Thursday, March 5, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.19: Foul-Mindedness vs Crud-Encrustedness

hasadbhir yat ktaṁ karma kaluṣaṁ kaluṣātmabhiḥ |
etat pariṇate kāle krośadbhir anubhūyate || 14.19

That cruddy deed that was done, while laughing,

By those whose nature was crud-encrusted,

Is in the fullness of time

Relived by them while lamenting.

This verse, if we follow the translations of EBC and EHJ, is about wrongdoers who rightly belong in hell, as being wicked-hearted or foul-minded:
The wicked deed which was done by the wicked-hearted in glee, — its consequences are reaped by them in the fulness of time with cries. (EBC)
 The consequences of the foul act, mirthfully carried out by the foul-minded, are reaped by them with lamentations, when the hour of retribution has matured. (EHJ)
But the present Canto is leading to the bodhisattva's practice and experience of pratītya-samutpāda, which Nāgārjuna, again, describes like this:
The doings that lead to rebirth one veiled in ignorance (avidyā-nivṛtaḥ), in the three ways, / 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// There again, 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. / In this way 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 bringing-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//

Nāgārjuna's avidyā-nivṛtaḥ “one veiled in ignorance” or “one surrounded in ignorance” might be one of those whom the bodhisattva describes in today's verse as having their nature begrimed, or crud-encrusted (kaluṣātman).

The point is whether the bodhisattva (a) saw people who were inherently evil (or originally sinful) being eternally condemned to suffer in hell, as per the usual religious conception; or (b) saw people whose true human nature was veiled in ignorance doing the doings which are the root of the whole cycle of saṁsāra – including the temporary stages of hell; the realms of animals, hungry ghosts, and human beings; and heaven.

Read like this, the translation of today's verse poses a philosophical question along the lines of Does a dog have the Buddha-nature? 

At the same time, there are practical implications. For example, the cruddy actions I have done, with body, speech and mind -- have they all been expressions of my original foul-mindedness and wicked-heartedness? Or have they all stemmed, since times without beginning, from the greed, anger and delusion that have been begriming a nature that is originally not grimy at all? 

Dogen's answer to this question is expressed unequivocally in his instructions for sitting-meditation. Even though I learned these instructions off by heart in their original Japanese and translated them several times, I didn't necessarily get the fundamental point. 

Then about 20 years ago I heard Marjory Barlow affirming, "You are all perfect! Apart from what you do." And even though I went on to receive one-to-one instruction from Marjory in Alexander lessons as her pupil, I didn't necessarily get the fundamental point under her either. 

I sincerely hope my failure to get the point has been because of my true nature being encrusted in crud, rather than the more worrying alternative.

If the former is indeed the case, then I needn't try to change what feels wrong into something else that feels right. If the former is the case, it provides a philosophical foundation for not trying, in practice, to be right. In fact "Let it..." as Marjory said... "all be wrong." 

hasadbhiḥ (inst. pl.): mfn. (pr. p. of √ has) laughing , smiling &c
yat (nom. sg. n.): [that] which
kṛtam (nom. sg. n.): done
karma (nom. sg.): n. act, deed

kaluṣam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. turbid , foul , muddy , impure , dirty (lit. and fig.)
kaluṣātmabhiḥ (inst. pl. m.): mfn. of impure mind , bad , wicked

etat (nom. sg. n.): this
pariṇate (loc. sg. m.): mfn. bent down (is an elephant stooping to strike with its tusks) ; developed , ripened , mature , full-grown , perfect ; elapsed (as time)
kāle (loc. sg.): m. hour, time

krośadbhiḥ (inst. pl.): mfn. crying or calling at (acc.) ; lamenting , weeping ; calling out
kruś:  to cry out , shriek , yell , bawl , call out , halloo  ; to lament , weep
anubhūyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive: anu- √ bhū: to enclose , embrace ; to experience

戲笑種禍因 號泣而受罪

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