Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.68: Retreating from Endgaining & Coming Back to Principle

ity evam a-nyaaya-nivartanaM ca
nyaayaM ca tasmai sugato babhaaShe
bhuuyash ca tat-tac caritaM viditvaa
vitarka-haanaaya vidhiin uvaaca

Thus, on retreat from muddling through

And on the principle to come back to,
the One Who Went Well spoke to him;

And knowing the ins and outs of his career,

He instructed him further on giving up thoughts.

The antonyms a-nyaaya in the first line and nyaaya in the second line could easily be translated "wrong methods" and "the right method."

But when one reflects on the content of the preceding verses, the whole point is that a stimulus that is appropriate for one individual may not be appropriate for another individual, and what is appropriate for one individual at one moment will not be appropriate for the same individual at another moment.

That being so, the fundamental principle of what EH Johnston calls "the right plan," and the essence of what Linda Covill calls "right method," might be the principle that there is no such thing as "the right method."

"The right method" exists only as a figment of the imagination of an optimistic seeker, such as I have zealously been, who would like to grasp "the right method."

What can truly be relied on, what is always available to come back to, is what FM Alexander called "the means-whereby principle." The word nyaaya seems to me to express the means-whereby principle. The opposite conception, a-nyaaya, which means disorder, irregularity, or lack of method, suggests to me the disorder which invariably accompanies blind end-gaining, i.e. muddling through without conscious reliance on a guiding principle.

The 4th line refers to instructions the Buddha is going to give Nanda from now onwards, on alternative methods for eliminating negative thoughts. The instructions, as I understand them, are not to eliminate thinking in general, but to give up certain negative or disagreeable (asubha) ways of thinking -- “the negative mental chatter” (to quote Jordan Fountain from his 2009 New Year’s Resolution) which, like impurities remaining in worked gold, are not compatible with an individual's pursuit of his or her peaceable path.

EH Johnston:
Thus the Blessed One spoke to him of the right plan and of abandoning the wrong one and, knowing all the varieties of behaviour, He further explained the processes for the elimination of thought.

Linda Covill:
In this way the Sugata spoke to him concerning right method and the retreat from the wrong method; and knowing all the various behavioural types, he gave further instructions for abandoning opinionated thought

iti: [end of quotes]
evam: thus
anyaaya: unjust or unlawful action ; impropriety , indecorum; irregularity , disorder
nivartanam (acc. sg.): n. turning back , returning , turning the back i.e. retreating , fleeing; ceasing , not happening or occurring , being prevented; desisting or abstaining from (abl.)
ca: and

nyaayam (acc. sg.): m. that into which a thing goes back i.e. an original type , standard , method , rule , (esp.) a general or universal rule , model , axiom , system , plan , manner , right or fit manner or way
ca: and
tasmai (dative): to him
sugataH (nom. sg. m.): One Who Fared Well, Buddha
babhaaShe = 3rd person singular, perfect of bhan: to sound , resound , call aloud , speak , declare

bhuuyas: further
ca: and
tad tad: this and that , various , different; respective
caritam (acc. sg.): n. going, moving, course; doing , practice , behaviour
viditvaa = absolutive of vid: to know; to mind , notice , observe

vitarka: conjecture , supposition , guess , fancy , imagination , opinion ; doubt , uncertainty; reasoning , deliberation , consideration
haanaaya = dative of haana: n. the act of abandoning , relinquishing , giving up , escaping , getting rid of
vidhiin (acc. pl.): rules, directions, instructions, formulae
uvaaca = 3rd person singular, perfect of vac: to speak


Jordan said...

That sure was a noble resolution. I'm till working at it. My hypersensitive six year old has been helping out with that because when those negative thoughts become words they hurt. Better to approach things gently. Starting with those thoughts. Sounds funny because in retrospect five years ago or so I was going at everything with a hatchet trying to cut out everything.

Thanks for all your efforts along the way as you continue to inspire.

Keeping on,

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Jordan as always for the encouragement.

Sign seen on a chestnut vendor’s stall:

“I don’t want to set the world on fire.
I just want to keep my nuts warm.”

All the best,