Wednesday, December 31, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.17: Kapilavastu

abhitas tataH Kapilavaastu
vastu-mati-shuci shiv'-opavanaM
sa dadarsha niH-spRhatayaa yathaa vanam

Surrounded, then, in Kapilavastu

By the loveliest of houses,
for which the city was famed;

By purity both material and mental;
and by welcoming gardens;

He looked without longing, as though at a forest.

Line 1 sets the scene, introducing the general idea.
Line 2 has a materialistic feel, being concerned with property, or real estate.
Line 3 touches on the principle of oneness of matter and mind -- taking a bath purifies the mind, and pure minds make the material world pure. A garden, again, can be seen as a place where nature and human artifice meet. So this line expresses a kind of philosophical insight in the middle way. What middle way? A real garden, with bowers of creepers and shady fig trees and water features and insects buzzing and butterflies, was... never that!
Line 4 points to how the Buddha really was, practising the path of detachment, in that real situation of returning as a realised man to his hometown.

Thus, even in a verse which seems purely descriptive, Ashvaghosha’s underlying intention, upon deeper investigation, reveals itself: Every single verse of Saundarananda is the manifestation of a noble fourfold plan. When Dogen wrote the chapter with which this blog began, extolling the virtue of sitting with body, with mind, and as body and mind dropping off, he was expressing nothing but the act of sitting as the culmination of the noble fourfold plan -- nothing but the lifeblood.

Standing in contrast to the noble fourfold plan is the habit of end-gaining. End-gaining is not noble: it produces too many errors, too much collateral damage.

"Collateral damage" means, in other words, a trail of broken hearts and disillusionment, or bombs falling on little children.

So, the point of the effort we are making now, both writer and reader, is to clarify what the four noble truths really are, and especially to clarify the noble principle of inhibition. My resolution, going into the New Year, will be to continue this effort.

abhitas: near, all around, on both sides
tataH: then
Kapilavaastu: Kapila-ville, Kapilavastu
vaastu: dwellings, houses, architecture, homestead

parama: exceedingly, the most
shubha: lovely
vaastu: (as in the name Kapila-vaastu) houses, properties, real estate
saMstutam: famed, celebrated

vastu: material thing, object, substance.
mati: thought, view, prayer, mental phenomenon
shuci: pure
shiva: auspicious, kind, friendly, pleasant, happy
upavanaam: little woods, groves, gardens

sa: he
dadarsha: looked
niH: not, without
spRhatayaa: (instrmental) out of longing
yathaa: as, as though, as if
vanam: (accusative) at a forest

EH Johnston:
Then he saw all around Him Kapilavastu, celebrated for the exceeding loveliness of its dwellings, pure in wealth and thought and surrounded by auspicious groves, and yet was no more affected by longing for it than if He were looking at a forest.

Linda Covill:
Then he saw Kapila-vastu all around him, with its gracious gardens, famed for its beautiful architecture and pure in its financial and intellectual life, but he looked without longing, as though at a forest.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.16: Really Shining Light on End-gaining

viSHay'-aatmakasya hi janasya
suurya-sadRsha-vapur abhyudito
vijahaara suurya iva Gautamas tamaH.

To people possessed by their ends,

In thrall to a jumble of many pathways,

Splendour that seemed like the sun had arisen.

Gautama was like the sun, dispelling darkness.

It is only our end-gaining (1) that ties us to those old, reptilian, energy-leaking pathways in the brain and nervous system that we have hitherto re-enforced by constantly practising them (2). To begin to glimpse this, not only intellectually but through an experience as real as witnessing the break of dawn, is a kind of enlightenment (3). Gautama was a person who, through his own vibrant example, as also by other expedients, could lead people towards such experience(4).

viSHaya: object of the senses, end to be gained
aatmakasya: (genitive, agreeing with janasya) belonging to or forming the nature of
hi: (emphatic) for, indeed
janasya: (genitive) to people, for people

bahu: many, much
vividha: various, of different kinds, assorted, mixed
maarga: path
sevinaH = genitive, agreeing with janasya, of sevin: going or resorting to, serving, honouring, having sex with, fond of, addicted to, practising.

suurya: sun
sadRsha: like, similar to
vapus: beautiful, wondrous, wondrous beauty, marvel
abhyudito: risen, rising

vijahaara: dispelled
suurya iva: like the sun
Gautama: Gautama
tamaH: darkness

EH Johnston:
For Gautama, appearing with wondrous form like that of the rising sun, just as the sun dispels the darkness, dispelled the darkness of ignorance of the people, who were devoted to the objects of the senses and followed many and varied paths.

Linda Covill:
For just as the risen sun dispels darkness, so Gautama with his sun-like appearance dispelled the dark ignorance of sensual people who followed a number of different paths.

Monday, December 29, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.15: Wanting to Know the Lie of the Land of His Fathers

sa viniiya KaashiSHu GayeSHu
bahu-janam atho Giri-vraje
pitryam api parama-kaaruNiko
nagaram yayaav anujighRkSHayaa tadaa.

Having at Kasi and at Gaya led away

Many people; as also at the cow-pens of Giri-vraja,

He felt deepest compassion too
for his ancestral hometown.

In order to scent how it actually was,
he made his way to the city.

The mission of leading people out of suffering (1), sometimes involves getting one's feet dirty (2). The Buddha was not only a hero who did not mind getting his feet dirty for the sake of non-family; he was also a real human being who, though having given up the comforts of family life, still felt deep compassion for his own human family (3). So he made his way to Kapilavastu to find out, first of all, what was actually going on there (4).

sa: he
viniiya: having led away
KaashiSHu: (locative) in Kasi
GayeSHu: (locative) in Gaya

bahu-janam: (accusative) many people
atha: (connecting particle) and then, next
Girivraje: (locative) in Giri-vraja
vraja: cow-pen, cattle-shed, enclosure or station of herdsmen

pitryam: paternal, ancestral [birthplace/town]
api: also
parama: deepest, highest, etc.
kaaruNika: compassionate

nagaram: (accusative) to the town, city
yayau: went
anujighRkSHayaa: (instrumental) with the intention of snuffling at, with the wish to smell at, wishing to kiss
tadaa: at that time, there and then, actually

EH Johnston:
Then, after converting multitudes in Kasi, Gaya, and Girivraja, He went in the depth of His pity to His ancestral town to bring favour on it.

Linda Covill:
After guiding many people to insight in Kashi, Gaya and Giri-vraja, he wished to show favor also to his ancestral city, and so with supreme compassion he made his way there.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.14; Wisdom Takes Us Over

sa hi doSHa-saagaram agaadham
upadhi-jalam aadhi-jantukam
krodha-mada-bhaya taraNga-calaM
pratataara lokam api ca vyataarayat

For he [had crossed] the fathomless sea of faults

Where cares are fish and falsity is the water --

Moved by waves of anger, over-exuberance, and fear.

He had crossed and he took the world across too.

(1) Just as suffering is an inclusive term for many and various kinds of physical and mental pain, anguish, unease, and dissatisfaction, the sea also is an inclusive entity.
(2) Just as the essential components of suffering, working in combination with each other, are the amorphous mass of faulty sensory appreciation by which I deceive myself, and various endgaining ideas, so the sea is a great body of uncountable stuff with individual creatures living in it.
(3) Effort that I make directly, to try to stop suffering and make myself happy -- in the American way -- is just like going into water and making more and more waves. This is just how nervous swimmers tend to react to water, as my brother and my wife know well. As teachers of the FM Alexander Technique, what they enable others to do during a lesson in the water is not so much to gain the end of learning to swim, but rather to learn to inhibit the idea that it is necessary to do something to conquer either water or fear of water.
(4) Just to sit is not necessarily a means for getting ourselves over to the far shore of the Buddha's enlightenment. It might be a means of allowing the Buddha's wisdom to take us over.

So the key to understanding the real meaning of this verse, and all of Ashvaghosha's verses, I think, is contained back in verse 3.12, in which Ashvaghosha introduces the words (1) duHkha, (2) samudaya, (3) shanti, and (4) upaaya.

sa: he
hi: for
doSHa: fault, vice, deficiency, sinfulness, harm; misuse; disease [of the three humours, applied also to the humours themselves]
saagara: sea, flood
a: not
gaadha: fordable, shallow

upadhi: the act of putting or adding on; addition; fraud, circumvention falsity, fraudulence, false pretence, condition.
[MW adds, for Buddhist usage see] upaadhi: a substitute; anything which may be taken for or has the mere name or appearance of another thing; appearance, phantom, disguise; condition; deception; deceit.
jalam: water
aadhi: (1) mortgage, financial liability, (2) mental trouble, anxious thought, care
jantu: creature, fish [to fry?]

krodha: anger
mada: exhilaration, rapture, intoxication, lust, arrogance, presumption, conceit
bhaya: fear
taraNga: wave
calam: moved, disturbed, agitated

pratataara = from pra + tRii: to go to sea, pass over, cross
(The related word pratara is used to describe the joints of the neck and spinal vertebrae.)
loka: world
api: also
ca: and
vyataarayat: carried across, ferried across, took across

EH Johnston:
For not only did He himself pass over the flood of evil, which cannot be forded, whose waters are the determinants of existence with the fish of mental troubles and which is agitated by the waves of anger, intoxication and fear, but He also ferried the world across.

Linda Covill:
For the seer had passed over the fathomless sea of faults--which is watered by conditioned existence, which has anxious thoughts for fish, and which is disturbed by waves of anger, desire and fear--and he carried the world across too.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.13; The First Follower

abhidhaaya ca tri-parivartam
a-tulam anivartyam uttamam
dvaadasha-niyata-vikalpam RSHir
vininaaya kauNDina-sa-gotram aaditaH

He further enumerated the three divisions

Of the imponderable, most transcendent
one-way path,

And made the twelvefold statement of the inevitable;
after which the seer

Led away, to begin with,
him of the Kaundinas' cow-shed.

After the high tension of striving to find the right words to convey exactly and succinctly what the supreme Fourfold Truth of the Buddha is, this verse seems to bring the mood back down to earth.

The three divisions in line 1 are the three divisions of the eightfold path which is the fourth of the four noble truths.

