Sunday, May 31, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.8: White vs Red Alert

mahataam api bhuutaanaam
aavRttir iti cintayan
saMvegaac ca sa-raago 'pi
viita-raaga iv' aabhavat

"Even the most exalted of creatures

Are subject to return!"
So he reflected,

And from his shock,
Although he was given to redness,

He seemed to blanch.

Men of wisdom through the ages have observed that change is the ultimate reality.

Startled at the dawning of this realisation, Nanda became like a rabbit on the alert, ears pricked up.

Physiologically, startle can manifest as the agitated redness of the panic reflex or as the shocked whiteness of fear paralysis (the latter being the deeper and more primitive response); or as a combination of both as the two opposing responses struggle against each other for supremacy.

It would seem from this verse that Ashvaghosha understood very clearly and explicitly these two opposing responses to a fearful stimulus, both of which are associated with a heightened sense of alertness.

EH Johnston:
He reflected that even the greatest beings return to this life and, though full of passion, he became as it were free from it in consequence of agitation of mind.

Linda Covill:
He thought about the return to earth of even the greatest beings, and though he was a passionate man, in his shocked agitation he seemed devoid of passion.

mahataam = genitive plural of mahat: great, high, eminent
api: even
bhuutaanaam = genitive plural of bhuuta: n. that which is or exists , any living being

aavRttiH = nominative singular of aavRtti: f. turning towards , entering , turning back or from , reversion , retreat , flight ; recurrence to the same point ; turn of a way , course , direction ; revolving , going round ; worldly existence , the revolution of births
iti: thus
cintayan = imperfect of cint: to think about , reflect upon , direct the thoughts towards

saMvegaat (ablative, from saM-vij, to tremble or start with fear): because of shock/panic
ca: and
sa-raagaH = nominative singular of saraaga: having colour ; reddened ; enamoured , impassioned , passionate
api: even, although

viita-raaga: mfn. free from passions or affections , dispassionate , desireless , calm , tranquil ; colourless , bleached ; m. a sage with subdued passions (esp. applied to a Buddhist or jaina saint)
iva: like
aabhavat: he was, he became

Saturday, May 30, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.7: Forgetting, to Listen

visasmaara priyaaM bhaaryaam
apsaro-darshanaad yathaa
tath" aa-nityatay" odvignas
tatyaaj' aapsaraso 'pi saH

Just as he had forgotten his beloved wife

After seeing the apsarases,

So also,
when startled by their impermanence,

Did he put the apsarases behind him.

Having been helped by the Buddha to forget a love from the past, and having been helped by Ananda to put behind him a dream of the future, Nanda is ready to engage in an activity that can only take place in the present: listening to the voice of Buddha.

What is such listening?

I do not know what it is. Sometimes I see what it is not:

It is not a doing, and not a knowing.

EH Johnston:
As on seeing the Apsarases he had forgotten his wife, so now he gave up the Apsarases also in his agitation over the impermanence of the stay with them.

Linda Covill:
Just as he had forgotten about his beloved wife when he gazed on the apsarases, so also did he forsake the apsarases, disturbed by the fact of their impermanence.

visasmaara = perfect of vi-√smR: to forget
priya: beloved
bhaaryaam = accusative of bhaaryaa: wife

apsaras: nymphs, apsarases
darshanaad = ablative of darshana: seeing, looking at
yathaa: just as

tathaa: so, likewise
anityatayaa: = instrumental of anityataa: transient existence, impermanence
udvignaH = nominal, singular of udvigna: mfn. shuddering , starting , frightened , terrified ; sorrowful , anxious , grieving for (an absent lover)

tatyaaja = perfect of tyaj: to leave , abandon , quit
apsarasaH = ablative/genitive of apsaras: nymphs, apsarases
api: also, even
saH (nominative, singular): he

Friday, May 29, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.6: How Life Suddenly Asserts Itself

svarga-tarShaan nivRttash ca
sadyaH svastha iv' aabhavat
mRShTaad a-pathyaad virato
jijiiviShur iv' aaturaH

When he had retreated from his thirst for heaven,

He seemed suddenly to become well.

Desisting from a delight
that aggravated his condition,

He was like a sick man finding the will to live.

This verse touches on mental thirsting, physical well-being, the truth of stopping, and Life itself.

The main point, as I see it, is that when we stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing starts to do itself -- at once.

The usual way of thinking is that change begins when a sick man finds, for example, that he has got cancer or diabetes of some other terrible illness, whereupon, in fear of death, he finds the will to live, and is finally motivated to stop doing the wrong thing -- smoking, drinking, eating too much of the kind of food that is not good for them, et cetera. But this verse seems to describe it the other way around, so that to give up an unhealthy desire is primary, whereupon Life / the wish to live suddenly asserts itself.

The backward step of turning one's light and shining is not a retreat from Life. Quite the opposite might be true. But it remains for each person to ask himself or herself what is primary: The will to realize that step? Or the will to something else?

It is implicit in the construction of this verse, as I read it, that what is primary for Ashvaghosha is nirodha-satya, the Buddha's noble truth of stopping. First stop doing the wrong thing, as FM Alexander also said, and then the right thing does itself.

EH Johnston:
When his longings were diverted from Paradise, he seemed suddenly to become well, like a sick man desiring to live, who gives up agreeable but unwholesome food.

Linda Covill:
When he had turned away from his thirst for heaven, he suddenly seemed to become well, like a sick man who gives up tasty but unhealthy food in his determination to live.

svarga: heaven
tarShaan = ablative of tarSha: thirst , wish , desire for (in comp.)
nivRttaH (nominative, singular): one who has turned back
ca: and (or used as expletive)

sadyas: on the same day , in the very moment
svastha: being in one's natural state , being one's self uninjured , unmolested , contented , doing well , sound, well , healthy
iva: like, as if
abhavat: became

mRShTaad = ablative from mRShTa: sweet , pleasant , agreeable
NB The Clay Sanskrit Library version has a typo (mRShaad) in the transcription here. Johnston's original shows mrShTaad.
apathyaad = ablative of apathya: unfit, (in med.) unwholesome as food or drink in particular complaints
virataH (nominative, singular): one who has desisted from (abl. , loc. , or comp.)

jijiiviShur: wishing to live
iva: like
aaturaH (nominative, singular): a sick man

Thursday, May 28, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.5: Wrong Road, Right Direction

tasya svargaan nivavRte
saMkalp'aashvo mano-rathaH
mahaa-ratha iv' onmaargaad
a-pramattasya saaratheH

Turning back from heaven,

The chariot of his mind,
whose horse was willpower,

Was like a great chariot turned back
from a wrong road

By an attentive charioteer.

Even for one who has gone down a wrong road, there is a right direction; and that direction is backwards.

But the decision to turn back, as many of us know from our own driving experience, is not an easy one to take. The unconscious tendency that many of us have, rather than being truly attentive and responsive to what is, is to plough on with false optimism, driven by some blind instinctive fear of showing weakness through the admission "It was my fault. I went wrong."

This form of denial, familiar to those of us who are not so heroic as Nanda but more inclined to immaturity and insecurity, is often endured to the tune of carping and exasperation from the passenger seat along the lines of "Why don't we stop and ask for directions?"; and "What IS the matter with you?!"

The serious point of the verse may be to highlight what for Nanda is a turning point, whereby out of painful mental experiences such as shame, irresolution, inner conflict, and agitation, good is about to emerge.

EH Johnston:
The chariot of his mind, desire, whose steeds are the fancies, turned back out of the road to Paradise, like the great chariot of a heedful charioteer from the wrong road.

Linda Covill:
The chariot of his mind, with its horses of inclination, turned back from heaven like a great chariot is turned back from the wrong path by an attentive charioteer.

tasya: of him, his
svargaan (ablative): from heaven
nivavRte = past tense of nivRt: to turn back

saMkalpa: will
ashvaH (nominative, singular): horse
mano-rathaH (nominative, singular): mind-chariot

mahaa-rathaH (nominative, singular): a great chariot
iva: like
onmaargaad (ablative): from the wrong path

apramattasya = genitive of apramatta: not careless or inattentive
saaratheH = genitive of saarathi: charioteer

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.4: Why Extreme Agitation Happens

a-pariikShaka-bhaavaac ca
puurvaM matvaa divaM dhruvam
tasmaat kSheShNuM parishrutya
bhRshaM saMvegam eyivaan

Being of an unquestioning nature,

He had presumed heaven to be a constant;

So hearing that it was perishable,

He became extremely agitated.

Nanda was of an unquestioning nature. He was, in other words, not truly and fully conscious. He was more or less subconsciously controlled -- not like you and me who are terribly clever, with our scientific education.

In conversation over breakfast yesterday with my 18-year-old son, I asked him what Chemistry was. "The study of why things happen," was his answer.

OK then, all-knowing Chemist, why did Nanda get extremely agitated? Was it all down to too much testosterone, too little dopamine, blah, blather, blather?

If a neuro-surgeon were to come along and dissect Nanda, wishing to locate the source of the extreme agitation in his nervous system, the surgeon might open up Nandas testicles and check for over-production of testosterone, or he might cut open the spinal chord and identify the autonomic nervous system as important, or he might go deep into the brainstem and look at the nuclei of the vestibular system and other neuronal circuits that set off the fear reflexes. But even then the surgeon's knife wouldn't have gone deep enough to get to the real root of the problem, as identified in this verse; namely, a wrong presumption, linked to an unconscious end-gaining idea.
In recent times nobody, in my book, has understood this kind of problem (the causal relation between agitated or collapsed states of being and end-gaining ideas) more clearly and exactly than FM Alexander.

