Sunday, April 12, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.59: Taking Hold – Like Fire – In Four Ways

[No Sanskrit text]

| tshul khrims brtul źugs mchog ’dzin daṅ | | ’dod blo bdag tu lta rnams kyis |
| bud śiṅ rnams kyis me bźin du | | ’di yis las ni ñe bar len | 

tshul khrims brtul zhugs mchog 'dzin: holding [a] discipline [or ritual] to be paramount; overestimation of discipline [or ritual]
dang: and (Skt: ca)

bdag tu lta: view of self; view as a self (Skt: ātma-darśana; ātma-dṛṣṭi; ātma-vāda)

bud shing: kindling (Skt: indhana)
rnams: [plural marker]
kyis: [instrumental marker]
me: fire
bzhin du: like, as (Skt: yathā)

las: karma, action
len: take; obtain; appropriate; appropriating; accept; grasping ; taking hold of (Skt: upādāna)

EHJ's translation from the Tibetan:
59. This act arises from appropriating the various vows and rules of life, sensual pleasure, views of self and false views, as fire arises by appropriating fuel.

59. This taking hold is clinging to rules and rituals, clinging to sensual desires, clinging to discussion of personality, and clinging to views – like fire that has taken hold of fuel.

like as fire which catches hold of grass; (SB)
as when fire consumes firewood. (CW)

In today's verse, judging from the Tibetan, Aśvaghoṣa cited the four ways of taking hold (upādānaṁ catur-vidham) to which Nāgārjuna refers in MMK26.6:

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 catur-vidham ||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 psycho-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 the object of feeling is thirsted after. While thirsting is going on, taking hold takes hold in the four ways. While there is taking hold, the becoming arises of the taker – because becoming, if it were free of taking, 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 the realization of reality. 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.

catvāry upādānāni kāmopādānaṁ dṛṣṭy-upādānaṁ
There are four kinds of taking hold: clinging to sense desires, clinging to views,
śīla-vratopādānam ātmavādopādānam.
clinging to rules and rituals, clinging to discussion of personality.
[But see comment below]

Since a burning fire was seen as fire having taken hold of fuel, one way of understanding nirvāṇa is in terms of the metaphor of a fire that has ceased taking hold of fuel, or ceased clinging to fuel. Hence, Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
The Buddha used nibbana... as an image of freedom. Apparently, all Indians at the time saw burning fire as agitated, dependent, and trapped, both clinging and being stuck to its fuel as it burned. To ignite a fire, one had to "seize" it. When fire let go of its fuel, it was "freed," released from its agitation, dependence, and entrapment — calm and unconfined. This is why Pali poetry repeatedly uses the image of extinguished fire as a metaphor for freedom. In fact, this metaphor is part of a pattern of fire imagery that involves two other related terms as well. Upadana,or clinging, also refers to the sustenance a fire takes from its fuel. Khandha means not only one of the five "heaps" (form, feeling, perception, thought processes [or doings], and consciousness) that define all conditioned experience, but also the trunk of a tree. Just as fire goes out when it stops clinging and taking sustenance from wood, so the mind is freed when it stops clinging to the khandhas.

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

Is is necessarily fire that takes hold of fuel, or might it be also that fuel takes hold of fire?

Reflecting on this, I think it may be better to translate:

There are four kinds of taking hold: taking hold in the area of desires, taking hold in the area of views,
taking hold in the area of rules and rituals, and taking hold in the area of autobiography / telling tales of self.

And BC14.59:
59. This taking hold is taking hold in the areas of rules and rituals, of desires, of narratives of self, and of views – as when fire and fuel have taken hold.