Tag Archives: Asita

Data mining the Asita-Subhadra connection: Progress Report 1

Out of 126 clusters, I have gone through the first 20, and found that 7 are chiasmically meaningful, which is much higher than I thought.

Even more surprisingly, the clusters threw up what I previously gleaned by reading and manually comparing those parts.

Here’s a preview of what I have gotten thus far.

ProgressReport1 - clusters

I understand that might not be all that intelligible, but here’s what I gleaned from those clusters.

ProgressReport1 - gleanings

In terms of providing different perspectives of what is chiasmic, I think this method is holding up very well so far, and has generated quite a few matches that I did not pick up on while reading these two sections. (what I did pick up on is briefly presented here)

The most interesting would probably be the one found in cluster 4 – the Buddha was born to end birth. How strange that seems! Have you ever heard of someone doing something in order to stop doing that very same action?

Discussion with Eric brought to my mind how eating can be considered an example of this. We eat to starve off hunger so that we do not have to eat further, but, as Eric quickly points out, that is only a temporary relief. Perhaps that’s the importance of the Buddha’s endeavour – it is said to be the ultimate relief.

What’s with Asita and Subhadra? 阿私陀和須跋陀羅的關係


So, why did I choose the story of Asita and Subhadra for our daily reading? Much because  they are chiasmically important. For one they occur at the start and end of the Buddhacarita, chapters 1 and 26 respectively. Of equal importance is that it they both reference the Enlightenment of Siddhartha, which occurs at the 14th chapter. If you recall the rough correspondence of the chapters of the Buddhacarita, the stories here figure into a triangle, as shown in the diagram below.

Preliminary Matching for Asita-Subhadra

And what does this chiasmic structure tell us about how to interpret the story? Think: what does Asita and Subhadra share? How do they differ?

Comparison Asita-Subhadra

Subhadra heard the teachings while Asita did not, and this enabled the former to quit samsaric (cyclical) existence despite both being extremely accomplished spiritual practitioners.

It might seem trivial to raise this point to any Buddhist, but this two sections quite clearly mirrors each other, and tells us what

changes the climax – the Enlightenment – brings about. And it should encourage us to see if similar discoveries can be made in other sections of the Buddhacarita.





Read with me! Asita explains his tears (20 Dec 2013) 阿私陀解釋他爲何落淚

Chapter 1: Verses 67-80, on Asita’s explanation of why he teared


(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

67. The seer understood how the king was troubled by the thought of misfortune and said: “Let not your mind, O king, be disturbed; what I have said is not open to doubt.

68. My agitation is not over aught untoward for him, but I am distressed for my own disappointment. For my time to depart has come, just when he is born who shall understand the means, so hard to find, of destroying birth.

69. For he will give up the kingdom in his indifference to worldly pleasures, and, through bitter struggles grasping the final truth, he will shine forth as a sun of knowledge in the world to dispel the darkness of delusion.

70. With the mighty boat of knowledge he will bring the world, which is being carried away in affliction, up from the ocean of suffering, which is overspread with the foam of disease and which has old age for its waves and death for its fearsome flood.

71. The world of the living, oppressed with the third of desires, will drink the flowing stream of his most excellent Law, which is cooled by concentration of thought and has mystic wisdom for the current of its water, firm discipline for its banks and vows for its Brahminy ducks.

72. For to those who, finding themselves on the desert tracks of the cycle of existence, are harassed by suffering and obstructed by the objects of sense, he will proclaim the way of salvation, as to travellers who have lost their road.

73. Like a mighty cloud with its rain at the close of the summer heat, he will give relief with the rain of the Law to men burnt up in the world with the fire of the passions, whose fuel is the objects of sense.

74. With the most excellent irresistible key of the good Law he will throw open for the escape of living beings the door whose bolt is the thirst of desire and whose leaves are delusion and the darkness of ignorance.

75. And, as king of the Law, he will reach Enlightenment and release from prison the world which is entangled in its own snares of delusion and which is overwhelmed by suffering and destitute of refuge.

76. Therefore be not grieved for him; in this living world that man is to be deplored who through delusion by reason of the sensual pleasures or through intoxication of mind refuses to hear his, the final, Law.

77. Therefore, though I have obtained the trances, I have not won through to the goal, in that I have fallen short of this merit. For, since I shall not hear his Law, I hold even rebirth in the triple heaven to be a disaster.”

78. Hearing this explanation, the king with his queen and friends was quit of his dejection and rejoiced; for he deemed it to be his own good fortune that his son should be such.

79. But his heart busied itself anxiously with the thought that his son would follow the path of the sages. It was most certainly not that he was opposed to the side of the Law, but that he saw the danger arising from failure of issue.

80. Then when the seer, Asita, had made known the truth about his son to the king who was troubled about him, he departed, as he had come, by the path of the wind, while the looked up at him with all reverence.

