Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.61: Again, What Not to Do

vyaapaada-doSheNa manasy udiirNe
na sevitavyaM tv a-shubhaM nimittam
dvesh'-aatmakasya hy a-shubhaa vadhaaya
pitt-aatmanas tiikShNa iv' opacaaraH

When a mind is wound up, however,
with the fault of ill-will,

A disagreeable stimulus is not to be dwelt upon;

For unpleasantness is destructive to a hating type,

As acid treatment is to a bilious type.

Can a deeply-rooted tendency like hatred that obscures a human being's true nature be given up?

The likes of professional therapists and counsellors, along with religious believers, are prone to answer, optimistically, on the basis of some theory or other: yes. Optimistically thinking, the answer is always: yes.

Pessimistically thinking, however, the answer, based on actual experience of failed personal endeavour, or based on objective consideration of the slaughter bench of human history, tends to be: no.

In the thinking of Buddha/Ashvaghosha, evidently, the first thing, in any event, is NOT TO DO anything to make the problem worse.

So the first practical step, as the bulldog locks onto his intended target and his hate-ometer begins to rise from 0 towards 10, is not to try to bring out his inherent Buddha-nature (at least not yet), but the more modest one of distracting the blighter's attention before his eyes turn red and he charges in for the kill.

Similarly, when I recognize that my mind has been dwelling on some unpleasantness, just at that moment of cognition the option exists of not dwelling on the disagreeable stimulus -- providing that I am able, like a good human pack leader to give a swift correction to the inner bulldog. This is not easy, but neither is it impossible. And every day provides ample opportunities to hit the target.

In his original instructions for sitting, Zen Master Dogen wrote that when a thought arises in the mind, just wake up. And in the waking up to it, it vanishes.

There is no grounds there for that fool's gold which is optimism. Rather, one senses in the background, as with Ashvaghosha's writings, the presence of true gold.

EH Johnston:
But when the mind is agitated by the vice of malevolence, do not choose the subject of meditation known as 'impure'; for that meditation tends to the destruction of the man whose nature is full of hate, just as pungent treatment does for the man of bilious temperament.

Linda Covill:
When the mind is agitated by the fault of malice, the impurity meditation should not be undertaken, for the impurity meditation destroys a hate-filled man, like treatment with acids in the case of a patient with a bile condition.

vyaapaada: evil intent or design , malice
doSheNa = instrumental of doSha: fault
manasi = locative of manas: mind
udiirNe = locative of udiirNa: issued out , excited , increased , elevated

na: not
sevitavyam (nom. sg. n. from gerundive of sev): to be dwelt on, resorted to, cultivated , practised , used
tu: but
a-shubham (nom. sg. n.): not beautiful or agreeable , disagreeable; impure
nimittam (nom. sg.): n. cause, stimulus, antidote

dvesh'-aatmakasya (genitive): to a hating type
dvesha: hatred , dislike , repugnance
hi: for
ashubhaa (nom. sg.): f. non-beauty
a: (negative prefix)
shubhaa: f. light , lustre , splendour , beauty
vadhaaya = dative of vadha: the act of striking or killing , slaughter , murder , death , destruction

pitt-aatmanaH (gen. sg. m): to a bilious type
pitta: bile , the bilious humour (one of the three humours [cf. kapha and vaayu] or that secreted between the stomach and bowels and flowing through the liver and permeating spleen , heart , eyes , and skin ; its chief quality is heat)
aatman: the individual soul , self , abstract individual ; essence , nature , character , peculiarity ; the person
tiikShNaH (nom. sg. m.): sharp , hot , pungent , fiery , acid
iva: like
upacaaraH (nom. sg.): m. treatment

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