So line 2, I think, includes some sense of ironic negation of fours, eights, and threes, suggesting that the actual path for treading with the feet is far removed from those divisions that are made for understanding with the mind.

And, to bring us still further down to earth, we are reminded in line 3 that this life we are living -- a temporary obstruction to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which began with our conception and birth -- will proceed absolutely inescapably (whether or not we ever succeed in penetrating the four noble truths), through to our death. The concentration of energy which is me will, before too long, spread out all over the place and I will be no more.

Five minutes after formulating the above comments, yesterday, I chewed a toffee and a crown fell out -- blast! Worse still, I blamed my wife for giving me the toffee. It was as if, following these insights on ironic negation, something had to happen ironically to negate these insights.

abhidhaaya: having said, having named; he named.... after which,
ca: and
tri-parivartam: the three divisions (of the noble eightfold path, to be detailed in Saundarananda Canto 16)

a: not, non-
tul: to lift up, to determine the weight of anything by lifting it up, weigh, compare by weighing and examining, ponder, examine with distrust
a-tulam: uequalled, imponderable, incomparable in the sense of not to be likened to anything else, being nothing other than what it is
anivartyam = gerundive of a + ni + vRt: not to be gone back on, on which one is required not to turn back (i.e. one-way)
uttamam: uppermost, highest, most elevated, furthest removed

dvaadasha: twelve (referring to the twelve links in the chain of what is generally known as "dependent origination")
niyata: held back, held in, tied to; restrained, restricted; limited in number, connecting, dependent on; constant, fixed, established, sure, invariable, inevitably.
vikalpam: alternation, option; variation, combination, diversity, manifoldness, difference of perception, distinction, statement, doubt; false notion, fancy
RSHiH: the seer

vinaaya = from vi + ni: lead away, take away; train, tame, guide; direct, instruct, give direction
KauNDina: name of a clan
sa: he
gotram: cow-shed, hurdle; family enclosed by the hurdle; family, race, clan
aadhitaH: to begin with

EH Johnston:
And explaining in detail with its three divisions and twelve separate statements the supreme fourfold truth, which is unequalled, pre-eminent and incontrovertible, namely, 'This is suffering, this is its origin which consists in the persistence of active being, this is its suppression and this the means,' He converted first of all him of the Kaundinya gotra.

Linda Covill:
"This is suffering, this is the network of causes producing it, this is its pacification, this is the means." Thus the seer separately set forth the highest fourfold truth which is unequaled, incontrovertible and supreme, with its three divisions and twelve connecting statements, and he guided to insight firstly a man from the Kaundina clan.

Friday, December 26, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.12; The Four Noble Truths

iti duHkham etad iyam asya
samudaya-lataa pravartikaa
shantir iyam ayam upaaya iti
pravibhaagashaH param idaM catuSHTayam

"This is suffering; and this, belonging to it,

Is the tangled mass of tendrils producing it;

This is inhibition; and this is a means."

He thus spelled out, one by one,
the ascendant set of four.

Here it is, straight from the horse's mouth. The word "lataa" in the second line, I think, is not a metaphor for anything. Ashvaghosha is describing the twining tendrils of individual neurones in the brain and nervous system.

iti: thus (open quotes)
duHKham: (masculine) suffering, unease, dissatisfaction
etad: (masculine) this is, here is [suffering]
iyam: (feminine, agreeing with lataa) this is, here is [the tangle]
asya: (genitive, masculine, agreeing with duHKha) of it, belonging to suffering

samudaya: combination, aggregate, mass; (with Buddhists) producing cause, instigating cause (of suffering)
lataa: (feminine) creeper, twining tendril
pravartikaa: setting in motion, causing to roll onward, causing, producing,

shanti: (feminine) peace, extinction, suppression, inhibition
iyam: (feminine) this
ayam: (masculine) this
upaaya: means, method, approach, the means-whereby
iti: thus (close quotes)

pravibhaagashaH: separately, singly, one by one
param: highest, ascendant, supreme
idam: (accusative neuter singular) this, thus, here
catuSHTayam: set of four, tetrad, foursome

EH Johnston:
And explaining in detail with its three divisions and twelve separate statements the supreme fourfold truth, which is unequalled, pre-eminent and incontrovertible, namely, 'This is suffering, this is its origin which consists in the persistence of active being, this is its suppression and this the means,' He converted first of all him of the Kaundinya gotra.

Linda Covill:
"This is suffering, this is the network of causes producing it, this is its pacification, this is the means." Thus the seer separately set forth the highest fourfold truth which is unequaled, incontrovertible and supreme, with its three divisions and twelve connecting statements, and he guided to insight firstly a man from the Kaundina clan.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.11; The Wheel Whose Hub Is Truthfulness

atha dharma-cakram Rta naabhi
tatra vinaya-niyam'-aaram RSHir
jagato hitaaya pariSHady avartayat

Then the wheel of Dharma,
whose hub is truthfulness,

Whose rim is a constant veering
towards physical harmony,

And whose spokes are the guiding rules of practice:
[that wheel] there the seer [turned].

In that assembly, for the welfare of the world,
he rolled the wheel.

(1) What is the hub? Truthfulness? Integrity? Honesty? Uprightness? Whatever word we use to express truthfulness, merely to study the truth it is not the path. The nub of the struggle is to be truly upright -- not just in one's outer form, in the style of those who are primarily concerned with face, and not just in one's inner world, but as the oneness of form and content.

(2) In veering towards physical harmony, constancy of effort would seem to be the key -- going round and round and round, asking helplessly for release out of Mara's grip, asking for the undoing that one cannot do -- for the whole body, for the neck, head, back, and limbs... neck, head, back, limbs.... neck, head, back, limbs. Altogether, one after another... neck, head, back, limbs.

Why does the word "mati," indicating mental direction or intention, appear in line 2, whose theme is samadhi, the physical state of balance, integration, harmony? Because, when we really look into it, working towards true physical harmony is the most mental thing there is.

(3) In emphasizing the primacy of sitting practice, Rinzai championed only one rule: "No rule is our rule." Although the word "spoke" (aaram) in line 3 does not appear to be in the plural, it is difficult to escape the suspicion -- in the context of this verse, and in view of the content of the second half of this Canto --that Ashvaghosha had in mind a wheel with more than one spoke. A Dharma-cakra with only one spoke, in the end, might not be much of a weapon.

Today is my 49th birthday. I hope that I have not wasted too many years hitherto fighting, with an ineffective weapon, a losing battle.

atha: then
dharma-cakra: the dharma-wheel, the wheel of the Law
Rta: fitting, right; upright, honest, true.
naabhi: navel, hub

dhRti: constancy, steadfastness
mati: thought, design, intention, purpose, inclination, desire for
samaadhi: integration, physical balance, harmony
nemimat: rim, felly (the section of a wheel-rim between each spoke)

tatra: there
vinaya: guidance, discipline, instruction, the Vinaya
niyama: rules, precepts
aaram: spoke
RSHir: the seer

jagataH = genitive of jagat: the world
hitaaya: (dative) for the benefit
pariSHadi: (locative) in the assembly
avartayat: turned the wheel, set it in motion

EH Johnston:
Then for the benefit of the world the Seer turned in the assembly there the Wheel of the Law, whose hub is the truth, whose felloes are steadfastness, right views and mental concentration and whose spokes are the ordinances of the Rule.

Linda Covill:
And among the people assembled there, for the welfare of the world, the seer set in motion the wheel of dharma, whose hub is truth, whose rim is constancy, thought and meditation and whose spokes are the rules of the Vinaya.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.10; The One Great Purpose

avabudhya c'aiva param'-aartham
a-jaram anukampayaa vibhuH
nityam amRtam upadarshayituM
sa VaraaNasii-parikaraam ayaat puriim

Truly understanding the one great purpose,

Which never ages; and universal in his compassion,

In order to cause others to realise
that which is constant and undying,

He made his way to the city
that the River Varanasi encircled.

(1) By taking the backward step which is happiness, the Buddha had understood the one great purpose. And in truly understanding the one great purpose, he had found the kind of happiness that is not subject to aging.

(2) That it is not subject to aging, and that it was manifested through universal compassion, is evidenced here by EXHIBIT A and by EXHIBIT B.

(3)In the spirit of polishing a tile, with no great expectation of making many mirrors, and not because he liked crowds...

(4) the Buddha went to the city.

avabudhya: after perceiving, having awoken to, having reached comprehension of
ca: and
eva: (emphatic) truly
parama: primary, paramount
artham: matter, purpose, aim, point

a-jaram: not aging, ageless, beyond age discrimination
anukampayaa: (instrumental case) by means of compassion
vibhuH: being everywhere, omnipresent; mighty, effective, functional; the lord, the almighty

nityam: constant, the eternal
amRtam: undying, immortal, the deathless
upadarshayituM: (infinitive) in order to reveal, to cause to see, to show

sa: he
VaraaNasii: Varanasi (name of the river)
parikaraam = accusative, feminine of parikara: retinue, dependents, multitude; girdle
ayaat: went, made his way to
purii: fortress, castle, city, town

EH Johnston:
And having reached comprehension of the supreme, unaging truth, He took His way in His all-pervading mercy to the city girdled by the Varanasi to expound the everlasting victory over death.

Linda Covill:
After perceiving the highest, ageless truth, the lord in his compassion made his way to river-encircled Varanasi to reveal enduring deathlessness to its citizens.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.9; Water Out Of Emptiness

sa-nagaa ca bhuuH pravicacaala
huta-vaha-sakhaH shivo vavau
nedur api ca sura-dundubhayaH
pravavarSHa c'aambu-dhara-varjitaM nabhaH

The earth with its mountains shook,

That which feeds the fire blew auspiciously,

The drums of the gods sounded,

And rain fell from the cloudless sky.

