Friday, September 4, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.3: ... and of Deprivation

yathaa c' aatyartham aahaaraH
kRto 'n-arthaaya kalpate
upayuktas tath" aatyalpo
na saamarthyaaya kalpate

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

And just as eating too much

Conduces to a dearth of value,

So eating too little

Makes for a lack of efficacy.

The word artha -- whose meanings include worth, reason, value, aim, purpose, and utility -- features three times in this verse:
in line 1 aty-artham means "beyond the proper worth", to excess, too much;
in line 2 an-artha means "non-value";
and in line 4 sam-artha means "sameness of purpose," efficacy, effectiveness.

Perhaps the effect of using the same word artha in these three ways is to beg questions like: What is a valuable aim? And what is true effectiveness?

Thirty years ago while studying Accounting & Financial Management, I struggled with a kind of management accountancy koan -- What is organisational effectiveness?

In the academic literature, there were two main approaches to answering the question, a goals approach and a systems approach.

The deeper question I was struggling with was "How can I cause this life of mine to be effective?"

If I took that question to the Buddha, how might he answer?

For a start, the Buddha seems to be saying here, don't eat too much, and don't eat too little.

Or, in other words, don't be a big fat lazy good-for-nothing who has no valuable aim, but at the same time don't turn yourself needlessly into a hungry ghost who is living a life of deprivation in pursuit of some worthy abstraction.

Or, in other words, practice the Dharma as the dropping off of all mutually contradictory approaches.

Or, in other words, just sit, as the dropping off of mind and body, not trying too hard (because this trying voids the sitting of any higher good), and not failing to make the requisite effort (because this failing renders the sitting spineless, weak, ineffective).

So this verse also, when its deeper meaning is dug out, might be nothing but the lifeblood.

EH Johnston:
And as too much food conduces to disaster, so eating too little leads to loss of capacity.

Linda Covill:
And just as it is detrimental to eat too much, so is it incapacitating to eat too little.

yathaa: just as
ca: and
ati: beyond, over
artha: purpose, reason, worth, etc.
atyartha: mfn. "beyond the proper worth", excessive
atyartham: ind. excessively
aahaaraH (nom.): m. taking food; m. food (e.g. aa-haaraM √kR , to take food , eat)

kRtaH: done, taken, eaten
an: not, non-, un- etc.
artha: purpose, reason, worth etc.
an-arthaaya = dative of an-artha: m. non-value , a worthless or useless object ; disappointing occurrence , reverse , evil
kalpate = 3rd pers. sing. of klRp: to be favourable to (with dative); to fix, settle, bring about

upayuktaH (nom.): mfn. enjoyed , eaten , consumed
tathaa: so, likewise
atyalpaH (nom.): very little

na: not
saamarthyaaya = dative of saamarthya: n. (from sam-artha) sameness of aim or object; agreeing together (in aim, object etc.); adequacy, fitness;
efficacy , power , strength , force
kalpate: (as above) it conduces to, it makes for

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