Then why isn't Alexander better known? How come Alexander's name is not so well known as contemporaries of his such as Einstein or Freud?

The answer might have something to do with how terribly well educated we all are. FM used to say, "A child of three can understand this work. But give me a man who's been educated, and God help me."

EH Johnston:
With his superficial nature he had previously deemed the joys of heaven to be eternal and, learning them now to be transitory, he became extremely agitated.

Linda Covill:
Because his nature was not given to careful inspection, he had previously considered heaven to be permanent. So when he heard about its perishability he was profoundly disturbed.

a: not
pariikShaka: an examiner
bhaavaat = ablative of bhaava: being, innate property
ca: and, certainly (sometimes used expletively)

puurvam: previously
matvaa = absolutive of man: to think
divam = accusative of diva: heaven
dhruva: fixed; fixed (in astrology); certain

tasmaat: so, therefore
kSheShNu: perishable
parishrutya = absolutive of parishru: to hear , learn , understand

bhRsham: strongly , violently , vehemently , excessively , greatly
saMvegam = accusative of saMvega: violent agitation , excitement , flurry
eyivaan: got, became

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.3: Between A Rock & A Hard Place

kaama-raaga pradhaano 'pi
parihaasa-samo 'pi san
paripaaka-gate hetau
na sa tan mamRShe vacaH

Fixated though he was on sensual passion,

And though he was indifferent to ridicule,

His motivation had matured to a point

Where neither could he disregard the other's words.

Nanda's bind, as described in this and the previous verse, is that of a lousy, non-observant monk who, though his male brain, in common with millions of other male brains, thinks obsessively, every few seconds, about sex, still cannot disregard words that, in pointing to a deeper satisfaction, seem to ring true.

When religious people preach of satisfaction beyond sex, a healthy scepticism on the part of the listener may be justified. Because there have been many shameful religious types in recent news, not least in Ireland, who have talked a good talk while never coming near to walking the good walk.

Nanda was full of faults: he was not perfect; but he was not a poser. Unlike pretenders who become Catholic priests without any true vocation or true sense of manly endeavour, but mainly in order to win the approval of others in their community, especially Mummy, Nanda was a man who did not mind being ridiculed.

His shame, the shame arising from consciousness of continuing impure movements of the mind (see 16.76), was never that shame which arises from hypocrisy. Nanda's story is the story of one who was motivated primarily to walk the good walk.

EH Johnston:
Though the passion of love predominated in him and he was indifferent to ridicule, he could not put up with that saying, since the motive to a right life was now fully matured in him.

Linda Covill:
Though chiefly preoccupied with sensuality and passion, and though he dd not mind being ridiculed, his motivation had matured to the extent that he could not ignore Ananda's words.

kaama: wish, object of desire, love of sensual enjoyments, sexual desire
raaga: colouring, red colour, love, joy, anger
pradhaanaH = nominative singular of pradhaana: n. a chief thing or person , the most important or essential part of anything
api: even

parihaasa: joking, ridiculing
samaH = nominative singular of sama: same, equal, impartial
api: even
san (nominative singular masculine of sant) = present participle of as: to be [note to self: same usage in 3.31, 3.32]

paripaaka: being completely cooked or dressed; digestion; ripening
gate = locative of gata: gone to, being in
hetau = locative of hetu: cause, motive

na: not
sa: he
tat: that
mamRShe = perfect of mRSh: to forget , neglect ; to disregard , not heed or mind , mind , bear patiently , put up with (acc.)
vacaH = nominative, singular of vaca: speaking, speech

Monday, May 25, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.2: Shame & Disenchantment

tasya vriiDena mahataa
pramodo hRdi n' abhavat
a-praamodyena vimukhaM
n' aavatasthe vrate manaH.

Because of his great shame

The exuberance in his heart was no more.

His mind left downcast due to disenchantment,

He could not remain steadfast in his observance.

This verse is certainly about shame, and it also seems to be about grief.

The first thing this verse seems to tell us about shame is that it can't co-exist with exuberance -- in accordance with the pyschological principle that the human mind can't experience two opposing emotions at once.

Shame is a kind of suffering whose cause, as with all suffering, lies in faults. The pain of Nanda's present shame -- his consciousness that his motivation was wrong, and that his naive assumption about the permanent bliss of heaven was wrong -- is part of a process that will eventually lead Nanda to abandon the faults which are the cause of suffering.

Nanda's disenchantment might be a kind of bereavement. Nobody has to die for a bereavement to be suffered. Loss of a beautiful romantic dream also causes the body to enter the bereavement process, beginning with white-faced shock that sets the wheel of samsara in motion.

In 10.63 the Buddha has promised Nanda that if he is steadfast in his observance, i.e. if he adheres unerringly to the rules of discipline, he will enjoy union with the apsarases. It may be that the Buddha made this promise safe in the knowledge that Nanda would inevitably become disenchanted, and that whenever anybody becomes disenchanted, they cannot remain steadfast. Rather, as part of a hard-wired bereavement process, they are invariably shaken and stirred.

It may be that the kind of steadfastness described in 16.84 can only occur after disenchantment, never before.

EH Johnston:
The feeling of deep shame made exaltation leave his heart, and his mind, downcast for lack of exaltation, did not abide firm in his vow.

Linda Covill:
Because of his great shame, there was no pleasure in his heart, and through lack of pleasure his depressed mind could not persist in his stated intention.

tasya (genitive): of him, his
vriiDena (instrumental): because of shame
mahataa: f. greatness , mightiness

pramodaH (nominative, singular): excessive joy , delight , gladness
hRdi = locative of hRd: the heart
na: not
abhavat = past tense of bhuu: to be, to have

a: not
praamodyena = instrumental of praamodya: n. rapture , delight
vimukha: having the face averted , turned backwards ; turning away from (gen.) , disappointed , downcast

na: not
avatasthe = 3rd person singular of ava-√sthaa: to take one's stand , remain standing ; to stay , abide , stop at any place (loc.)
vrate = locative of vrata: will , command , law , ordinance , rule ;
obedience , service ; sphere of action , function , mode or , manner of life ; conduct , manner , usage , custom ; a religious vow or practice , any pious observance , meritorious act of devotion or austerity , solemn vow , rule , holy practice (as fasting , continence &c ; vrat/am- √car , " to observe a vow " , esp. " to practise chastity "); any vow or firm purpose
manaH (nominative, singular): mind

Sunday, May 24, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 12.1: Shame at Going through the Motions

apsaro-bhRtako dharmaM
caras' ity atha coditaH
aanandena tadaa nandaH
paraM vriiDam upaagamat.

For working like a hired labourer for the apsarases,

Going through the motions of practice,

Nanda had been chided by Ananda

And was deeply ashamed.

Cantos 12 through 16 are Ashvaghosha's record of the essence of the Buddha's teaching, in the Buddha's own words. So, starting here, we will work our way back towards the Buddha's exposition in Canto 16 of the four noble truths. When we arrive at Canto 16 again, inevitably, there will be more of this work in progress to correct.

The essence of the practice as explained in Canto 16, as I read it, has to do with dealing at the deepest level with one's faulty reactions to a stimulus. Any kind of practice other than this might be seen as a variation on the theme of going through the motions.

For anybody who would like to read the back story of how Nanda's infatuation with the gorgeous apsarases caused him to forget about his wife, and to go through the motions of practice with a view to getting to know (in a biblical sense) the apsarases better, I recommend Linda Covill's eminently readable translation.

Going through the motions means practice in which the heart and mind is not engaged; for example, just sitting with the body -- dumb sitting. I do declare... there were times I felt so lonesome I took some comfort there.

EH Johnston:
Then Nanda felt highly abashed at being upbraided by Ananda for following the Law in order to earn the Apsarases as his wages.

Linda Covill:
After Ananda had accused him of practicing dharma as a hired labourer for the apsarases, Nanda was deeply ashamed.

apsaras: " going in the waters or between the waters of the clouds " , a class of female divinities (sometimes called " nymphs " ; they inhabit the sky , but often visit the earth ; they are the wives of the gandharvas (q.v.) and have the faculty of changing their shapes at will ; they are fond of the water ; one of their number , rambhA , is said to have been produced at the churning of the ocean).
bhRtaka: m. a hired labourer , servant
dharmam (accusative): the law, the teaching, the practice

carasi = 2nd person singular of car: to undertake , set about , under go , observe , practise
iti: thus (quotation particle)
atha: then,
codita: caused to move ; driven , impelled , incited

aanandena (instrumental): by Ananda
tadaa: at that time , then , in that case (often used redundantly)
nandaH (nominative, singular): Nanda

param: in a high degree , excessively , greatly , completely, highly, deeply
vriiDa: shame
upaagamat = past of upaa-√gam: to approach , come or enter into any state or condition , be subject to

Saturday, May 23, 2009


As a result of re-reading Canto 16 over the past few days, endeavoring to see the wood in spite of the trees, the main changes I have made are noted below. It seems to me at this point that there has been nothing of any value in any of my comments, but making them has been part of a process -- just as mining and extraction of gold is liable to involve accumulating a lot of slag. As ever, the true gold is in the bold.