In line (1) Ashvaghosha covers the whole planet, paints the whole picture, all together.
In line (2) he anticipates the discovery of oxygen by the best part of two thousand years.
In line (3) Ashvaghosha, who was celebrated as an accomplished musician, touches on the phenomenon of sound. There are Zen musicians of the present day who sit and investigate the rhythm of the Universe, and who speak of drum playing "in the pocket." Whose pocket, I wonder? If it were not for the gods of theatre, and sport, and music, how would it be possible for drummers today to speak of playing in the pocket?
In line (4) I think Ashvaghosha suggests the kind of miracle that we all experience happening every day. Rain, drops of water falling from the sky, is always a miracle. And the sky is always free of clouds. So the sky of which Ashvaghosha speaks is not necessarily a cloudless blue sky on a special, distant, legendary day; it might be the cloudless grey sky on this miraculous winter's day.

sa-nagaa: with mountains, mountain-ed
ca: and
bhuuH: earth
pravicacaala: shook, quaked

huta-vaha-sakhaH: 'friend of the conductor of the sacrifice,' i.e. that which supplies the sacrificial fire with oxygen -- the wind, a breeze.
huta: sacrifice
vaha: conductor
sakha: friend
shiva: auspicious
vavau: blew

nedur = perfect tense of nad: sound, cry out, resound
api: also
ca: and
sura: gods (as opposed to a-sura, anti-gods, demons)
dundubhayaH: drums, kettle drums

pravavarSHa: rain
ca: and
ambu-dhara: 'water-holder', cloud
varja: free from, devoid of
nabhas: sky

EH Johnston:
The earth with its mountains shook, an auspicious breeze blew, the drums of the gods sounded and rain fell from a cloudless sky.

Linda Covill:
The earth with its mountains quaked, an auspicious wind blew, the drums of the gods reverberated, and it began to rain from a cloudless sky.

Monday, December 22, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.8; Party Time for Birds & Bees; The Mara Reflex Releases Its Grip

avagamya taM ca kRta-kaaryam
amRta-manaso divaukasaH
harSHam atulam agaman muditaa
vimukhii tu Maara-pariSHat pracukSHube

Sensing the completion of his task,

Beings in the sky minded towards the undying

Buzzed and fluttered about with unbridled joy,

While Mara and his crew departed, downcast and trembling.

The beings described in line two I have preferred to see not as imagined deities in heaven but as real beings like bees, birds and butterflies which naturally belong to the sky, and which are naturally minded towards Nature -- Nature being one face, at least, of the deathless.

In that case, these four lines describe: perfection in the gaining of an end (1); and natural beings (2) expressing their joy in action (3); as the whole world is released from the grip of the fearful one and the retinue of primitives that cluster around him (4).

avagamya: having understood, learned, known, supposed
taM = accusative of saH: he
ca: and
kRta: done, fulfilled, completed
kaarya: task

amRta-manas: minded towards the deathless, intent on the undying
divaukasaH = genitive of divaokas: ‘the sky-dwelling’ -- birds, bees, butterflies, and other beings buzzing about in the great blue beyond.

harSHa: bristling, erection (especially of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight); exultation, joy, pleasure, happiness; erection of the sexual organs, sexual excitement
atula: unequalled, boundless
agaman: went, attained
muditaa: rejoiced

vimukha: departing disappointed, averse to
tu: but
Maara-pariSHat: Mara's followers, retinue
(from para + SHii: to lie around?)
pracukSHube: trembled, were agitated

EH Johnston:
The dwellers in Heaven, whose minds were set on immortality, learning that He had fulfilled His task, rejoiced with an exceeding great joy, but the court of Mara was downcast and trembled.

Linda Covill:
When they recognized that he had accomplished his task, the deities in heaven, whose minds were set on deathlessness, felt boundless joy and delight, but Mara's followers were hostile and agitated.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.7; Waking Up to the Footsteps of Buddhas

upavishya tatra kRta-buddhir
acala-dhRtir adri-raajavat
Maara-balam ajayad ugram atho
bubudhe padaM shivam ahaaryam avyayam

Sitting there, mind made up,

As unmovingly stable as the king of mountains,

He overcame the grim army of Mara

And awoke to that step
which is happiness,
which nobody can take away,
and which can never be destroyed.

That step might be the backward step of turning light around, and letting it shine.

upavishya: seated, sitting
tatra: there
kRta-buddhiH: mind made up, resolute

acala: not moving
dhRtiH: holding fast, standing still, stable
adri: mountain
raajavat: like the king

Maara-balam: Mara's army
ajayad: conquered, overcame
ugram: grim, violent, dreadful
atho: [connecting particle] and then

bubudhe: awakened, became aware of, came to an understanding of,
pada: step, footing, place, base ; the foot itself; position, standpoint; cause; state, stage
shiva: happy, auspicious
ahaarya: not to be taken away, not to be carried off, inalienable
avyaya: not to be lost, not to be destroyed, imperishable

EH Johnston:
Seating Himself determinedly there and as immovable in His steadfastness as the king of mountains, He overcame the fearsome hosts of Mara. Then He came to an understanding of the holy stage, which can neither pass away nor be lost.

Linda Covill:
Resolutely sitting there, as unmovingly constant as the king of mountains, he conquered Mara's fierce forces and awoke to the happy, unalterable and imperishable state.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.6; The Bodhi Tree

sa suvarNa-piina-yuga-baahur
RSHabha-gatir aayat'ekSHaNaH
plakSHam avaniruham abhyagamat
paramasya nishcaya-vidher bubhutsayaa

He with upper limbs
that were golden and full,
fit for a yoke,

With bull-like gait
and far-seeing eyes,

Came to a fig tree,
growing up from the earth,

Going in that direction
-- towards consciousness --
which is inherent in
an ascendant method of inquiry.

In the first line, the words "golden and full" suggest perfection, as in describing the full moon.

The second line hints at the young Gautama’s physical power and excellent sensory make-up.

The growth of a tree, in every case, is a temporary obstruction by nature to what the 2nd law of thermodynamics predicts: that energy will spread out, unless the dispersal of energy is held in check through activation energy barriers.

The concentrated energy of the bodhi tree in this narrative has not dissipated yet; rather, for tens or maybe hundreds of years the bodhi tree has been using energy from the sun, in combination with carbon dioxide from the air and nutrients from the earth, to feed its own growth as a tree. Roots have been growing down and out into the earth. Branches have been growing outwards, and dropping figs down. But the primary direction of the fig tree's growth, from the first germination of the fig seed -- quite possibly in a monkey's crap -- has been upward. The bodhi tree is the embodiment of an ascendant process of energy transformation.

In order to catch the original meaning of the fourth line I think it is mainly necessary to be clear in one's own going in the same direction as Ashvaghosha was going -- not deeper down into Mara's grip, not deeper down into unconscious practice of the reptilian faults, but up and out towards consciousness.

sa: he
suvarNa: golden
piina: swelling, full, round, robust, muscular, lengthened-and-widened
yuga: yoke
baahuH: arm, upper limb, forepaw

RSHabha: bull
gatiH: gait, movement, course
aayata = from verb root yan: extended, elongated
iikSHaNaH: sight, eye
aayat'ekSHaNaH: far-seeing eyes; or wide-smiling eyes (?)

plakSHa: relating or belonging to the wavy-leaved fig-tree
avaniruha: 'grown from the earth'; a tree
abhyagamat: arrive near, come to

paramasya = genitive case (agreeing with vidheH) of parama: furthest, highest, chief, primary, supreme, ascendant, transcendent.
nishcaya: inquiry, determination, resolve, certainty, conviction -- from the root nish + ci: ascertain, investigate, decide, settle, determine, resolve
vidheH = genitive case of vidhi: method, means
bubhutsayaa = instrumental case of bubhutsaa: wish to know, desire for consciousness -- from the root budh: regain consciousness, be awake, become aware, notice, understand, learn.
bubhutsayaa (in the instrumental case) means with, through, or in, the desire for consciousness.
VidheH, the genitive of vidhi, method, indicates some sense of possession by, or inherence in, the method. My understanding of the grammar is that the wish to know, the inclination towards consciousness (bubhutsaa), belongs to, or is inherent in, the method of inquiry (nishcaya-vidhi).

EH Johnston:
With wide-stretching eyes, the gait of a bull, and stout, golden arms as long as a yoke, He betook himself to a pipal tree in His desire to grasp the supreme method of reaching conviction.

Linda Covill:
With his golden arms as thick as a yoke, his bull-like gait and elongated eyes, he came to a fig-tree intent on discovering the highest certain knowledge.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.5; The Readiness Is All

atha n'aiSHa maarga iti viikSHya
tad api vipulaM jahau tapaH
dhyana-viSHayam avagamya paraM
bubhuje var'-aannam amRtatva-buddhaye

Having ascertained, then,
that this was not the path,

He abandoned that extreme asceticism too.

He knew from past experience
that the realm of Zen was ascendant,

And so he ate most wholesome rice,
in readiness to realise the deathless.

The realm of Zen has to do with going back, and going up. Even with the best of intentions, it is very difficult to inhibit those ideas which, at the deepest level (generally unbeknowns to ourselves), impel us forward towards the gaining of some end. And neither is it easy to counteract in a skillful way the various forces -- pyschological, political, socio-economic, emotional, gravitational, et cetera -- that tend to pull us down. But Gautama, when he was down and almost out, remembered, thinking back to his youthful experience under the rose-apple tree, that the realm of Zen has to do with going on up. The realm of Zen has to do with learning the backward step; at the same time, it has to do with going on up. The realm of Zen has to do with dropping off end-gaining (the backward step) and yet still somehow causing the spine to lengthen (going on up). The great challenge is to achieve this lengthening of the spine through muscular release, and not in an end-gaining way. Immature vestibular reflexes makes this challenge all the more difficult, as does poor diet (written while scoffing two chocolate digestive biscuits).

atha: then
na: not
eSHa: this, this here
maarga: path
iti: that ["this is not the path"]
viikSHya = from vi + iiksh: understand, ascertain

tad: that
api: also
vipulaM: large, extensive, great, extreme
jahau = from the root ha: abandon
tapa: ascetic practice, asceticism, austerity

dhyana: Zen
viSHayam: sphere of sensory experience, objective world, realm
avagamya: (absolutive) having understood, having known -- a reference to young Gautama's experience under the rose-apple tree
para: farther; superior, higher; ascendant; best, highest, supreme, utmost; transcendent beyond.

bubhuje: ate
vara: choicest, best, most excellent
aannam: food, especially rice
amRtatva: deathlessness, immortality
buddhaye = dative (denoting purpose) of buddhi: understand, comprehend, be present to, realise.

