Bodhisattvacharayvatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 84

Transglomeration: If something is given to someone or stays with the benefactor and not given to anyone, what is the big deal?   Whether it is given or not, either way I won’t get anything, that’s the way it is, why be concerned?

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 76-83 anger born of envy of others’ praise and qualities
↑ Embroidery ↓
V. 84-86 anger born of getting/not getting

Reflection: some translations don’t even refer to what ‘it’ is that is being given, is it something physical or is it still a continuation from the previous discussion of giving/being given praise and recognition …: it isn’t specified in the Sanskrit or the Tibetan, and so could refer to whatever is being given, physical, verbal or attitudinal; what is specified is ‘the benefactor’s house’ which might tend to the presumption that it is something physical (i.e. alms within a monastery – the discourse was originally given to the monks of Nalanda over which there would probably be a lot of jealousy over the receipt of alms; it is only really de la Vallee Poussin & Finot who refer to ‘alms’), but the nature of metaphor-speak (which Śāntideva certainly uses) is that it could just mean what is specified, and that the reference could be applied more widely without being limited only to a particular instance; Wallace certainly emphasises that whatever is given/not given is useless to one ‘either way’, therefore one should extend the practice of not getting uptight about ‘stuff’; what is the equivalent today: wages, prizes, benefits … very little is given now, everything is bought and owned (I am wondering if a society of 1,000+ years ago would have existed more on being given/patronage than now – certainly that is a distinction between medieval societies and ‘modern’ – that what was given then, we would now call livelihood and own; modern society earns and owns, now, rather than living by ‘fealty’ to a power which would have asserted – this applies equally and likewise to religious communities); we have rights now, I suppose, and we go all strident when our rights are not apportioned; Śāntideva’s point is that whether you get it or not or someone else does, we, as Bodhisattvas, should not be crying ‘not fair, not fair’ – it is as it is, and anyway we, as Bodhisattvas, are intent upon the good of All Others; for ‘modern’ Bodhisattvas it’s about not getting all ‘strident’ about what our rights are, it’s about not getting so wound-up about our ‘entitlements’

Reflection: also, to whom (or not) is whatever being given, given (or not given): is it the enemy, or just anyone else, that receives ‘it’ (or not); certainly Geshe Kelsang focusses on it being all about the enemy receiving and one becoming angry because of it; is it to do with the anger of resentment (that someone else gets where you didn’t) or is it the anger that your enemy has gained advantage (through a third-party benefactor) … or both, I suppose; certainly Śāntideva’s point is that ‘either way’ I don’t get anything (… so what is the use of being angry/annoyed about it … ‘what does it matter’)

Practice: the point is not the giving or the not-giving and it is not the getting or the not-getting, it is cultivating the state of not being concerned, of treating the whole thing with equanimity; and to do this it is necessary to be dispassionate, to not have as reference point me, me, me; this is another example of the practice of avoiding the eight worldly dharmas, in this case gain & loss; this practice (of equanimity) is indicated by the phrases ‘what of it’, ‘what to do’ (Skt. kim; Tib. ci bya) which have the shrug-shoulders flavour of – having explored in the verse that, either way, you (me, me, me) don’t get anything – it’s not important to worry about it, and certainly not worth building up resentment or ambition about it whether you eventually blow in anger or not

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