Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.75: Seeing a Fault as a Fault

na doShataH pashyati yo hi doShaM
kas taM tato vaarayituM samarthaH
guNaM guNe pashyati yash ca yatra
sa vaaryamaaNo pi tataH prayaati

When a man does not see a fault as a fault,

Who is able to restrain him from it?

But when a man sees the good in what is good,

He goes towards it despite being restrained.

Fixing is fixing, an unconscious reaction to a stimulus which is not "stillness," not "balance," not "good posture."

A slump is a slump, not "release," not "freedom," not "unlocking."

Weak energy is weak energy, not "compassion."

Sexual greed is sexual greed, not "love."
Financial greed is financial greed, not "risk management."

Ill-will is ill-will, not "constructive criticism."
Hatred of another is hatred of another, not "fighting spirit."
Self-hatred is self-hatred, not "humility."

Deluded worry is deluded worry, not anything else.
A teacher's delusion is a teacher's delusion, it is not that "he is testing me."
Group delusion is group delusion, not "solidarity," not "friendship," not "team spirit."

Getting in the way of the natural flow of one's own breathing is getting in the way, not "mindfulness."

Each of the above instances of not seeing a fault as a fault is an instance of ignorance. And a man's ignorance is just his own ignorance, not "lack of information."

The second line is a rhetorical question, the answer to which might be: nobody on God's earth! Insofar as a fault is an unconscious pattern of reaction to a stimulus, not even Gautama the Buddha could get inside a person's head and inhibit the fault for that person. If some optimistic person should step forward with the intention of sorting out another man's fault for him, I would like to whack that fatuous optimist with a big stick, particularly if his name is Mike Cross.

Fatuous optimist though I have too often been, on one point I congratulate myself. From my first few tastes of Alexander practice and theory in 1994, I knew immediately that here was something that was real and true. Here was something that demonstrably worked, that went to the very root of ignorance, that held a true mirror up to many and various deluded conceptions regarding posture, breathing, awareness, concentration, relaxation, feeling right, body and mind, thinking, the unconsciousness of reflexes and habits versus the possibility of consciousness, and so on and so on. Here was something genuinely good. That being so, wild horses could not stop me from coming back to England to plunge myself into Alexander work, and from there to clarifying the connection between the teaching of the buddha-ancestors and the teaching of FM Alexander. Myriad faults notwithstanding, that is what I have begun to do. On that point at least, well done me! And well done you who has found your way here, to this first meeting point of Ashvaghosha and Alexander.

EH Johnston:
For who is capable of holding back from vice a man who does not see it for what it really is? But he who sees the good quality in any good quality will set out for it despite all obstruction.

Linda Covill:
When a man does not see a fault as a fault, who is able to restrain him from it? But a man who sees the virtue in virtue moves towards it despite being restrained.

na: not
doSha: m. fault
-taH: (ablative/adverbial suffix)
doShataH: as a fault
pashyati = 3rd person singular of dRsh: to see
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
hi: for
doSham (acc. sg.): m. a fault

kaH (nom. sg. m.): who?
tam (acc. sg. m.): him, to him
tataH: from that, in that, then, thereupon, there
vaarayitum = infinitive from vaarya: to be warded off or prevented or checked or impeded
samarthaH (nom. sg. m.): capable of, able to

guNam (acc. sg.): m. good quality, virtue, good
guNe (loc. sg.): good quality, virtue, good
pashyati = 3rd person singular of dRsh: to see
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
ca: and; (sometimes used as disjunctive) but, on the contrary, again
yatra: in which case

saH (nom. sg. m.): he
vaaryamaaNaH (nom. sg. m. pres. passive participle vR): being restrained
vR: to obstruct; check , keep back , prevent , hinder , restrain
api: even
tataH: from that, in that, then, thereupon, there
prayaati = 3rd person singular of pra-√yA: to go forth , set out , progress , advance towards or against , go or repair to


Plato said...

Hi Mike!
I think in this verse Ashvagosha touches, delicately, the possibility of a teacher-student relationship.
Do you have any thoughts on what is the teacher's job and what is the student's job in trying to understand Buddha's teaching?
Thanks for your continued effort!

Mike Cross said...

Thank you, Plato.

In this verse the Buddha is teaching Nanda how to work on himself. He is pointing out that, in order to prevent oneself from practising a fault, it is necessary to be awake to one's own faults and not to cloud the issue with denial, but to see a fault as a fault. Also that, if one is able to see the good in what is good, then one will naturally tend towards it.

The Buddha's teaching, at this stage in Nanda's journey, seems to be totally focused on encouraging Nanda to work on himself in the direction of becoming free from the faults.

The relationship that this verse touches on, as I read it, is the head-neck-back relationship of a man whose sitting bones are being pushed upwards by a round cushion.

All the best,


P.S. My internet server in France has not been working -- hence the delay in replying.