EH Johnston:
Then seeing this to be a false path, He gave up that extended course of austerity too and, realizing that the sphere of trance was the highest, He ate choice food to prepare His mind for the understanding of immortality.

Linda Covill:
Then, ascertaining that this was not the path, he abandoned that extreme asceticism too. He understood that the practice of meditation was best, and he ate good food to prepare himself for comprehending deathlessness.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.4; No Certainty Out There

sa vicaarayan jagati kiM tu
paramam iti taM tam aagamam
nishcayam an-adhigataH parataH
paramaM cacaara tapa eva duSH-karam

When he mentally scoured the world, however,

For the most solid
among this and that tradition,

Certainty was not to be found out there.

He entered, after all, into ascetic practice
that was most severe.

What and where is certainty?
"You cannot do an undoing," for example, is a very solid principle on which to base mindfulness of breathing. But no reader of this blog can find this certainty by reading this blog. The possibility of arriving at this certainty lies only within each person's making of his or her own mistakes -- a.k.a "learning the self" or "working on the self".
Now, free your neck!

sa: he
vicaarayan = from the verb vi + car: reflect, investigate, consider
jagati: (locative) the world
kiM tu: however

paramam: the highest, the greatest, the most [solid], the best
iti: thus [he asked -- which was the greatest]
tad tad: this and that, various, different
aagamam: received wisdom, tradition

nishcayam: certainty, conviction, ascertainment
an-adhigataH: not found, not obtained
parataH: from others, elsewhere

paramaM: the greatest, the [harsh]est
cacaara = from the root car: do, effect, move
tapa: ascetic practice
eva: (emphatic) that same [practice] after all
duSH-karam: difficult to practise

EH Johnston:
After considering which of the various sacred traditions in the world was the highest, and failing to obtain exact knowledge from others, He entered after all on austerities of extreme difficulty.

Linda Covill:
Of the many doctrines in the world, he pondered, which one was supreme? Not meeting with answers elsewhere, he began strenuous ascetism after all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.3; This Also Is Not It

atha mokSHA-vaadinam AaraaDam
upashama-matiM tath'ODrakam
tattva-kRta-matir upaasya jahaav
ayam apy a-maarga iti maarga-kovidhaH

Then he served under Arada,
champion of freedom,

And likewise under Udraka,
who inclined towards quietness --

He served them, his heart set on truth,
and he left them.

He who intuited the path intuited:
"This also is not it."

atha: then
mokSHA: freedom, release
vaadin: speaking on, being a proponent of, championing
AaraaDam: (accusative) to/under Arada

upashama: cessation, extinction, quiet
mati: inclination, purpose, thought, design
tatha: likewise
UDrakam: (accusative) to/under Udraka

tattva: truth, the truth
kRta-mati: mind made up, heart set on
upaasya: attend, honour, serve
jahaav = from root haa: leave, abandon

ayam: this
api: also
a-maarga: not the path
iti: thus [he intuited]
maarga: path
kovidhaH: knowing well, apprehending intuitively

EH Johnston:
Then, with His mind fixed on the ultimate truth, He sat at the feet of Arada, who preached emancipation and of Udraka who held the doctrine of quietude, but left them, deciding in His discrimination of Paths that theirs was not the right path.

Linda Covill:
Then, still bent on truth, he became the disciple of Arada, who spoke of liberation, and likewise of Udraka, who inclined to quietism. But in his wisdom concerning paths he left them, aware that theirs were not the right paths.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.2; Observing the Miseries of End-gaining

vividha aagamaaMs tapasi taaMsh ca
vividha niyama aashrayaan muniin
prekSHya sa viSHaya-tRSHaa-kRpaNaan
an-avasthitam tapa iti nyavartata

In the approach to ascetic practice
of various sacred traditions,

And in the attachment of sages
to various restrictive rules,

He observed the miseries of thirsting for an object.

Seeing ascetic practice to be unreliable,
he turned away from it.

If you would like to know the Sanskrit for "end-gaining," here it is:
viSHaya-tRSHaa, object-thirsting.

If you would like to read a description of a definite method of working in the direction which is opposite to object-thirsting, I recommend you to read THIS. If you have read it already, I recommend you to read it again. I recommend you to print it out and read it through in detail, and see if you can work out for yourself what the legacy was, that a very old, experienced and compassionate Alexander teacher was endeavouring -- and not for her own glory -- to bequeath to future generations.

vividha: varying, of various kinds
aagamaan = accusative, plural of aagama: arrival, learning, sacred tradition, received wisdom
tapasi: (locative) ascetic practice
taan: (accusative, plural) them, those
ca: and

vividha: varying
niyama: restriction, restrictive rule
aashraya: attachment to, devotion to, refuge in, recourse to
muniin: (accusative, plural) sages

prekSHya: look on (without interfering), observe
sa: he
viSHaya: object of sense-perception, object
tRSHaa: thirst, great eagerness to get something, craving to gain something
kRpaaNaan: (accusative, plural) miseries, instances of wretchedness

an-avasthitam: not certain, not reliable
apa: ascetic practice
iti: thus [he thought, and...]; [because it was] thus, [he...]
nyavartata: turned away

EH Johnston:
But finding that the sages were practising austerities according to varying scriptures and under varying rules and were still made wretched by desire for sensory objects, He concluded that there was no certainty in asceticism and turned away.

Linda Covill:
He noticed that the sages held varying doctrines concerning asceticism and that they followed a variety of practices, yet were still miserable for want of sensual experience. So he turned away, concluding that asceticism was unreliable.

Monday, December 15, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 3.1; Starting Resolutely

tapase tataH Kapilavaastu
shriimad abhayam anurakta-janaM
sa vihaaya nishcita-manaa vanaM yayau.

For ascetic practice, then, [he left] Kapilavastu --

A teeming mass of horses, elephants and chariots,

Majestic, safe, loved by its citizens.

He left it behind, starting resolutely for the forest.

In the above four lines Ashavaghosha is describing, in a particular order:
(1) an aim, an ideal, a purpose
(2) a mass, an accumulation of massive things
(3) a peaceful situation, in which fear reactions are negated
(4) the means of transcendent action
This particular order reflects absorption into Ashvaghosha's marrow of "the highest fourfold truth," which is introduced with utter succinctness in the 12th stanza of this 3rd canto of Saundarananda. That is where, day by day, this blog is now heading. So, by the end of 2008, all being well, we shall truly have arrived at the beginning.

tapase (dat. sg.) for ascetic practice
tataH: then
Kapilavaastu (acc. sg. n.): Kapilavastu

haya: horse
gaja: elephant
ratha: chariot
ogha: stream, flood, heap, mass
saMkulam (acc. sg. n.): crowded together, filled with, thronged; thick, dense

shriimat (acc. sg. n.): majestic
abhayam (acc. sg. n.): free of fear, safe, secure
anurakta-janam (acc. sg. n.): loved by its citizens
anurakta: devoted, attached, fond
jana: people, population

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
vihaaya = abs. vi- √ haa: to leave behind , relinquish , quit , abandon
nishcita-manaaH (nom. sg. m.): with resolute mind
nishcita: determined, resolute, decided
manas: mind
vanam (acc. sg.): the forest
yayau = 3rd pers. sg. perfect yaa: to go

EH Johnston:
Then quitting the majestic and secure city of Kapilavastu, whose population was devoted to Him and which was thronged with masses of horses, elephants and chariots. He started resolutely for the forest to practise austerities.

Linda Covill:
Then leaving behind the safe and splendid city of Kapilavastu, loved by its citizens, crowded with numbers of horses, elephants, and chariots, he went to the forest with his heart set on asceticism.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SAUNDARANANDA 14.50; Like a Thorn

kva cid bhuktvaa yat tad vasanaM api yat tat parihitaH
vasann aatm'aaraamaH kva cana vijane yo 'bhiramate
kRt'aarthaH sa jneyaH shama-sukha-rasa-jnaH kRta-matiH
pareSHaam saMsargam pariharati yaH kaNTakam iva

One who eats anything at any place,
and wears any clothes,

Who dwells in the garden of his own being
and loves to be anywhere without people:

He is to be known as a success;
for he knows the taste of peace and happiness,
and his mind is made up --

He runs away from social involvement,
avoiding it like a thorn.

I just wanted to let Ashvaghosha make again the point he already made clearly enough yesterday. And what a sharp point it is -- ouch!


kva cid: anywhere
bhuktvaa = from bhuj: eat
yat tad: anything
vasanaM: clothing (accusative)
api: also
yat tat: anything
parihitaH: put on, wear

vasan = from vas: dwell, live in
aatma: one's own
aaraamaH: pleasure-grove, woodland; delight, garden
aatmaaraamaH: [MW] rejoicing in one's self, or in the supreme spirit
kva cana: anywhere
vijane: without people (locative)
yah: [relative pronoun] he who, one who
abhiramate: dwell, repose, delight in

kRta: done
arthaH: purpose, aim
kRt'aarthaH: achievement, success
sa: he
jneyaH: is known, is to be known
shama-sukha-rasa-jnaH: knowing peace-happiness-taste
kRta-matiH: mind made up, heart set, determined, resolute

pareSHaam = from para + i: go away, run away
saMsargam: union, connection, contact, social contact, intercourse
pariharati: leave, quit, desert; shun, avoid; beware of
yaH: [he is] one who
kaNTakam: thorn, fish-bone, social pest
iva: like

EH Johnston:
That man is to be considered successful who rejoices in solitude and avoids contact with others like a thorn, eating in any place whatever there is and wearing any clothes whatsoever, living anywhere sufficient to himself; for his mind is made up and he knows the taste of bliss of tranquillity.

