Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.69: Six Senses as Offshoots of Mind-Body Duality

[No Sanskrit text]

| ji ltar myur gu yod pa las | | lo ma sdoṅ bu ’byuṅ bar dran |
| de ltar miṅ daṅ gzugs yod na | | skye mched drug ni ’gyur ba’o | 

ji ltar: just as (yathā)
yod pa las: only

lo ma: leaf
sdong bu: tree trunk

de ltar: so 
miṅ daṅ gzugs: name and form (名色)
yod na: if it exists

skye mched drug: six senses

EHJ's translation from the Tibetan:
69. Just as the leaf and the stalk are only said to exist when there is a shoot in existence, so the six organs of sense only arise when name-and-form is in existence.

69. 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.

just as the germ grows to the stem and leaf; (SB) 
just as a shoot grows into a stalk and [produces] leaves. (CW)

The MW dictionary defines nāma-rūpa: n. du. name and form = individual being. 

So nāma-rūpa expresses an individual human being as a duality, the immaterial aspect being represented by nāma, name, and the material aspect being represented by rūpa, form.

Justification for translating nāma-rūpa as “a mind-body” or “pscyho-physicality” is provided by the Pratītya-samutpādādi-vibhaṅga-nirdeśa-sūtra:

vijñāna-pratyayaṁ nāma-rūpam iti nāma katamat
With consciousness as condition: psycho-physicality. 
What exactly is the psychological (nāma)?

Catvāra arūpiṇaḥ skandhāḥ.
The four non-physical aggregates.

Katame catvāraḥ?
Which four?

Vedanā-skandhaḥ saṁjñā-skandhaḥ 
saṁskāra-skandhaḥ vijñāna-skandhaḥ.
The aggregate of feeling, the aggregate of perception, 
the aggregate of doings, the aggregate of consciousness.

Rūpaṁ katamat?
What is the physical (rūpa)?

Yat kiṁcid rūpam, sarvaṁ tat catvāri mahābhūtāni.
Whatever physical form there is, all of that is the four great elements.

Catvāri ca mahābhūtāny upādāya itīdaṁ ca rūpam.
And when [physical form] is said to have taken hold of the four great elements, 
this is physical form.

Tad aikadhyam abhisaṁkṣipya nāmarūpam ity ucyate.
This in sum and in short is called psycho-physicality. 

So when Dogen taught us to sit in lotus with the physical body, to sit in lotus with the mind, and to sit in lotus as dropping off of body and mind, the Zen teaching  of the Japanese Zen master Dogen had as its causal grounds what the bodhisattva under the bodhi tree understood about ignorance, doings, consciousness and pyscho-physicality.

If in the past I thought that pratītya-samutpāda was a teaching, much revered in the Tibetan and Theravada traditions, that belongs to the second of four phases... that was just a view.

A Zen man of iron might rightly assert that for one who has dropped off body and mind already -- relying on the very embodiment of all the Buddha's teachings in just sitting -- studying the 12 links is unnecessary.

But that Zen man of iron, it turns out, is not me. I regret that I didn't pay more attention twenty or thirty years ago to the teaching of pratītya-samutpāda. But one reason I didn't, if I state the case for the Zen defence, is that so much was evidently lost in translation into Chinese.


Rich said...

I'm actually following you on this and psycho physicality makes sense.

Mike Cross said...

Many thanks Rich.

Yes, it starts to make sense to me too, as if for the first time.

It's a bit like when I came across the principle of non-doing in Alexander work 20 years ago -- wanting to ask, "Why didn't somebody tell me this on day one?"