Friday, September 11, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.10: Taking Refuge in the Fridge

na hy eka-viShaye 'nyatra
sajyante praaNinas tathaa
a-vijNaate yath" aahaare
boddhavyaM tatra kaaraNam

= = - - - = = -
= = = = - = - =
- = = = - = = =
= = = = - = - -

For on no other single object

Are sentient beings so stuck

As on the heedless eating of food.

To the reason for this one must be awake.

If we understand this verse in the context of the previous one, then the kind of heedless eating referred to here might be a top restaurant critic's eating of the choicest foods prepared by the most celebrated chefs in the restaurants with the most Michelin stars.

In that case, the lack of discernment is not a lack of discernment in that part of the gastronome's sensory cortex which is linked to his taste-buds. The lack of discernment might be a failure to heed, for example, the noble truth of suffering.

Failing to heed the truth of suffering, gastronomes and junk-food junkies alike turn for comfort to comfort food. Instead of looking forward to liberation from enslavement to faulty feeling, we look forward to a tasty morsel, or to a big portion of chips, that might just hit the spot. Instead of taking refuge in the teaching of cessation, we seek refuge in the refrigerator.

What is the reason for this tendency to get drawn to the fridge and stuck on food? And what does it mean to be awake to it?

The original reason for all such instances of being stuck might be a kind of fixing (parikalpa-visheSha 13.53), and the root causes of all such suffering might be the reptilian faults (dosha-vyaalaan; 14.29). But to know the causes and to understand the reason is one thing; really being awake to the reason is another. Really being awake might have to do with stopping off the causes at source, and that might be a function not so much of knowledge and understanding but more of integrity, balance, and wisdom (siila, samaadhi, prajna; 16.34-36).

The fourth line, then, seems to presage the exposition of the four noble truths which is to come in Canto 16.

If we were really awake to the reason for fixing, why would we waste so much time trying to be right and scoffing food,
instead of sleeping
and sitting upright
in freedom?

EH Johnston:
Since living beings are not so much attached to any other single object as to superfluous food. Know the reason for this teaching.

Linda Covill:
for living beings are not so attached to any other single sphere of activity as they are to indiscriminate eating. Make sure you understand the reason for this.

na: not
hi: for
eka: one, a single
viShaye = loc. viShaya: sphere, reach, object of sense; anything perceptible by the senses , any object of affection or concern or attention , any special worldly object or aim or matter or business , (pl.) sensual enjoyments , sensuality
anyatra = anyasmin, loc. of anya: other

sajyante = 3rd person pl. of saj: to cling or stick or adhere to
praaNinaH = nom. pl. of praaNin: m. a living or sentient being , living creature , animal or man
tathaa: so, as much, in like manner

avijNaate = loc. avijNaata: mfn. unknown; indistinct , doubtful ; not noticed , passed unawares (as the time)
a-: (negative suffix)
vijNaata: mfn. discerned , understood , known
yathaa (correlative of tathaa): as much as
aahaare = loc. aahaara: m. taking food, food

boddhavya (gerundive of √ budh) = mfn. to be attended to or noticed
√budh: to wake , wake up , be awake; to recover consciousness (after a swoon) ; to observe , heed , attend to; to perceive , notice , learn , understand , become or be aware of or acquainted with
tatra: therein
kaaraNam (acc.): n. cause , reason , the cause of anything


Ted Biringer said...


Thank you Mike.

Three Full Bows.


Mike Cross said...

The words may sound excellent, Ted, but the state today is not so excellent.

"Words to fit the action, and action to fit the words," Marjory Barlow used to say, quoting from Hamlet I think.

The bows are not deserved, but many thanks.