Linda Covill:
A man who eats anything at any place, wears any clothes, lives in self-sufficiency, who is happy to be anywhere without people and avoids the company of others like a thorn -- he is recognized as a determined man of achievement, and knows the taste of the bliss of peace.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

BUDDHACARITA 5.8-11; Going Back to the Origin of Sitting-Zen

manasaa ca viviktataam abhiipsuH
suhRdas taan anuyaayino nivaarya
abhitash cala caaru parNavatyaa
vijane muulam upeyivaan sa jambvaaH

And desiring to reach,
by mental means, unclutteredness,

He warded off the friends
who had been following him.

With leaves rustling agreeably all around,

He found a solitary spot
at the foot of a rose-apple tree.

niSHasaada sa yatra shaucavatyaam
bhuvi vaiDuurya nikaasha shaadvalaayaam
jagataH prabhava vyayau vicinvan
manasash ca sthiti maargam aalalambe

Sitting at that place of purity,

On verdant ground
-- grass shimmering like cat's-eye --

He contemplated the origin and demise of living things,

And hit upon the path of stillness of the mind.

samavaapta manaH sthitish ca sadyo
vishay'ecch"aadibhir aadhibhish ca muktaH
sa-vitarka-vicaaram aapa shaantaM
prathamaM dhyaanam an-aasrava-prakaaram

As instantly his mind was able to right itself,

So also he was set free from physical liabilities,
such as desire for objects of the senses.

He experienced, alongside intellectual doubt
and hesitation, a state of calm:

This is the first level of Zen,
a freedom of sorts from energetic leaks.

adhigamya tato viveka-jam tu
parama-priiti-sukhaM manaH-samaadhim
idam eva tataH paraM pradadhyau
manasaa loka-gatim nishaamya samyak

What he realized next, however,
springing out from discrimination,

Was the balanced state of mind,
which is the deepest joy and happiness.

Upon this very state, from that time onward,
his mind was set --

And with this mind he observed
the course of the world, plainly.

Johnston says he stopped his friends. Olivelle says he got rid of them. I think Olivelle is nearer the mark. Ashvaghosha says he warded his friends off -- as if they were not friends but enemies. It is almost as if Ashvaghosha is hinting that the people you think of as your best friends, the ones you are liable to rely on, the ones you regard as belonging to the same group as you, the ones you think are on your side: they are the ones really to beware of. They are the ones, not your worst enemies, who pose the greatest threat to your independent existence in space and time.

The young Gautama separated himself from other people, even his friends, in order to find a solitary spot to sit and contemplate. And in that solitude he found a deep happiness, the experience of which guided him from that time onwards. That happiness was not conferred on him through belonging to a group; on the contrary, the young Gautama stumbled on that deep happiness as a result of giving himself, as a solitary individual, space and time to think things out for himself. People today who do not give themselves that kind of SPACE and TIME, but instead willingly subscribe to the views of some supposedly enlightened guru, and in adherence to the guru's view consider themselves to belong to some group, such as the Soto Sect worshipping at the altar of Dogen, or AZI idolizing Taisen, or Dogen Sangha accepting Gudo's "true Buddhism," or Soka Gakkai, or the Ordinary Mind School, or the Big Mind whatever it is -- are they following the Buddha's original non-sectarian way, or are they following another kind of way?

Does the true work of Dharma require us to join a group and adhere to a view, or set of views? Or does this work require us to think things out for ourselves, challenging all views?

I think Ashvaghosha, in his usual indirect way, as if he were more interested in telling a great story than in preaching a stern message, is telling us to observe keenly the way things are going, not looking through partisan eyes, not seeing through rose-coloured spectacles, but observing the course of the world plainly.

manasaa = instrumental of manas: mind
ca: and
vivikta: solitude, lonely place
viviktataam: distinction, isolation, purity, clarity
abhiipsuH: desiring to reach

suhRdaH: friends (accusative)
taan: those (accusative), the [friends]
anuyaayin: following
nivaarya: warding off

abhitash: (with accusative) before and behind, round about, all around
cala: moving, rustling
caaru: agreeable, pleasing, lovely
parNavat: abounding in leaves

vijane: seclusion (locative)
muulam: root, foot (accusative)
upeyivaan: approching
sa: he
jambvaaH: rose-apple tree (genitive)

niSHasaada: sat, sitting
sa: he
yatra: [relative pronoun] in that/which place
shaucavatyaam: purity, cleanness

bhuvi: ground (locative)
vaiDuurya: cat's eye gem, beryl
nikaasha: sight, appearance ( = like)
shaadvalaayaam: covered with grass, verdant

jagataH: creatures, living things
prabhava: origin, coming into being
vyaya: destruction, demise
vicinvan: reflecting, contemplating

manasah: mind (genitive)
ca: and
sthiti: stillness, standing, staying, upright position, stability
maarga: path
aalalambe: took, embarked on

samavaapta: obtained, attained
manah: mind
sthiti: stillness, righting, balancing
ca....[ca]: both.... [and]
sadyo: at once, instantly

vishaya: sense object
icchaa: wish, desire
aadi: et cetera, beginning with
aadhibhih = instrumental case of aadhi: pledge, deposit, pawn, mortgage
ca: and
muktaH: (with instrumental case) set free from. released

sa: with, along with
vitarka: intellectual thought, conjecture, supposition, doubt, speculation
vicaaram: intellectual consideration, reflection, hesitation
aapa: reach, obtain
shaantaM: calmness

prathamaM: first
dhyaanam: level of meditation, Zen
an: without
aasrava = from the verb root aasru: flow, spring a leak
prakaaram: kind, sort

adhigamya: attainable, knowable; to be experienced
tata: thereupon
viveka: discrimination
jan: be born, arise
tu: but, however

parama: paramount, supreme, at the limit; highest, strongest, deepest
priiti: enjoyment, satisfaction
sukha: happiness (opposite of dukha)
manaH: mind
samaadhim: the balanced state (accusative)

idam eva: this very one, this very state
tataH paraM: from then on, thereafter
pradadhre: (with manas) to set the mind upon anything

manasaa: mind (instrumental)
loka-gatim: course of the world (accusative)
nishaamya: observe, perceive
samyak: out & out, no nonsense, straight, straightforward, frank, plain; rightly, properly, well & truly

And desiring to reach perfect clearness with his mind, he stopped his friends who were following him, and proceeded himself to a solitary spot at the root of a jambu-tree, whose beautiful leaves were waving in all directions.

And there he sat down on the clean ground, with grass bright like beryl; and reflecting on the origin and destruction of creation he took the path of mental stillness.

And his mind at once came to a stand and at the same time he was freed from mental troubles such as desire for the objects of sense etc. And he entered into the first trance of calmness which is accompanied by gross and subtle cogitation and which is supermundane in quality.

Then he obtained possession of concentration of mind, which springs from discernment and yields extreme ecstasy and bliss, and thereafter, rightly perceiving in his mind the course of the world, he meditated on this same matter.

Getting rid of those friends who accompanied him,
wishing to reach some clarity in his own mind,
he reached the foot of a rose apple tree in a
lonely spot with charming leaves rustling all around.

On that pure ground with grass the colour of beryl,
he sat down, and as he began to contemplate
the origin and destruction of all creatures,
he embarked upon the path of mental stillness.

Achieving at once the state of mental stillness,
and freedom from worries, such as sensual desire,
he attained the first trance --
with thought and reflection,
tranquil, uninfluenced by the evil inflows.

Thereupon he attained absorption of the mind,
Born of discernment, with the joy of supreme bliss,
knowing rightly in his mind the course of the world,
thereafter he pondered over this very thing:

Friday, December 12, 2008

BUDDHACARITA 13.69; Inhibiting the Mara Reflex

tan maa kRthaaH shokam, upehi shaantiM,
maa bhuun mahimnaa tava Maara maanaH;
vishrambhituM na kSHamam a-dhruvaa shriish,
cale pade vismayam abhyupaiSHi.]]

So be not grieved but come to quiet.

Being great and famous, Mara,
is naught for your pride --

There are no grounds to be confident
in fickle political power.

You are puffed up with startle and bluster
on an unsteady base."

What does it mean "not to be grieved"? It might mean not to be unduly swayed by the Mara reflex, not to be governed by the Mara reflex, not to react blindly and emotionally, out of touch with one's reason, as a result of an aberrant Mara reflex. The Mara reflex, more conventionally know in scientific circles as the Moro reflex, exists to support us, to prevent us from curling up and dying, at the time of our strongest emotions, such as grief. But if this primitive reflex is not kept in check, if it is not inhibited, then it tends to cause our energy to be continually drawn away from the centre and up to the head, neck, and shoulders -- so that sensory information is not well integrated, and thoughts and feelings are not well grounded.

"To come to quiet," similarly, might have to do with inhibition of undue excitement in the nervous system resulting from unresolved antagonism between fear paralysis and the Moro reflex.

Patrick Olivelle's translation of the fourth line, "you are puffed up as your base is reeling," nicely describes the manner of use of a person suffering from a poorly integrated Moro reflex.

tat: so
maa: [prohibitive particle] do not
kRthaa: made, be done
shoka: grief
upe = approach, come to
shaanti: calm, quiet

maa: do not
bhuu: become, be
mahimnaa = instrumental case of mahiman: greatness
tava = genitive of tvam: you
Maara: Mara
maanaH: pride

vishrambhaH: confidence
na: not
kSHama: patient, suitable
a-dhruvaa: inconstant, fickle
shriiSHu = locative plural case of shrii: splendour; prosperity, fortune, wealth; high position, glory, majesty, royal dignity, sovereignty

cala: moving, trembling, tottering, unsteady, wobbling
pade = locative case of pada: footing, position, base
vismaya: surprise, startle, pride, arrogance
abhyupe: get into a state

Therefore be not grieved, calm yourself, Mara, and be not over-proud of your might. Inconstant fortune should not be relied on; you display arrogance, when your very position is tottering."

So, do not be sad, calm yourself, Mara,
do not become proud because of your might;
Sovereign power is fickle, don't trust in it;
you are puffed up as your base is reeling."

Thursday, December 11, 2008


eSHaa hi naabhir vasudhaa-talasya
kRtsnena yuktaa parameNa dhaamnaa;
bhuumer ato 'nyo 'sti hi na pradesho
vegaM samaadher viSHaheta yo 'sya.

For the navel of the earth's surface is right here,

Supplied in full with the most vital of energy.

