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]

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