Monday, March 16, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.32: Getting Rid of Illusions

satyeShu duHkh'-aadiShu dRShTir aaryaa
samyag vitarkash ca paraakramash ca
idaM triyaM jNaana-vidhau pravRttam
prajN"-aasrayam klesha-parikShayaaya.

Nobility of insight into the truths,
beginning with the truth of suffering,

Along with thinking straight, and initiative:

These three, forming the protocol on knowing,

Are for dissolution, based on wisdom, of afflictions.

An affliction, klesha, in the context of this verse seems to mean what obstructs us from truly seeing what is. In this sense the word is very profoundly related, as I understand it, with what FM Alexander called faulty sensory appreciation.

Because I know that Alexander work is real and true -- it works -- in endeavoring to understand the real meaning of the recorded words of ancestors like Dogen, Ashvaghosha, and Gautama, I am mindful of the reailty and truth of Alexander work.

A real instance of an affliction might be malice. In that case, what is the real meaning of (1) insight, (2) thinking straight, and (3)initiative? How do those three actually work to dissolve the affliction of malice?

Insight might be to see malice as malice.

Thinking straight might be to come back to clarity in regard to what one really wants, which is not to be poisoned by malice, but to be, along with all living beings, free from suffering. In Alexander work that wish is sometimes expressed by the words, "I wish to let the neck be free to let the head go forward and up."

Initiative seems to become a very great stumbling block. With too much of it, the practitioner ends up trying to make the head go forward and up, which only creates more tension. With too little initiative, the practitioner only thinks the word "let" but fails actually to allow anything, fails actually to direct the flow of his energy, fails either to piss or get off the pot. This, I think, is what Marjorie Barstow is discussing on this video clip.
Another kind of initiative which may be taken as an antidote to malice, as indicated by Ashvaghosha in verse 16.62, is consciously to introduce into the situation some goodwill that one genuinely feels for, say, a friend, teacher, or relative.
Again, my old teacher Marjory Barlow's oft-repeated exhortation that being ready to be wrong is "the golden key," is pointing the way to a kind of initiative. A positive will to see one's own faults, a genuine appetite for finding out where things tend to go wrong, is all part of initiative as I see it. (Religious and political groups, needless to say, tend in precisely the opposite direction of denial, cover-up, suppressing history, spin-doctoring, et cetera.)

One affliction in particular that I am acutely mindful of is a misconception about sitting posture that has invaded the world of Japanese Zen, arising from a certain rigidity of outlook, a certain formalism, a certain lack of capacity for originality and initiative, that has characterized Japanese culture since even before the time of Master Dogen.

That Japanese misconception about "correct sitting posture," I am afraid, is both a symptom and a cause of trouble. I was at fault ever to get involved in it in the first place, and I was stupid to expect people of scant initiative to be grateful to me for pointing out their cherished misconception.

A misconception is something that has no substance and yet it can really cause a lot of trouble. Even though it has no substance, it is not easy to get rid of.

As one truly wise person observed a long time ago:
"The most difficult things to get rid of are the ones that don't exist."

satyeShu = locative, plural of satya: truth
duHkha: suffering
aadiShu = locative, plural of aadi: beginning with
dRShTiH = nominative, singular of dRShTi: (f.) seeing , viewing , beholding (also with the mental eye); sight , the faculty of seeing; the mind's eye , wisdom , intelligence; (with Buddhists) a wrong view
aaryaa (feminine, agreeing with drShti): noble; (with Buddhists, a man who has thought on the four chief truths of Buddhism and lives accordingly); behaving like an Aryan , worthy of one , honourable , respectable , noble;

samyak: true, full, straight
vitarkaH = nominative, singular of vitarka: thought, reasoning
ca: and
paraakramaH = nominative, singular of paraakrama: bold advance , attack , heroism , courage , power , strength , energy , exertion , enterprise
ca: and

idam (nom. sg. n.): this
triyam (nom. sg.): n. three, triad, threesome
jNana: knowing
vidhau (loc.): protocol
pravRttam(nom. sg. n.) : rolled out, produced, formed

prajNaa: wisdom; intuitive wisdom
aasrayam (nom. sg. n.): forming a basis
klesha: affliction ; worldly occupation , care , trouble
parikShayaaya = dative of parikShaya: disappearing, ceasing, dissolution, decay, destruction

EH Johnston:
The noble doctrine with respect to the Truths regarding suffering etc, right thought and exertion, these three, resting on intuitive wisdom should be practised in the department of knowledge for the abolition of the vices.

Linda Covill:
The noble doctrine concerning the Truths of suffering etc., as well as right thought and right effort -- these three occur in the ordinance on knowledge, and are a basis for wisdom in order that one's defilements may be annihilated.


dorebelle said...

"Initiative seems to become a very great stumbling block. With too much of it, the practitioner ends up trying to make the head go forward and up, which only creates more tension. With too little initiative, the practitioner only thinks the word "let" but fails actually to allow anything"
In my perception working inside "inhibition" has something to do with the behavior of non-newtonian fluids...

Mike Cross said...

Hi Dorebelle,

What you perceive sounds likely in the light of 16.6:

For by failing to wake up and come round

To this four, whose substance is what is,

Humankind goes from existence to existence without finding peace,

Hoisted in the swing of saṁsāra.

All the best,