There is no place on earth,
therefore, apart from here,

That can bear the impact
of the coming together of this person.

This verse is very pregnant with meaning. My image is of Ashvaghosha's hands being in contact with his belly, and his voice emanating from his belly, and his crossed legs being released out from their deeper muscular connections into his belly, as he sings out this verse. This verse has to do with where the vital centre is, and it poses the difficult challenge of how to translate into English the Sanskrit word samadhi.

EH Johnston says that the idea of the navel of the earth goes back to the very ancient Indian text called the Rigveda, which predated the Buddha by maybe a thousand years. But I think Ashvaghosha is suggesting that the navel of the earth exists right here, and right now, on this sitting-cushion. "This person" might be Gautama, or it might be you or me. Right here -- not necessarily on some remote, cloud-enshrouded Himalayan mountain -- is just the place where the stillness of samadhi can be allowed to thunder into being.

eSHa: this, this here [place]
hi: for
naabhii: navel, umbilical cord
vasudha: yielding wealth, bountiful
vasudhaa: earth, ground
talasya = genitive case of tala: surface, crust

kRtsa: whole, complete, entire, full
yuktaa: [with instrumental] possessed of; furnished or endowed or filled or supplied or provided with
parama: highest, paramount, supreme
dhaamnaa = instrumental case of dhaman: power, majesty; light, splendour.

bhuumeH = genitive case of bhuumi: earth
ataH: hence, from this, apart from here
anya: other
asti: there is
hi: for, therefore
na: not
pradeshaH: place, area

vega: shock; impact; flood, current; impetus, force.
samaadheH = genitive case of samaadhi: union; putting, joining or fixing together; composure; state of stillness [without fixity], settled state; state of physical balance; state of concentrated energy; complete union of all the parts of a person.
viSHah: to bear, withstand
yaH: [relative pronoun]
asya = genitive case of ayam: this one, he

For this is the navel of the earth's surface, entirely possessed of the highest power; for there is no other spot on earth which can bear the force of his concentrated thought.

For this is the navel of th' earth's surface,
filled with the highest force in its fullness;
There is no other place on earth, therefore,
that can bear the intensity of trance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


bodhaaya karmaaNi hi yaany anena
KRtaani teSHaaM niyato 'dya kaalaH
sthaane tath'aasmin upaviSHTa eSHa
yath" aiva puurve munayas tath" aiva.

For those deeds that,
for the regaining of consciousness, he

Has done -- their time, assuredly, today has come.

So he is sitting like this, at this place,

Exactly as did the sages of the past.

The first line, again, relates to consciousness, and the aim of regaining it. The second line suggests the inviolability of the law of cause and effect. The third and fourth lines express just sitting in the present, as has been practised by the sages of the past.

bodhaaya = dative case of bodha: regain consciousness; be awake or wakeful; become aware.
karmaaNi: deeds, actions, acts
hi: for
yaani: those which
anena = instrumental case of ayam: this, he

KRta: done
teSHaaM = genitive, plural of tat: that
niyato: assuredly, certainly
adya: today
kaalaH: time

sthaane: in place
tatha: thus, in this manner
asmin = locative of ayam: this, here, this place
upaviSHTa: seated, sitting
eSHa: this one, [is] he
[lit. "in place, in this manner, at this place seated is he"]

yatha... tatha...: as.... so
eva: [emphatic particle]
puurve: previous, of the past
munayaH: sages

For today is the appointed time for the ripening of those deeds which he has done in the past for the sake of illumination. Thus he is seated in this place exactly like the previous sages.

For today is the time when the deeds he has done
to obtain Awakening will bear fruit;
At this spot he remains in this manner seated,
in the same way as sages of the past.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


My wishlist:

I wish to allow

(1) my neck to release

(2) to let the head go forward and up

(3) to allow the spine to release into length and the back to widen

(4) letting the limbs release out of the widening back

In other words, I wish to be free of the influence of undue activity of:

(1) The Moro reflex, which, when aberrant, disturbs muscle tone, particularly in the neck

(2) The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex, which, when aberrant, disturbs the sense of balance, and particulary the poise of the head on the neck

(3) The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, which, when aberrant, tends to cause spinal twists and areas of rigidity and collapse in the spiral musculature of the whole torso, centered on the head, neck and back

(4) The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, which, if it is aberrant, causes undue tension in the hips whenever the neck is extended.

In short, what I really want for Christmas is a nice strong suit of mindfulness-armour, so that I may sit within a protective force-field of mindfulness, being not unduly bothered by the aircraft that fly constantly overhead, like missiles sent from Mara.


baddhaaM dRDhaish cetasi moha-paashair
yasya prajaaM mokSHayitum maniiSHaa,
tasmin jighaaMsaa tava n'opapannaa
shraante jagad bandhana-mokSHa hetoH.

Bound fast by the fetter of mental delusion

Is that skein of creation
which he desires to disentangle;

It is not for you to try to put an end to him

Who, to undo the ties that bind the living,
is exhausting himself.

I see these four lines as about (1) mind that is not yet freed from the prison of uninhibited unconscious reaction; (2) the tangled skein of action and reaction, based on faulty sensory appreciation and fanciful notions, which constitutes the world; (3) negation of end-gaining; (4) effort in the direction of undoing.

So, yes, my translation may be denigrated, as my translation work has indeed been most hurtfully denigrated in the past as "based on Alexander theory." But the truth might just be that the above translation, based on 27 years in sitting-zen and 15 years in Alexander's work, expresses exactly what Ashvaghosha was driving at. What Ashvaghosha was driving at, it seems to me, was not straightening of the spine associated with physical rigidity in adherence to the viewpoint of "true Buddhism." What Ashvaghosha was driving at was lengthening of the spine associated with muscular release in dropping off all views.

baddha: bound
dRDhaih = instrumental case of dRDha: fast, tight
cetasi = locative case of cetas: consciousness, mind
moha: delusion, folly, infatuation
paashair = instrumental case of paasha: tether, snare, fetter

yasya = genitive case of yat: that which
prajaa: progeny, procreation, creation, creatures
mokSHaya: untie, undo, disentangle, deliver, emancipate
maniiSHaa: conception, prayer, desire

tasmin = locative case of sah: he
jighaaMsaa: intention to slay
tava: of you
na: not
upapanna: suitable or proper for, befitting, worthy of

shraanta: wearied, tired, exhausted
jagad: living, moving, animate; man, world, mankind
bandhana: binding, tying, fastening, entwining
mokSHa: release, freeing
hetoH = genitive case of hetu: motive, purpose

His purpose is to deliver creation which is bound fast in mind by the snares of delusion. It does not befit you to try to kill him who is exerting himself to deliver mankind from their bondage.

His intent is to free creatures, whose minds
are bound tight by the bonds of delusion;
It behooves you not to seek to kill him
who labors to free the world from its bonds.

Monday, December 8, 2008


kaaSHTHaM hi mathnan labhate hut'aasham,
bhuumiM khanan vindati c'aapi toyam:
nirbandhinaH kiM cana n'asty'asaadhyam,
nyaayena yuktaM ca kRtaM ca sarvam.

For he obtains the sacrificial fire
who keeps on twirling the firestick,

And he gets to water
who keeps on digging down into the earth:

Constancy of effort makes nothing impossible,

And everything doable,
when linked to the means-whereby principle.

The first line can be seen as having a spiritual or religious connotation, with the allusion to the sacrificial fire, as opposed to water. Master Dogen uses water as a symbol of that which -- whether or not it is regarded as holy -- is, in its materiality, vital to all real life. "Do the buddha-ancestors have water in their practice-places?", Master Dogen asks in The Sutra of Mountains and Water. Answer: Yes, they do, in one hundred cases out of one hundred.

For the meaning of the third and fourth lines, you could ask a US marine -- I am thinking in particular of one who shaves his head, is zealous about sitting in lotus, and has at least scratched the surface of FM Alexander's egg; he goes by the number USMC 0681.


kaaSHTHa: wood, log
hi: for
mathna: whirl round, rub a firestick
labhate = 3rd person singular of LABH: obtains, gains
huta: sacrifice
asha: enjoy, consume
hut'aasham: lit. 'consumer of the sacrifice' = fire

bhuumi: earth, ground
khana: dig up or into
vindati = 3rd person singular of VID: finds, gains.
ca: and
api: also
toya: water

nirbandha: persistence, perseverance
nirbandhin: with perserverance, being persistent
nirbandhinaH: ablative case, from being persistent; or genitive case, to one who has perseverance, for the man who is persistent
kiM cana: [with negative] by no means, in no way
na: not
asti: there is, it is
asaadhyam: not achieved

nyaayena = instrumental case of nyaaya: the [noble] principle, the [noble] plan, the proper manner of action, the proper method
yukta: [with a word in the instrumental case] yoked or harnessed to, being in conjunction with and also, and besides, and indeed
kRta: done, made
sarva: all, everything

For by rubbing wood long enough a man obtains fire, and by digging the earth deep enough he obtains water; nothing is impossible of achievement to the man of perserverance. Everything that is undertaken by the proper method is thereby necessarily carried out with success.

For one obtains fire by rubbing the wood,
and one finds water by digging the earth;
There is nothing that is impossible
for the man who is persistent;
Everything can be accomplished,
when it is done the proper way.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Breaking News

(1) This morning I received through the post from America, E.H. Johnston's old translation of Saundarananda. (Cost me a small fortune, as it is now out of print.) One of the first things I notice is that Johnston's translation of CITTA PARIGRAHAAYA supports my intuition that CITTA PARIGRAHAYAA means not "in order that thoughts may be circumscribed" as per Linda Covill's translation, but "in order that thinking may be mastered," as per my translation on this post.

Johnston's translation is "for the mastery of the mind." Yes! That is a real confidence booster.

(2) This afternoon I received an email from the stalwart Kenneth Tanaka of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai informing me that the Nishijima-Cross Shobogenzo translation is now available online,through the Numata Centre website.
The true kesa

Might be a warm old blanket

Encouraging release

Out of Mara's grip

The true guiding hand

Might not do anything

To encourage release

Out of Mara's grip

Friday, December 5, 2008


mahiibhRto dharma-paraash ca naagaa
mahaa-muner vighnam a-mRSHyamaaNaaH
MaaraM prati krodha-vivRtta-netraa
niHshashvasush c' aiva jajRmbhire ca.

