Saturday, April 25, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.72: Fighting Fire with Fire

aNvyaa yath"aaNyaa vipul-aaNir anyaa
nirvaahyate tad-viduShaa nareNa
tadvat tad ev' aakushalaM nimittam
kShipen nimitt'antara-sevanena

Just as a deep splinter,
by means of the point of another sharp object,

Is removed by a man skilled in that task,

Likewise an unfavourable stimulus

May be despatched through the use of a different stimulus.

An unfavourable stimulus, in this context, may be understood as synonymous with what is described previously and in the following verse as an unlovely or disagreeable thought; i.e. the thought that gets you down -- the human relationship that gives you grief, the investment that crashed, the mistake you made yesterday, et cetera.

A different stimulus might be "Take the backward step of turning light and shining, so that body and mind spontaneously fall away and your original features emerge," or might simply be "Just sit upright!" or might be "Allow the neck to release, to allow the head to go forward and up, to allow the back to lengthen and widen."

Using thought like this, as a stimulus to action, is a kind of thinking. It is a kind of thinking the state of not-thinking. It is a kind of thinking into the zone of not thinking.

If we call it "meditation," we should understand it not as meditation which is separate from sitting -- i.e. not as the kind of meditation characterized by techniques of meditation, the kind of meditation that is learned -- but should understand it as sitting-meditation, one thing with a physical and a mental aspect which are totally opposed but never separate.

I think this is what Master Dogen meant when he wrote IWAYURU ZAZEN WA SHUZEN NIWA ARAZU, "What is called sitting-dhyana is not meditation to be learned."

EH Johnston:
As a man, skilled in the job, uses a small wedge to knock out another bigger one, so a subject of meditation that has bad results should be driven out be selecting another one.

Linda Covill:
Just as a man expert in such matters removes a large pin by means of a smaller pin, likewise one should drop an ineffective meditational subject by focusing on a different one.

aNvyaa = inst. aNii: f. the point of a needle or of a sharp stake
yathaa: just as
anyaa anyaa = nom. sg. f. anya, anya: the one, the other
vipula: large, extensive , wide , great , thick , long
aNiH = nominative, singular of aNi: m. the point of a needle or of a sharp stake

nirvaahyate = passive of nir vah: to lead out, carry off; remove
tad: it, that
viduShaa = instrumental of vidvas: one who knows , knowing , understanding , learned , intelligent , wise , mindful of , familiar with , skilled in
nareNa = instrumental of nara: a man

tadvat (correlative of yathaa): likewise
tad: that
eva: (empathic)
akushalam (acc. sg. m.): inauspicious, evil; not clever
nimittam (acc. sg.): m. stimulus, cause

kShipet = 3rd person singular, optative of kShip: to throw , cast , send , despatch; to strike or hit (with a weapon) ; to put or place anything on or in (loc.) ; to direct (the thoughts) upon (loc.); to throw away , cast away , get rid of
nimitta: stimulus, cause, antidote
antara: different from
sevanena = instrumental of sevana: practise or employment of (gen. or comp.)

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