Saturday, October 31, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.7: Enemies & Friends

arjan'-aadiini kaamebhyo
dRShTvaa duHkhaani kaaminaam
tasmaat taan muulatash chindhi
mitra-saMjNaan ariin iva

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

Witness troubles, such as acquisition,

Arising from the desires of men of desire,

And on that basis cut off at root those troubles

Which are akin to enemies, whose name is "friend."

On the surface, the dualities of darkness vs light, fire vs water, and seed vs nothing are being extended in this verse by another duality, namely, enemies vs friends. But digging deeper, the real point of this verse might be not to extend, but rather to subvert, the duality of the previous three verses.

On the surface, an enemy that needs to be cut off at root might seem to be desire. In practice however, trying to cut off desire is a recipe for double trouble.

So again, to identify what really needs to be cut off, or cut out, or given up, we are required to dig deeper.

Digging deeper, how did the Buddha see the problem of friends and enemies? Was the fact lost on him that friends become enemies, and enemies become friends? Clearly not -- as the discussion of stranger and kinsman later in this canto demonstrates.

The world at the beginning of the 21st century, more than a hundred years after Einstein's theory of relativity, is still a world in which people's habits of thought, when it comes to identifying friends and enemies, are stuck. And real change in this world can only happen when trouble is truly cut off at its root. So in this divided world, where is the real root of trouble? Where is the root that the Buddha is exhorting Nanda to cut out?

At one level of thinking, Judaism seems to have a lot to answer for, with its division of the world into God's own chosen people and the rest of us. But digging deeper, Judaism and other even more primitive forms of tribalism might be not so much a cause as a symptom of a tendency that lies deep in every human heart -- certainly including my own.

Digging deeper, therefore, the fourth line might be suggesting that seeing others as my enemies is just a trouble (arising from a desire to be on the side of right), that must be cut off at root.

In other words, the real root of the trouble is not out there in an enemy, not even a two-faced one; the real root of trouble is right here in me, and in my idea of me. The real root of the trouble might be in the deep human tendency to see the world in terms of my friends and my enemies, the right and the wrong, good guys and bad guys, God's chosen people and the rest, friends and enemies of the state of Israel, true Muslims and infidels, ware-ware Nihonjin ('we Japanese') and henna gaijin (strange foreigners), true Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

Finally, digging deeper still, in the fourth line we strike a kind of gold. We arrive at what Marjory Barlow told me was the golden key -- being prepared to be wrong.

Marjory Barlow, as described HERE, taught me to witness the arising of trouble, out of my own desire, as a man of desire, to feel myself right in the gaining of an end (moving of a leg). More than teaching me, she guided me by the hand as if I were a helpless infant: she set the whole thing up like a laboratory experiment in her teaching room so that I could not fail to witness the trouble arising. And on that basis (tasmaat), on the basis of that witnessing, she taught me to cut off at root all troubles. How? In essence, by giving up an idea (vitarka-prahaana), as in the title of this canto. And the first idea she encouraged me to give up was the idea of me being right. When we truly witness, first in ourself and then in others, the troubles that arise out of people's desire to feel right, on that basis (tasmaat), we can begin to see that the name of one who we formerly saw as our enemy might truly be 'friend.' Because the ones we see as our enemy are, in truth, acting as very wonderful mirrors for the wrongness we fear within ourselves.

"Remember," Marjory used to say, "being wrong is the best friend you've got in this work."

EH Johnston:
Realise therefore what sufferings are caused by the passions in their acquisition etc. to those subject to them and cut them off, root and all, like enemies who style themselves friends.

Linda Covill:
So observe the sufferings of passionate men arising from their passions, beginning with the acquisition of wealth, and cut them off at the root, as though they were enemies calling themselves friends.

arjana (verbal noun from arj): n. procuring , acquiring , gaining , earning
arj: to procure , acquire
aadiini = acc. pl. n. aadi: ifc. beginning with , et caetera , and so on
kaamebhyaH = abl. pl. kaama: m. wish , desire , longing; object of desire

dRShTvaa = abs. dRsh: to see
duHkhaani = acc.. pl. duHkha: n. uneasiness , pain , sorrow , trouble , difficulty
kaaminaam = gen. pl. m. kaamin: mfn. desirous ; loving , fond , impassioned , wanton ; amorous , enamoured , in love with m. a lover

tasmaat: ind. from that, on that account, therefore
taan (acc. pl. m.): them, those [sufferings]
muula: n. a root
-taH: ablative suffix
chindhi = 2nd pers. imperative chid: to cut off , amputate , cut through , hew , chop , split , pierce

mitra: friend; n. friendship ; n. a friend , companion ; n. an ally (a prince whose territory adjoins that of an immediate neighbour who is called ari , enemy.)
saMjNaan = acc. pl. m. saMjNa: mfn. (ifc. for saM-jNaa, e.g. labdha-saMjNa , " one who has recovered consciousness ")
saMjNaa: f. agreement , mutual understanding , harmony ; consciousness , clear knowledge or understanding or notion or conception ; a sign , token , signal ; f. a name , appellation , title , technical term (ifc. = " called , named ")
ariin = acc. pl. ari: m. an enemy
iva: like, as if

Friday, October 30, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.6: A Seed of Something vs A Bit of Nothing

te hi tasmaat pravartante
bhuuyo biijaad iv' aaNkuraaH
tasya naashena te na syur
biija-naashaad iv' aaNkuraaH

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

For from that source they re-emerge,

Like shoots from a seed.

In its absence they would be no more --

Like shoots in the absence of a seed.

This verse is pure Alexander. The particular teaching it brings to my mind is a phrase favoured by the late American teacher Marjorie Barstow (who I never met): "It's just a little bit of nothing."

When I googled the phrase "a little bit of nothing," I found the following piece from The Journal of Alexander Technique International

Written in light-hearted vein, this sketch also makes a serious point: Alexander work is not, as it is commonly thought to be, a kind of bodywork. It is not all about posture. It is all about desire. In particular, it is about giving up the desire to achieve something, and cultivating the desire to allow a bit of nothing.

That's why people have said, correctly in my view -- for what my view is worth -- that Alexander rediscovered the secret of Zen for our time.