Earth-bearing nagas, seeing Dharma as a dragon's paragon,
Brooked no hindrance to the great sage;
They turned angry eyes towards Mara,
And hissed, and sprang up out of their coils.

shuddh'aadhivaasaa vibudha'-rSHayas
sad-dharma-siddhy-artham abhipravRttaah
Maare 'nukampaaM manasaa pracakrur
viraaga-bhaavaat tu na roSHam iiyuH.

Whereas celestial seers of spotless abodes,
Who were set on gaining true Dharma as an end,
Wheeled out, in their minds, compassion for Mara:
They were not touched by anger, being devoid of all colour.

tad bodhi-muulam samavekSHya kiirNaM
hiMs"aatmanaa Maara-balena tena
dharm'aatmabhir loka-vimokSHa-kaamair
babhuuva haahaa-kRtam antariikSHe

Beholding the foot of the bodhi-tree, beseiged
By that band of sadistic souls which was Mara's army,
Those whose own breath of life was Dharma, and who wanted to free the world,
Issued 'Ah's into inner space.

upaplavaM dharma-vidhes tu tasya
dRSHTvaa sthitaM Maara-balam maha"rSHiH
na cukSHubhe n'aapi yayau vikaaraM
madhye gavaaM siMha iv'opaviSHTaH.

Still, as a menace to the work of Dharma,
Mara's army remained, and the great seer saw it
Without wavering and without worrying,
Like a lion among moo-cows, Sitting.


In these four verses describing the Gautama vs Mara showdown, the attitudes of three tiers of spectators, towards the Dharma and towards Mara, are contrasted by Ashvaghosha -- with more than a hint of humour. But the joke, as all the best jokes are, is rooted in too much truth.

Low-level lovers of the Dharma show how highly they value the highest good by their intolerance and hatred of the baddest baddie.

Way up above in heaven, meanwhile, hyper-compassionate vegan saints have set their sights on Dharma as a spiritual goal.

In the middle tier are those who are more truly mindful both of danger on the outside and of their own inner condition. Desiring the world's deliverance, they know the place where freedom begins -- maybe they are practising something along the lines of what FM Alexander called 'the whispered ah.'

Gautama, meanwhile, is looking the bugger straight in the eye. Seeing what he is up against, the great seer SITS.

With these four verses, then, Ashvaghosha is not emptily parrotting an old legend; he is describing how the world was burning then, how it is burning now, and how it will burn in future -- and also how the fire is to be put out. Ashvaghosha is describing religious zealots of all stripes with fire in their bellies. He is describing the bland and ineffectual idealism of innocents abroad during their gap year. He is describing real people who spend a lifetime practising practical practices, like Alexander work, or Gurdjieff work, or eastern martial arts, or kesa-sewing, or vipassana mindfulness of breathing. And he is describing Gautama, sitting, still.


mahiibhRta: earth-bearing
dharma-paraash: having dharma as the chief object
ca: and
naagaa: serpents, dragons, naga

mahaa-muni: the great sage
vighnam: obstacle, hindrance
amRSHyamaaNaa: not standing, not bearing, not brooking

Maara: Mara, the evil one
prati: towards
krodha-vivRtta-netraa: eyes turned in anger

niHshashvasush: hissing
ca: and
eva: [emphatic]
jRmbh: recoil, unstring a bow

shuddha: pure, spotless
adhivaasaa: abodes
vibudha: celestial, divine
rSHi: sage, bard, seer

sad-dharma: true Dharma
siddhi: achievement of success, gaining of an end
artham: aim, end, purpose
abhipravRttaah: occupied or engaged in

Maare: for Mara
anukampaa: compassion
manasaa = genitive plural manas: mind
pra: onward, forth,
cakra: wheel

viraaga: without colour, indifferent, detached
bhaavaat: from being
tu: but
na: not
roSHa: anger, rage
iiyuH: be touched by, give way to (?)

tad: that
bodhi-muula: root/foot of the bodhi tree
samavekSHya: look at, behold, observe
kiirNa: disshevelled, scattered

hiMsa: hurting, injuring, cruel
aatman: self, soul, breath, nature
Maara-bala: Mara's army, Mara's forces
tena = instrumental case of sa: by that [army]

atmabhir = instrumental, plural of aatman: life-breath, soul

loka: world
vimokSHa: release, setting free, deliverance
kaamair = instrumental, plural of kaama: desiring

babhuuva = perfect of bhuu: come forth, be issued
haahaa: Ha! Ha!; Aah... aah...
kRtam: did, made
antariikSHe: intermediate space between heaven and earth; atmosphere, sky, the air.

upaplava: disaster, misfortune, menace
dharma-vidhi: dharma-work, dharma-method, conduct as dharma
tu: but
tasya = genitive case of sa: that, the

dRSHTvaa: beheld, saw
sthitaM: standing, standing firm, remaining
Maara-bala: Mara's army
mahaa: great
rSHiH: seer

na: neither
cukSHubhe: tremble, waver, quail
na: nor
api: also
yayau: [from relative pronoun ya?]
vikaaraM: alteration, change, change of the normal condition of body, face, mind; perturbation, agitation.

madhye: among, in the middle
gavaam = accusative, plural of gavi: cow
siMha: lion
iva: like
upaviSHTaH: seated, sitting



And the earth-bearing Nagas, devoted to dharma, did not brook obstruction to the great sage and, turning their eyes wrathfully on Mara, they hissed and unwound their coils.

But the divine sages of the Pure Abodes, absorbed in the fulfillment of the good Law, developed compassion for Mara in their minds, but were untouched by anger, because they were freed from all passion.

When those who were given to dharma and desired the liberation of the world saw the root of the bodhi tree beset by Mara's cruel host, they raised cries of "Ha! Ha!" in the sky

But when the great seer beheld Mara's army standing as a menace to that method of dharma, like a lion seated amidst kine, he did not quail nor was he at all perturbed.


The serpents given to dharma who bore the earth,
unable to bear that hindrance to the great sage,
hissed aloud, and at Mara they unfurled their hoods,
their eyes rolling with anger.

But the divine seers residing in the pure realm,
engaged in gaining success in the true dharma,
displayed compassion toward Mara in their minds,
and, because they were devoid of passion,
did not give way to anger.

Seeing the foot of the bo-tree besieged
by those murderous forces of Mara,
those beings who were devoted to dharma,
and who longed for the release of the world,
cried out "Ha! Ha!" in the sky.

But when the great seer saw Mara's forces
ready to upset the course of dharma,
he neither trembled nor was he perturbed,
like a lion seated among cows.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008



tataH sa paryaNkam a-kampyam uttamaM
babandha supt'oraga-bhoga-piNDitam
[[bhinadmi taavad bhuvi n'aitad aasanaM
na yaami yaavat kRta-kRtyataam]] iti.

Then in the supreme, imperturbable
cross-legged posture --

Sleeping-serpent spirals
enmeshed into a single mass -- he sat

As if to say, "I shall not break this position on the ground

Until I have done completely what is to be done."


In these four lines, full lotus sitting is praised as:
(1) Supreme in value
(2) A bodily mass
(3) A position on the ground
(4) Total realisation


tataH: then, thereupon
sa: he
paryaNka: sitting on the ground with legs crossed
a-kampyam: 'not to be shaken'; immoveable
uttamaM: highest, supreme

babandha = past participle of band: tie, fasten, put or gird on, assume (a posture), sit in (a sitting posture)
supta: sleeping
uraga: serpent, snake
bhoga: curve, coil (of a serpent); spiral
piNDita: rolled into a ball or lump; thick, massy, densified; collected, united

bhinadmi = 1st person singular of bhid: disunite, split; break; disentangle; disturb; be opened
taavad: [emphatic] now, now then
bhuvi = locative of bhuu: ground, land, earth
na: not
etad: this
aasana: sitting, [yoga] posture, sitting posture; [MW] sitting in peculiar posture according to the custom of devotees (see padmaasana...)

na: not
yaama: cessation, end, completion
yaavat: [+ accusative] until
kRta: done
kRtya: to be done
-taa: suffix to create abstract noun, e.g. as in buddhataa, 'buddha-ness', buddha-nature.
kRtyataa: 'to-be-done-ness', what remains to be done, what is to be done, task
iti: thus [he said/thought/decided]



Then he took up the supreme, immoveable cross-legged posture with his limbs massed together like the coils of a sleeping serpent, saying: "I will not rise from this position on the ground till I achieve the completion of my task."


Then, he took up the posture with folded legs,
supreme, unshakeable, drawn together
like the coils of a sleeping snake, thinking:
"I'll not break this posture on earth
until I have fulfilled my task."

Sunday, November 30, 2008



From the 17th Canto of Saundarananda, trans. Linda Covill

Then he entered the first level of meditation, in which passion and the tainted constituents of reality are absent. It consists of an initial and a sustained application of the mind to its object, is born of discernment, and is imbued with happiness and bliss.... He realized that the initial and sustained application of the mind... are not conducive to peace but make undulations in the mind. He decided to break away from them....

Then he gradually entered the second level of meditation, which has no initial or sustained application of the mind to its object. Born of concentration (samaadhi-jam) and calm due to mental one-pointedness, it is joyfully blissful and endowed with inner delight. And in reaching that level of meditation in which the mind is silent, he experienced a profound joy that he had never experienced before. But in that joy too, he noticed a flaw, just as he had with regard to thoughts. For he who takes profound joy in anything will also find unsatisfactoriness in it.

He attained the third level of meditation... bliss greater than any other bliss.... But since he considered the highest to be peaceful and without fluctuation, he detected a flaw even in meditation at this level -- that his mind fluctuated continuously due to modulations in the working of bliss.

Then, because he had given up... he attained the fourth level of meditation.

With the support of the fourth level of meditation, he made up his mind to win the worthy state, as a king joins with a mighty and noble ally when he wishes to conquer unconquered territories.

