva vaco 'bhyuvāca || 13.3

His own sons, Hurry, Thrill and Pride,

And his three girls, Fun, Pleasure and Thirst,

Asked him what was troubling his mind;

And he said this to those boys and girls:

In his first assault on the bodhisattva, as the bodhisattva sits in the natural state of plus-minus zero, Māra will test the bodhisattva with positive emotions. So for this purpose he will deploy the six family members cited in today's verse. Later on in the Canto Māra will try to cause the bodhisattva to wobble via negative emotions.

EHJ changed rati, Fun, to arati, Discontent, reading the 2nd pāda tisro 'rati-prīti-tṛṣaś ca kanyāḥ, and translating “his three daughters, Discontent, Delight and Thirst.” EHJ noted, however, that the old Nepalese manuscript, along with the Tibetan translation and also apparently the Chinese translation, all omitted the avagraha mark.

According to the MW dictionary, rati and pritī are the two wives of Māra, while tṛṣ is his daughter. It is hard to see, then, why EHJ saw fit to change the emotionally positive rati (Fun) into the negative arati (Discontent).

I would rather see all three of the women as representing positive emotions, but not all of them being Māra's daughters – two of the three being related to him by marriage. There may be a danger of reading too much into this, but ātmajāh can be read as describing Māra's three sons, in particular, as being regular chips off the old block. The suggestion might be that there is something particulaly male, or testosterone-based, about Māra. 

What was causing Māra's mind to be troubled? The obvious answer is that the bodhisattva was sitting in full lotus, and it has been said since ancient times that the mere sight of somebody sitting in full lotus is enough to make Māra quake in his boots.

But the bodhisattva has been sitting in lotus for the past six years of his ascetic practice, and there was no mention of Māra being worried then.

So really to understand why Māra was so worried I think we need to go back and really understand what Aśvaghoṣa told us in BC12.93-94, and then in BC12.101-106:
He was greatly honoured by those five humble followers. While, being obedient, because of training, they deferred to him, / Abiding as disciples under his dominion, like the restless senses deferring to the mind, //12.93 // He intuited that here might be a means to end death and birth – on which grounds, then, /He undertook harsh austerities, going without food. //12.94 //...
“This dharma is good neither for detachment, nor for awakening, nor for liberation./ What I realized back then, at the foot of the rose-apple tree –  that is a sure method. //12.101// But that cannot be realized by one who is weak.” Thus did he reflect. / Still more, with a view to increasing his bodily strength, on this did he meditate further: //12.102// "Worn out by hunger, thirst and fatigue, with a mind that, from fatigue, is not well in itself, / How can one obtain the result which is to be realized by the mind – when one is not contented? //12.103// Contentment is properly obtained through keeping the senses constantly appeased; / By full appeasement of the senses, wellness of the mind is realized. //12.104// In one whose mind is well and tranquil, samādhi, balanced stillness, sets in. / In one whose mind is possessed of samādhi, dhyāna, meditative practice, progresses. //12.105// Through meditation's progress are obtained dharmas, timeless teachings, by which is realized the deathless – / That hard-won, quieted, unaging, ultimate immortal step.” //12.106//

Six years ago, then, already, the bodhisattva had recognized that the means to the end he sought involved establishing a hierarchy in which the mind prevails over the senses.

But the truth is that the mind cannot exercise direct control over feelings, any more than a surfer can control the sea. The truth is rather that feelings – whether positive or negative emotions or more neutral sensory feedback – control the mind. (Hence Marjory Barlow: "We cannot control our feelings. Our feelings control us!") 

Six years on, then, the bodhisattva has now adopted a new approach to the senses so that instead of trying to defeat the senses directly by ascetic denial, he has decided fully to appease the senses.

As much as his sitting in lotus under the bodhi tree, I think it is the bodhisattva's arrival at this more indirect, more moderate, and more reasonable approach, and his confidence that here is a means that is going to take him towards his end of conscious awakening, that has caused Māra to break out into a cold sweat. 

Because Māra's realm is unconscious end-gaining.

We who are not yet truly awake sometimes can't help suffering from the delusion that we might be enlightened already. At those kind of ironies, Māra rubs his hands in glee, knowing we are stuck deeper than ever in his realm.

At the root of unconscious end-gaining is ignorance. I think the aim of sitting practice is to stop this ignorance, in which case sitting can be like a great bodhi tree – pure, pristine, free of doing.

If a Zen master's sitting in lotus is full of doings, even if he thinks he is a wise one, on the basis of seeing reality (tattva-darśanāt), he is not yet truly wise, on the basis of reality making itself known (tattva-darśanāt), or on the basis of the right thing doing itself.