Here is the piece, from the ATI Journal, edited by Andrea Matthews:

[Teacher is onstage, waiting for his pupil. There is a knock at the door.]
TEACHER: Come on in. How can I help?
[Pupil walks in sparkling and free.]
PUPIL: I want to learn the Alexander technique from you. I studied the books and this is what I got from them.
[Pupil demonstrates.] Is this correct?
TEACHER: No. You are doing the undoing. Undo the doing and let the undoing do itself.
PUPIL: But if I undo the doing, isn’t that doing the undoing?
TEACHER: It could be.
PUPIL: Then how do I undo that doing?
TEACHER: By non-doing.
PUPIL: Non-doing?! What’s that?
TEACHER: Non-doing is when you decide not to do the undoing, but let the undoing do itself—I just told you that.
PUPIL: So you asked me not to do something that I shouldn’t do?
TEACHER: [delighted] That’s it!
PUPIL: [deflated] So—um… what do I do now?
TEACHER: Nothing. If you do nothing, you will get it.
PUPIL: Get what?
TEACHER: All the undoing.
PUPIL: The undoing of what?
TEACHER: The doing of course! Are you listening to me?
PUPIL: Sorry—I am trying to.
TEACHER: Ahhh—that’s the problem isn’t it?
PUPIL: It is?
TEACHER: You are trying.
PUPIL: I shouldn’t try?
TEACHER: Trying is only emphasizing the thing you already know.
PUPIL: I shouldn’t do what I know?
TEACHER: Heavens no—you can’t do what you don’t know if you keep doing what you do know.
PUPIL: OK. Sooooo—do I need to know what I am doing in order to undo it?
TEACHER: It isn’t always necessary.
PUPIL: It isn’t?
PUPIL: [determined again] Look—maybe you need to tell me what is it I want to get here?
TEACHER: A little bit of nothing.
PUPIL: [shocked] A little bit of nothing?
TEACHER: Yes. The trouble with you is that you want something, and that something is your habit.
PUPIL: My habit? [Teacher nods.] I see. And when I get “a little bit of nothing” what will I have?
TEACHER: The absence of what you had of course.
PUPIL: Which was?
TEACHER: The habit of a lifetime.
PUPIL: So I can change that?
TEACHER: Yes, change involves making a decision against the habit of life.
PUPIL: But if I make a decision, won’t I be doing?
TEACHER: Look, every non-doing is a kind of doing, it’s true—but non-doing doesn’t do what doing did when you were doing it, d’ya see? [Pupil sadly shakes her head.] OK—I think that’s enough for your first lesson. Don’t be discouraged. All we ever know in this world is when we are wrong.
PUPIL: Thanks. [Pupil walks out in a discouraged slump.]

The deepest happiness I know is enjoying sitting in lotus and having no desire to stop sitting or to do anything else. But if I come to France, or if I approach my zafu in Aylesbury, expecting to experience this kind of happiness, then I have already turned a bit of nothing into a bit of something. This is always the danger: given our instinctive tendency, shared with animals, to go directly for any end relying on unconsious means, even a bit of nothing can easily become a bit of something.

Hence the Marjory who I did meet, FM's niece Marjory Barlow, used to say: "I think of doing nothing. And then I ask myself: What kind of nothing am I doing?"

In this and the previous two verses the Buddha, by setting light against dark, water against fire, and absence against seed, has highlighted a duality, not because this world is originally divided, not so that we might be on the right side, not so we Buddhists might be the good guys as opposed to those non-Buddhist bad guys, but so that we might have a choice.

When I described myself to her once as a terrible end-gainer, Marjory stopped still, looked me in the eye and said: "Listen. It is up to you. Either you go directly for the end, or you follow the means-whereby."

What Marjory was saying, in other words, is: You are neither one of the good guys nor one of the bad guys. You are a human being, and you have a choice.

To do something, or truly to practise non-doing: that is the question.

FM Alexander described the choice as "end-gaining" vs "the means-whereby." For a metaphor, Alexander spoke of two paths through the forest. Path A is the old habit, the path of end-gaining. Path B is to a new use of the self, via the means-whereby.

In terms of the Buddha's metaphors, Path A is the path of darkness and fire, Path B of light and water. Path A has multiple offshoots of desire, Path B has no offshoots of desire.

In this metaphor of two paths through the forest it is not a question of setting out to destroy Path A. It is simply a question of repeatedly giving up the desire to go down Path A, and truly desiring to go up Path B. Soon enough grass and brambles, and eventually shrubs and trees, will grow over Path A. Then Path A itself and all its offshoots of desire will be no more.

EH Johnston:
For they become active again from that tendency, like shoots from a seed; by destroying it they would cease to exist, just as there are no shoots when the seed is destroyed.

Linda Covill:
Because of that tendency the passions re-emerge, like shoots from a seed; when it is destroyed they would not exist, just as shoots would not exist if the seed were destroyed.

te (nom. pl): they, those [desires]
hi: for
tasmaat: ind. from that , on that account
pravartante = 3rd pers. plural pravRt: to roll or go onwards (as a carriage) , be set in motion or going

bhuuyas: ind. once more , again , anew
biijaad = abl. biija: n. seed
iva: like
aNkuraaH = nom. pl. aNkura: m. a sprout , shoot

tasya (gen.): of it
naashena = inst. naasha: m. the being lost , loss , disappearance , destruction
te (nom. pl.): they, those [desires]
na: not
syuH (3rd pers. pl. optative of as): they would exist

biija: seed
naashaad = abl. naasha: m. the being lost , loss , disappearance , destruction
iva: like
aaNkuraaH: sprouts, shoots

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.5: Fire vs Water -- More Metaphor

tiShTaty anushayas teShaaM
channo 'gnir iva bhasmanaa
sa te bhaavanayaa saumya
prashaamyo 'gnir iv' aambunaa

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

What lies behind them sleeps on,

Like a fire covered with ashes;

You are to extinguish it, my friend, using thinking,

As if using water to put out a fire.

What lies behind, or sleeps alongside, those desires which are fevers of the mind?
- An idea?
- The ego?
- Imbalance of the autonomic nervous system?
- An uninhibited Moro reflex?
- The wrong inner patterns which, in Alexander work, are the 'doing' that has to be stopped?
- None of the above -- is it one "not that" after another?
- Or all of the above -- is it, for example, that what lies behind includes both the idea itself and the pattern of misuse habitually associated with that idea?

My habit is to want to nail down in words what lies behind. But the Buddha never asks Nanda to define what lies behind. The Buddha uses metaphor.

Lying behind the desires of which we are aware, like fevers of the mind, is something that needs to be extinguished like a fire which, though covered with ashes, is still there, sleeping on.

And when this something that needs to be extinguished, like a fire which, though covered with ashes, is still sleeping on, where is it?

It might be in the brain and nervous system.

And when this fire which, though covered with ashes, is still there in the brain and nervous system, sleeping on, what are we going to use to put out the fire?

We are going to use water.

And when we are going to use water to put out the fire which, though covered with ashes, is still there in the brain and nervous system, sleeping on, where is that water to be found?