mano-dhaaraNayaa (16.1)
through mental self-possession

Rddhi-pravekaM ca bahu-prakaaraM (16.2)
The principal psychic power, taking many forms

catvaari samyak pratividhya c' aaiva (16.5)
while getting to know the four as one

jar"-aader vyasanasya (16.7)
a tragedy like growing old

pravRtti (16.10; 16.17; 16.18; 16.38; 16.42)
the continuing cycle of doing; continual doing;
as opposed to nivRtti, non-doing

citta-shariira-yoni (16.11)
born from an expectant mind-body

jNaatavyam etena ca kaaraNena
lokasya doShebhya iti prvRttiH (16.18)

Again, you must understand how, due to this cause,
Because of men's faults, the cycle of doing continues

janma prajaanaam (16.19)
living creatures are reborn

vairaagyatas taasu na jaayate saH (16.24)
Thanks to that dispassion he is not born in those realms

kRtii nirvRtiM abhyueto (16.29)
a man of action who has come to quiet

vidhivad (16.30)
working to principle

tasy' odbhavaM tasya ca yo nirodham (16.39)
its starting and its stopping

nirodha-satye (16.41)
with regard to the truth of stopping

tasmaat pravRttiM parigaccha duHkhaM
pravartakaan apy avagaccha doShaan
nivRttim aagaccha ca tan-nirodhaM
nivartakaM c' aapy avagaccha maargam(16.42)

Then comprehend suffering as doing,
And know the faults as causes of its continuance,
Realise stopping as non-doing,
And know the path as a turning back.

braviimi samyak kShayam aasravaaNaaM (16.46)
I predict the complete stopping of energy leaks.

tasmaat paraM saumya vidhaaya viiryam (16.47)
So my friend garner you energy greatly

maitr'-opasaMhara-vidhir na kaaryaH (16.59)
The principle of directing love towards oneself is not to be applied

sevyas tv idaM-pratyayataa-vihaaraH (16.64)
One should appreciate the causality which this is

tac tac caritaM viditvaa (16.68)
from his knowledge of specific practices

stemming from inexperience within the self

cittena cittam parigRhya (16.83)
grip the mind with the mind

tath" aiva viiryaM kaTukaM shrameNa(16.93)
So direction of energy, through the struggle it involves, is bitter

viirya (16.94; 16.95)
directed energy

nimittam kausiidyaM bhavati puruShasy' aatra na ripuH (16.96)
The cause is the laziness in him, and not an enemy

Friday, May 22, 2009

Canto 16: Exposition of the Noble Truths

"Thus, methodically, through mental self-possession,

Cutting something out and connecting something in,

The practitioner makes the four realisations his own,

And duly acquires the fivefold power of knowing:

The principal psychic power, taking many forms;

Then being awake to what others are thinking;

And remembering past lives from long ago;

And divine lucidity of ear; and of eye.

From then on, through investigation of what is,

He applies his mind to stopping off energy leaks,

For on this basis, fully, suffering and the rest --

The four truths -- are understood as fundamental steps:

This is suffering, which is constant and akin to trouble;

This is the cause of suffering, akin to starting it;

This is cessation of suffering, akin to walking away.

And this, akin to a refuge, is a peaceable path.

Understanding these noble truths,
by a process of reasoning

While getting to know the four as one,

He contains all leaks,
through the means of directed thought,

And, on finding peace,
is no longer subject to becoming.

For by failing to wake up and come round

To this four, whose substance is what is,

Mankind goes from existence to existence
without finding peace --

The world is hoisted in the swing
of mass unconscious reaction.

Therefore, at the root of a tragedy like growing old

See, in short, that birth is suffering.

For, as the earth supports the life of all plants,

This birth is the field of all troubles.

The birth of a sentient bodily form, again,

Is the birth of suffering in all its varieties;

And he who begets such an outgrowth

Is the begetter of death and of disease.

Good food or bad food, if mixed with poison,

Makes for ruin not for sustenance.

Likewise, whether in a world on the flat
or above or below,

All birth makes for hardship not for ease.

The many and various disappointments of men,
like old age,

Occur only as long as the cycle of doing continues;

For even when violent winds blow,

Trees do not shake that never sprouted.

As wind is born from the air,

As fire sleeps in the womb of shami wood,

And as water gestates inside the earth,

So suffering is born from an expectant mind-body.

Fluidity of water, solidity of earth,

Motion of wind, and constant heat of fire,

Are innate in them; as also it is in the nature

Of both the body and the mind to suffer.

Insofar as there is a body,
there is the suffering of sickness, aging and the like;

And also of hunger and thirst,
and of the rains, and summer heat and winter cold.

Insofar as a mind is bonded, tied to phenomena,

There is the suffering of grief, discontent, anger, fear
and so on.

Seeing now before your eyes that birth is suffering,

Recognise that likewise in the past it was suffering.

And just as that was suffering and this is suffering,

Know that likewise in the future it will be suffering.

For just as it is evident to us now
what kind of thing a seed is,

We can infer that it was so in the past
and that it will be so in the future.

And just as fire burning before us is hot,

So was it and so will it be, hot.

In conformity with its kind, then,
a distinguishable bodily form

Develops, wherein, O man of noble conduct,

Suffering exists, right there -- for nowhere else

Will suffering exist or has it existed or could it exist.

And this suffering,
associated with continual doing in the world,

Has its cause in a cluster of faults
which start with thirsting --

Certainly not in God,
nor in primordial matter, nor in time;

Nor even in one’s inherent constitution,
and not in predestination or self-will.

Again, you must understand how, due to this cause,

Because of men's faults, the cycle of doing continues

So that those imbued with redness and darkness
succumb to death.

He is not reborn who is without redness and darkness.

Only insofar as the specific intention exists
to do this or that,

Does an action like going or sitting happen;

Hence, in just the same way,
by the force of their thirsting

Living creatures are reborn -- as is to be observed:

See sentient beings in the grip of attachment,

Dead set on pleasure among their own kind;

And, from their habitual practice of faults,

Observe them presenting with those very faults.

Just as the anger, lust, and so on
of sufferers of those afflictions

Give rise in the present to a personality trait,

So too in new lives, in various manifestations,

Does the affliction-created trait develop:

In a life dominated by anger arises violent anger,

In the lover of passion arises burning passion,

And in the predominantly ignorant,
overwhelming ignorance.

In one who has a lesser fault, again,
the lesser fault develops.

Seeing what fruit is before one's eyes,

One knows, from past knowledge of that fruit,
the seed it was in the past.

And having identified a seed before one's eyes,

One knows the fruit it may be in the future.

In whichever realms of existence a man has ended faults,

Thanks to that dispassion he is not born in those realms.

Wherever he remains susceptible to a fault,

That is where he makes his appearance,
whether he likes it or not.

So my friend,
with regard to the many forms of becoming,

Know their causes to be [the faults]
that start with thirsting

And cut out those [faults],
if you wish to be freed from suffering;

For ending of the effect
follows from eradication of the cause.

Again, the ending of suffering
follows from the disappearance of its cause.

Experience that reality for yourself
as peace and well-being,

A place of rest, a cessation,
an absence of the red taint of thirsting,

An eternal refuge which is irremovable and noble,

In which there is no becoming, no aging, no dying,

No illnesses, no being touched by unpleasantness,

No disappointment, or separation from what is pleasant:

It is a fundamental step -- ultimate and indestructible.

A lamp that has gone out

Reaches neither to the earth nor to the sky,

Nor to any cardinal nor to any intermediate point:

Because its oil is spent it reaches nothing but extinction.

In the same way,
a man of action who has come to quiet

Reaches neither to the earth nor to the sky,

Nor to any cardinal nor to any intermediate point:

From the ending of his afflictions
he attains nothing but extinction.

A means of gaining that end is a path

Of threefold wisdom and twofold peace.

It should be cultivated, working to principle,
by a wakener of consciousness

Who abides in the purity of threefold integrity.

Using the voice and using the body well

And making one's living in a pure and suitable manner:

These three, forming the protocol on conduct,

Are for the mastery, based on integrity, of one's actions.

Nobility of insight into the truths,
beginning with the truth of suffering,

Along with thinking straight, and initiative:

These three, forming the protocol on knowing,

Are for dissolution, based on wisdom, of afflictions.

Harnessed methodically so as to lead one to the truth

Is true mindfulness, which goes with true balance:

These two, forming the protocol on formal practice,

Are for mastery, based on peace, of the thinking mind.

Integrity causes the shoots of affliction not to flourish,

Like the shoots of a seed whose season has passed.

The faults, as long as a man's integrity is untainted,

Venture only timidly to attack his mind.

Then balance repels afflictions

Like a mountain the mighty torrents of rivers;

For, as long as a man remains in balance,
faults do not venture to attack him:

The faults, like charmed snakes, are spellbound.

But wisdom destroys faults without trace,

Like a mountain stream in the monsoon
mowing down trees on its banks.

Faults burnt up by it stand not a chance,

Like trees struck and burnt by a thunderbolt.

Giving oneself to this path with its three divisions

And eight branches
-- this straightforward, irremovable, noble path --

One abandons the faults,
which are the causes of suffering,

And comes to that step which is total well-being.

Attendant on it are constancy and straightness;

Modesty, caution, and reclusiveness;

Wanting little, contentment,
and freedom from alliances;

No fondness for the continual doing of the world;
and forbearance.

For he who knows suffering as it really is,

Who knows its starting and its stopping:

It is he who reaches peace by the noble path --

Going along with friends in the good.