T04n0192_p0003a17║ 仙人知父王,  心懷大憂懼,
T04n0192_p0003a18║ 即告言大王:  「王今勿恐怖,
T04n0192_p0003a19║ 前已語大王,  慎勿自生疑,
T04n0192_p0003a20║ 今相猶如前,  不應懷異想;
T04n0192_p0003a21║ 自惟我年暮,  悲慨泣歎耳。
T04n0192_p0003a22║ 今我臨終時,  此子應世生,
T04n0192_p0003a23║ 為盡生故生,  斯人難得遇。
T04n0192_p0003a24║ 當捨聖王位,  不著五欲境,
T04n0192_p0003a25║ 精勤修苦行,  開覺得真實。
T04n0192_p0003a26║ 常為諸群生,  滅除癡冥障,
T04n0192_p0003a27║ 於世永熾燃,  智慧日光明。
T04n0192_p0003a28║ 眾生沒苦海,  眾病為聚沫,
T04n0192_p0003a29║ 衰老為巨浪,  死為海洪濤。
T04n0192_p0003b01║ 乘輕智慧舟,  渡此眾流難,
T04n0192_p0003b02║ 智慧泝流水,  淨戒為傍岸。
T04n0192_p0003b03║ 三昧清涼池,  正受眾奇鳥,
T04n0192_p0003b04║ 如此甚深廣,  正法之大河。
T04n0192_p0003b05║ 渴愛諸群生,  飲之以蘇息,
T04n0192_p0003b06║ 染著五欲境,  眾苦所驅迫,
T04n0192_p0003b07║ 迷生死曠野,  莫知所歸趣;
T04n0192_p0003b08║ 菩薩出世間,  為通解脫道。
T04n0192_p0003b09║ 世間貪欲火,  境界薪熾然;
T04n0192_p0003b10║ 興發大悲雲,  法雨雨令滅。
T04n0192_p0003b11║ 癡闇門重扇,  貪欲為關鑰,
T04n0192_p0003b12║ 閉塞諸群生,  出要解脫門;
T04n0192_p0003b13║ 金剛智慧鑷,  拔恩愛逆鑽。
T04n0192_p0003b14║ 愚癡網自纏,  窮苦無所依;
T04n0192_p0003b15║ 法王出世間,  能解眾生縛。
T04n0192_p0003b16║ 王莫以此子,  自生憂悲患,
T04n0192_p0003b17║ 當憂彼眾生,  著欲違正法。
T04n0192_p0003b18║ 我今老死壞,  遠離聖功德,
T04n0192_p0003b19║ 雖得諸禪定,  而不獲其利。
T04n0192_p0003b20║ 於此菩薩所,  竟不聞正法,
T04n0192_p0003b21║ 身壞命終後,  必生三難天。」
T04n0192_p0003b22║ 王及諸眷屬,  聞彼仙人說,
T04n0192_p0003b23║ 知其自憂歎,  恐怖悉以除。
T04n0192_p0003b24║「生此奇特子,  我心得大安。
T04n0192_p0003b25║ 出家捨世榮,  修習仙人道,
T04n0192_p0003b26║ 遂不紹國位,  復令我不悅。」
T04n0192_p0003b27║ 爾時彼仙人,  向王真實說:
T04n0192_p0003b28║「必如王所慮,  當成正覺道。」
T04n0192_p0003b29║ 於王眷屬中,  安慰眾心已,
T04n0192_p0003c01║ 自以己神力,  騰虛而遠逝。

Read with me! Asita’s tears worry Suddhodana (19 Dec 2013)

Chapter 1: Verses 59-66, on Asita’s tears worrying Suddhodana


(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

59. When the king heard him speak thus, his bearing was disordered with delight, and he took the prince, as he lay on his nurse’s lap, and showed him to the ascetic.

60. Then the great seer wonderingly beheld the prince. The soles of his feet marked with a wheel, the fingers and toes joined by a web, the circle of hair growing between his eyebrow and the testicles withdrawn like an elephant’s.

61. And when he saw him resting on the nurse’s lap, like the son of Agni on Devi’s lap, the tears flickered on his eyelashes and, sighing, he looked up to heaven.

62. But when the king saw Asita’s eyes swimming with tears, he trembled from affection for his son, and sobbing with his throat choked with weeping, he clasped his hands and bowed his body, asking him:-

63. “Why are you, who are so steadfast, tearful on seeing him who differs little in form from the gods, whose brilliant birth has been attended by many miracles and whose future lot you say is to be the highest?

64. Will the prince be long-lived, Holy One? Surely he is not born for my sorrow? Shall the two handfuls of water have been obtained by me with such difficulty, only for Death to come and drink them up?

65. Is the treasure of my fame inexhaustible? Is the dominion to last for ever in the hands of my family? Shall I win bliss in the next world, even in the sleep of death having one eye open in the shape of my son?

66. Is this young shoot of my family, just sprung up, fated to wither without flowering? Tell me quickly, Lord, I am all uneasy; for you know the love of fathers for their sons.”