It might be nowhere in the bones and muscles of the body; rather, it might be inside the head, in between the eyebrows.

Just as four lines of the Buddha's metaphor is a million times more valuable than my own endless verbage, one simple gesture by Marjory Barlow can say much more about this than I could in a thousand blog posts. So I would recommend watching this video clip again -- and notice where Marjory points to, about 60 seconds into the clip. It is the clip I have included before, where Marjory Barlow discusses what her uncle FM Alexander called "Thinking in Activity."

Marjory Barlow on Thinking.

EH Johnston:
There remains a latent tendency towards them, like a fire covered up with ashes; it must be quenched by meditation, my friend, like fire by water.

Linda Covill:
A tendency towards the passions continues to exist, as does a fire covered over with ash. Extinguish this tendency with meditation, dear friend, as fire is extinguished with water.

tiShTati = 3rd pers. sg. sthaa: to stay, remain, continue to exist
anushayaH (nom. sg.): m. (from anu-√shii) close connection as with a consequence , close attachment to any object
anu-: ind. (as a prefix) alongside , near to
shaya: lying , sleeping , resting , abiding
anu-√shii: to sleep with , lie along or close , adhere closely to.
teShaam (gen. pl.): of them

channaH (nom. sg. m.): covered , covered over
agniH (nom. sg.): m. fire
iva: like
bhasmanaa = inst. sg. bhasman: n. " what is pulverized or calcined by fire " , ashes

saH (nom. sg. m.): it
te (gen. sg.): of/for you
bhaavanayaa = inst. bhaavanaa: f. forming in the mind , conception , apprehension , imagination , supposition , fancy , thought , meditation (bhaavanayaa ind. in thought , in imagination); f. reflection , contemplation (5 kinds with Buddhists);
saumya (voc.): my friend!

prashaamyaH (nom. sg. gerundive passive pra-√sham): requiring to be appeased, quenched, extinguished, terminated
pra-√sham: to become calm or tranquil , be pacified or soothed , settle down (as dust) ; to be allayed or extinguished , cease , disappear , fade away: Caus. -zamayati, to appease , calm, quench, allay , extinguish , terminate ; to make subject , subdue , conquer
agniH (nom. sg.): m. fire
iva: like
ambunaa = inst. ambu: n. water

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.4: Darkness vs Light

yady api pratisaMkhyaanaat
kaamaan utsRShTavaan asi
tamaaMs' iiva prakaashena
pratipakSheNa taaN jahi

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

Although, through insight,

You have let go of desires,

You must, as if lighting up darkness,

Abolish them by means of their opposite.

Again, the Buddha's encouragement to Nanda to abolish desires can be understood on at least two levels. Overtly the Buddha is talking about sexual desires, the passions. But he might also be talking about the desire to go for any end.

Nanda has let go of his desires for the lovely Sundari, and the even lovelier celestial nymphs. But what does it mean to abolish those desires by their opposite, in the way that darkness is abolished by light?

On a superficial level of understanding, the opposite of sexual desire is disgust, in which case an effective means of abolishing sexual desire might be a passion-killing tactic, a dirty trick, like the so-called "impurity meditation."

In Zen Master Dogen's teaching, however, there is no such meditation. Master Dogen's teaching is that when a desirous thought arises, one should wake up. One should, in other words, oppose a desire that arises from unconsciousness by consciously engaging with the fundamental.

Thus, this verse might be understood as a call to oppose unconscious reactions to all kinds of desires, through the conscious practice of accepting and using the whole self.

In the practice of such a way, a means that runs counter to
unconscious end-gaining
might be
conscious practice of non-doing.

Unconscious end-gaining of the desirous I is
me going for it.
Conscious practice of non-doing is
It doing me.

Because It was doing him,
the Buddha could truly say
"I am Buddha"
and his teaching can truly be a light that abolishes darkness.

So, on the deeper level of understanding, it might not be a question of opposing plus with minus. It might not even be a question of opposing good guy and bad guy, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, true believer and infidel.

It might simply be a question of

unconscious reaction


conscious acceptance and use of the self.

EH Johnston:
Although you have cast off the passions through insight, you must destroy them by their opposite, as darkness by light.

Linda Covill:
Even though you have let go of the passions as a result of careful examination, destroy them by their opposite, as darkness is destroyed by light.

yady api: even if, although
pratisaMkhyaanaat = abl. pratisaMkhyaana: n. the tranquil consideration of a matter
prati: towards, upon
saMkhyaana: n. becoming seen , appearance ; reckoning up , enumeration , calculation ; measurement
sam: expresses "conjunction," " union " , " thoroughness " , " intensity " , " completeness
khyaana: n. perception , knowledge

kaamaan = acc. pl. kaama: m. desire, sexual love, object of desire or sexual love
utsRShTavaan = nom. sg. m. utsRShTavat: one who has let fall , who has shed (a tear &c )
utsRShta: mfn. let loose , set free,
ut-√sR: to expel , turn out , drive away , put or throw away , leave off
asi: you are

tamaaMsi = nom/acc. pl. tamas: n. darkness , gloom (also pl.)
iva: like
prakaashena = inst. prakaasha: m. clearness , brightness , splendour , lustre , light

pratipakSheNa = inst. pratipakSha: m. the opposite side , hostile party , opposition
taan (acc. pl): those, them
jahi = 2nd pers. imperative han: to strike ; to smite , slay , hit , kill , mar , destroy; to repress , give up , abandon (anger , sorrow &c )

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.3: Nipping a Desirous Thought before It Buds

sacet kaama-vitarkas tvaaM
dharShayen maanaso jvaraH
kSheptavyo n'aadhivaasyaH sa
vastre reNur iv' aagataH

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

If some desirous thought, a fever of the mind,

Should threaten to offend you,

Entertain no scent of it but shake it off

As if pollen had landed on your robe.

The word vitarka, “thought,“ in the first line is as in the title of this canto, vitarka-prahaaNaH, Giving Up Ideas, or Dropping Off Habits of Thought.

In this canto the sights of the Buddha appear to be set, in descending order of grossness, on: (a) habits of thought that are rooted in greed, ill-will, and ignorance; (b) comfortable notions of family, friendship, shelter and security; and (c) the expectation of continuing life. So the translation of vitarka needs to be broad enough to encompass all these various thought-patterns, fancies, notions, assumptions, and expectations. “Idea” might fit the bill. “Habit of thought” might be more precise.

