kSHobhaM prakurvanti yath" ormayo hi
ek'-aagra-bhuutasya tath" ormi-bhuutaash
citt'-aambhasaH kSHobha-karaa vitarkaaH
For, just as waves induce rippling
Upon a river bearing calm, clear water,
So too do thought waves, upon unitary awareness.
It is thoughts that cause ripples
upon the water of the thinking mind.
Line 1 offers as a metaphor for SUFFERING the disturbance induced by waves.
In Line 2 a river of water is an ACCUMULATION OF MATTER/ENERGY, flowing in inexorable agreement with the prediction of the 2nd law of thermodynamics: that energy will spread out, unless prevented from doing so.
In Line 3 unitary awareness is INHIBITION and INHIBITION is awareness. It is a virtuous circle of stopping and becoming aware. In my final year of Alexander teacher-training, in 1997-98, I felt as if I was living inside this virtuous circle. That was the year in my Zazen life that bitter gourds became sweet melons. (And conversely, sweet melons turned into bitter gourds.) Alexander teachers like Ray Evans, Ron Colyer, Marjory Barlow and Nelly Ben-Or caused me to see for myself what had been demonstrated to them: that the flood of conscious awareness can only rise when we stop off at source our unconscious patterns of doing. And the more deeply and widely the flood of conscious awareness spreads, the deeper lies our own stillness and the less perturbed we are prone to be, by those habitual or reflex patterns. So it can be a viruous circle of stopping and becoming aware of what is to be stopped.
Line 4 highlights a vital distinction that I have been struggling for 15 years to clarify, for self and others. The distinction is between thoughts and what FM Alexander called 'thinking.' In discussing this distinction between thoughts and thinking, we run into a couple of serious problems. The first is that words express thoughts, but words cannot express thinking itself. The second problem is Alexander’s observation that “When you think you are thinking, you are actually feeling. And when you think you are feeling, you are doing." So I do not know what thinking is, cannot feel what thinking is, and cannot say what thinking is. But here, to give us at least a hint at what thinking is, Ashvaghosha uses the metaphor of water. Deeply ingrained in the brain and nervous system are patterns which are triggered by the tiniest thought and which generate suffering. As a MEANS for inhibiting those unconscious patterns, Ashvaghosha is telling us, thinking is like water.
kSHobham (accusative, singular): undulation, disturbance, trembling, rippling
prakurvanti (from pra + kRi): make, produce, effect; induce, move
yathaa: just as...
uurmayaH (nominative, plural): waves, billows
dhiira: steady, constant, calm
prasanna: clear, tranquil, placid
vahasya = genitive of vaha: carrying, flowing, bearing along (said of rivers)
sindhaH = genitive of sindhu: river (esp. Indus), stream, flood, sea
agra: foremost point or part, tip:
ekaagra: one-pointed, having one point, fixing one's attention upon one point or object, closely attentive, intent, absorbed in; undisturbed, unperplexed
bhuutsaya = genitive of bhuuta: (at the end of a compound) being or being like anything
ekaagra-bhuutsaya: lit. “towards/upon being one-pointed/undivided”
tathaa: so too...
uurmi-bhuutaaH (nominative, plural): [thoughts] that are like waves
citta: ‘noticed’; thinking, reflecting; mind; intention; the thinking mind
ambhasaH = genitive of ambhas: water
kara: making, doing, causing
vitarkaaH (nominative, plural): thoughts
For as waves disturb a stream running with calm clear water, so thoughts are the waves of the water of the mind and disturb it when it is in a state of concentration.
For just as waves make ripples in a river bearing calm, limpid water, waves of thought make ripples in the waters of the one-pointed mind.