He who fully appreciates his illness,
as the illness it is,

Who sees the cause of the illness
and its remedy:

It is he who wins, before long,
freedom from disease --

Attended by friends in the know.

So with regard to the truth of suffering,
see suffering as a disease;

With regard to the faults,
see the faults as causes of disease;

With regard to the truth of stopping,
see stopping as freedom from disease;

And with regard to the truth of a path,
see a path as a remedy.

Then comprehend suffering as doing,

And know the faults as causes of its continuance.

Realise stopping as non-doing,

And know the path as a turning back.

Though your head and clothes be on fire

Direct your mind so as to be awake to the truths.

For in failing to see the purport of the truths,
the world has burned,

It is burning now, and it will burn.

When a man sees a separate bodily form

As decrepit, that insight of his is accurate;

In seeing accurately he is disenchanted

And his optimism ends,
as a result of which redness fades away.

By the ending of the duality
which is optimism and pessimism,

I submit, his mind is fully set free.

And when his mind is fully liberated from that duality,

There is nothing further for him to do

For in him who sees a separate bodily form as it is,

And who sees its origin and passing away,

From the very fact of his knowing and seeing,

I predict the complete stopping of energy leaks.

So my friend garner your energy greatly

And strive quickly to stop off leaks,

Examining in detail
-- as suffering and impermanent and devoid of self --

The elements.

For in knowing the six elements
of earth, water, fire and the rest,

Generically, and each as specific to itself,

He who knows nothing else but them,

Knows total release from them.

One set on giving up the afflictions, then,

Should attend to timing and method;

For even formal practice,
done at the wrong time and relying on wrong means,

Makes for disappointment and not for the desired end.

If a cow is milked before her calf is born,

Milking at the wrong time will yield no milk.

Or even at the right time no milk will be got

If, through ignorance, a cow is milked by the horn.

Again, one who wants fire from damp wood,

Try as he might, will not get fire.

And even if he lays down dry wood,

He won't get fire from that, with bad bushcraft.

Having given due consideration to the time and place

As well as to the extent and method
of one's formal practice,

One should, being constantly aware
of one's own strength and weakness,

Persist in an effort that is not inconsistent with them.

A "garnering" stimulus

Does not serve when the emotions are excited,

For thus the mind does not find peace

Like [- - - ] a fire being fanned.

A stimulus one has ascertained to be calming

Has its time when one's mind is excited;

For thus the mind subsides into quietness,

Like a blazing fire doused with water.

The stimulus ascertained to bring calm

Does not serve when one's mind is dormant;

For thus the mind sinks further into lifelessness,

Like a feeble fire left unfanned.

A stimulus ascertained to be garnering,

Has its time when one's mind is lifeless,

For thus the mind becomes fit for work,

Like a feebly-burning fire plied with fuel.

Nor is leaving oneself alone a valid starting point

When one's mind is either lifeless or excited.

For that might result in severe misfortune,

Like the neglected illness of a sick man.

What one has ascertained to be
a starting point of not interfering,

Has its time when one's mind is in its normal state;

For thus one can set about the work to be done,

Like a wagon setting off with well-trained horses.

Again, when the mind is muddled by lust,

The principle of directing love towards oneself
is not to be applied;

For a passionate type is stupefied by love,

Like a sufferer from phlegm taking oil.

Steadiness lies, when one's mind is stirred up by lust,

In coming back to a disagreeable stimulus;

For thus a passionate type obtains relief,

Like a phlegmatic type taking an astringent.

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.

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.

Where there is wandering of the mind, tied to delusion,

Both love and unpleasantness are unsuitable,

For a deluded man is further deluded by these two,

Like a windy type given an astringent.

When the working of one's mind
is dominated by delusion,

One should appreciate the causality
which this is;

For herein lies a path to peace
for a deluded mind,

Like treatment with oil
for a patient with a wind condition.

Holding gold in the mouth of a furnace,

A goldsmith in this world blows it at the proper time,

Douses it with water at the proper time,

And gradually, at the proper time, he leaves it be.

For he might burn the gold
by blowing at the wrong time,

He might make it unworkable
by plunging it into water at the wrong time,

And he would not bring it to full perfection

If at the wrong time he were just to leave it be.

Likewise, for garnering as also for calming,

As also when appropriate for leaving well alone,

One should consciously attend to the proper stimulus;

Because even diligence is destructive
when accompanied by a wrong approach."

Thus, on retreat from muddling through

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

And from his knowledge of specific practices,

He instructed him further on cutting out thoughts.

Just as a physician,
for a disorder of bile, phlegm, or wind,

-- For whatever disorder of the humours
has manifested the symptoms of disease --

Prescribes a course of treatment
to cure that very disorder,

So did the Buddha prescribe for the faults:

“It may not be possible,
following a single method, to destroy

Unlovely thoughts that habit has so deeply entrenched;

In that case, commit to a second course

But never give up the practice and its merits.

Because of the instinct-led accumulation,
from time without beginning,

Of the powerful mass of afflictions,

And because true practice is so difficult to do,

The faults cannot be cut off all at once.

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.

Even then, stemming from inexperience within the self,

A disagreeable thought might still not subside.

One should abandon the thought
by monitoring the fault therein,

As a traveller abandons a path
on which there is a wild beast.

Even a starving man when given poisoned food

Refuses to eat it, wishing to live.

Likewise, observing that it triggers a fault,

A wise person leaves alone a noxious stimulus.

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.

For those brought up well are ashamed

Of continued impure workings of the mind,

Like one who is bright, young and good-looking

With ugly, scruffy things hung around his neck.

If, though they are being shaken off,

There is any lingering trace of unhelpful thoughts,

One should get on with something else,
such as study or a physical task,

As a means of consigning those thoughts to oblivion.

A clear-sighted person should even sleep

Or resort to physical exhaustion,

But should never dwell on a bad stimulus

The reaction to which would be adverse.

For just as a man afraid of thieves in the night

Would not open his door even to friends,

So does a wise man withhold consent to the doing

Of anything bad or of anything good
that involves the faults.

Even if held off by such means

Faults might not turn back:

In that case, forcibly remove them,
in the order of their grossness,

As if ridding gold of impurities.

Activities like quick marching

Are a refuge to a man who feels depressed
following a torrid love affair:

Just as that man relies on those activities,

So does a wise person deal with the faults.

When it is impossible to realise their opposite side,

In which case unreal thoughts might not fade away,

They must not for a moment be left unchecked:

No whiff of them should be tolerated,
as if they were snakes in the house.

Grit tooth against tooth, if you will,

Press the tongue forward and up against the palate,

And grip the mind with the mind --

Keep on trying as you might, they are not compliant.

Would it be any wonder if one without illusions,

Who had retired full of devotion to the forest,
did not waver?

But a man who,
when challenged to the core by those stimuli,

Is not shaken:
he is a true man of action; he is a steadfast man.

So, in order to make the noble truths your own,

First clear a path along these lines,

Like a king going on campaign to subdue his foes,

Wishing to conquer unconquered riches.

These salubrious wilds that surround us

Are suited to practice and not thronged with people.

Having furnished the body with ample solitude,

Cut a path to abandon afflictions.

Kaundinya, Nanda, Krimila, Aniruddha,

Tishya, Upasena, Vimala and Radha,

Vashpa, Uttara, Dhautaki, Moha-raja,

Katyayana, Dravya, Pilinda-vatsa,

Bhaddali, Bhadrayana, Sarpa-dasa,

Subhuti, Go-datta, Sujata, Vatsa,

Sangramajit, Bhadrajit, and Ashvajit,

Shrona and Shona Kotikarna,

Kshema, Ajita, the mothers of Nandaka and Nanda,

Upali, Vagisha, Yashas, Yashoda,

Mahahvaya, Valkalin, Rashtra-pala,

Sudarshana, Svagata and Meghika,

Kapphina, Kashyapa of Uruvilva,

The great Maha-kashyapa, Tishya, Nanda,

Purna and Purna as well as Purnaka

And Purna Shonaparanta,

The son of Sharadvati, Subahu, Chunda,

Kondeya, Kapya, Bhrigu, Kuntha-dhana,

Plus Shaivala, Revata and Kaushthila,

And he of the Maudgalya clan and Gavam-pati --

The prowess they have shown
with regard to the principle of practice,

Be quick to do the same, working to principle.

Then your realisation of the step that they took,

And of the splendour that adorns those ease-filled ones,
will be assured.

Just as the flesh of a fruit may be bitter to the taste

And yet it is sweet when eaten ripe,

So direction of energy,
through the struggle it involves, is bitter

And yet, in accomplishment of the aim,
its mature fruit is sweet.

Directed energy is paramount:
for, in doing what needs to be done, it is the foundation;

Without directed energy there is no accomplishment at all;

All success in this world arises from directed energy --

And in the absence of directed energy wrongdoing is rampant.

No gaining of what is yet to be gained,
and certain loss of what has been gained,

Along with low self-esteem, wretchedness,
the scorn of superiors,

Darkness, lack of spirit, and the breakdown
of learning, restraint and contentment:

For men without directed energy a great fall awaits.

When a capable person hears the guiding principle
but makes no progress,

When he knows the most excellent method
but gains no upward repose,

When he leaves home
but in freedom finds no peace:

The cause is the laziness in him,
and not an enemy.

A man obtains water if he digs the ground
with dogged perseverance,

And produces fire from fire-sticks
by continuous twirling.