Verses 15.3 to 15.11 are a consideration of kaama-vitarka, “desire-thought.” Kaama means desire, wish, longing. It also means pleasure, enjoyment, or love -- and especially sexual love or sensuality. So kaama-vitarka could be interpreted as a sexy thought, the thought of love/passion/sensual pleasure. To me, however, kaama-vitarka means, more broadly, thought that is rooted in end-gaining. As is very often the case, Ashvaghosha’s wording seems to permit at least two levels of interpretation -- one that is closer to the surface, and one that has to be dug for.

Through to 15.11 the Buddha is recommending Nanda to destroy desires (kaamaa) by their opposite, and to cut them out at root. Exactly what kind of desires the Buddha has in mind is not specified, although he seems in 15.7 to point to acquisitiveness as representative of the kind of desire he has in mind. But even here, the object of the desire to acquire is left open: does he mean the desire to acquire wealth? does he mean a person’s desire to possess another person sexually? does his meaning include the desire to obtain the nectar of immortality?

The kind of desire that I am familiar with endeavoring to root out, by resorting to its opposite conception (“the means-whereby”) is what we call in Alexander work “end-gaining” -- i.e. the desire to go directly for the gaining of an end without due consideration for the proper means. This Sanskrit word generally used to represent this kind of desire seems to betRSNaa, thirsting (see for example 16.17).

A desire to eat and drink breakfast, for example, is not end-gaining/thirsting. A person who is stiffening his neck in his desire to make breakfast in a big hurry, on the other hand, is end-gaining/thirsting.

A desire to thwart the power of the senses by staying in one‘s own brain is not end-gaining/thirsting. A yogin’s desire to inhibit thoughts by pulling his eyebrows up and in, sounds to my ears very much like end-gaining/thirsting.

A desire to go out into the fresh air and do some gardening is not end-gaining. An old codger’s desire that digging the garden might cause the V-shaped upper body of his youth to re-emerge.... enough said.

Is a man’s desire to sleep with a woman necessarily the desire to go directly for an end? Is sexual desire necessarily a kind of thirsting, a fever of the mind? I am not sure about the answer to that one. I think it is an area where a man like me is very prone to delude himself.

In any event, some desires, like the desire to eat and sleep, are natural and inevitable desires, and they are not necessarily associated with mental imbalance. It is a particular class of desires, namely, end-gaining desires, or instances of thirsting, that are prone to be accompained by mental over-excitation, or fever of the mind (maanaso jvara) -- or, to put it in terms of which Gudo Nishijima would approve, over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system.

Speaking from abundant experience in this matter, and from very recent experience too, once one has reacted to an end-gaining idea, it is already too late. Having been got already, all one can do is (a) accept the ensuing mental fever, and (b) learn from the mistake. In other words, there is no cure for habits of thought that are rooted in end-gaining; the secret is prevention.

So what this verse, as I read it, is exhorting Nanda to do is to shake off the dust of an end-gaining idea before it has had a chance to settle -- i.e. before an emotional reaction has had a chance to set in. Understood like this, comparing an end-gaining idea to pollen in the air is a very precise metaphor, and the point is to entertain not even the scent of it.

EH Johnston:
If that fever of the mind, namely, the thought of passion, should molest you, it must not be tolerated but must be shaken off like dust which has lodged on one's clothes.

Linda Covill:
If your mind offends you with feverish ideas of passion, do not dwell on them but brush them off, like dust that has collected on your clothing.

sacet: if
kaama: m. wish , desire , longing ; pleasure , enjoyment ; love , especially sexual love or sensuality
vitarkaH (nom. sg.): m. conjecture , supposition , guess , fancy , imagination , opinion; doubt , uncertainty ; reasoning , deliberation , consideration ; purpose , intention
tvaam (acc. sg.): you

dharShayet = 3rd pers. sg. caus. optative of dhRSh: to be bold or courageous or confident or proud ; to dare or venture ; to dare to attack , treat with indignity (acc.)
maanasaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. belonging to the mind or spirit , mental
jvaraH (nom. sg.): m. fever (differing according to the different doShas or humors of the body supposed to be affected by it) ; fever of the soul , mental pain , affliction , grief

kSheptavyaH = nom. sg. m. gerundive of kShip: to move hastily (the arms or legs); to strike or hit (with a weapon); to throw away , cast away , get rid of
na: not
adhivaasyaH = nom. sg. m. gerundive of adhi- √vaas: to scent, perfume
adhi: as a prefix to verbs and nouns , expresses above , over and above , besides
√vaas: to perfume , make fragrant , scent , fumigate , incense , steep
saH (nom. sg. m.): it, the [vitarkaH]

vastre = loc. sg. vastra: n. cloth , clothes , garment
reNuH: m. dust , a grain or atom of dust , sand &c ; the pollen of flowers
iva: like
aagataH (nom. sg. m.): come, arrived

Monday, October 26, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.2: Truly Being Inside The Head

naas'-aagre vaa lalaaTe vaa
bhruvor antara eva vaa
kurviithaash capalaM cittam

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

... towards the tip of the nose
or towards the forehead,

Or actually being inside the eyebrows,

You can make the inconstant mind

Engage with the fundamental.

The 2nd line of this verse presents a problem. I don’t want to go out of my way to produce an off-beat translation, but the case of antaraH if I understand the sandhi and grammar correctly is not locative: it is nominative. AntaraH (“being in the interior”) is the same case as anvitaH (“being attended [by mindfulness]”) in the previous verse. So I think the 2nd line literally translates as "Or actually being in the interior of the eyebrows."

In other words, I think that the intention of the 2nd line may be to express the possibility of the practitioner actually being inside his own eyebrows.

And possibility is the operative word, because however one understands the second line, an important word in this verse, occurring three times in the first two lines, is vaa, “or.” The point is that here, at least, freedom of choice is permitted.

Notable for the same reason in the 3rd line is the optative kurviithaaH (“you might/can make”). As discussed in 14.34, the 2nd person singular optative seems to express that you have an option.

So whereas picking & choosing is ruled out, for example, in the eating of food, when it comes to sitting, the Buddha seems to be saying to Nanda, basically you are free to find what works for you -- the criterion being dropping off body and mind and enjoying the samaadhi of accepting and using the self.

In the 3rd line, capala, "inconstant," might be describing the monkey mind as restless, impulsive, impetuous; or it might be describing the Buddha-mind as momentary.

Either way, the 3rd and 4th line, as I read them, point us back from abstract thought to engagement with the fundamental.

Is the Buddha saying that to take a physical posture is one fundamental thing, and then to practice mindfulness is another fundamental thing, so that there are two fundamental things? Or is he saying, more simply, that there is one fundamental thing, how one sits, which has a physical and a mental aspect?

