Sunday, March 1, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.17: A Cluster of Faults Causes Suffering

pravRtti-duHkhasya ca tasya loke
tRShn" adayo doSha-gaNaa nimittam
n'aiv' eshvaro na prakRtir na kaalo
n' aapi svabhaavo na vidhir yadRcchaa

And this suffering from progressive striving in the world

Has its cause in a cluster of faults
which start with thirsting --

Certainly not in God,
nor in primordial matter, nor in time;

Nor even in one’s inherent constitution,
and not in predestination or self-will.

Line 1 describes the frenetic SUFFERING of progressive (endgaining) behaviour in the world, as opposed to the backward step of turning one’s light and being lucid.

Line 2 describes the CAUSE of this suffering as a cluster of faults, and seems to pinpoint the central or original cause as tRShna, which means thirsting, craving, avidly desiring to gain some end.

I selected the word “cluster” advisedly, because part of my work as a reflex inhibition therapist is to identify a cluster of aberrant primitive reflexes in people exhibiting the symptoms of dyslexia, dyspraxia, irrational anxiety, et cetera. There is a profound relation, as I see it, between aberrant vestibular reflexes and what Ashvaghosha called doSha-vyaalaan (14.29) -- most excellently translated by Linda Covill as “reptilian faults.” Equally, there is a profound relation between these faults and the universal human delusion that FM Alexander called “faulty sensory appreciation.” Faulty sensory appreciation is the reason that people’s endgaining behaviour in the world produces harmful, unintended side-effects.

Line 3 expresses NEGATION of three kinds of false notions of what might be causing us to suffer; namely, God, matter, and bad timing. The progression of the three follows the dialectic progression observable so often in Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo and identified by Gudo Nishijima as the philosophy of idealism, the philosophy of materialism, and the philosophy of action here and now.

Line 4 can be interpreted as an invitation to get on with it, to slog on, to step ahead on a PATH, instead of worrying about things one cannot do anything about, such as one's genetic inheritance; or about philosophical problems.


pravRtti: rolling forwards; moving onwards , advance , progress; active (as opposed to contemplative) life; [end-gaining as opposed to attending to the means-whereby]
duHkhasya = gen. sg. duHkha: suffering
ca: and
tasya (gen. sg.): of it
loke (locative): in the world

tRShNaa: thirst, desire, avidity
aadayaH = nominative, plural of aadi: beginning with, et cetera
doSha: faults
gaNaaH (nom. pl.): flock , troop , multitude , number , tribe , series , class (of animate or inanimate beings) , body of followers or attendants
nimittam = nom. sg. nimitta: n. a butt, mark, target; the point, the aim; sign, omen; cause, motive, ground, reason; (in philosophy) instrumental or efficient cause (opposed to upAdAna, the operative or material cause)

na: not
eva: [emphatic]
iishvaraH (nominative, singular): capable one, lord, God, the Supreme Being; the supreme soul (Atman); Shiva
na: not
prakRtiH (nominative, singular): "making or placing before or at first", the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance; cause, original source; origin; nature, character, constitution, temper, disposition; fundamental form, pattern
na: not
kaalaH (nominative, singular): time, season, hour

na: not
api: also, even
svabhaavaH (nominative, singular): own condition or state of being , natural state or constitution , innate or inherent disposition , nature , impulse , spontaneity
na: not
vidhiH (nom. sg.): a rule , formula , injunction , ordinance , statute , precept , law , direction; fate, destiny
yadRcchaa (nom. sg.): f. self-will , spontaneity , accident , chance

EH Johnston:
And the cause of this suffering from active being in the world is to be found in the category of vices such as desire and the rest, not in a Creator or Primordial Matter of Time or the Nature of Things or Fate or Chance.

Linda Covill:
The reason for this suffering during one's active life in the world is not a God, not nature, not time, not the inherent nature of things, not predestination, not accident, but the host of faults such as desire.

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