What mathematical formulae have informed my work
For the record, I should share with you what I told my girlfriend when she questioned me about this choice of a topic. The main thrust of her question was if my research would be useful to Buddhists and the practice of Buddhism. Putting aside for now the argument of whether one should gain knowledge for its own sake, I think it’s interesting to note something else I learnt (and apparently absorbed) during a class on Mathematics during my time in the National University of Singapore, under the facilitation of Dr. Peter PANG (thank you to Dr. Pang for this great course and initiating/supporting my research into Buddhism).
I surprised myself when I replied thus: “Just like mathematical formulae could be utilized by all without an understanding of their theoretical foundations, so my theoretical chiasmic analysis can (hopefully) generate lessons that can be applied and are applicable to the everyday Buddhists (who I suppose don’t read the Buddhacarita over and over again, or any of the readings I do).” (While editing this, I realized I gave a chiasmic reply, can you spot it?)
I’m surprised on two counts. Firstly, my girlfriend, for the first time, said she does not disagree with such thought. (Usually she always has something to add, or to make me rethink my position). Secondly, on reflection, it’s a tall order, but I hope this blog is a step in this direction.
A more detailed correspondence of the chapters of the Buddhacarita
For those with an appetite for with the details of my analysis, here’s a closer look, and follow up, to what I posted yesterday. Here I have put up (again, another tentative) table and some guesses as to what links the two chapters up.
You will of course smartly note that not all chapters are represented here, but that awaits further work. Of these, the most interesting to me is how the Bodhisattva (Siddharta) went from lamenting and shock over old age, illness and death (and how it applies to all man, including himself) to comforting Ananda (his personal attendant for several decades), the Licchavis and Mallas over his own old age, illness and death. The Buddha even told the Mallas, who witnessed his nirvana, to be joyful for their teacher is about to attain what he has aimed for the earlier part of his life.