My questions are heavily loaded. As I see it, sitting in lotus and aligning the body (i.e. directing the body in an upward direction) is the fundamental thing.

What is the meaning of aalambana-paraayaNa, or "engaging with the fundamental"? I do not know with confidence exactly what aalambana-paraayaNa means. But it is clear from the context what it does not mean. It does not mean abstract thought.

It might, however, include another kind of thinking that is different from abstract thought -- non-thinking. And to practice this latter kind of thinking might truly to be inside the eyebrows.

A Buddhist who has struggled with his own tendency to think too much, one who is maybe afraid that that too much abstract thought can turn a person into a non-Buddhist, is liable to react emotionally to this suggestion. So it could be a provactive and controversial suggestion.

What is undeniable is that aligning the body while sitting is intimately related with a very fundamental force of the universe, that which gives us the upward and downward directions with which to align the body, that which can make us heavy or make us light.

Several years ago at the instigation of Gudo Nishijima I briefly started studying Nagarjuna's muula-madhyama-kakaarikaa. I found that my heart was not in that project, and soon gave it up, but not before my attention was drawn to the word aalambana. I was sure when I read it then that aalambana (which the dictionary defines as "depending on or resting upon ; hanging from ; supporting") had to do with gravity. The reason my impetuous mind jumped so quickly to this conclusion was the influence in particular of the Alexander teacher Ray Evans, who described Alexander work as "vestibular re-education." The way Ray seemed to see it, the most fundamental problem in human life is a vestibular problem -- how a supposedly upright human being relates to gravity.

Now, is there any connection between being inside the eyebrows, or being inside the head, and engaging whole-heartedly with the fundamental force of gravity?

It depends on how one understands being inside the head. Usually among Zen practitioners -- especially in Japan, tainted as it is with its anti-intellectual and militaristic/totalitarian history -- being inside the head is a perjorative term. But some very experienced Alexander teachers regard being inside the head, or staying in the brain, as essential in the matter of consciously directing the body up (as opposed to being guided by the body's own unreliable sense of feeling).

So is there some sense in which a sitting practitioner can actually exist inside his eyebrows and from there allow his whole body to be led (forward and) up?

My conclusion, again, is that I don’t know. What I do definitely know is that what I felt for many years to be an upright sitting posture was in fact very diligent and conscientious practice of the direction that FM Alexander called “back and down.”

EH Johnston:
You should make your wandering mind wholly intent on an object such as the tip of your nose or your forehead or the space between the brows.

Linda Covill:
you should settle the restless mind wholly on an area such as the tip of the nose, the forehead, or the space between the eyebrows.

naasaa: f. the nose
agre = loc. agra: n. foremost point or part , tip
vaa: or
lalaaTe = loc. lalaaTa: n. the forehead , brow (llalaaTe ind. on the forehead , in front ; the destiny of every individual is believed by the Hindus to be written by brahmaa on his forehead on the 6th day after birth)
vaa: or

bhruvoH = gen. dual of bhruu: an eyebrow
antaraH = nom. sg. m. antara: mfn. being in the interior , interior
eva: [emphatic]
vaa: or

kurviithaaH = 2nd pers. sg. optative of kR: to do, make, cause
(paraayaNaM- √kR , to do one's utmost)

capala: mfn moving to and fro ; wanton , fickle , inconstant ; inconsiderate , thoughtless , ill-mannered ; quick , swift , expeditious ; momentary , instantaneous
cittam (acc.): n. thinking, the mind

aalambana: n. depending on or resting upon ; hanging from ; supporting , sustaining ; foundation , base ; reason , cause ; (in rhetoric) the natural and necessary connection of a sensation with the cause which excites it; n. the mental exercise practised by the yogin in endeavouring to realize the gross form of the Eternal; n. (with Buddhists) the five attributes of things (apprehended by or connected with the five senses , viz. form , sound , smell , taste , and touch ; also dharma or law belonging to manas).
paraayaNam = acc. sg. paraayaNa: n. final end or aim , last resort or refuge , principal object , chief matter , essence , summary (paraayaNaM- √kR , to do one's utmost); (ifc.) making anything one's chief object , wholly devoted or destined to , engaged in , intent upon , filled or occupied with

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.1: Aligning the Body

yatra tatra vivikte tu
baddhvaa paryaNkam uttamaM
RjuM kaayaM samaadhaaya
smRty" aabhimukhay" aanvitaH

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

In whatever solitary place you are,

Crossing the legs in the supreme manner,

Aligning the body,

And thus being attended by mindfulness
that is directed...

"Here I am" is who saying what? It could be Gautama openly expressing his enlightenment. It could be a laughing child playing hide & seek. The phrase could even be spoken with sinister intent.

Similarly this verse, and particularly the 3rd line, could be saying everything, or it could be saying nothing; it could be a tile, or it could be a jewel, depending on who and how the speaker is.

There is alignment of the body expressed by a sergeant major on a parade ground, for example, or by a ballet dancer. There is alignment of the body by a Buddhist who is trying to be right. There is alignment of the body by a non-Buddhist who is exploring being wrong. There is alignment of the body by a non-Buddhist who has been taught to explore being wrong but who can't stop trying to be right.

It might be that, in crossing the legs in the supreme manner, as if to express "Here I am," the body of a buddha spontaneously aligns itself in an upward direction.

Or it might not be that. Sometimes I think I have understood this point well, as a result of 30 years of sitting practice and 15 years in Alexander work. And sometimes it bothers me, as I go back to the drawing board yet again, that I don't seem to have got the point at all.

What does it mean to cross the legs in the supreme manner and align the body?

What does it mean, literally, "to together-place/put (sam-aa-√dhaa) the body (kaaya) in a straight-tending direction (Rju)"?

In the end, I don't know. I only know that this is the fundamental question my sitting practice has asked, and the asking of this question eventually brought me to the discoveries of FM Alexander, which are too bloody true for words. The essence of it, whether one is crossing the legs in the supreme manner and sitting, or whether one is sitting at a desk translating golden words of buddha, is to stop doing the wrong thing and let the right thing do itself.

The theme of this Canto is the dropping off of thoughts, ideas, fancies, false notions, misconceptions (vitarkaa). But the discussion progresses in a certain order, beginning with crossing the legs and aligning the body.

Within this verse itself, a certain order of proceedings is indicated by the use of the absolutive endings -vaa and -ya: first cross the legs, and then attend to aligning the body, and then/thus (as per 14.41) mindfulness follows.

In other words, in this and the following verse as I read them, crossing the legs in the supreme manner and aligning the body is primary; mindfulness follows.

Aligning the body is primary. But how?