That's why I criticize my own Zen teacher so severely. Even if in his own sitting he was relatively free of doing, he in his ignorance entrusted his students firmly into Māra's grip by instructions to do this, that, and the other. And he wasn't the only one. His approach seems to me, still, to be pretty much the norm among Japanese Zen teachers. Based on the ignorant false conception of “correct posture” people are encouraged to sit upright primarily by pulling themselves down.

Thus, even if the Buddha succeeded in defeating Māra around 2500 years ago, that was only one human being winning one battle. The war was not won once and for all. And so these days, in general, Māra seems to be pretty much back in the driving seat.

Today, incidentally, is the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941. And as the years go by and the truth emerges of what really happened, we gradually realize that the Japanese flew into Roosevelt's trap, giving him the excuse -- which Hitler had taken pains not to give -- to take America into the war. Afterwards the powers that be in Washington took the necessary steps to cover up what had really happened, making scapegoats of the admirals in Hawaii who Roosevelt had kept out of the loop.

As a Brit, I suppose I should not complain that FDR caused America to come to the aid of his distant  British cousins. But just listen to FDR in this speech that FDR gave on 30th October 1940, while secretly he was already trying his damndest to get America into the war: 

The plain fact is that construction on Army housing is far ahead of schedule to meet all needs, and that by January fifth, next, there will be complete and adequate housing in this Nation for nine hundred and thirty thousand soldiers.

And so I feel that, very simply and very honestly, I can give assurance to the mothers and fathers of America that each and every one of their boys in training will be well housed and well fed.

Throughout that year of training, there will be constant promotion of their health and their well-being.

And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance.

I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again:

Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.

They are going into training to form a force so strong that, by its very existence, it will keep the threat of war far away from our shores.

The purpose of our defense is defense.

The Republican campaign orators who moan and groan (laughter) about our Army and Navy are even more mournful about our strength in the air. But only last year, 1939, the Republicans in the Congress were voting in favor of reducing appropriations for the Army Air Corps.

What kind of political shenanigans are these?

Some might say that FDR was using a skillful means, an expedient.  Or some might say he was flat out lying to the American public. Either way, I think Aśvaghoṣa, for one, would have appreciated the irony. 

tasya (gen. sg.): his
ātmajāḥ (nom. pl. m.): “born of himself”; son
vibhrama-harṣa-darpāḥ (nom. pl. m.): Caprice, Gaiety and Wantonness [EHJ]
vibhrama: m. moving to and fro , rolling or whirling about , restlessness , unsteadiness ; violence , excess , intensity , high degree ; hurry , rapture , agitation , disturbance , perturbation , confusion , flurry
harṣa: m. bristling , erection (esp. of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight) ; joy , pleasure , happiness ; erection of the sexual organ , sexual excitement , lustfulness ; ardent desire
darpa: m. pride , arrogance , haughtiness , insolence , conceit
tisras (nom. pl.): three

rati-prīti-tṛṣaḥ (nom. pl. f.): Lust, Delight and Thirst [EBC]
arati-prīti-tṛṣaḥ (nom. pl. f.): DiscontentDelight and Thirst [EHJ]
rati: f. rest , repose ; pleasure , enjoyment , delight in , fondness for ; the pleasure of love , sexual passion or union , amorous enjoyment (often personified as one of the two wives of kāma-deva , together with prīti q.v.)
arati: f. dissatisfaction , discontent , dulness , languor ; anxiety , distress , regret
prīti: f. any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy , gladness , satisfaction ; joy or gratification personified (esp. as a daughter of dakṣa or as one of the two wives of kāma-deva)
tṛṣ: f. thirst ; Desire as daughter of Love
ca: and
kanyāḥ (nom. pl.): f. girl, virgin, daughter

papracchur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. prach: to question, interrogate
enam (acc. sg. m.): him
manasaḥ (gen. sg.): n. mind
vikāram (acc. sg.): m. change of form or nature , alteration or deviation from any natural state , transformation , modification , change (esp. for the worse) of bodily or mental condition , disease , sickness , hurt , injury , (or) perturbation , emotion , agitation , passion

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tān (acc. pl. m.): them
ca: and
tāḥ (acc. pl. f.): them
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
vacaḥ (acc. sg.): n. words, saying
babhāṣe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhāṣ: to speak , talk , say , tell
abhyuvāca [EBC] = 3rd pers. sg. perf. abhi- √ vac: to say to, to tell

魔王有三女 美貎善儀容
種種惑人術 天女中第一
第一名欲染 次名能悦人
三名可愛樂 三女倶時進
白父波旬言 不審何憂慼
父具以其事 寫情告諸女

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