Friday, April 24, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.71: A Linear Progression, Like Seed Producing Sprout

[No Sanskrit text]

| rnam par śes pa ’das pa na | | miṅ daṅ gzugs ni rab gnas te |
| sa bon bskrun pa rdzogs pa na | | myu gu rnam par ’dzin pa’o |

rnam par shes pa: consciousness
’das pa: past; pass away; go beyond; pastness
'ongs pa [EHJ]: advent, arrival

ming dang gzugs: name and form
ni: [separative particle]
na [Weller]: [accusative, dative, locative particle]
rab gnas: abide; thoroughly abide; highest abode
te: [continuative particle]

[EHJ notes: The translation of the first line is conjectural; for T's nonsensical ḥdas-pa, I put an o over ḥ and read ḥoṅs-pa, and I also retain ni for Weller's amendment na.]

sa bon: seed (; bīja)
bskrun pa: form, developed
rdzogs pa: complete

myu gu: sprout

EHJ's translation from the Tibetan:
71. When consciousness arises, name-and-form is produced. When the development of the seed is completed, the sprout assumes a bodily form.

71. When divided consciousness arises, psycho-physicality is produced. When the development of the seed is completed, the sprout assumes a bodily form.


as the seed which germinates and brings forth leaves. (SB) 
just as a seed means the production of the shoot and leaves. (CW)

Let us review where we are in the overall scheme of things, as with the bodhisattva we step back  from the suffering of aging and death [12] to the root cause of this suffering in ignorance [1].

It was back in BC14.52 that,
After considering [how human beings blindly repeat the cycle of saṁsāra, the bodhisattva] reflected in his mind, “What is it, whose existence causes the approach of old age and death?”

The last twenty verses since then have taken us back from link 12 (suffering of aging and death) to link 3 (divided consciousness). And so far, though the linkage has been an against-the-grain regression rather than a with-the-grain progression, it has been linear – just as there is a linear progression when a seed produces a shoot; and when (as per BC14.69) a shoot produces a leaf and a stalk:
Just as the leaf and the stalk are only said to exist when there is a shoot in existence, so six senses only arise where psycho-physicality has arisen.

But the metaphor of seed producing sprout is like the metaphor egg producing chicken – it lends itself easily to consideration of non-linear or circular progression whereby seed produces sprout, and sprout produces fruit, and fruit produces seed; or whereby egg produces chicken and chicken produces egg.

Thus today's verse marks a temporary end to the linear linkage which has taken us from link 12 (suffering of aging and death) back to link 3 (divided consciousness). For the next five verses we will be required to exercise our grey matter more vigorously than usual as the bodhisattva considers a circular linkage between link 3 (divided consciousness) and link 4 (psycho-physicality). After that the bodhisattva will double back again to link 12.

Finally, like a ram that has drawn back in order to charge, we will speed through the links from 12 to 3 again, and finally break through to link 2 (doings) at the end of BC14.82.

It puts me in mind of the Japanese proverb isogaba maware, which loosely translated means “When you are in a hurry to get somewhere, take the roundabout route.” The corresponding English proverb, I suppose, would be “More haste, less speed.”

So the conclusion is going to have to do with link 2 (doings) and link 1 (ignorance). 

Ironically, however, if we are in a hurry to reach that conclusion, that hurry might be nothing but links 1 & 2 manifesting themselves.

With what result?
śokāḥ sa-paridevanāḥ daurmanasyam upāyāsāḥ
Sorrows, accompanied by loud complaining, downheartedness, troubles.

Thus, even in the traditional listing of the 12 links, which on the face of it seems dry, there might be a hint of ironic humour. 

The greatest irony, or the best example of a joke being on me, might be doggedly to sit for x hours every day believing that oneness of body and mind depends on me doing something to realize it. 

The doings which are the root of the saṁsāra thus does the ignorant one do.

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