Sunday, February 1, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.60: True Doing, Via the Truth of Non-Doing

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
kāṣṭhaṁ hi mathnan labhate hutāśaṁ bhūmiṁ khanan vindati cāpi toyam |
nirbandhinaḥ kiṁ cana nāsty asādhyaṁ nyāyena yuktaṁ ca ktaṁ ca sarvam || 13.60

For by twirling the fire-stick
one obtains the oblation-scoffing flame.

Again, by digging the earth one finds water.

For one who persists, nothing is impossible.

Done according to principle, everything is truly done.

The hallmark of happiness, asserted FM Alexander, is doing well something you enjoy.

The paradoxical question for a follower of Zen Master Dogen to answer, then, might be:

How to do well the sitting that Dogen described as 
a subtle method which is supreme and free of doing 

Words are useful in helping to clarify how paradoxical the paradox is...

But words can only take us so far.

The principle of non-doing might most truly be realized when the moving of the leg goes ahead and does itself.

People say that the fundamentals of the French economy are weak. But last summer I witnessed Frederique the master builder and his assistant doing an extremely thorough building job. Painful though it was to my ears, the work left a deep impression on me of a master craftsman working to principle, or working to a plan.

FM Alexander contrasted that kind of effort with what he called end-gaining.

We used to joke in Birmingham in the 1970s that the tool-kit for a worker in the local British Leyland car factory was a hammer and a condom – “If you can't fix it, fuck it.” That is a colourful expression of Alexander's principle of end-gaining which is opposed to working according to principle.

Working according to principle, in building a house, or building a car, or realizing the truth of non-doing, does not mean never going ahead and gaining the end. It means not doing so in a haphazard unconscious manner, guided not by principle but governed by an instinctive impatient desire to get the job done. 

The latter, end-gaining approach is the essence of ignorance, and when we follow this approach, we can observe exactly how ignorance gives rise to doings, just as Nāgārjuna describes in the penultimate chapter of MMK:
The doings that lead to rebirth one veiled in ignorance, in three ways [by end-gaining with body, speech and mind], / Does do; and by these actions he enters a sphere of existence. //MMK26.1 // Consciousness seeps, with doings as causal grounds, into the sphere of existence./ And so, consciousness having seeped in, pychophysicality is infused. //26.2// Conversely, once psychophysicality is infused, there is the coming into existence of the six senses; / The six senses having arrived, contact arises; //26.3// And when the faculty of sight, going back, has met a physical form, and met indeed a meeting together, / – When sight has gone back, in this way, to psychophysicality – then consciousness arises. //26.4// The combination of the three – physical form, consciousness and faculty of seeing – / Is contact; and from that contact arises feeling. //26.5// On the grounds of feeling, there is thirst – because one thirsts for the object of feeling. / While the thirsting is going on, grasping hold takes hold in four ways. //26.6// While there is grasping hold, the becoming originates of the one who grasps – / Because becoming, in the absence of grasping hold, would be set free and would not become becoming. //26.7// The five aggregates, again, are the becoming. Out of the becoming rebirth is born. / The suffering of ageing and death, and all the rest of it – sorrows, along with lamentations; //26.8// Dejectedness, troubles – all this arises out of rebirth. / Thus there is the coming about of this whole mass of suffering. //26.9// 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. //26.10// 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.//26.11// 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//

People seem to think that the destruction of ignorance means realizing how everything is causally connected with everything else, through “dependent arising” or “interdependent origination” or some similar translation of pratītya-samutpāda. All well and good. But please can you demonstrate to me, then, exactly how, in this kind of enlightenment, there is the non-coming-into-being of doings. 

My intention is to clarify that pratītya-samutpāda is better understood not as “dependent origination” but as a complete springing up, realized by going back to the root of suffering – that root of suffering residing in ignorant doings.

Can I demonstrate in practice what I mean by this kind of destruction of ignorance? Not very well, I fear. But I do know, for damn sure, that FM Alexander's niece, Marjory Barlow, did most truly demonstrate the means-whereby to me.

Thus, as I approach the end of this blog, my end-point turns out to be the same as my starting point six years, ago, which was also my starting point when I came back from Japan to England twenty years ago. The starting point was a desire to connect the teaching of Zen Master Dogen, which I intuited to be true, and the teaching of FM Alexander, which I also intuited to be true.

So my new starting point this year will be the same as my old starting point when I started Alexander teacher training back in 1995. Except that some things have changed for the worse. And some things have changed for the better.

One of the things that has changed for the better is that, some time during the course of 2014, I saw the usefulness of translating samskāran as “doings” and saṁskaroti as “does do” in MMK26.10. Thus:
saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the ignorant one do.

Now that Nāgārjuna's teaching has been translated into English like that, the link to FM Alexander's teaching should be easier to clarify.

As Marjory Barlow reminded me, however, these things can't be hurried. We are dealing with a process of growth, and growth cannot be hurried.

As Marjory during the course of this video (around 56m in) says for herself: “I am not going to rush for anybody!”

kāṣṭham (acc. sg.): n. a piece of wood or timber , stick
hi: for
mathnan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. math / manth: to stir or whirl round
labhate = 3rd pers. sg. labh: to get; to gain possession of , obtain ,
hutāśam (acc. sg.): m. oblation-eater , fire
huta: mfn. offered in fire , poured out (as clarified butter) , burnt (as an oblation) , sacrificed
āśa: m. eating

bhūmim (acc. sg.): f. the earth
khanan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. khan: to dig , dig up , delve , turn up the soil , excavate , root up
vindati = 3rd pers. sg. vid: to find , discover , meet or fall in with , obtain , get , acquire
ca: and
api: also
toyam (acc. sg.): n. water

nirbandhinaḥ = gen. sg. nirbandhin: mfn. insisting upon (loc. or comp.)
nir- √ bandh: to fix or fasten upon , attach one's self to , insist upon , persist in , urge
kiṁ cana na: in no way
asti: there is
asādhyam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. not to be effected or completed , not proper or able to be accomplished ; incurable , irremediable
sādh: to go straight to any goal or aim , attain an object , to be successful , succeed , prosper; to bring straight to an object or end , further , promote , advance , accomplish , complete , finish

nyāyena (inst. sg.): m.that into which a thing goes back i.e. an original type , standard , method , rule , (esp.) a general or universal rule , model , axiom , system , plan , manner , right or fit manner or way
yuktam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. yoked or joined or fastened or attached or harnessed to (loc. or instr.) ; furnished or endowed or filled or supplied or provided with , accompanied by , possessed of (instr. or comp.) ; fitted , adapted , conforming or adapting one's self to , making use of (instr.)
ca: and ( ca-ca may express immediate connection between two acts or their simultaneous occurrence (e.g. mama ca muktaṁ tamasā mano manasijena dhanuṣi śaraś ca niveśitaḥ , " no sooner is my mind freed from darkness than a shaft is fixed on his bow by the heart-born god ")
kṛtam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. done , made , accomplished , performed ; prepared , made ready ; obtained , gained , acquired , placed at hand ; well done , proper , good
ca: and
sarvam (nom. sg.): n. everything

鑚木而得火 掘地而得水
精勤正方便 無求而不獲 

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