Saturday, April 4, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.51: Being Veiled in Ignorance (1), Not Knowing a Way Out

[No Sanskrit text]

| yaṅ na sdug bsṅal che ’di las | | chags las loṅ min gyis bsgribs pa |
| skyes loṅ śin tu dog sa nas | | phyi rol ’gro ba śes ma yin | 

yang na: further, moreover
sdug bsngal: suffering, pain
che: great
las: karma, action

chags: attraction, desire, love [EHJ 'passion' = Skt. rajas, i.e. rāga and dveṣa]
long: duration
bsgribs pa: obstruction; defilement [EHJ 'sight is veiled' = Skt. āvṛta]

skyes: be born, produced
shin tu: very
shin tu dgos-pa [EHJ] = Skt. atyartha [excessive]

phyi rol: outside
ma yin: is not

EHJ's translation from the Tibetan:
51. Further man’s sight is veiled by passion and by the darkness of delusion, and from the excess of his blindness he does not know the way out of this great suffering.”

貪欲癡闇障 莫知所由出
Covetous, lustful, ignorant, darkly-fettered, with no way known for final rescue. (SB)
Desire and the darkness of delusion—no one knows how to escape them.” (CW)

punar-bhavāya saṁskārān avidyā-nivṛtas tridhā |
abhisaṁskurute yāṁs tair gatiṁ gacchati karmabhiḥ ||MMK26.1||
vijñānaṁ saṁniviśate saṁskāra-pratyayaṁ gatau |
saṁniviṣṭe 'tha vijñāne nāma-rūpaṁ niṣicyate ||2||

niṣikte nāma-rūpe tu ṣaḍāyatana-saṁbhavaḥ |
ṣaḍāyatanam āgamya saṁsparśaḥ saṁpravartate ||3||
cakṣuḥ pratītya rūpaṁ ca samanvāhāram eva ca |
nāma-rūpaṁ pratītyaivaṁ vijñānaṁ saṁpravartate ||4||

saṁnipātas trayāṇāṁ yo rūpa-vijñāna-cakṣuṣām |
sparśaḥ saḥ tasmāt sparśāc ca vedanā saṁpravartate ||5||
vedanā-pratyayā tṛṣṇā vedanārthaṁ hi tṛṣyate |
tṛṣyamāṇa upādānam upādatte caturvidham ||6||
upādāne sati bhava upādātuḥ pravartate |
syādd hi yady anupādāno mucyeta na bhaved bhavaḥ ||7||
pañca skandhāḥ sa ca bhavaḥ bhavāj jātiḥ pravartate |
jarā-maraṇa-duḥkhādi śokāḥ sa-paridevanāḥ ||8||
daurmanasyam upāyāsā jāter etat pravartate |
kevalasyaivam etasya duḥkha-skandhasya saṁbhavaḥ ||9||

saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ |
avidvān kārakas tasmān na vidvāṁs tattva-darśanāt ||10||
avidyāyāṁ niruddhāyāṁ saṁskārāṇām asaṁbhavaḥ |
avidyāyā nirodhas tu jñānasyāsyaiva bhāvanāt ||11||
tasya tasya nirodhena tat tan nābhipravartate |
duḥkha-skandhaḥ kevalo 'yam evaṁ samyaṅ nirudhyate ||12||
The doings that lead to yet further becoming, the one enclosed in ignorance, in three ways, does do; and by these actions he goes to a sphere of existence. Divided consciousness, with doings as its causal grounds, seeps into the sphere of existence. And so, divided consciousness having seeped in, psycho-physicality is instilled.
Conversely, once psycho-physicality is instilled, there is the coming about of six senses; six senses having arrived, there occurs contact; and – depending upon an eye, upon physical form, and upon the two being brought together – depending thus upon pscyho-physicality, there occurs divided consciousness.
Combination of the threesome of physical form, consciousness and eye, is contact; and from that contact there occurs feeling. With feeling as its causal grounds, there is thirst – because one thirsts for the object of feeling. While the thirsting is going on, grasping hold takes hold in four ways. While there is grasping hold, the becoming originates of the one who grasps – because becoming, if it were free of grasping hold, would be liberated and would not become becoming. Five aggregates, again, is becoming itself. Out of the becoming arises birth. The suffering and suchlike of aging and death; sorrows accompanied by lamentations; dejectedness, troubles: all this arises out of birth. In this way this whole aggregate of suffering comes into being.
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. 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. By the destruction of this one and that one, this one and that one no longer advance. This whole aggregate of suffering in this way is well and truly destroyed.

“This whole edifice of suffering in this way is well and truly demolished” is a slightly figurative translation of  duḥkha-skandhaḥ kevalo 'yam evaṁ samyaṅ nirudhyate ||12||

Skandha more literally means aggregate, as in pañca skandhāḥ, five aggregates, in MMK26.8. So edifice is slightly metaphorical, whereas Nāgārjuna's original words are conspicuously lacking in the use of metaphor. At the same time, Nāgārjuna's repetition of words from the root ni-√rudh (niruddhā, nirodhena, nirodhaḥ, nirudhyate) suggests that Nāgārjuna was no fan of elegant variation. 

On further reflection, then, I have amended the last sentence in MMK ch. 26 to: "This whole aggregate of suffering in this way is well and truly destroyed."

Again, in MMK26.1, to the extent that “veiled” is somewhat metaphorical, “enclosed” or “enveloped” might be a better translation of nivṛta.

When Nāgārjuna in MMK1.2 described dependent arising as prapañcopaśamaṁ śivam, the sense may have been intended that this core teaching of Gautama Buddha represented “the salutary stopping of embellishment.”

This principle should probably guide us also in translating the title mūla-madhyamaka-kārikā.

mūla means root, the fundamental, or an original text (as opposed to the commentary or gloss).
madhyamaka means the middlemost, or the interior of anything.
kārikā means concise statement in verse of (especially philosophical and grammatical) doctrines.
The kṛ from which is derived the kāri in kārikā could mean 1. to do/make/work, or 2. to praise.
In the former meaning, kāri means an artist or mechanic, one who creates works; in the latter meaning kāri means “raising hymns of praise.” My initial impressions are that Nāgārjuna saw himself more akin to a mechanic than to a raiser of hymns of praise – somebody closer to a white van man than to a religious aspirant. 

In that case, not so much  A Song of the Middle Way, more A Root Statement of the Teaching which is Bang in the Middle ?

But, there again, “bang in the middle” is somewhat figurative.

A Root Statement of the Middlemost Teaching ?

In Aśvaghoṣa's own expression of the middlemost teaching, there is no self-imposed prohibition whatsoever against use of metaphors and similes. And so in today's verse, judging from the Tibetan, ignorance is not knowing a way out.

If I add my own twopennyworth, one particular form of ignorance that FM Alexander addressed is the ignorance of trying to be right. Alexander's way out, then, proceeds from the truth that there is no such thing as being right, but there might be such a thing as a right direction.

A Root Text of the Middlemost ?

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