But those are sure to reap the fruit of their effort
whose energies are harnessed to practice,

For rivers that flow swiftly and constantly
cut through even a mountain.

After ploughing and protecting the soil with great pains,
a farmer gains a bounteous crop of corn;

After striving to plumb the ocean's waters,
a diver basks in a bounty of coral and pearls;

After seeing off with arrows the endeavour of rival kings,
a king enjoys royal dominion.

So direct your energy in pursuit of peace,
for in directed energy lies all growth."

End of the 16th Canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Exposition of the Noble Truths."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.98: In the End, Growth ...?

kRShTvaa gaaM paripaalya ca shrama-shatair ashnoti sasya-shriyam
yatnena pravigaahya saagara-jalaM ratna-shriyaa kriiDati
shatruuNaam avadhuuya viiryam iShubhir bhuNkte narendra-shriyaM
tad viiryaM kuru shaantaye viniyataM viirye hi sarva-rddhayaH

Saundaranande mahaa-kaavya aarya-satya-vyaakhyaano naama ShoDashaH sargaH

After ploughing and protecting the soil with great pains,
a farmer gains a bounteous crop of corn;

After striving to plumb the ocean's waters,
a diver basks in a bounty of coral and pearls;

After seeing off with arrows the endeavour of rival kings,
a king enjoys royal dominion.

So direct your energy in pursuit of peace,
for in directed energy lies all growth."

End of the 16th Canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Exposition of the Noble Truths."

And so we come to an end, and as we do so we might question what that means.

After directing his energies in the dedicated manner that farmers around the world all still tend to do, to this day (I am thinking of my inspirationally hardworking neighbour in France), the farmer gains the end he has laboured to gain -- producing lots of food.

The pearl diver, likewise, gains an end that is not at all abstract. By his own independent efforts, he makes tbe ocean's riches into his own possession.

The king in the 3rd line enjoys royal dominion -- supreme authority, absolute ownership.

So, on first reading, the Buddha seems to be finishing this long monologue (which began back in 12.19), by pointing to the gaining of a definite end, which might be absolute ownership of the four noble truths. In coming to the translation of the final word of the Canto, Rddhi, therefore, my first thought was to translate it as success or accomplshment -- "In endeavour lies all success/accomplishment."

But if we dig deeper into the verse, one thing to notice might be a certain irony around the notion of endeavour. Hitherto the Buddha has heaped nothing but praise on the supreme and invincible virtue of viirya, manly endeavour. But the viirya in the 3rd line is the manly endeavour of rival kings which is defeated, by arrows. The point I take from this apparent irony of viirya being defeated is that endeavour as an abstract concept, or a concept connected to a puffed up, macho, sense of unreal self-confidence, is always liable to be trumped by the real direction of real energy, as manifested, for example, in flying arrows.

So when the Buddha speaks again in the 4th line of viirya, along with shaanti, peace, and Rddhi, success, the irony contained in the 3rd line might be a kind of clue not to react too quickly to those words, not to trust the intellect as it rapidly latches on and tries to convince that it knows. As FM Alexander used to say: "Be careful of the printed matter: you may not read it as it is written down."

Yes, the final word of the Canto, Rddhi, in the context of the previous three lines, seems to point to the gaining of a definite end, i.e. making the four noble truths into one's own possession, gaining full dominion over them. But the first meaning of Rddhi is growth. It is from the verb, Rdh, to grow. So, yes, Rddhi means success or accomplishment, the gaining of an end, but it can also be understood as pointing to growth as an ongoing process. Whether the ambiguity was deliberate, I do not know. But I suspect it was, and I have translated Rddhi accordingly as growth.

Because, in the end, what end have we got to look forward to? The long term outlook for us all, unless we meet a sudden and premature end, is sickness or old age, followed by death -- at which point corn, pearls, or royal power are absolutely no bloody good to us whatsoever. We know, if we open our eyes and look, that those who try to hold on to their corn or their pearls or their little kingdom, in that very effort to hold on, stop growing. That is the usual case. When people grow old, they stop growing. In contrast to that I have been priviliged to have worked with some elderly Alexander teachers who were without question still growing in the truth and toward the truth. Above all, I was privileged to visit my Alexander head of training Ray Evans shortly before he died. Even at death's door, Ray was evidently still working on himself as he had endeavored to teach me to work on myself, by directing my head to go forward and up out of a lengthening and widening back -- and not being too serious about it. As Ray drifted out of the here and now of directed consciousness, and back again, he reported, "I come and go. But that's OK."

From the privilege of meeting Ray in this state, I learned something that has informed my understanding of Alexander work and also, I hope, of this verse.

FM Alexander said, "The experience you want is in the process of getting it. If you have something, give it up."

Again, FM said, "Don't you see that if you get perfection today, you will be further away from perfection than you have ever been."

So in the end, to what end is the fourth line directing our attention? Success, or growth? In the end, I think what the fourth line is mainly directing our attention to is neither success nor growth. What the fourth line is directing our attention to, primarily, is the direction of our attention.

EH Johnston:
By ploughing the soil and by guarding (his field) with infinite pains man obtains a splendid crop ; by diving strenuously into the ocean he rejoices in splendid jewels; by overwhelming the might of his enemies with arrows he enjoys the splendour of sovereignty. Therefore show energy for the sake of tranquillity ; for of a certainty all prosperity lies in energy.

Linda Covill:
When a man has plowed the soil and protected it with infinite pains he earns a bounteous crop of corn; after labouring to plumb the ocean's waters he glories in his wealth of jewels; and when his arrows have driven off an enemy force, he enjoys royal sovereignty. So strive for peace, for all progress surely lies in endeavor."

kRShTvaa = absolutive of kRSh: to draw or make furrows , plough
gaaM (accusative): earth, soil, ground
paripaalya = absolutive of paripaal: to , guard , protect , defend
ca: and
shrama: exertion, pains
shataiH = instrumental plural of shata: a hundred ; any very large number
ashnoti = 3rd person singular of ash: to reach , come to , reach , come to , arrive at , get , gain , obtain
sasya: corn , grain , fruit , a crop of corn
shriyam = acc. sg. shrii: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory , beauty , grace , loveliness; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches ; bounty

yatnena = instrumental of yatna: effort , exertion , energy , zeal , trouble , pains
pravigaahya = abs. pra-vi-√gaah: to dive into , enter (acc.)
saagara: the ocean
jalam (acc.): water
ratna: a jewel , gem , treasure , precious stone (the nine jewels are pearl , ruby , topaz , diamond , emerald , lapis lazuli , coral , sapphire , gomeda)
shriyaa = instrumental of shrii: f. splendour; wealth , treasure , riches ; bounty
kriiDati = 3rd person singular of kriiD: to play , sport , amuse one's self , frolic , gambol , dally (used of men , animals , the wind and waves , &c); to jest , joke with (instr.)

shatruuNaam = gen. pl. shatru: m. " overthrower " , an enemy , foe , rival , a hostile king (esp. a neighbouring king as a natural enemy)
avadhuuya = abs. ava-√dhuu: to shake off or out or down; to shake off (as enemies or evil spirits or anything disagreeable) , frighten away
viiryam (acc. sg.): n. manly vigour, valour, strength, power,
iShubhiH = inst. pl. iShu: an arrow
bhuNkte = 3rd person singular of bhuj: to enjoy
narendra: m. " man-lord " , king , prince
shriyaM (acc. sg.): f. splendour; wealth , treasure , riches ; high rank , power , might , majesty , royal dignity

tad: so
viiryam (acc. sg.): n. manly endeavour, energy
kuru = imperative of kR: to do, make
shaantaye = dative of shaanti: f. tranquillity , peace , quiet , peace or calmness of mind , absence of passion
viniyata: mfn. restrained , checked , regulated
viniyatam: ind. certainly, surely
viirye = locative of viirya: energy, endeavour
hi: for
sarva: all
RddhayaH = nominative, plural of Rddhi: f. increase , growth , prosperity, success , good fortune , wealth , abundance ; accomplishment

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.97: Studies in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

a-nikShipt'-otsaaho yadi khanati gaaM vaari labhate
prasaktaM vyaamathnan jvalanam araNibhyaaM janayati
prayuktaa yoge tu dhruvam upalabhante shrama-phalaM
drutaM nityaM yaantyo girim api hi bhindanti saritaH

A man obtains water if he digs the ground
with dogged perseverance,

And produces fire from fire-sticks
by continuous twirling.

But those are sure to reap the fruit of their effort
whose energies are harnessed to practice,

For rivers that flow swiftly and constantly
cut through even a mountain.

This verse is all about harnessing energy -- in accordance with the 2nd law of thermodynamics which describes the tendency that energy has to dissipate, unless prevented from doing so by activation energy barriers.

The four lines of this verse are four studies in the 2nd law, following a certain order of progression.

Getting water out of the ground is a physical process. Obtaining water by digging a well requires gross physical effort to dig up earth, and gross physical effort to draw up water. The digging and drawing up are purely mechanical processes, in which activation energy barriers are preventing chemical reactions from taking place. If a wooden bucket is used, activation energy barriers are preventing the water from reacting with the carbon atoms of the bucket. Activation energy barriers, moreover, are maintaining the integrity of the molecular structure of the sides and bottom of the bucket and thereby preventing the water from leaking away.

