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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 6

Transglomeration: And the lord of death has already caught sight of you and closed off all possible exit.   How can you continue taking pleasure eating and copulating, and how can you, contented, turn round and go back to sleep?

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 5 evidence of death all around, but I sit chewing the cud
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 6 while death watches me, has my whole life covered

Reflection: immanence of death – how enjoy worldly pleasures (simile: being ‘eyeballed’ (Berzin) by the Lord of Death); if death were actually standing by me, watching everything I do, waiting for his chance, I would not able to find anywhere or place to get away from his sight, how could I enjoy a piece of cake, watching a film, sleeping; death exposes the lie of the kleśas that there is pleasure or constancy to be gained in this life: they lead only to birth, and then death

Reflection: this is meant to be shocking (shocking to what?), shocking to my own complacency, shocking to me thinking it’s probably alright, I can just feel good about this, I can just eat that, I can take some time out for the other … recent dreams about school – still! – about not quite being in control, bridge through my waking to thoughts of incredulity that they didn’t listen to me, didn’t take what I had to give seriously, spills through into my waking life where I am easily barbed by a change of plan (‘I thought I knew what I was doing’), where I am easily emptied of self-confidence because, far less than not seeing an immediate effect (just about tolerable if I keep my eye raised to the horizon), the slightest questioning or lack of expected response throws me into deep and angry self-doubt, that I haven’t gotten anywhere, that what I thought was the way is just another instance of me … not quite being in control of this class, and the biggest embarrassment of all is my own, for myself, ‘I thought I had it’ before I really did; death will prod me out of wallowing in this (because there definitely is no gain from wallowing around prolonging the feeling that I don’t know anything, that I can’t do anything, that I can’t have an effect etc.), and later in the chapter will be the development of a self-confidence (in the Vow I have taken) to actually do something about it (rather than think I might have the answer already)

Reflection: when playing with my cat, dangling something for her to ambush, at some point she’ll crouchlow, I’ll slow the dangling to a slight drag along the floor, she’ll have already tested the environs for open doors, under tables, chairs, beside cupboards during the preliminary playing, her eyes quickly double-check them from her central position, she has anticipated everything, she could make whichever move from where she is jusslikethat, belly on the ground, she can’t be seen but her eyes are now completely fixed, chin on the ground, ears back, she lets the quarry do a few moves without any reaction at all, she can take her time, she knows the outcome; death knows my outcome, fixes me with his piggy little eyes, watches me scrape myself into ever-receding corners until there is nowhere left that I might hope to escape from this nagging ennui anymore, but I can’t see him, he’s crouched low where I least expected he’d be, he’s so where I least expected him to be that I’d put off thinking he was anywhere around anyway … except for this faint haunting, this beguiling echo when I thought I was most out in the open; but it’s me he’s fixed on, it really is me; there’s nothing I can do about it, the least I can do is drop this infantile hubris that Mark Redford has got this and damned-well grow up and face it in the time I have left

Embroidery [3-6]: saṃsāra is a way of being which runs contrary to how things exist; it runs contrary because it is a way of being which is predicated on there being a ‘self’ ready-made with some reflex notion of a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; this pre-predicated reflex thrives the better the less it is analysed but the more it is fed; the perpetuation of this way of being comes about through habit, through being used to operating like this, through exercising that right before all else; there is no better way to exercise this right than through laziness: the laziness of not questioning the basis of this self and the laziness of indulging in the feeding of this self in the many ways it requires; [3] when there is no dis-satisfaction with saṃsāra – a wilful ignorance wherein the self, and the life that the self leads, is not questioned, but just indulged, even consumed – then the attachment and the hate run riot holding high a triumphant banner of self-justification … the be-coming of the self is reinforced with every breath it takes, so much so that perpetuates its own momentum, all one has to do is sit back, and the momentum does the rest leading you deeper and deeper (lower and lower) into this predicated existence; it thrives on laziness once it really gets going; verses 4-6 start to give the lie to this laziness, this satisfaction of being, by introducing the immediate and shocking flaw in this way of being, [4] which is death: as soon as a ‘self’ is propounded it is born, as soon as a ‘self’ is born it immediately embroils death (as soon as there is the crescendo of a ‘1’ then there is the immediate context of the ‘0’ from which it extrapolated); the stronger the ‘self’ the harder the death, the longer the ‘self’ perpetuates despite death, the more it has to inevitably lose; any being despite its own context is an extrapolation which has lost its own bearing, it is a needless being, it is a pointless being, it is a selfish being; as soon as it, the ‘self’, ‘be’s despite its own whole and complete existence, it instigates for itself a whole universe of ‘not-me’ with which it struggles with its weapons, the kleśas of attachment and hatred and so many others … death is the redress of this obscene and embarrassing tantrum of being; [5] but do we listen to it, do we heck: we see it as the spoiler of our fun and we pretend it doesn’t happen the better to chew our own cud, we are that self-propounded and self-perpetuated that we cannot stop; so verse [6] wracks up the reality, labours it, beats us over the head with it, ‘look, here it is’ – slap! – ‘it’s been eyeing you since your latest birth – all 60 of them, Mark, all 60 trillion of them, Mark’s mind – all the time with a beady eye; and there you are eating jam on toast again thinking “I’m safe now, it won’t happen now”’; the first step out of laziness is facing death

Determination: the first step out of the laziness of a needlessly extrapolated and indulgent life is to face death