Saturday, February 28, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.16: Existential Suffering, Here & Now

tan naama-ruupasya guN'-aanuruupaM
yatr" aiva nirvRttir udaara-vRtta
tatr' aiva duHkhaM na hi tad-vimuktaM
duHkhaM bhaviShyaty abhavad bhaved vaa

In conformity with its kind, then,
a distinguishable bodily form

Develops, wherein, O man of noble conduct,

Suffering exists, right there -- for nowhere else

Will suffering exist or has it existed or could it exist.

This, as I understand it, is Ashvaghosha’s last word on suffering itself at the end of this stream of ten verses (16.7 - 16.16) devoted to the first of the four noble truths, the truth of suffering. I (i.e. the distinguishable bodily form that, here and now, looking into a full-length Alexander teaching mirror, seems to be me) have found these past few verses tough going....

How pregnant with suffering

Is the expectant mind.

And how deflating for an ego

Is a long, slow slog
in the shadow of a horse’s whip.

From the next verse, our attention is turned toward the cause of suffering. Very close to the heart of the problem as I see it, primarily in myself, is the infantile panic/grasp reflex. This reflex is at the centre of a cluster of vestibular reflexes whose original purpose is to ensure the survival, in its early post-natal stages, of a separate self, i.e. a bodily form that is distinguishable from its surroundings.

tat: (connecting particle) then, so
naama = in compounds for naaman: a characteristic mark or sign, form, nature, kind, manner; name , appellation; merely the name (as opp. to reality); essence
ruupasya = genitive of ruupa: form, material form; any outward appearance or phenomenon or colour (often pl.) , form , shape , figure
guNa: subdivision , species , kind; a quality , peculiarity , attribute or property
anuruupa: following the form , conformable , corresponding , like , fit , suitable ; adapted to , according to

yatra: in which place, wherein
nirvRttiH = nominative, singular of nirvRtti: development, growth
udaara: noble , illustrious , generous; upright , honest; liberal, gentle , munificent; sincere , proper , right
vRtta: turned , set in motion; procedure , practice , action , mode of life , conduct , behaviour (esp. virtuous conduct , good behaviour)

tatra: there, in that place, therein
eva: the very [emphatic]
duHkham: suffering
na: not
hi: for
tad: that
vimukta: unloosed , unharnessed; set free , liberated (esp. from mundane existence) , freed or delivered or escaped from

duHkham: suffering
bhaviShyati (future of bhuu): will be
abhavad (past tense of bhuu): was
bhaved (optative of bhuu): could be
vaa: or

EH Johnston:
For where, O man of noble conduct, there is development of corporeality according to its qualities, there also is suffering; for apart from it suffering has not been and will not be nor can it be.

Linda Covill:
There where psycho-physical existence grows in conformity to its characteristics, right there, O man of noble conduct, is suffering, for without it suffering will not exist, did not exist, could not exist.

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