Fire is ovtained not only through physical means but also through chemical reaction. Getting fire by twirling firesticks again requires persistent effort, but it is effort of a subtler and more skilfull kind than digging, involving a certain amount of know-how, and a good deal of preparation in terms of procuring kindling, dry firewood, and so on. Then nonstop twirling is required to produce the initial flame that allows activation energy barriers to be overcome in the kindling, whose burning then allows activation energy barriers to be overcome in the firewood. Then, at last, the fire gets going, as carbon and oxygen atoms continue to bond spontaneously with each other, releasing heat and light energy as they form more energetically stable compounds of carbon dioxide.

The physical and mental harnessing of energy which is the purpose of formal practice (yoga) requires both these kinds of work on the self: not only gross muscular effort to do something, like digging, but also more subtle mental effort NOT to do. The false mental conceptions that we bring to practice -- the conception that causes us to try to do an undoing, for example -- are akin to activation energy barriers in chemistry in that they operate as blocks to the spontaneous flow of energy. Not by physical work alone can we remove those blocks. Removal of those blocks also requires mental work. Mental work, like fire, has to do with reaction. Mental work has to do with inhibiting or allowing certain reactions to certain stimuli. So Dogen wrote:

Sit with the body.
Sit with the mind.

Sitting with body and mind is effort, but the fruit of such effort is the enjoyment of effortlessness. The fruit of effort, in other words, is that spontaneous flow which is to...

Sit as the dropping off of body and mind.

In discussing the progression of these three lines with my 18-year old son who does not have any interest at all in "Buddhism" but who will be starting a university degree in Chemistry in October, I asked him what he thought the logical subject of the fourth line might be. He paused for a few seconds, looking much more interested in his chicken sandwich than in my attempts to draw him into this discussion. "Dunno. Water flowing down a mountain, I suppose."

Yes, because a mountain stream is the most conspicuous manifestation we see in the natural world of the spontaneous flow of energy, and rivers cutting gorges and canyons out of mountains are most magnificent examples of how the most massive barriers can be eroded, given time, by spontaneous flow of energy itself.

Among many wonderful and inspiring metaphors that cut through all cultural and language barriers to communicate to us exactly what the Buddha wanted to communicate, this verse contains my absolute favourites. Whether as a student and translator of the Buddha's teachings, or as a student and advocate of FM Alexander's teachings, direction of energy is the business I am in. Direction of energy, I submit, is in the final analysis what this Canto is all about.

EH Johnston:
A man obtains water if he digs the earth with unremitting energy ; he produces fire from the fire-sticks by continuous friction ; and the men who apply themselves to Yoga certainly obtain the fruit of their toil. For streams, by ever running swiftly, wear away even mountains.

Linda Covill:
A man obtains water when he digs the ground with unceasing perseverance, and he produces fire from fire-sticks by continually rubbing them together. And those who apply themselves to yogic discipline are sure to win the reward of their exertions; for rivers that run swiftly and continuously can erode even a mountain.


a: not
nikShipta: thrown down or upon ; deposited , pawned , pledged ; rejected , abandoned
utsaahaH (nom. sg.): m. power , strength ; strength of will , resolution ; effort , perseverance , strenuous and continuous exertion , energy; firmness , fortitude
yadi: if, when
khanati = 3rd person singular of khan: to dig
gaaM = acc. sg. go: a cow; the earth (as the milk-cow of kings)
vaari (acc. sg.): n. water
labhate = 3rd person singular of labh: gain, obtain

prasaktam: ind. continually , incessantly
vyaamathnan = nom. sg. m. present participle of vyaa-math
math: to produce fire by rapidly whirling round or rotating a dry stick (araNi) in another dry stick prepared to receive it
jvalanam (acc. sg.): m. fire
araNibhyaam = abl. dual araNi: f. firestick
janayati = 3rd person singular of jan: to produce

prayukta: yoked , harnessed ; used , employed , practised , performed , done
prayuktaaH = nom. pl. m. prayukta: those who are harnessed
yoge = locative of yoga: practice, formal practice
tu: but, now, then (sometimes used as expletive)
dhruvam: ind. firmly , constantly , certainly , surely
upalabhante = 3rd person plural of upalabh: to seize , get possession of , acquire , receive , obtain , find
shrama-phalam (acc.): the fruit of exertion
shrama:fatigue; exertion , labour , toil , exercise , effort either bodily or mental , hard work of any kind
phala: fruit, result, benefit

drutam: ind. quickly , rapidly
nityam: ind. always , constantly
yaantyaH (nom. sg. m.): going
girim (acc. sg.): m. a mountain , hill , rock
api: even, also
hi: for
bhindanti = 3rd person plural of bhid: , to split , cleave , break , cut or rend asunder , pierce , destroy
saritaH = nom. pl. sarit: a river, stream

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.96: Deliver Us from Diffidence

nayaM shrutvaa shakto yad ayam abhivRddhiM na labhate
paraM dharmaM jNaatvaa yad upari nivaasaM na labhate
gRhaM tyaktvaa muktau yad ayam upashaantiM na labhate
nimittaM kausiidyaM bhavati puruShasy' aatra na ripuH

When a capable person hears the guiding principle
but makes no progress,

When he knows the most excellent method
but gains no upward repose,

When he leaves home
but in freedom finds no peace:

The cause is his weak direction of energy in himself,
and not an enemy.

FM Alexander said, “When an investigation comes to be made, it will be found that every single thing we are doing in the Work is exactly what is being done in Nature where the conditions are right...”

To observe what is being done in Nature where the conditions are right, I spend as much of the spring and summer as I can by the forest in France. And what I observe there is that in Nature where the conditions are right plants, animals, and people become, for a time, channels of a vibrant upflow of energy. Notwithstanding the prediction of the 2nd law of thermodynamics that all energy has an inherent tendency to disperse, as in water flowing downward, in Nature where the conditions are right living things temporarily manifest an upward concentration of energy, associated with vibrant growth.

Again, FM Alexander said, “When an investigation comes to be made, it will be found that every single thing we are doing in the Work is exactly what is being done in Nature where the conditions are right, the difference being that we are learning to do it consciously.”

That is the point. What FM Alexander’s teaching is all about, and what this Canto as I read it is all about, is conscious direction of energy. We are learning consciously to direct our energy. Learning the backward step of turning light and shining means learning consciously to direct one’s energy.

In this connection FM Alexander wrote: “I wish to indicate the process involved in projecting messages from the brain to the mechanisms and in conducting the energy necessary to the use of these mechanisms.”

So it is not enough to have heard the guiding principle: real progress depends on working to that principle. Real progress depends not only on the brain sending down the right messages but also on the belly sending out the requisite energy.

Again, it is not enough to have benefited from personal demonstrations of that most excellent method by which to allow the free working of the natural mechanisms of upright posture: for experience of upward repose to be real, one has to make the method one’s own, by learning to work on oneself, which means learning to direct one’s own energy.

Again, it is not even enough to adopt the outer forms of a forest monk, a hermit, or a wandering mendicant: peace depends on inward work on oneself.

Coming to the last line, I struggled to find a translation of kausiidya that exactly conveyed the sense I wished to convey of a weak attitude towards this business of working on oneself -- that conveyed, in other words, a person’s lack of initiative in directing his or her own energy.

In context, kausiidya is being used as an antonym of viirya, which means manliness, valour, strength, power , energy, heroism. So kausiidya, as opposed to viirya, may be understood as expressing girlishness, diffidence, weakness, impotence, weak energy, wimpishness.

The dictionary defines kausiidya as sloth, indolence, laziness. But these terms strike me as blunt instruments for conveying what I think Ashvaghosha wishes to convey, which is not only physical laziness and not only mental negligence, but rather a lack of both clarity and initiative in a person’s conscious direction of his or her own energy.

So, unable to hit upon a suitable one-word translation of kausiidya, I resorted to a four-word translation: weak direction of energy

In making the above comments, I am drawing on experience that precedes my first encounters with Alexander work in 1994, and with Zazen in 1982. Back in 1971, when I was aged 11, my parents received my first school report in which my house master and rugby coach Billy Buttle, a man whose opinion I respected, described my performance on the rugby field as “diffident.” Not knowing what the word meant, but fearing that praise wasn’t being heaped upon me, I nervously looked the word up in the dictionary: “hesitant in acting or speaking through lack of self-confidence.” I soon learned to compensate -- some would say over-compensate -- for the inherent tendency to diffidence and, aided by daily weight-training sessions in the gym, I developed on the rugby field into an aggressive and loud-mouthed pack leader. But compensation comes at a price and, however convincingly life-like the mask may be, compensation never goes to the root of diffidence.

Inherent diffidence, as I see it, is not only my problem. It is everybody’s problem. All humanity stands to benefit from the discoveries of FM Alexander because human beings are everywhere prone to suffer from lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. And the faultier the unconscious functioning of a person’s vestibular system, the stronger this tendency is liable to be.

Q. E. D.

EH Johnston:
It is indolence, not his enemy, that is the cause that a man capable of success, on hearing of the method, fails to progress, that, knowing the supreme Law, he does not gain an abode above and that, having left his home, he does not attain peace in Salvation.