Friday, November 28, 2008



From Buddhacarita Canto 12, The Meeting with Arada

atha kaSHTa-tapah-spaSHTa
vyartha-kliSHTa-tanur munih
bhava-bhiirur imaam cakre
buddhim buddhatva-kaankSHayaa,

Harsh ascetic practice, it was clear,
Was torturing his figure to no purpose, and so the sage,
Wary of this cycle of becoming,
Resolved, in his longing for buddhahood:

[[n' ayam dharmo viraagaaya,
na bodhaaya, na muktaye;
jambu-muule mayaa praapto
yas tadaa, sa vidhir dhruvah

"This is not a way to detachment,
Or to awakening, or to release;
The state I realized at the foot of the rose apple tree:
How I was then is surely the way to be.

na c'aasau dur-balen' aaptum
shakyam]] ity aagat'-aadarah
sharira-bala vRddhy artham
idam bhuuyo 'nvacintayat:

And that mode of being, for one who is weak,
Is unattainable." So, soberly,
With a view to increasing his bodily strength,
On this, more deeply still, he reflected:

shramaad a-svastha-maanasah
phalam katham a-nirvRtah?

"Clapped-out by hunger, thirst, and fatigue,
A mind that, through fatigue, is not itself,
Is reaching for the fruit that is for a mind to enjoy:
But how, if the mind is uneasy, can it enjoy that fruit?

nirvRtih praapyate samyak
manah-svaasthyam avaapyate

The joy of effortless ease is properly gained
From constant appeasement of the senses;
From senses that are well integrated and content,
The mind recovers its health.

samaadhir upapadyate,
dhyaana-yogah pravartate

When the mind is well and serene,
Physical balance asserts itself;
And when balance is in the harness of intelligence,
Zen practice gets going.

dhyaana-pravartanaad dharmaah
praapyante yair avaapyate
dur-labham shaantam a-jaram
param tad a-mRtam padam]]

Teachings, through zen practice,
Are realised; and by those means is gained
The hard-won state of peace and agelessness --
That supreme, deathless state."

tasmaad aahaara-muulo 'yam
upaaya iti nishcayah
aahaara-karane dhiirah
kRtv' aa-mita-matir matim

Food, therefore, is the foundation of this process,
A means-whereby. Having decided so,
He was steadfast in his taking of food --
He of unbounded mind had made up his mind.



atha: [connective particle] then
kaSHTa: harsh
tapah: austerity, ascetic practice
spaSHTA: clear, distinct, evident

vyartha: useless, unprofitable, vain
kliSHTa: tormented, afflicted, damaged, worn out
tanur: body, person, form, one's self
munih: sage

bhava: becoming, being, existence
bhiiru: timid, fearful
imaam = accusative (f) of ayam: this
cakra: wheel

buddhim: one's mind, resolution, resolve
buddhatva: buddhahood
kaankSHayaa = instrumental case of kaankSHa: desire, long for, strive after

na: not
ayam: this
dharma: method, law, way of practising, etc.
viraagaaya = dative case of viraaga: loss of colour, indifference, absence of passion, DETACHMENT

na: not
bodhaaya = dative case of bodhi: awakening, enlightenment
na: not
muktaye = dative case of mukti: setting or becoming free, release, liberation

jambu: the rose apple tree [sitting under which the young Gautama had experienced samadhi spontaneously gripping him]
muule: locative case of muula: root, foot, base, low part
mayaa: instrumental case of aham: I
praapta: gotten, gained, attained

yat: [relative pronoun] that, what, that which
tadaa: then, at that time
sa: [pronoun] that, the
vidhi: method, manner or way of acting, mode of being, conduct or behaviour
dhruvah: firmly, constantly, certainly, surely

na: not
ca: and
asau: that, that state
dur-balena = instrumental case of dur-bala: one who is weak
aapta: reached, obtained

shakya: possible
iti: thus, so
aagata: entered into [a state of mind]
aadara: care, trouble, attention, sober consideration

sharira-bala: bodily strength
vrddhi: increase
artham: purpose, in order to

idam: this
bhuuyah: further
anvacintayat: pondered, reflected, considered

kSHut: hunger
pipaashaa: thirst
shrama:fatigue, exhaustion, weariness
klaantah: fatigued, exhausted, withered, emaciated, worn out

shramaad = ablative case of shrama: fatigue
a: not
svastha: self-abiding, being in oneself, being in one's natural state, contented, sound, well, healthy, at ease, confident, composed
maanasa: mental; mental faculty, mind

praap: to attain to, reach, arrive at, meet with, find
manasa: mind
avaap: to reach, attain, obtain, gain, get
avaapya: (1) having obtained; (2) to be obtained

phalam: fruit, result, reward
katham: how?
a: not
nirvRtah: satisfied, happy, tranquil, at ease

nirvRti: complete satisfaction or happiness, bliss
praapyate: reached, attained, got
samyak: properly, fully, out and out

satata: constantly
indriya: faculty of sense, sense, organ of sense
tarpaNaat = ablative case of tarpana: satiety, refreshment, satisfaction

saMtarpita: satiated, satisfied
indriyatayaa = ablative case (?) of indriya: sense

manah: mind
svaasthya: self-dependence, sound state, health, ease, comfort, contentment, satisfaction
avaapya: to be obtained, to be got

svastha: being in its natural state
prasanna: clear, bright, pure; distinct, true, plain; placid, tranquil, soothed; spirituous licquor made of rice.
manasah: mind

samaadhi: samadhi, physical stillness, physical balance, physiological balance encompassing the integrative fucntion of the vestibular system and balance of the autonomic nervous system.
upapadyate: go towards, approach; come forth, happen; spring into action

samaadhi: balance, stillness
yukta: [MW853] yoked or joined or fastened or attached or harnessed to;
(in compounds) joined, united, connected, combined; furnished or endowed or filled or supplied or provided with, accompanied by, possessed of.
Thus, Johnston translates samaadhi-yukta-cittasya as "when the mind is possessed of concentrated meditation" i.e. when citta is possessed of samadhi, i.e. when citta possesses samadhi, i.e. when samadhi is in the harness of citta.
cittasya = genitive case of citta: thinking, intelligence, reason.
citta [MAC94]: observation; thought, purpose, will; mind, heart, intellect, reason.
citta [MW395]: 'noticed'; attending, observing; thinking, reflecting, imagining, thought; intention, aim, wish; memory, intelligence, reason.

dhyaana-yoga:[MW520] profound meditation, or meditation and abstraction
dhyaana: meditation, thought, reflection; Zen meditation, meditative action
yoga: [MW856] the act of yoking, joining, harnessing; use, performance, practice; a means, expedient, way, manner, method; undertaking, business, work; any junction, union, combination; fitting together; exertion, endeavor.
pravartate: to roll or go onwards, be set in motion, proceed, commence

dhyaana: Zen
pravartanaad = ablative case of pravartana: being in motion, rolling forth; walking, roaming, wandering; activity, procedure, engaging in; going on.
dharmaah: dharmas, teachings

praapyante: get, obtain
yair = instrumental, plural of yah: [relative pronoun] those which
avaapyate: to be got, to be obtained

dur-labham: hard-won
shaanta: composed, calm, peaceful
a-jara: ageless

param: highest
tad: that
a-mRtam: deathless
padam: step; footing, place, abode; station, office; rank

tasmaad: accordingly, therefore
aahaara: food, sustenance
muula: root, foundation, basis
ayam: this

upaaya: method, means-whereby
iti: thus
nishcaya: decision; conclusion, resolve

aahaara-kri: take food
dhiirah: lasting, steady, firm; resolute, courageous; steadfast; firmly adhering to

kRtva = past participle of kri: make
a-mita: boundless, unbounded, immeasurable
mati: intention, purpose, determination; understanding, mind, wit, judgement
matim-kri: resolve upon, make up one's mind


Previous translations, for reference:

Thereon dreading existence the sage, whose body was clearly tormented to no purpose by pernicious austerities, thus resolved in his longing for Buddhahood:--

"This is not the way of life for passionlessness, for enlightenment, for liberation. That is the sure procedure which I won that time beneath the jambu tree.

Nor can that be obtained by one who is weak." So in all seriousness he pondered further on this point in order to increase his bodily strength.

How can the result to be attained by the mind be reached by a man, who is not calmly at ease and who is so worn out with the exhaustion of hunger and thirst that his mind is unbalanced with the exhaustion?

Inward tranquility is rightly gained by constant appeasement of the senses, and from full appeasement of the senses the mind becomes well-balanced.

The man whose mind is well-balanced and serene develops concentrated meditation; when the mind is possessed of concentrated meditation, the practice of trance begins.

By the practice of trance those dharmas are obtained, through which is won that highest, peaceful stage, so hard to reach, which is ageless and deathless."

Accordingly the steadfast seer of unbounded wisdom concluded that this method was based on the eating of food and made up his mind to take food

-- E. H. Johnston, 1936

Then, the sage, his body clearly tortured
for no purpose by vile austerities,
and afraid of continued existence,
made this resolve, longing for Buddhahood:

"This dharma will not lead to detachment,
to Awakening or release;
The path I attained at that time
under the rose apple tree
was indeed the certain path.

But that path cannot be traversed
by a man who is weak."

Thus, with a sense of urgency
he reflected on this again
to increase his bodily strength:

"When a man is worn out
by hunger, thirst, and fatigue,
his mind unwell with fatigue,
How will he, who is not tranquil, attain
the fruit that the mind alone can attain?

Tranquility is properly attained
by always making the senses content;
when the senses are well content,
wellness of the mind is attained.

Mental concentration springs up
when one's mind is well and serene,
And practice of trance advances
when concentration grips one's mind.

And by the advancement of trance,
one attains the dharmas by which
Is attained that supreme state hard to obtain,
a state that is unaging, immortal, and calm."

Having concluded, therefore, that
this process was rooted in food,
steadfast, and with boundless wisdom,
he resolved to partake of food.

-- Patrick Olivelle, 2008


It seems to me that Johnston's translation is tremendously useful as an aid to understand the literal meaning of the original Sanskrit, whereas Olivelle's translation reads more easily, especially to a modern ear.