I don't know what the answer is. But I do know what it is not.

What I used to think it was, I now know definitely was not it. What I used to think was it, wasn't the right thing being allowed to do itself. It was a whole lot of trying to be right, rooted in a quasi-religious fear of being wrong.

EH Johnston:
Taking up the best posture of meditation in some solitary place, setting your body upright and keeping your attention present,

Linda Covill:
"In whatever secluded place you are, sitting with your legs crossed, holding your body erect, keeping mindfulness to the fore,

yatra tatra: anywhere whatever
vivikte = loc. vivikta: n. separation , solitude , a lonely place
tu: but, now, then, etc.

baddhvaa = abs. bandh: to bind , tie , fix , fasten , chain , fetter ; to join , unite , put together or produce anything in this way , e.g. fold (the hands) , clench (the fist) , knit or bend (the eyebrows) , arrange , assume (a posture) , set up (a limit) , construct (a dam or a bridge) , span , bridge over (a river) , conceive or contract (friendship or enmity) , compose , construct (a poem or verse) ;
paryaNkam (acc.): m. a bed , couch , sofa ; a partic. mode of sitting on the ground (a squatting position assumed by ascetics and Buddhists in meditation)
pari: ind. round , around , about , round about ; fully , abundantly , richly
aNka: m. a hook; a curve ; the curve in the human , especially the female , figure above the hip (where infants sitting , astride are carried by mothers hence often = " breast " or " lap ") ; the side or flank ; the body ; a curved line
uttamam (acc. sg.): mfn. (superlative fr. ud) , uppermost , highest , chief ; most elevated , principal ; best

Rjum = acc. sg, Rju: mfn. tending in a straight direction , straight (lit. and fig.) , upright , honest , right , sincere
kaayam (acc. sg.): m. the body
samaadhaaya = absolutive sam-aa-√dhaa: to place or put or hold or fix together ; to compose , set right , repair , put in order , arrange , redress , restore ; to kindle , stir (fire) ; to place , set , lay , fix , direct, adjust

smRtyaa = inst. sg. smRti: f. mindfulness; remembrance , reminiscence , thinking of or upon (loc.)
abhimukhayaa = inst. sg. f. abhimukha: mfn. with the face directed towards , turned towards , facing ; (ifc.) going near , approaching ; (ifc.) disposed to , intending to , ready for
anvitaH = nom. sg. m. anvita (from anv-√i): gone along with ; joined , attended , accompanied by , connected with , linked to ; having as an essential or inherent part , endowed with , possessed of , possessing
anv-√i: to go after or alongside , to follow ; to seek ; to be guided by ;
to fall to one's share

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Canto 14: Stepping Into Action

Reviewed in the round, this canto is ultimately an exhortation to step out of duality and into unitary action.

Read in that light, the word eka in the first line of the last verse is key. Literally eka means one. Used to describe a person it means alone, solitary, single -- i.e. separate from others. But it literally means one -- i.e. not dual, not separate from others and not separate from oneself.

To bring out the latter meaning more explicitly, I changed the translation from
"If he constantly delights in living alone in an empty dwelling,"
"If he constantly abides as a unity, in an empty abode,"

I also decided, on reflection, to change the canto title from "Stepping Out" to "Stepping Into Action."

Incidentally, the understanding that I am expressing now I did not get from reading the words of fellow sufferers of the Zen disease of trying to be right; nor did I get this understanding by personally serving a Zen master. So, from where I sit, both sides of that debate are in the wrong. And when guided, in my desire to feel right, by the power of my own senses, I also am just wrong.

Zen dabblers who express their baseless conceited opinions irritate the hell out of me. Why? If the mirror principle does not lie, I react emotionally to conceited Zen dabblers out there because I fear the conceited Zen dabbler in me. (And the mirror principle never lies.)

How many hours a day do I need to sit, for how many years, to convince myself that I am not a Zen dabbler? The works of how many ancestors do I need to translate? For two years from 1986 to 1988, I sat for a minimum of five hours a day every day... but that didn't convince me. Recent efforts to translate Ashvaghosha, evidently, haven't convinced me either.

When I thus fear the Zen dabbler who might be me, there is me who fears, and there is the second me who might be the Zen dabbler. That is the essence of duality. Nothing could be further from the unitary truth of "I am Buddha."

Similarly, when the teacher whom I personally served as a Zen Master called me a "non-Buddhist," what he was expressing was his own fear -- a symptom of his own trying to be right. And from that wrong seed of trying to be right, wrong flowers and fruits are flourishing all over the place. Those wrong flowers and fruits can easily be identified by their characteristic black and white marking: "You are wrong, and I am right."

To step out of that duality, and into the unitary truth of action, might be the ultimate point of this canto.

Canto 14: Stepping Into Action

And so using the floodgate of mindfulness

To close a dam on the power of the senses,

Be aware, in eating food, of the measure

That conduces to realisation and to health.

For it depresses in-breath and out-breath,

And brings tiredness and sleepiness,

When food is taken in excess;

It also destroys enterprise.

And just as eating too much

Conduces to a dearth of value,

So eating too little

Makes for a lack of efficacy.

Of substance, lustre, and stamina,

Of usefulness and of its very strength,

A meagre diet

Deprives the body.

Just as a weighing scale bends down with a heavy weight,

Bends upwards with a light one,

And stays in balance with the right one,

So does this body according to intake of food.

Therefore food is to be eaten,

Each reflecting on his own energy,

And none apportioning himself too much or too little

Under the influence of pride.

For the fire of the body is damped down

When it is burdened by a heavy load of food,

Like a small blaze suddenly covered

With a big heap of firewood.

Excessive fasting, also,

Is not recommended;

For one who does not eat is extinguished

Like a fire without fuel.

Since without food there is none that survives

Among those that bear breath,

Therefore eating food is not a sin;

But being choosy, in this area, is prohibited.

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.

Just as, for the purpose of healing,

One who is wounded puts ointment on a wound,

So, for the purpose of staving off hunger,

Food is eaten by one who wills freedom.

Just as, to ready it for bearing a burden,

The axle of a wagon is greased,

So, in order to journey through life,

The wise man utilizes food.

And just as two travellers

In order to cross a wilderness

Might feed upon the flesh of a child,

Though grievously pained to do so,
as its mother and father,

So food should be eaten,


Not for display, not for appearance;

Not so as to excite hilarity, not to feed extravagance.

For the upkeep of the body

Food is provided

As if to prop, before it falls,

A dilapidated house.

Just as someone might take pains

To build and then carry a raft,

Not because he is so fond of it

But because he means to cross a great flood,

So too, by various means,

Do men of insight sustain the body,

Not because they are so fond of it

But because they mean to cross a flood of suffering.