Linda Covill:
When a competent person hears the method but makes no progress, when he knows the supreme dharma but wins no higher estate, when he leaves his home but finds no peace in freedom -- the reason for this is his own laziness, and not an enemy.

nayam (acc. sg.): m. leading (of an army) ; plan , design ; leading thought , maxim , principle, system , method , doctrine
shrutvaa = absolutive of shru: to hear ; to hear (from a teacher) , study , learn
shaktaH (nom. sg.): m. one who is able, a capable person
yad: [the fact] that
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this one, this man
abhivRddhim (acc. sg.): f. growth , increase, prosperity
abhi: ind. (a prefix to verbs and nouns , expressing) to , towards , into , over
vRddhi: f. growth , increase , augmentation , rise , advancement , extension , welfare , prosperity , success , fortune , happiness
na: not
labhate = 3rd person singular of labh: to take, gain ; to gain possession of , obtain , receive , conceive , get

param: m. excellent, best, highest, supreme
dharmam: m. teaching, method
jNaatvaa = absolutive of jNaa: to know
yad: [the fact] that
upari: ind. above , upon , on , upwards
nivaasam (acc. sg.): m. clothing , dress ; m. living , dwelling , residing , passing the night ; dwelling-place , abode
na: not
labhate = 3rd person singular of labh: to take, gain ; to gain possession of , obtain , receive , conceive , get

gRham (acc. sg.): m. house
tyaktvaa = absolutive of tyaj: to leave , abandon , quit
muktau = locative of mukti: f. setting or becoming free , release , liberation
yad: [the fact] that
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this man, he
upashaantim (acc. sg.): f. cessation , intermission , remission ; tranquillity , calmness
na: not
labhate = 3rd person singular of labh: to take, gain ; to gain possession of , obtain , receive , conceive , get

nimittam (nom. sg.): n. cause
kausiidyam (nom. sg.): n. sloth , indolence
bhavati: is
puruShasya = gen. sg. puruSha: m. a man, a person
atra: (used in sense of locative case asmin) in him
na: not
ripuH (nom. sg.): m. a deceiver , cheat , rogue; m. an enemy , adversary , foe

Monday, May 18, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.95: Lead Us Not Into No Endeavour

a-labdhasy' aa-laabho niyataM upalabdhasya vigamaH
tath" aiv' aatma'-aavajNaa kRpaNam adhikebhyaH paribhavaH
tamo nis-tejastvaM shruti-niyama-tuShTi-vyuparamaH
nRNaaM nir-viiryaaNaaM bhavati vinipaatash ca bhavati

No gaining of what is yet to be gained,
and certain loss of what has been gained,

Along with low self-esteem, wretchedness,
the scorn of superiors,

Darkness, lack of spirit, and the breakdown
of learning, restraint and contentment:

For men without endeavour a great fall awaits.

This is a warning against lacking endeavour. It is not, as I read it, an exhortation to keep on trying.

What is the difference between heroic endeavour, and lowly persistence in trying hard?

Trying hard is emphasizing what one already knows, in pursuit of some goal that is in one’s sights, and there is a feeling of security in this. Manly endeavour includes the sense of stepping bravely, whether in forward steps or in backward steps, into the unknown.

Trying ties us to our faults. There is another kind of endeavour in which knowing our faults is a basis for going into the unknown.

Four particular faults that Alexander work causes a person to know are: (1) stiffening or collapsing the neck, (2) pulling the head back and down into the body, (3) twisting and narrowing the back, and (4) pulling the arms and legs into the body. Working with primitive vestibular reflexes, again, has caused me to know how deeply ingrained these four faults are in the psycho-physical fabric of all human beings. Low self-esteem, for example, is invariably associated with lack of proper muscle tone in the neck; equally it is well-documented as a symptom of an aberrant Moro reflex.

To carry on sitting cross-legged on a round cushion, breathing out and breathing in and breathing out again, without committing these four cardinal sins, is not an easy thing. I do not go on about it on this blog because I myself find it so easy and am so good at it. On the contrary, when it comes to low self-esteem, I bow to nobody. What I am writing here is mainly to remind, encourage and stimulate my own miserable self.

To give up trying and yet persist in pursuit of individual freedom is not an easy thing. A spirit of constant endeavour is indispensable. This series of verses praising endeavour, as I read them, are written in that spirit.

EH Johnston:
For men who have not energy there can certainly be no acquisition of what they have not acquired, and there is loss of what they have acquired as well as self-contempt, misery, and insult from the stronger, mental darkness, loss of power, and cessation of learning, of self-control and of contentment, and ultimately descent to a lower plane of existence.

Linda Covill:
Men without endeavor won't acquire what has not yet been acquired, and they are bound to lose what has been acquired. They experience self-contempt, wretchedness, the scorn of their superiors, mental darkness, lack of brilliance, and a loss of learning, restraint and contentment; a great fall awaits them.

labh: to gain, get, obtain, find, realise
a-labdhasya (genitive): of the not gained
a-laabhaH (nominative, singular): m. not gaining
niyatam: decidedly , inevitably , surely
upalabdhasya (genitive): of the gained
vigamaH (nominative, singular): m. ending, cessation, absence, loss

tathaa: so, likewise, similarly
eva: the same [emphatic]
aatma = in compounds for aatman: self
avajNaa (nom. sg.): f. contempt , disesteem , disrespect
kRpaNam (nom. sg.): n. wretchedness, misery
adhikebhyaH = ablative, plural of adhika: surpassing , superior ,
paribhavaH (nom. sg.): m. insult , injury , humiliation , contempt , disgrace

tamaH = nom. sg. tamas: n. darkness
nistejasvam (nom. sg.): n. lack of vitality
nis: lack of, being without
tejas: the sharp edge (of a knife &c ) , point or top of a flame or ray , glow , glare , splendour , brilliance , light , fire ; clearness of the eyes ; the bright appearance of the human body (in health) , beauty ; the heating and strengthening faculty of the human frame seated in the bile ; the bile ; fiery energy , ardour , vital power , spirit , efficacy , essence
-tva (abstract noun suffix): -ness
shruti: f. hearing , listening; the ear , organ or power of hearing ; that which has been heard or communicated from the beginning , sacred knowledge orally transmitted by the Brahmans from generation to generation ; learning, scholarship
niyama: m. restraining , checking , holding back , preventing , controlling
tuShTi: f. satisfaction , contentment
vyuparamaH (nominative, singular): m. pause , cessation , interruption ; end , close (of day)

nRNaam = genitive, plural of nR: man, hero, person
nirviiryaaNam = genitive, plural of nirviirya: powerless , unmanly , impotent
bhavati: there is [no gaining... etc. ]
vinipaataH = nominative, singular of vinipaata: m. falling down , falling; a great fall , ruin , loss , calamity; death ; frustration ; failure
ca: and
bhavati: there is [a great fall]

Sunday, May 17, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.94: Endeavour to Do, Endeavour to Achieve, Endeavour to Succeed, and Endeavour Not to Do

viiryaM paraM kaarya-kRtau hi muulaM
viiryaad Rte kaacana n' aasti siddhiH
udeti viiryaad iha sarva-sampan
nir-viiryataa cet sakalash ca paapmaa

Endeavour is paramount:
for, in doing what needs to be done, it is the foundation;

Without endeavour there is no accomplishment at all;

All success in this world arises from endeavour --

And in the absence of endeavour wrongdoing is rampant.

In doing what needs to be done, endeavour is fundamental. And in stopping the doing that needs to be stopped, endeavour is even more fundamental.

So this verse, as I read it, is saying by all means do your best, strive to achieve, try your hardest to succeed -- and don't forget the backward step of turning your light and letting it shine.

EH Johnston:
Energy is of the greatest import, for it is the foundation for carrying through what is to be done and without energy nothing can be accomplished; all success in the world arises from energy, and if there be a lack of it there is nothing but sin.

Linda Covill:
Endeavor is paramount, for it is the foundation of doing what needs to be done, and without endeavor there would be no accomplishment at all. All success in the world arises from endeavor, and if there were no endeavor evil would be complete.

viiryam (nom. sg.): n. energy, manly endeavour
param (nom. sg. m.) best, highest , supreme
kaarya: to be done
kRtau = locative of kRti: f. the act of doing , making , performing
hi: for
muulam (nom. sg. m.): root, basis , foundation

viiryaad = ablative of viirya: endeavour
Rte: under pain of , with the exclusion of , excepting , besides , without , unless (with ablative)
kaa = kad = interrogative pronoun
cana = ca + na (gives a negative force to the pronoun)
kaacana: at all
na: not
aasti: there is
siddhiH = nominative, singular of siddhi: accomplishment

udeti = 3rd person singular of ud- √ i: to arise
viiryaad (ablative of viirya): from endeavour
iha: in this place , here; in this world
sarva: all
sampad: f. success , accomplishment , completion , fulfilment , perfection

nis: put of, away from, without
viirya: endeavour
taa (abstract noun suffix): -ness
nirviiryataa (nom. sg.): f. unmanliness , powerlessness , impotence , exhaustion
ced: when, if
sakalaH (nom. sg. m.): possessing all its component parts , complete , entire , whole
ca: and
paapmaa = nom. sg. paapman: m. evil , unhappiness , misfortune , calamity , crime , sin , wickedness ; evil demon , devil

Saturday, May 16, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.93: In Praise of Bittersweet Endeavour

dravyaM yathaa syaat kaTukaM rasena
tac c' opayuktaM madhuraM vipaake
tath" aaiva viiryaM kaTukaM shrameNa
tasy' aartha-siddhau madhuro vipaakaH

Just as the flesh of a fruit may be bitter to the taste

And yet it is sweet when eaten ripe,

So manly endeavour, being a struggle, is bitter

And yet, in accomplishment of the aim,
its mature fruit is sweet.

This verse is much more difficult to understand than it might appear to the unwary.

