Thursday, January 8, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.36: Not Flinching, Not Shrinking

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
tebhyaḥ sthitebhyaḥ sa tathā-vidhebhyaḥ rūpeṇa bhāvena ca dāruṇebhyaḥ |
na vivyathe nodvivije mahārṣiḥ krīḍat-subālebhya ivoddhatebhyaḥ || 13.36

From them, as they stood there like that,

So horrid in their appearance and in their hearts,

The great seer did not flinch and did not shrink –

Any more than from naughty infants at play.

The two main verbs in today's verse express movements – like trembling and shuddering, or flinching and shrinking away – that betray fear in the face of a noxious stimulus.

So when Aśvaghoṣa wrote that the great seer did not flinch or shrink away from Māra's army, any more than from naughty infants at play, Aśvaghoṣa might have expected us to understand that there is really nothing to fear from naughty infants at play.

Aśvaghoṣa probably never expected his epic poetry to be translated by a low-level practitioner whose faulty vestibular-auditory system is such that he does indeed flinch and shudder at the noise of rattling plastic wheels and high-pitched shrieks, as if those stimuli presented a mortal danger.

If the golden sitting of buddhas and bodhisattvas, then, is characterized by not flinching and not shrinking, that absence of flinching and shrinking is an observable physical phenomenon, but it has a neuro-physiological aspect and also a psychological aspect. And, more to the point, it has a karmic aspect. 

Trying physically, from the outside, to imitate how buddhas sit  is not wise, because the golden sitting of buddhas is a manifestation of their buddha-wisdom.

Conversely, trying to get inside the mind of buddhas by reading and studying and translating, without actually sitting, can never be a means of realizing the golden sitting of buddhas, because the golden sitting of buddhas is nothing other than sitting.

And even if we steer clear of these two major pitfalls – represented on the one side by the kind of formalism that taints so much Japanese Zen, and on the other side by the efforts of academic Buddhist scholars who eschew sitting practice itself – the pursuit of golden sitting is still not so easy.

A shrieking child trundles past on his plastic tractor.... and the gap seems wider than ever between how one would like things to be and how things right at this moment actually are.

At such times, a good teaching to be mindful of is the teaching of karma in three times.

The idea that “I haven't done anything to deserve this misfortune,” is always a wrong idea to be given up.

tebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): those
sthitebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): standing ; being there , existing , present , close at hand , ready
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tathā-vidhebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): of such a sort or kind , being in such a condition or state , of such qualities

rūpeṇa (inst. sg.): n. form
bhāvena (inst. sg.): m. being, state, condition ; manner of being , nature , temperament , character ; the seat of the feelings or affections , heart , soul , mind
ca: and
dāruṇebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): mfn. hard , harsh ; rough, cruel ; dreadful , frightful

na: not
vivyathe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vyath: to tremble , waver , go astray , come to naught , fail RV. &c &c (with abl. = to be deprived of , lose) ; to be agitated or disturbed in mind , be restless or sorrowful or unhappy ; to be afraid of (gen.) ; [causative] to cause to swerve from (abl.)
na: not
udvivije = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ud- √ vij: to gush or spring upwards ; to be agitated , grieved or afflicted; to shudder ; to fear ; to shrink from , recede , leave off
√ vij: to move with a quick darting motion , speed , heave (said of waves) ; to start back , recoil , flee from (abl.)
mahārṣiḥ (nom. sg. m.): the great seer

krīḍat-subālebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): the infantile at play
krīḍat: mfn. playing
su-bāla: mfn. very childish ; m. a good boy Bcar. xiii , 36 ; m. a god
iva: like
uddhatebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): mfn. raised (as dust) , turned up ; lifted up , raised , elevated , high ; puffed up , haughty , vain , arrogant ; rude , ill-behaved ; stirred up , excited , agitated
ud-√hā: to go upwards , move upwards , rise up

菩薩默然觀 如看童兒戲

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