Monday, March 23, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.39: Only Knowing One's Own Suffering, Along with Good Friends

yaathaatmyato vindati yo hi duHkhaM
tasy' odbhavaM tasya ca yo nirodhaM
aaryeNa maargeNa sa shaantim eti
kalyaaNa-mitraiH saha vartamaanaH

For he who knows suffering as it really is,

Who knows its arising and its inhibition:

It is he who reaches peace by the noble path --

Going along with friends in the good.

The Non-Preaching of Ashvaghosha is always like being hit by a bit of nothing.

In this verse as I read it, the Master of Indirectness (Non-Preachiness) seamlessly introduces the social dimension. The punch in the punch line is delivered with such subtlty and sleight of hand that you might not notice being hit.

What the first three lines of this verse say to me, following on from the previous verse, is that one who reaches peace by the noble path is primarily attentive not to social concerns but to processes that he can only truly know first-hand, in himself.

The point is to keep on working on oneself, in a modest, unassuming way.

And the totally natural, unforced, indirect result of that kind of self-centred effort, in accordance with the law that birds of a feather flock together, is very likely to be a harmonious going together with other like-minded people -- a rolling along with friends in the good.

Recently I have been watching three or four episodes a week of "The Dog Whisperer" on TV. One of the interesting things to observe is what happens energetically when a calm-submissive dog joins a calm-submissive pack -- nothing.

yatha: in which manner or way, according as, as, like; as it is
aatman: the breath, self, essence, nature
yaathaatmya: n. (fr. yath'aatman) real nature or essence
- taH: (ablative/adverbial suffix)
vindati = 3rd person singular, vind: to know , understand , perceive , learn , become or be acquainted with , be conscious of , have a correct notion of; to mind , notice , observe ; to experience , feel (acc. or gen.)
yaH (relative pronoun; correlative of saH in 3rd line): [he] who
hi: for, because, on account of; [thus]
duHkham (accusative): suffering

tasya (genitive): of it, its
udbhavam = accusative of udbhava: m. existence , generation , origin , production , birth
tasya (genitive): of it, its
ca: and
yaH (relative pronoun; correlative of saH in 3rd line): [he] who
nirodham = accusative of nirodha: cessation, suppression, inhibition, stopping

aaryeNa = instrumental of aarya: noble
maargeNa = instrumental of maarga: path
saH: he
shaantim (accusative): peace, extinction
eti = 3rd person singular of aa- √i: to come near or towards , go near , approach ; to reach , attain , enter , come into (a state or position)

kalyaaNa: beautiful , agreeable; illustrious , noble , generous; excellent , virtuous , good ; beneficial , salutary , auspicious; happy , prosperous , fortunate , lucky , well , right; n. good fortune , happiness , prosperity; n. good conduct , virtue
mitraiH = instrumental, plural of mitra: friend
saha: together with
vartamaanaH = nom. sg. m. present participle vRt: to roll; to move or go on , get along , advance , proceed

EH Johnston:
For he, who perceives suffering as it really is, its origin and its destruction, attains peace by the noble Path and associates with auspicious friends.

Linda Covill:
He who discovers the true nature of suffering, and its arising and cessation will, proceeding together with wise friends, reach peace by the noble path.


Jordan said...

Going along with friends in the good.

I think this came up a while back... Some words about a mutual affinity?

Hope the hay fever is giving you some rest,

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Jordan,
"Keeping on, along with friends in the good," was another translation I considered.

Plato said...

Hi Mike!

I had a lot of suffering recently, a dear person dying from cancer, and difficulties in life in general. But the phrase "Going along with the friends in the good" was, in the end of a bad day, a small oasis! Being a non English speaker could I dare to paraphrase it as "Going with friends in the wood"?

Mike Cross said...

Hi Plato,
"Going with friends in the wood" sounds good... as long as there is no expectation of a teddy-bears' picnic!
(How pregnant with suffering is the expectant mind?)