It would be easy to read this verse as an expression of optimism; but what this verse, as I read it, is really all about is not taking the easy option.

On 19th February 1925, an old girl of K.E.H.S Birmingham named Irene Tasker transcribed a lecture by FM Alexander given to the Child-Study Society, in which he said: "The technique that I have worked at all these years enables you to get rid of your defects in the process of carrying it out."

FM quoted his friend and supporter Dr Peter Macdonald, who was later (1942 - 45) to become chairman of the British Medical Association:

"Alexander does not treat specific defects. He does not undertake specific cures, but the specific defects are eradicated in the process. For instance, in flat-foot, he never touches that foot or the leg, but that flat-foot will disappear in the process."

Alexander, in other words, did not take the easy option. He worked to the preventive principle in the eradication of defects, looking at a person in the round.

Working on the eradication of defects in this way, as anybody knows who has really devoted themselves to working in this way, is a tough struggle. It is never to take the easy option.

Psychological therapies and formalistic Japanese sitting (so-called "Zazen") are just easy options. You might think, as you sit with your legs on fire, that Zazen is not an easy option, but that thought is only a manifestation of your ignorance. What Buddha/Ashvaghosha are outlining in this Canto is something much more difficult than that, which is eradication of defects on a general, preventive basis, working to a principle.

As I mentioned previously, there are people who, without asking my permission, have translated my stuff directly from my English into their own language. They have taken the easy option, and they do not have my respect. Gabriele Linnebach has my respect, because she took the option which, from the beginning, was not easy for her. Twenty-odd years ago we sat opposite each other going through Fukan-zazengi character by character. I did not realize how difficult Gabriele was finding the task, until the tears started rolling down her cheeks. She was daunted. She felt the task was too difficult for her. But it wasn't too difficult. It was very difficult, but in the end it did not prove too difficult. So I cite Gabriele's example as one example of manly endeavour which was good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.

After seventy years in the work of enabling self and others to get rid of defects in the process of carrying out an activity (against the habits of a lifetime), Elisabeth Walker writes: "One knows with absolute certainty that what one is communicating is good."

This also could easily be understood as a statement of optimism. But I much prefer to read it as a statement of the unshakeable confidence of a person who refused to be overwhelmed by grief, following tragedies like the death of her first child and the death of the love of her life -- her husband of 50-odd years.

Similarly, when the Lotus Sutra says that the Dharma is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, for me it is not the expression of optimistic or realistic philosophy. To me, it is rather the expression of the Buddha's unshakeable confidence that what he was communicating was good. And that kind of confidence cannot arise from taking short-cuts or easy options. It arises from working to principle, against instinctive habits, and this invariably involves a hard struggle.

So this verse, as I read it, is not expressing an optimistic thought that what is now something bad will turn into something good. It is not saying that bitter fruit is bad and sweet fruit is good. The intention might rather be that real fruit, tasting bitter when unripe and sweet when ripe, is always good.

In other words, this verse is an encouragement not to be put off by whatever bitterness endeavour may bring. What feels like the wrong thing might in fact already be the right thing, struggling to assert itself.

In discussing the feeling of bitterness in Shobogenzo chapter. 73, Master Dogen wrote:

Bitterness is a feeling. That it is the independent subject feeling, is not it. That it is objective feeling, is not it. That it is feeling as something that exists, is not it. That it is feeling as what does not exist, is not it. It is the living body feeling. It is the living body suffering. It means sweet ripe melons being replaced by bitter gourds. This is bitter to the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, and bitter to the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, and so on. This is the practice and the experience of a mystical power that is a cut above -- a mystical power that springs out from the entire stem and springs out from the whole root. Thus, "It has been said that living beings suffer. Yet what actually exist are suffering living beings." That living beings are self is not it. That living beings are the other is not it. What actually exists is suffering living beings. In the end, it is impossible to deceive others. Sweet melons are sweet through to their stems. Bitter gourds are bitter through to their roots. And yet it is not easy to grope what this bitterness is. We should ask ourselves: what is this bitterness?

If I look forward to a dessert of summer-fruit pudding, with ripe blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, that is only my imagination working. In the garden or in the fridge, there are no blackberries. Whereas the rhubarb growing in my back garden is not yet ready to eat, but there it is, really growing, leaves extending out to receive the sun's energy. So this verse, as I read it, is not an affirmation of expected summer fruits; it is rather an affirmation of real rhubarb -- just as Dogen's words are an affirmation of real bitterness.

EH Johnston:
Just as a substance may be hot in taste and yet when eaten be easy to digest, so energy may be painful through the toil it involves and yet be pleasant in its result through the accomplishment of the object in hand.

Linda Covill:
Just as a substance may be pungent in flavour yet when eaten ripe may prove to be sweet, so an endeavor may be hard in its execution but when it ripens through the accomplishment of its aims, prove to be sweet.

dravyam (nom. sg.): n. a substance , thing , object ; the ingredients or materials of anything ; medicinal substance or drug
yathaa: just as
syaat (optative): might be
kaTukam (nom. sg.): sharp , pungent , bitter ; fierce , impetuous , hot , bad
rasena = instrumental of rasa: taste, flavour

tat (nom./acc. sg. n.): it
ca: and
upayuktam (nom./acc. sg. n.): enjoyed , eaten , consumed
madhuram (nom./acc. sg. n.): sweet , pleasant , charming , delightful
vipaake = locative of vipaaka: ripe , mature ; ripening , maturing (esp. of the fruit of actions); maturing of food (in the stomach) , digestion,

tathaa (correlative of yathaa): so
eva: (emphatic) the same
viiryam (nom. sg.): n. manliness , valour , strength , power , energy ; heroism , heroic deed; manly vigour , virility
kaTukam (nom. sg. n.): bitter
shrameNa = instrumental of shrama: fatigue , weariness , exhaustion; exertion , labour , toil , exercise , effort either bodily or mental , hard work of any kind

tasya (gen. sg. m./n.): of it, of him
aartha: aim , purpose
siddhau = locative of siddhi: f. accomplishment , performance , fulfilment , complete attainment (of any object) , success
N.B. EHJ says that he reads this word as siddhyaa = instrumental of siddhi, and LC follows this reading. Johnston's original Sanskrit
text, if I have read it correctly reads as siddhau, which seems to make sense to me.
madhuraH (nom. sg. m.: sweet
vipaakaH (nominative singular of vipaaka): m. ripening , maturing (esp. of the fruit of actions)

Friday, May 15, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.92: Working to Principle

yaM vikramaM yoga-vidhaav akurvaMs
tam eva shiighraM vidhivat kuruShva
tataH padaM praapsyasi tair avaaptaM
sukh'-aavRtais tvaM niyataM yashash ca

The prowess they have shown
with regard to the principle of practice,

Be quick to do the same, working to principle.

Then your realisation of the step that they took,

And of the splendour that adorns those ease-filled ones,
will be assured.

Courage displayed in practice, as I see it, is absolutely no guarantee of any kind of splendid result, unless that practice is carried out according to the means-whereby principle. So for me the key word in this verse is vidhi.

Vidhi, as I read it, expresses the means-whereby principle which stands in opposition to blind end-gaining. Courage in blind end-gaining is the last thing we need to emulate. What we should emulate is prowess in working to the preventive principle.

According to the preventive principle, the first thing we attend to, rather than grasping unconsciously for an end in view, is cutting out faults. The most basic of these faults are, on the one hand, over-excited energy, hyper-tension, fixing, postural stiffening; and, on the other hand, weak energy, lack of tone, irresolution, postural collapse.

Considered in these terms, in terms of energetic tone, with this verse the pace seems to switch from the calming stimulus of running through a long list of names -- which is as exciting as conjugating French verbs or counting sheep -- to the garnering stimulus of being exhorted to lively up ourselves, quickening the conscious mind and showing manly endeavour in working to principle.

EH Johnston:
The courage which they showed in the practice of Yoga do you also display quickly in proper form. Then you will certainly reach the stage and the glory those... ones reached.

Linda Covill:
that courage which they showed in the practice of yoga, be quick to do the same, as instructed. Then you will certainly attain the state, and the glory, that those blissful ones reached.

yam (acc. sg. m.): [that] which
vikramam (acc. sg.): m. a step , stride , pace; going , proceeding , walking , motion , gait ; course , way , manner ; valour , courage , heroism , power , strength ; force , forcible means
yoga: practice, formal practice
vidhau = locative of vidhi: rule, direction; use , employment , application ; method , manner or way of acting , mode of life , conduct , behaviour; work ; any act or action , performance , accomplishment , contrivance , work , business (ifc. often pleonastically e.g. mathana-vidhi , the [act of] disturbing)
akurvan = 3rd person plural, imperfect of kR: to do, make
vikramaM- √kR: to display prowess , use one's strength

tam (correlative of yam): that [which]
eva: same, very
shiighram: quickly
vidhivat: according to rule , duly
kuruShva = imperative of kR: to do

tataH: in that case, then
padam (acc. sg.): n. step
praapsyasi = 2nd person future of praap: to attain to ; reach , arrive at , meet with , realise
taiH (inst. pl): by them
avaaptam (acc. sg. n.): attained, reached, obtained, got

sukha: ease, happiness
aavRtaiH (inst. pl. m.): filled with , abounding with
tvam (nominative, singular): you
niyatam: decidedly , inevitably , surely
yashaH = acc. sg. yashas: n. beautiful appearance , beauty , splendour , worth ; honour , glory , fame , renown