Saturday, March 7, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.21: Being Present Here in the Peninent Realm of the Non-Upright

ime 'nye karmabhiś citraiś citta-vispanda-saṁbhavaiḥ |
tiryag-yonau vicitrāyām upapannās tapasvinaḥ || 14.21 

These different ones, by various actions

Stemming from palpitations of the mind,

Fittingly find themselves, poor penitent wretches,

In some form or other of non-upright, animal existence.

In today's verse the bodhisattva's observations pass into the second of the five realms in which, in accordance with our karma in saṁsāra, we fittingly find ourselves. "Fittingly" because, as noted in connection with BC14.11, upapanna is the past participle of upa-√pad, one of whose meanings the MW dictionary gives as “to be fit for (with loc.)”.

On the surface, the bodhisattva is describing as anye (other, different) beings who are other than the beings just described in hell. Hence: 
Others also, through various actions arising from the spasmodic violence of their minds, are born miserable in the wombs of various beasts. (EBC)
By reason of their various actions arising from the activity of the mind, these other unfortunates are born among the various kinds of animals. (EHJ)

Below the surface anye, as so often in Aśvaghoṣa's writings, might be intended to suggest beings who are different in the sense of not conforming to our immature conceptions. In that case, ironically, anye might really mean "these same bodhisattvas" who have just been described as suffering, for their sins, in hell. 

The point might be, in other words, that when a perfectly religious bodhisattva observes goings-on in saṁsāric realms like hell and the world of animals, he or she is easily supposed to do so from the outside looking in. But when ones who are different --  real bodhisattvas -- observe goings-on in saṁsāra, they or we do so from inside saṁsāra, being right here in the thick of it. 

As well as meaning “to be fit for,” upa-√pad means “to be present, to exist,” and upapanna means “existing.” So although EBC and EHJ both translated upapannāḥ in today's verse as “are born,” these more real and existential connotations of upapanna, below the surface, might again (as in BC14.11) be relevant.

Mindful that the present description of saṁsāra is laying the ground for Aśvaghoṣa to outline the 12 links in the teaching of pratītya-samutpāda, can we read "various actions" in today's verse as corresponding with the "doings" (saṁskārāḥ) which are the 2nd of the 12 links, and which Nāgārjuna describes as the root of saṁsāra? 

Again, can we read "palpitations of the mind" as coterminous with the "ignorance" (avidyā), which is the 1st link in the chain? 
The doings that lead to rebirth one veiled in ignorance, 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//

Read in this light, does today's verse again invite us to point the finger at nobody other than ourselves – nobody different, that is, from us bodhisattvas who, having not yet shedded our crud-encrusted husks of ignorance, are still habitually doing the doings which are the root of saṁsara? 

Is this why, when we find ourselves in some form or other of animal existence, we do so fittingly, rightly, deservedly – recognizing that we got here exactly by our own doing, by various actions that stemmed from the irregular palpitations of our ignorance-veiled minds? 

The word used in today's verse for "animal" is tiryañc, which literally means "going horizontally." Going horizontally  means going on all fours like a horse, or slithering over the ground like a snake, or flying through the air like a bird. At the same time tiryañc can sometimes mean "crooked" -- i.e. not perfectly upright, like a Zen practitioner who, wrapped in non-intrinsic ignorance, is or has been doing too much. 

Another word that might have been chosen with hidden connotations in mind is tapasvinaḥ (EBC: miserable; EHJ: unfortunates). An allusion may have been intended to the kind of tapasvin (devotee of tapas, ascetic, poor penitent) described in BC Canto 7. These are the ascetics who live in the ascetic forest imitating the lives, for example, of deer (BC7.5, BC7.15).

Today's verse, then, is the first of six verses devoted to the animal realm. And in each of these six verses the bodhisattva is ostensibly sitting there like David Attenborough observing oxen, horses, elephants, birds, fish and other animals. But below the surface Aśvaghoṣa's intention might be to cause us to reflect on nobody other than ourselves, and our own karma in saṁsāra.

Hence, again, the irony of anye.  One who is different, below the surface, might be nobody other than this penitent wretch, here in saṁsāra, right now.

ime (nom. pl. m.): these
anye (nom. pl. m.): mfn. other, being different
karmabhiḥ (inst. pl.): n. acts, deeds
citraiḥ (inst. pl. n.): mfn. variegated , spotted , speckled ; various, different

citta-vispanda-saṁbhavaiḥ (inst. pl. n.): produced from struggling of the mind
vispanda = viṣpanda: m. (» vi- √spand) throbbing , beating
vi- √ spand: to quiver , throb , tremble , start; to struggle , strive , exert one's self
sambhava: m. being or coming together , meeting , union , intercourse ; birth , production , origin , source , the being produced from (abl. ; ifc. = " arisen or produced from , made of , grown in ")

tiryag-yonau (loc. sg.): f. the womb of an animal , animal creation , organic nature (including plants)
tiryañc: m. n. " going horizontally " , an animal (amphibious animal , bird , &c )
yoni: f. the womb , uterus , vulva , vagina , female organs of generation; place of birth , source , origin , spring , fountain (ifc. = sprung or produced from); place of rest , repository , receptacle , seat , abode , home , lair , nest , stable ; family , race , stock , caste , the form of existence or station fixed by birth (e.g. that of a man , Brahman , animal &c ; ifc. = belonging to the caste of)
vicitrāyām (loc. sg. f.): mfn. variegated , many-coloured , motley , brilliant ; manifold , various , diverse

upapannāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. obtained , reached , gained ; happened , fallen to one's share , produced , effected , existing
upa- √ pad: to enter into any state ; to be present , exist ; to be possible , be fit for or adequate to (with loc.)
tapasvinaḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. distressed , wretched , poor , miserable; practising austerities , (m.) an ascetic ; m. a pauper
tapas: n. heat, pain; suffering ; religious austerity , bodily mortification , penance

造諸畜生業 業種種各異
死墮畜生道 種種各異身 

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