Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.62: Love as Antidote to Hate

vyaapaada-doSha kShubhite tu citte
sevyaa sva-pakSh'-opanayena maitrii
dvesh'-aatmano hi prashamaaya maitrii
pitt'-aatmanaH shiita iv' opacaaraH

When the mind is agitated by the fault of ill-will,

Love should be practised, through self-acceptance;

For love is calming to a hate-afflicted soul,

As cooling treatment is to a man of bilious nature.

The 2nd line literally reads:
"Love/goodwill is to be practised with/by/through one's-own-side-bringing-near."

After a lot of thought about what this means since first reading Linda Covill's translation of it a few months ago, I provisionally concluded that it refers not so much to self-love, but more to love of friends who are fellow strugglers -- others in the same boat as me. So: "Love should be felt, through fellow-feeling;"

The spirit of the 2nd line, in that case, is similar to the spirit of verse 3.35:

Nobody showed any hostility towards the other,
In fact they looked on others with positive warmth,
As mother, father, child or friend:
For each person saw in the other himself.

But Linda Covill's translation "with reference to one's own position" still makes sense to me -- particularly in light of Marjory Barlows oft-repeated reminder that "Being wrong is the best friend you have got in this work."

So "Love should be practised, through self-acceptance," is a translation that also seems to work. But the love which is self-acceptance, I think, is more an antidote to trying to be right, whereas the love which is fellow-feeling is maybe a more effective antidote to target at ill-will or hatred.... unless one's hatred tends to be primarily self-directed.

In conclusion, then, what is the translation of sva-pakSh'-opanayena that hits the target?
(1) through self-acceptance i.e. "by the bringing near [of love] to/for oneself."
(2) through fellow-feeling i.e. "by the bringing near of [the memory/awareness of] friends / those on one's own side."
(3) another translation that hasn't occured to me yet, in which the question of whether to lean towars self or towards others is solved or transcended.

So far I cannot reach a clear decision, which is just a kind of delusion...

EH Johnston:
But when the mind is troubled by the vice of malevolence, practise thoughts of benevolence by considering the application (of hurt) to yourself ; for benevolence tends to tranquillising the nature full of hate, like cooling treatment the man of bilious temperament.

Linda Covill:
But when the mind is disturbed by the fault of malice, the loving-kindness meditation should be practiced with reference to one's own position; for loving-kindness calms a hate-filled man, like treatment with cooling remedies for a patient with a bile condition.

vyaapaada: evil intent or design , malice
doSha: fault
kShubhite = locative of kShubhita: agitated , shaken, set in motion; agitated (mentally) , disturbed , frightened ; angry , enraged
tu: but
citte = locative of citta: mind, thinking mind, thinking

sevyaa = nom. sg. f. from gerundive of sev: to serve , wait or attend upon , honour , obey; to cherish , foster; cultivate , study , practise , use
svapakSha: m. one's own wings; one's own party; a man of one's own party , friend
sva: one's own
pakSha: wing; the flank or side or the half of anything
upanayena = instrumental of upanaya (from upa- nii: to bring near, bring, offer): m. the bringing near , procuring ; attaining , obtaining ; employment , application
upanayana: leading or drawing towards one's self
maitrii (nom. sg.): f. friendship , friendliness , benevolence , good will

dvesha: hatred
aatmanaH = genitive of aatman: the individual soul, the person; self, nature, character
hi: for
prashamaaya = dative of prashama: calmness , tranquillity (esp. of mind), quiet , rest , cessation , extinction , abatement
maitrii (nom. sg.): f. love, goodwill

pitt'aatmanaH (gen. sg.): to the bilious
shiitaH (nom. sg. m.): cold, coldness; camphour
iva: like
upacaaraH (nom. sg.): m. treatment


Mike Cross said...

When the mind is agitated by the fault of malice,

Friendliness should be practised,
by summoning it up for those on one's side;

For friendliness is calming to a hate-afflicted soul,

As cooling treatment is to the man of bilious nature.

Mike Cross said...

In view of the method Dogen cited for not getting angry, which he compared to searching through filthy rags for the bits that are suitable for making into a robe, and in view of comment by Anandajoti Bhikkhu (svapakṣa I would think would mean not oneself, but the immediate object of one's dislike. For instance, seeing something good in an enemy to overcome one-sided view.), considered translating as something like:

"Friendliness should be cultivated, using what one shares in common."

But this doesn't seem to fit, especially in view of maitropasaṃhāra-vidhir in 16.59. The sense of upasaṃhāra and of upanaya evidently includes direction in towards oneself.

sva-pakṣa, then, can be understood not as meaning "one self" but rather as meaning one's friends, those on one's side, and as being in the instrumental case.


Loving-kindness should be cultivated by channeling it, through one's friends, towards oneself.