Thursday, April 16, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.63: Thirst and Thirsting

[No Sanskrit text]

| tshor bas mṅon bcom skye dgu rnams | | gñen por byed la sred pa ste |
| skom pa med na chu la ni | | kha cig mṅon par dga’ ba yin | 

tshor ba: feeling
mngon bcom: slain destroyed, fully subdued
skye dgu: all beings
rnams: [plural marker]

gnyen po: antidote; counteragents ; means of suppressing
sred pa: thirsting ()

skom pa: thirst ()
med na: in the case that it does not exist,
chu: water

kha cig: somebody (kaś cit)
yin: is, be
min [EHJ]: not
[EHJ notes: Weller misunderstands gñen por byed la as gñen-byed-la, 'marrying'; gñen po means 'remedy,' 'means'. The last word of the verse should be clearly min, not yin as kha-cig = kaścit, not kaḥ.]

EHJ's translation from the Tibetan:
63. Mankind, overwhelmed by their sensations, thirst for the means of satisfying them; for no one in the absence of thirst takes pleasure in water.

63. Overwhelmed by feelings, the world thirsts for the means of satisfying those feelings; for in the absence of thirst nobody would take pleasure in drinking water.

飢渇求飮食 受生愛亦然
As the starving or the thirsty man seeks food and drink, so 'sensation' (perception) brings 'desire' for life; (SB)
Hunger and thirst seek drink and food. Experiencing produces craving in the same way (CW)

In today's verse the Tibetan and the Chinese diverge somewhat, but both seem to suggest a distinction between thirst as a feeling (dry throat etc.) and thirsting as an impatient seeking out of a desired object (water).

The former, more objective thirst, thirst as feeling, is represented in the Chinese as , thirst, dryness. The second more goal-seeking thirst, thirst as thirsting, is represented in the Chinese as , love, attachment.

Insofar as thirst means thirsting after something, then thirst can be inhibited or suppressed – for example, by going deliberately slowly, giving oneself more than enough time; or, as per the Buddha's final teaching, practising small desire for its own sake.

But how can a feeling, like having a dry throat and feeling thirsty, be inhibited or suppressed?

The only answer that occurs to me is suggested by Nāgārjuna's statement in MMK26.8:
pañca skandhāḥ sa ca bhavaḥ
The five aggregates, again, are becoming itself.

The five aggregates are
  1. rūpa, form 
  2. vedanā, feeling 
  3. samjñā, perception 
  4. samskārāḥ, doings 
  5. vijñāna, consciousness
In The Discourse that Set the Dhamma Wheel Rolling (Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṁ), the Buddha ends his introduction to the noble truth of suffering by saying:
saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā
in brief, the five aggregates of taking hold are suffering.

In Sanskrit, pañcupādānakkhandhā would be  pañcopādāna-skandhāh  (pañca + upādāna + skandāḥ). 

Ānandajoti Bhikku translates pañcupādānakkhandhā 
“the five constituent groups (of mind and body) that provide fuel for attachment”;

Piyadassi Thera on this Wiki page translates as 
“the five aggregates subject to grasping.”

Thanissaro Bhikku writes of five“clinging-khandas.”

My tentative conclusion, then, is that we are not required to inhibit or destroy or suppress a feeling like thirst as a fact; we are required to inhibit feeling as a skandha that provides fuel for attachment, or as an aggregate that is subject to grasping, or in short as a clinging-skandha.

It is not within our power as human beings to control what we feel. When my throat is dry and I feel thirsty, I feel thirsty. But it might be in a person's power to prevent such a feeling of being thirsty [7] from becoming fuel for the thirsting [8] in whose presence taking hold [9] takes hold.

And if this is true for feeling [7], it might similarly be true for contact [6], six senses [5], mind and body [4], and consciousness [3].

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 |
syād dhi 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 [2] that lead to yet further becoming, the one enclosed in ignorance [1], in three ways, does do; and by these actions he goes to a sphere of existence. Divided consciousness [3], with doings as its causal grounds, seeps into the sphere of existence. And so, divided consciousness having seeped in, psycho-physicality [4] is instilled.
Conversely, once psycho-physicality is instilled, there is the coming about of six senses [5]; six senses having arrived, there occurs contact [6]; and – depending upon an eye, upon physical form, and upon the two being brought together – depending thus upon psycho-physicality [4], there occurs divided consciousness [3].
Combination of the threesome of physical form, consciousness and eye, is contact [6]; and from that contact there occurs feeling [7]. With feeling as its causal grounds, there is thirsting [8] – because the object of feeling is thirsted after. While thirsting is going on, taking hold [9] takes hold in the four ways. While there is taking hold, the becoming [10] arises of the taker – because becoming, if it were free of taking, would be liberated and would not become becoming. The five aggregates, again, are becoming itself. Out of the becoming arises birth [11]. The suffering and suchlike of aging and death [12]; 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 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.

No comments: