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."


lxg said...

Hi Mike,

This passage from FM Alexander's book 'The Universal Constant in Living', was read out at my Alexander training class the other day and it struck a chord with me. It reminded me of Asvaghosa telling us that our reptilian faults are an impediment to our ability to see phenomena as they really are:

'.....Unfortunately, in most of us, the impediment which blocks the way to our acceptance of facts which did not fit in with our beliefs and theories is a deeply rooted subconscious reaction, amounting to what might almost be described as an obsession for clinging blindly to the orthodox or the familiar, and is due to habits of thought which
orthodox methods of education do little to correct and much to

From Chapter 9. p149 (Mouritz)

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Alex, for reminding us that the reptilian faults are right there at the centre of the whole tangled skein that sets dukha in motion. Phenomena that are prone to be regarded as psychological, along with problems that are prone to be regarded as intellectual, always have their real roots deep down there with the reptilian faults. Our inability to spring free from denial is not primarily a psychological problem; it is a problem entangled with our deep inner patterns of misuse. That is the "doing" which is so difficult to stop.

At the centre of what FM Alexander called "blind clinging," standing in opposition to fear paralysis (whose colour is white or blue), is the baby panic reflex (whose colour is red).

The latter is conventionally known as the Moro reflex, but it might also be called "the blind clinging reflex." Indeed, it is said that when the Austrian paediatrician Ernst Moro described the reflex in 1918 he emphasized his belief that it is essentially a clinging reflex -- "Umklammerungsreflex."

The Buddha's lifeblood has not stopped flowing yet, and you have put your finger on the pulse. But even for a man with his finger on the pulse, to give up blind clinging is still no easy thing, is it? From the passage you quoted, it seems that FM regretted how difficult it was for him also.

molly said...

With that, it is time to go sit.

lxg said...

Ah now you've given me a stimulus Mike! I might now be prone to cling blindly to the notion that I am a man with my finger on the pulse.

Mike Cross said...

Indeed, Alex -- could be a nasty case of what Master Dogen called (in chap. 43, KUGE) "the buddha-bug or ancestor illness" -- BUTSU-BYO SO-BYO.

Mike Cross said...

Thank you, Molly.

I intend to stay out of the way, to let Ashvaghosha do the talking, to keep Mike Cross out of it, to let nothing but the lifeblood express itself...

but sometimes I fail, as evidenced by the post following this.

Having failed this morning, this afternoon I have gone back to the sitting cushion, and this evening I will spend in the company of Ashvaghosha. So please don't give up on me -- BUDDHACARITA 12.130 will be a good post.