Monday, May 4, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.81: Left. Right. Left, Right, Left...

druta-prayaaNa-prabhRtiiMsh ca tiikShNaat
kaama-prayogaat parikhidyamaanaH
yathaa naraH saMshrayate tath"aiva
praajNena doSheShv api vartitavyam

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.

Why quick marching? Quick, I think, because vigorous exercise helps stimulate an uplifting flow of endorphins in a person who feels depressed.

And marching because proper marching is a cross-pattern activity that re-enforces basic fundamental connections in the cerebellar-vestibular system. These neural connections by which the two sides of the brain co-ordinate with the two sides of the body undergo a period of prodigious growth when a baby, from the age of about six months onwards, starts crawling on hands and knees. Just as crawling helps in infancy with integration of left and right sides, and so too in a depressed adult whose sense of self has been shattered does marching help with re-integration of left and right.

A wise person deals with the problem of unconscious reaction pro-actively, through activities like quick marching which facilitate the flow of endorphins; which re-enforce neural connections at the level of the reptilian/mammalian brain; and which lead towards a better integration of parts of the self which have tended to come into conflict with each other as man has become more civilized.

I am thinking in particular of four areas of conflict:
1. the reflex vs the conscious,
2. balance inputs from the ears vs balance inputs from the eyes,
3. left vs right, and
4. top vs bottom.

I am thinking of four symptoms of such conflict:
1. stiffening of the neck,
2. a head that does not know which way is up,
3. lack of coordination between the two sides of the body,
4. lack of coordination between the top of the body (neck, shoulders and arms) and the bottom (hips, knees, and ankles).

I am thinking four preventive directions:
1. to let the neck be free
2. to let the head go forward and up
3. to let the back lengthen and widen
4. while releasing arms and legs out of the body.

I am aware of the influence of four primitive vestibular reflexes:
1. the Moro Reflex,
2. the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex,
3. the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, and
4. the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex.

A conclusion that could be drawn from this verse, then, is that whenever one is afflicted by undesired unconscious reactions such as hyper- or hypo-activity, along with greed, ill-will, and delusion, it is wise to resort to fundamental re-education on a general basis, centred on the cerebellar-vestibular system. What we would seek, and what we would rely on, if we were wise, is not a new advance in philosophy or psychology or any of the external sciences, but a truly effective method for dealing with human reaction.

All this understanding is all very well but if it hadn't emerged from practice -- from activities like putting left and right feet on opposite thighs and directing the head and spine to grow upwards; from activities like swaying slowly left and right; from activities like directing the two sides of the back to release apart during one long exhalation; from activities like cross-pattern crawling, and squatting, and bi-lateral integration exercises, and the practice of traditional karate forms, and quick marching -- then the understanding wouldn't amount to a bean. As FM Alexander said, and as Buddha/Ashvaghosha are also indicating here, "We get it in movement."

EH Johnston:
As a man exhausted with strenuous erotic practices takes to walking quickly etc, so does the wise man deal with the vices.

Linda Covill:
Just as a man weary of excessive love-making will, for example, go for a brisk walk, so should the wise man proceed in relation to the faults.

druta: quick , speedy , swift
prayaaNa: setting out , starting , advancing , motion onwards , progress , journey , march
prabhRtiin = accusative, plural of prabhRti: (ifc.) beginning with , et cetera
ca: and
tiikShNaat = ablative of tiikShNa: sharp , hot , pungent , fiery , acid; harsh , rough , rude; zealous , vehement ; self-abandoning; inauspicious

kaama: love , especially sexual love or sensuality
prayogaat = ablative of prayoga: joining together , connection ; undertaking, affair; practice , experiment (opp. to , " theory ")
parikhidyamaanaH (nom. sg. m. present participle passive pari- √khid): a man who is depressed or afflicted , one who feels uneasy

yathaa: just as
naraH (nominative, singular): a man
saMshrayate = 3rd person singular of saM-√shri: to join together with , furnish with ; to join or attach one's self to , go for refuge or succour to , resort or betake one's self to , cling to for protection , seek the help of (acc.)
tath"aiva: exactly so, in like manner

praajNena = instrumental (denoting agent of passive construction) of praajna: a wise or learned man
doSheShu (locative): towards the faults
api: also
vartitavya = gerundive from vRt: to turn, proceed, to depend on (loc.); to be engaged or occupied with (loc.); to act, conduct one's self, behave towards (loc.); to act or deal with
vartitavyam (impersonal passive): it is to be dealt with

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

I would like to say to Markus that, troublesome though the stimulus you confronted me with was in the comment on this post that I deleted, and immature though my emotional reaction to that stimulus was, I think the episode helped me to clarify the real meaning of verse 16.84, which is a verse of really pivotal importance.

So I thank you for being such a pest.