Just as one under siege, in sorrow,

Gives in to a rival king,

Not out of devotion, nor through thirsting,

But solely to safeguard life,

So the devotee of practice

Tenders food to his body

Solely to stave off hunger,

Neither with passion nor as devotion.

Having, through maintenance of the mind,

Passed the day self-possessed,

You may be able, shaking off sleep,

To spend the night-time too in a state of practice.

Since even when you are conscious

Sleep might be holding out in your heart,

Consciousness properly revealing itself

Is nothing to be sure about.

Initiative and constancy,

Inner strength and courage,

Are the elements to bear constantly in mind

While you are being oppressed by sleep.

Recite clearly

Those teachings of Dharma that you have learnt;

Point others in their direction,

And think them out for yourself.

Wet the face with water,

Look around in all directions,

And glance at the stars,

Wanting always to be awake.

By the means of inner senses that are not impetuous

But in a state of subjection,

By the means of a mind that is not scattered,

Walk up and down at night or sit.

In fear, in joy and in anguish,

One does not succumb to sleep;

Therefore against the onslaughts of sleep

Resort to these three:

You should feel the fear
that derives from death's approach,

The joy from grasping a teaching of Dharma,

And from the boundless suffering in a birth,

You should feel the anguish.

Such a step must be taken, my friend,

In the direction of being awake;

For what wise man, out of sleep,

Makes a wasted life?

To neglect the reptilian faults,

As if ignoring snakes in the house,

And thus to slumber on,
does not befit a man of wisdom

Who wishes to overcome the great fear.

For while the world of the living burns

With the fires of death, disease and aging,

Who could lie down insensibly,

Any more than in a burning house?

Therefore, knowing it to be darkness,

You should not engulf sleep

While the faults remain unsubdued

Like sword-wielding enemies.

But having spent the first of the three night-watches

Engaged in active practice,

You should go to bed to rest the body,

Pulling your own strings.

On your right side, then,

Remaining conscious of light,

Thinking in your heart of wakefulness,

You might with peace of mind fall asleep.

Again, by getting up in the third watch

And going into movement,
or indeed just sitting,

You might renew your practice,
with mind refreshed,

And power of the senses curbed.

And so in sitting, moving, standing,

Looking, speaking and so on,

Being fully aware of all actions,

You should cover yourself in mindfulness.

When a man is like a gatekeeper at his gate,

His mindfulness directed,

The faults do not venture to attack him,

Any more than enemies do a guarded city.

No affliction arises in him

For whom mindfulness pervades the body --

Guarding the mind in all situations,

As a nurse protects a child.

But he is a target for the faults

Who lacks the armour of mindfulness:

As for enemies is he who stands in battle

With no suit of armour.

Know to be vulnerable that mind

Which mindfulness does not guard --

Like a blind man without a guide

Going over uneven ground.

When men attach to meaningless aims

And turn away from their proper aims,

Failing to shudder at the danger,

Loss of mindfulness is the cause.

When, each standing on its own patch,

The virtues which begin with integrity are engaged,

Then as a herdsman follows his scattered cows,

Mindfulness follows after those virtues.

The nectar of immortality is lost to him

Whose mindfulness dissipates;

The nectar exists in the hands of him

Whose mindfulness pervades his body.

Where is the noble principle of him

To whom mindfulness is alien?

And for whom no noble principle exists,

To him a true path has been lost.

He who has lost the right track

Has lost the deathless step.

Having lost that nectar of deathlessness,

He is not exempt from suffering.

Therefore walking like this: "Walking, I am";

And standing like this: "Standing, I am" --

At opportune moments such as these --

You should cover yourself in mindfulness.

To a place suited for practice,
free of people and free of noise,

To a place for lying down and sitting,
my friend, repair in this manner;

For by first achieving solitude of the body

It is easy to obtain solitude of the mind.

The man of redness,
the tranquillity of his mind unrealized,

Who does not take to a playground of solitude,

Is injured as though, unable to regain a track,

He is walking on very thorny ground.

For a seeker who is not seeing reality,

Standing in the tawdry playground of objects,

It is no easier to rein in his mind,

Than to drive a foraging bull away from corn.

But just as, when not fanned by the wind,

A bright fire dies down,

In solitary places, similarly, with little effort

An unstirred mind comes to quiet.

One who eats anything at any place,
and wears any clothes,

Who dwells in enjoyment of his own being
and loves to be anywhere without people:

He is to be known as a success,
a knower of the taste of peace and ease,
whose mind is made up --

He avoids involvement with others like a thorn.

If, in a world that delights in duality
and is at heart distracted by objects,

He roves in solitude, free of duality,
a man of action, his heart at peace,

Then he drinks the essence of wisdom
as if it were the nectar of immortality
and his heart is filled.

Alone, he sorrows for the clinging, object-needy world.

If he constantly abides as a unity,
in an empty abode,

If he is no fonder of arisings of affliction
than he is of enemies,

And if, going rejoicing in the self,
he drinks the water of joy,

Then greater than dominion over thirty gods
is the happiness he enjoys.

The 14th canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda,
titled Stepping Into Action

Friday, October 23, 2009


vasaN chuuny'-aagaare yadi satatam eko 'bhiramate
yadi klesh'-otpaadaiH saha na ramate shatrubhir iva
carann aatm'-aaraamo yadi ca pibati priiti-salilaM
tato bhunkte shreShThaM tridasha-pati-raajyaad api sukhaM

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

saundarananda mahaakaavya
aadi-prasthaano naama caturdashaH sargaH
= - - = - - = = -
= = = = = = - - = - = = =

If he constantly delights in living alone
in an empty dwelling,

If he is no fonder of arisings of affliction
than he is of enemies,

And if, going rejoicing in the self,
he drinks the water of joy,

Then greater than dominion over thirty gods
is the happiness he enjoys.

The 14th canto of the epic poem Handsome Nanda,
titled Stepping Out

This concludes Canto 14. If faulty sensory appreciation is the very essence of affliction, as addressed in Canto 13, unconscious habit and social conditioning might be a veritable nest of affliction, out of which the Buddha in Canto 14 is exhorting Nanda to step.

On first reading, this verse might be read as food for optimism, as if the Canto was finishing on a positive note. On further digging, the verse contains the word “if” (yadi) no less than three times, and they are as I read them big ifs.

When I come to France for solitary retreats in the empty dwelling where I now am, there is something about me of what they call in Japan mikka bozu, a 3-day monk. (The term is used not only in the context of Zen practice but to describe a dabbler in any sphere.)

