Thursday, January 1, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.29: A Time for Blind Faith?

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
viṣvag vavau vāyur udīrṇa-vegas tārā na rejur na babhau śaśāṅkaḥ |
tamaś ca bhūyo vitatāna rātriḥ sarve ca saṁcukṣubhire samudrāḥ || 13.29

From every direction the wind blew in wild gusts.

The stars did not shine, the hare-marked moon did not show itself,

And Dark Night covered herself in an extra layer of darkness.

While all the oceans churned.

Gusts and churning in today's verse, of wind and of ocean waves, can be read as metaphors for emotional upheaval.

So the implicit teaching point might be that the physical act of sitting still can be a good means for allowing to happen at the unconscious level whatever change needs to happen.

Today might be a good day to be reminded that some forms of suffering – like for example a hangover combined with sleep-deprivation – are likely to be helped less by psychological counselling or by philosophical consideration of the Buddha's teaching and, more under the cover of darkness, just by blind sitting, or indeed by sleep.

Speaking of sleep, in SN Canto 14 the Buddha tells Nanda:
To neglect the reptilian faults, as if ignoring snakes in the house, / And thus to slumber on, does not befit a man of wisdom who wishes to overcome the great terror. // SN14.29 // For while the world of the living burns with the fires of death, disease and aging, / Who could lie down insensibly, any more than in a burning house? // 14.30 // Therefore, knowing it to be darkness, you should not let sleep enshroud you / While the faults remain unquieted, like sword-wielding enemies. // 14.31 //  But having spent the first of the three night-watches actively engaged in practice, / You should, as one who is pulling his own strings, go to bed to rest the body. // 14.32 // On your right side, then, remaining conscious of light, / Thinking in your heart of wakefulness, you might with peace of mind fall asleep. // 14.33 // Again, by getting up in the third watch and going into movement, or indeed just sitting, / You might renew your practice, with mind refreshed, and power of the senses curbed. // 14.34 //And so, upon acts like sitting, moving, standing, looking, and speaking -- / Being fully aware of every action -- you should bring mindfulness to bear. // SN14.35 //
In this passage the Buddha seems to show a certain ambivalence towards the darkness of sleep. On the one hand the darkness of sleep is unconsciousness, and unconsciousness is the refuge of the foe-like faults. On the other hand, the unconscious processes that take place during sleep refresh the mind and thus prepare the practitioner to carry on with renewed enthusiasm the war against the forces of darkness.

The words of Zen Master Dogen quoted yesterday thus seem appropriate to be quoted again today:
Sit in lotus (unconsciously) with the body.
Sit in lotus (consciously) with the mind.
Sit in lotus as body and mind dropping off.

viṣvak: ind. on both (or all) sides , sideways
viṣvañc: mfn. (fr. 1. viṣu + 2. añc) going in or turned to both (or all) directions , all-pervading , ubiquitous , general
vavau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vā: to blow
vāyuḥ (nom. sg.): m. the wind
udīrṇa-vegaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. impetuous in its course (as a torrent) , violent
ud-īrṇa: mfn. issued out , excited , increased , elevated ; self-conceited , proud
vega: violent agitation , shock , jerk ; a stream , flood , current (of water , tears &c ) ; rush , dash , impetus , momentum , onset

tārāḥ (nom. pl.): f. a fixed star, asterism
na: not
rejur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. rāj: to be illustrious or resplendent , shine , glitter
na: not
babhau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhās: to shine, be bright ; to appear (" as " or " like " nom. or instr. of an abstract noun) , occur to the mind , be conceived or imagined , become clear or evident
śaśāṅkaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the 'hare-marked' moon

tamaḥ (acc. sg.): n. darkness
ca: and
bhūyaḥ (acc. sg. n.): " becoming in a greater degree "
vitatāna = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vi- √ tan: to spread out or through or over , cover , pervade , fill ; to unfold , display , exhibit , manifest ; to cause , effect , produce
rātriḥ (nom. sg.): f. night , the darkness or stillness of night (often personified)

sarve (nom. pl. m.): mfn. all
ca: and
saṁcukṣubhire = 3rd pers. pl. perf. saṁ- √ kṣubh: to shake about violently , agitate , toss , excite
samudrāḥ (nom. pl.): m. sea, ocean

風火煙塵合 黒闇無所見

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