T04n0192_p0002c25║ 王聞仙人說,  決定離疑網,
T04n0192_p0002c26║ 命持太子出,  以示於仙人。
T04n0192_p0002c27║ 仙人觀太子,  足下千輻輪,
T04n0192_p0002c28║ 手足網縵指,  眉間白毫跱,
T04n0192_p0002c29║ 馬藏隱密相,  容色炎光明,
T04n0192_p0003a01║ 見生未曾想,  流淚長歎息。
T04n0192_p0003a02║ 王見仙人泣,  念子心戰慄,
T04n0192_p0003a03║ 氣結盈心胸,  驚悸不自安。
T04n0192_p0003a04║ 不覺從坐起,  稽首仙人足,
T04n0192_p0003a05║ 而白仙人言:  「此子生奇特,
T04n0192_p0003a06║ 容貌極端嚴,  天人殆不異,
T04n0192_p0003a07║ 汝言人中上,  何故生憂悲?
T04n0192_p0003a08║ 將非短壽子,  生我憂悲乎?
T04n0192_p0003a09║ 久渴得甘露,  而反復失耶?
T04n0192_p0003a10║ 將非失財寶,  喪家亡國乎?
T04n0192_p0003a11║ 若有勝子存,  國嗣有所寄,
T04n0192_p0003a12║ 我死時心悅,  安樂生他世,
T04n0192_p0003a13║ 猶如人兩目,  一眠而一覺。
T04n0192_p0003a14║ 莫如秋霜花,  雖敷而無實,
T04n0192_p0003a15║ 人於親族中,  愛深無過子。
T04n0192_p0003a16║ 宜時為記說,  令我得蘇息。」

Read with me! Asita’s reason for visiting Suddhodana’s palace (18 Dec 2013) 阿私陀親臨淨飯王宮宇的緣由

Chapter 1: Verses 49-58, on Asita’s reasons for visiting Suddhodana’s palace

第一品:阿私陀親臨淨飯王宮宇的緣由 (中文版在下面

(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

49. Then by reason of the signs and through the power of his austerities the great seer Asita learned of the birth of him (Suddhodana’s son, Siddhartha) who was to put an end to birth, and came to the palace of the Sakya king, thirsting for the holy Law.

50. He was chief among the knowers of the Absolute and shone with the majesty of of priestly power and with the majesty of asceticism. Accordingly the king’s spiritual director brought him into the regal palace with reverence and honour.

51. He entered the precincts of the royal women’s dwelling and the rush of joy that he felt was occasioned only by the birth of the prince; for from the intensity of his austerities and the support afforded by old age he remained otherwise unmoved, deeming himself to be, as it were, in a forest.

52. Then the king rightly honoured the sage, when seated, with water for the feet and proper offerings, and then addressed him with due courtesy, as Antideva of old did Vasistha:-

53. “Fortunate am I and honoured this house that Your Holiness should deign to visit me. Be pleased to command what I should do, O benign one: I am your disciple and you should show confidence in me.”

54. When the sage was invited in this befitting fashion by the king with all cordiality, his large eyes opened wide in admiration and he spoke these profound and solemn words:-

55. “It indeed accords with your great soul, your hospitality, your generosity, your piety, that you should thus show to me a kindly disposition, so worthy of your nature, family, wisdom and age.

56. And this is the course by which those royal seers, acquiring wealth by the subtile Law, ever continued giving it away according to rule, thus being rich in austerities and poor in worldly goods.

57. But hear the reason for my visit and be rejoiced. In the path of the sun I heard a divine voice saying, “To thee is born a son for Enlightenment.”

58. As soon as I heard the voice, I put my mind into trance and understood the matter through the signs. Then I came here to see the lofty banner of the Sakya race uplifted like the banner of Indra.

T04n0192_p0002c02║ 時近處園中,  有苦行仙人,
T04n0192_p0002c03║ 名曰阿私陀,  善解於相法,
T04n0192_p0002c04║ 來詣王宮門,  王謂梵天應。
T04n0192_p0002c05║ 苦行樂正法,  此二相俱現,
T04n0192_p0002c06║ 梵行相具足,  時王大歡喜。
T04n0192_p0002c07║ 即請入宮內,  恭敬設供養,
T04n0192_p0002c08║ 將入內宮中,  唯樂見王子。
T04n0192_p0002c09║ 雖有婇女眾,  如在空閑林,
T04n0192_p0002c10║ 安處正法座,  加敬尊奉事,
T04n0192_p0002c11║ 如安低牒王,  奉事波尸吒。
T04n0192_p0002c12║ 時王白仙人:  「我今得大利。
T04n0192_p0002c13║ 勞屈大仙人,  辱來攝受我,
T04n0192_p0002c14║ 諸有所應為,  唯願時教勅。」
T04n0192_p0002c15║ 如是勸請已,  仙人大歡喜:
T04n0192_p0002c16║「善哉常勝王,  眾德悉皆備。
T04n0192_p0002c17║ 愛樂來求者,  惠施崇正法,
T04n0192_p0002c18║ 仁智殊勝族,  謙恭善隨順。
T04n0192_p0002c19║ 宿殖眾妙因,  勝果現於今,
T04n0192_p0002c20║ 汝當聽我說,  今者來因緣。
T04n0192_p0002c21║ 我從日道來,  聞空中天說,
T04n0192_p0002c22║ 言王生太子,  當成正覺道。
T04n0192_p0002c23║ 并見先瑞相,  今故來到此,
T04n0192_p0002c24║ 欲觀釋迦王,  建立正法幢。」