Thursday, March 19, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.33: Defilement by One's Own Doings

[No Sanskrit text]

| byams daṅ bsruṅ daṅ skyoṅ rnams kyi | | gñen ’dun rnams kyis ’bad nas sos |
| sdug bsṅal las slar sdug bsṅal drag | | raṅ raṅ las kyis ñon moṅs so |

Indicative Tibetan words:
byams: love, kindness  
sos: recover, be cured
sdug: unpleasant, frustration ; Might very well be a 'Tibetanization' of Sanskrit duḥkha
las: karma; action; act; deed (Ch:  )
ñon moṅs: [EHJ] defiled = Skt. kliś or kaluṣa.

EH Johnston's translation from the Tibetan:
33. They are loved and cherished and guarded by their kindred who bring them up with every care, only to be defiled by their own various deeds as they pass from suffering to greater suffering.

任彼宿業分 無時不有死
Whilst born in this condition, no moment free from chance of death... (SB) 
As they dwelled in the lot of their previous actions, they did not have a single moment free of death. (CW) 

Judging from the repetition of sdug in the 3rd line of the Tibetan, we can guess that the original Sanskrit featured a repetition of duḥkha. So Aśvaghoṣa may have been laying the groundwork for the coming realization of how the whole edifice of human suffering is traceable back to the doings which the one veiled in ignorance does do. 

A few months ago on an Alexander teacher training course a teacher had her hands on my neck and was moving my body upwards very easily, her hands making also no contact at all. A student teacher who was observing this asked me, "What are you thinking?" More or less unconsciously, without pausing to consider what I was saying, I said, "I am allowing myself to be directed." 

That's probably the closest I've come in thirty-0dd years to expressing the truth of non-doing in words. 

I reflected this morning as I sat that there are levels and levels of this "allowing oneself to be directed." 

For example, for many years I submitted myself to the direction of my Zen teacher, to a certain extent, but something stopped me going all the way. I sensed there was something in his teaching that wasn't true, and it bothered me greatly. 

Yesterday my go-to website as a resource for the Pali Suttas was offline due to being hacked in the name of Allah. The people doing the hacking (doing being the operative word) must think they are submitting to a higher power, even as they do their nefarious doing. 

That kind of a gap between truly submitting and not-quite-total-surrender is not limited to Islaam. Neither is it limited to practise of non-doing in Alexander work. But conspicuous failures in those two arenas, I think, are a useful mirror in which to recognize the gap against which Dogen warned Zen practitioners into falling. 

There's a difference between subscribing to the principle of surrender, and actually manifesting the absence of the doings which are the root of saṁsāra. 

I think Aśvaghoṣa's use of irony, which these comments have been endeavouring to bring out verse by verse over the past few years, stems from his been steeped in the existence of this difference, or this gap. In today's verse, we cannot identify the irony, since it rests on Sanskrit word-play, and we don't have the Sanskrit. But we can bet our bottom dollar that if we did have the Sanskrit, the irony would be there -- in the gap between the ostensible and hidden meaning of the verse. 

As I sat this morning I was conscious of not having decided yet what I am going to do next -- e.g. study Tibetan, start in earnest on the translation of Nāgārjuna's MMK, carry on with this blog until new visitor numbers approach zero and then sneak off to France never to be heard from again.... 

It is actually a good place to be, as a dojo for the practice of non-doing.

Because something always wants instant resolution. Something wants to feel right in the doing of something. 

The doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the one veiled in ignorance do. 

Those Islaamic hackers know what I am talking about. 

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