Friday, December 12, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.8 Sitting Still, Still

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Haṁsī)
atha praśāntaṁ munim āsana-sthaṁ pāraṁ titīrṣuṁ bhava-sāgarasya |
viṣajya savyaṁ karam āyudhāgre krīḍan śareṇ' edam uvāca māraḥ || 13.8

And so Māra addressed the sage, who was quietly sitting, still,

Wishing to cross beyond the ocean of becoming. 

Keeping his left hand on the tip of his weapon, 

While playing with an arrow, Māra said this:

In this opening salvo, Māra like King Śuddhodana before him appeals to a prince's sense of a different dharma, using reason. But again in the background there is the implicit threat of use of force. Thus Māra is described as having his hands on his bow and arrow. 

But the real turning word in today's verse, as I read it, is āsana-stham in the 1st pāda.  āsana-stham ostensibly means "remaining seated" or in short "seated"; hence for example EHJ translated praśāntaṁ munim āsana-stham "the sage who was tranquilly seated." 

Perhaps āsana-stham is better described, in the context of the present Canto, not so much as a turning word as a continuing word. 

Just sitting was just sitting under that ancient fig tree in ancient India. And in the dripping presence of an old cider apple tree in rainy Normandy, just sitting is just sitting, still. 

The direction of that sitting is primarily backward; hence pratītya (lit. "having gone backward"). But also, if we are not too arrogant in thinking we know what words like backward and upward might mean, the direction of sitting might be upward; hence samutpāda (lit. "springing up together"). 

chapter of Nāgārjuna's MMK in which Nāgārjuna explicitly describes pratītya-samutpāda would seem to be MMK chapter 26. The title of the chapter however, is not  pratītya-samutpāda-parīkṣā, "Investigation of Springing Up by Going Back."

Rather, the title of MMK chapter 26 is dvādaśāṅga-parīkṣā, "Investigation of the Twelve Links." 

The first verse of that chapter contains the same word, bhava (birth, existence, becoming) that appears in the 2nd pāda of today's verse. 

The phrase that Aśvaghoṣa uses in today's verse is bhava-sāgarasya,  "the ocean of becoming" (EBC/EHJ/PO: the ocean of existence). 

The phrase that Nāgārjuna uses in MMK26.1 is the dative punar-bhavāya, "in the direction of rebirth" or "towards repeated becoming" : 

punar-bhavāya saṁskārān avidyā-nivṛtas tridhā |
abhisaṁskurute yāṁs tair gatiṁ gacchati karmabhiḥ ||MMK26.1||
The doings that lead to repeated becoming, one veiled in ignorance, in three ways [with body, mouth, and mind], / Does do; and by these actions he enters a sphere of existence.//MMK26.1//

Doings (saṁskārāḥ) and ignorance (avidyā) are the first two of the twelve links, thus: 
  1. ignorance avidyā
  2. doings saṁskārāḥ
  3. consciousness vijñānam
  4. psychophysicality nāmarūpam
  5. six senses ṣaḍ-āyatanam
  6. contact saṁsparśaḥ
  7. feeling vedanā
  8. thirsting tṛṣṇā
  9. clinging upādānam
  10. becoming bhavaḥ
  11. birth jātiḥ
  12. the suffering of aging and death, and so on, sorrows, lamentations...                            jarā-maraṇa-duḥkhādi śokāḥ saparidevanāḥ....
So pratītya-samutpāda, as I understand the teaching, is not the same as the twelve links. The twelve links are the twelve links. pratītya-samutpāda, in my understanding, is primarily the process or the practice of going back -- via the twelve interconnected links -- to the root of suffering. Hence...

saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ |
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||MMK26.10
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// 
avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||MMK26.11
In the destruction of ignorance, there is the non-coming-into-being of doings./ The destruction of ignorance, however, is because of the allowing-into-being of just this act of knowing.//MMK26.11//
tasya tasya nirodhena tat-tan nābhipravartate |
duḥkha-skandhaḥ kevalo 'yam evaṁ samyaṅ nirudhyate ||MMK26.12
By the destruction of this one and that one, this one and that one are discontinued. / This whole edifice of suffering is thus well and truly demolished.//MMK26.12//

Demolishing the whole edifice of suffering then, and crossing beyond the ocean of becoming, might be two metaphors for the same experience and practice of springing up, by going back. 

The former metaphor suggests reversion to an earlier, older, original state. The latter metaphor suggests some kind of progress in the direction of the unknown. 

Thus, both metaphors are useful in pointing to the practice of pratītya-samutpāda, Springing Up by Going Back.  

How was the bodhisattva under the aśvattha fig tree before arriving at the practice and experience of Springing Up by Going Back? 

He was sitting still. 

How was the Buddha under the bodhi tree just at the moment of arriving at the practice and experience of Springing Up by Going Back? 

He was sitting still.

And how was the Buddha under the bodhi tree after arriving at the practice and experience of Springing Up by Going Back, wondering if and how to teach the Buddha-dharma to others? 

He was sitting still, still. 

atha: and so
praśāntam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. tranquillized , calm , quiet , composed , indifferent
munim (acc. sg.): m. the sage
āsana-stham (acc. sg. m.): mfn. abiding on a seat , sitting

pāram (acc. sg.): n. the further bank or shore or boundary , any bank or shore , the opposite side , the end or limit of anything , the utmost reach or fullest extent
titīrṣum (acc. sg. m.): being desirous of crossing
bhava-sāgarasya (gen,. sg.): the ocean of becoming

viṣajya = abs. vi-√sañj: to hang on , hang to , attach
savyam (acc. sg.): mfn. the left ; m. the left arm or hand
karam (acc. sg.): m. “doer”; hand
āyudhāgre (loc. sg.): to the tip of the weapon

krīḍan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. krīḍ: to play , sport , amuse one's self , frolic , gambol , dally (used of men , animals , the wind and waves , &c )
śareṇa (inst. sg.): m. arrow
idam (acc. sg. n.): this
uvāca = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vac: to speak
māraḥ (nom. sg.) m. Māra

見牟尼靜默 欲度三有海
左手執強弓 右手彈利箭

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