A practitioner doesn’t understand the meaning of the first line by spending a couple of weeks by a cold and lonely hut by the forest and then going back to the warmth of a loving wife. Constantly (satatam) to delight in living alone in an empty flat or an empty house is not such an easy thing. It was too difficult for me when I tried it in my twenties, and it was possibly too difficult for Master Kodo Sawaki who even into his eighties, so I heard, had not given up hope of meeting a suitable wife. So I think the first “if” is already a very big one.

With regard to the second if, in the 2nd line, what is it that we should see as like an enemy? Reflecting on this, and on the literal meaning of utpad, to rise up, and on the problems that are created in this world when some permanent entity (as if there was such a thing) is identified as the enemy, I decided to go for a translation with a more dynamic connotation than “sources” or “origins” -- hence “arisings” (an inelegant word which my software is underlining in red even as I write it).

“Stop doing the wrong thing and the right thing does itself,”
is a very simple principle to endeavour to live by. But as long as afflictions like greed, anger, and delusion have not been cut off at source, what tends to keep on doing itself is in fact just the wrong thing. Thus greed arises, anger arises, and deluded worries arise, one after another, moment after moment.

So it is not a question of glibly identifying the enemy, then sitting back and expecting to fall into one’s lap the kind of happiness that would make Indra jealous. It is more a question of being able to keep one’s eye on the ball at every moment, so that, for example, when somebody leaves a comment on this blog that irritates me, I don’t see that person as my enemy, and neither am I content with the lazy platitude that anger is the enemy; rather, the challenge is to see this arising of anger at this very moment as like an enemy, and consequently to endeavour to get to the bottom of it and cut it out.

As for the third “if,” rejoicing in the self (atmaarama) might be the realisation that the newly enlightened Gautama expressed as “I am Buddha.” In other words it might not be the air punching, team-mate kissing ecstasy of the Premiership striker who has just found the back of the net, or even the lesser buzz that follows a breakfast of strong coffee and pancakes. It might not either be the joyful condition expressed as “I love you [who loves me back].” Because it is far transcendent to “I love myself,” it might truly be “I love my self” -- in other words, “I am Buddha.”

If we understand like this the three pre-conditions stated in the first three lines, then happiness beyond Indra, the lord of the heaven of the thirty gods, is hardly a shoo-in.

EH Johnston:
If he continually rejoices living alone in a deserted place, if he avoids intercourse with the sources of sin, as if they were enemies, and if living sufficient to himself he drinks the water of ecstasy, then he enjoys a happiness greater than the realm of the Lord of the thirty gods could give him.

Linda Covill:
If he is glad to always live alone in a deserted spot, if he has as little liking for the sources of defilement as for an enemy, if he lives in self-sufficiency and drinks the water of bliss, then he enjoys a greater happiness than that afforded by Indra's kingdom."

vasan: pres. part. of vas: to dwell, live
shuunya: mfn. empty , void , hollow , barren , desolate , deserted
aagaare = loc. aagaara: n. apartment , dwelling , house
yadi: if
satatam: ind. constantly , always , ever
ekaH = nom. sg. m. eka: one ; alone , solitary , single
abhiramate = 3rd pers. sg. abhi- √ram: to dwell, delight in

yadi: if
klesha: affliction
utpaadaiH = inst. pl. utpaada (from ut-√pad): m. coming forth , birth , production
ut-√pad: to arise , rise , originate , be born or produced ; to come forth , become visible , appear ; to take place , begin
saha: with
na: not
ramate = 3rd pers. sg. ram: to delight , make happy , enjoy carnally ; to be glad or pleased , rejoice at , delight in , be fond of (loc. instr. or inf.); to play or sport , dally , have sexual intercourse with (instr. with or without saha)
shatrubhiH = inst. pl. shatru: " overthrower " , an enemy ,
iva: like, as if

caran = nom. sg. m. pres. participle car: to move one's self , go , walk , move , stir , roam about , wander; to behave , conduct one's self , act , live
aatmaaramaH = nom. sg. m. of aatmaarama: mfn. rejoicing in one's self or in the supreme spirit
aatma: self
aaraama: m. delight , pleasure ; place of pleasure , a garden , grove
yadi: if
ca: and
pibati = 3rd pers. sg. paa: to drink
priiti: f. any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy
salilam (acc. sg): n. water

tataH: then
bhunkte = 3rd. pers. sg. bhuj: to enjoy , use , possess , (esp.) enjoy a meal
shreShTham (acc. sg.): better than (abl.)
tridasha-pati-raajyaad (abl.): than the realm of the lord of the thirty
tridasha: mfn. 3 x 10; m. pl. the 3 x 10 deities; n. heaven
pati: a master , owner , possessor , lord , ruler , sovereign
raajya: n. royalty , kingship , sovereignty , empire ; n. kingdom , country , realm
api: even
sukham (acc.): n. ease , easiness , comfort , prosperity , pleasure , happiness

saundarananda: Handsome Nanda
mahaakaavya: epic poem
aadi: m. beginning , commencement;
prasthaanaH (nom. sg. m. [but given by MW as neuter form]): n. setting out , departure , procession , march (esp. of an army or assailant) ; walking , moving , journey; starting-point , place of origin
pra: forth, away
sthaana: n. the act of standing; staying ; firm bearing (of troops) , sustaining a charge (as opp. to yuddha , " charging ")
naama: ind. by name, named
caturdashaH: 14th
sargaH: canto

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.51: Duality vs Solitude?

yadi dvandv'-aaraame jagati viShaya-vyagra-hRdaye
vivikte nir-dvandvo viharati kRtii shaanta-hRdayaH
tataH piitva prajNaa-rasam amRtavat tRpta-hRdayo
viviktaH saMsaktaM viShaya-kRpaNaM shocati jagat

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

If, in a world that delights in duality
and is at heart distracted by objects,

He roves in solitude, free of duality,
a man of action, his heart at peace,

Then he drinks the essence of wisdom
as if it were the nectar of immortality
and his heart is filled.

Set apart, he sorrows
for the clinging, object-needy world.

In this verse the Buddha seems to fight duality with a duality.

Worse, he seems to invite distraction of the heart, by dangling objects like "roving in solitude," "freedom from duality," "man of action," "nectar of immortality" and "peaceful/nectar-filled heart."

The tension of this apparent contradiction is released in the 4th line, wherein one who is in but not of the world, in the isolated clarity of being alone in sitting, is ultimately not separate from the world.

Who are you and who am I?

The ruggedly independent man of action? Or one of those object-needy others?

Speaking for myself, even though I am alone by the forest at time of writing, I might still be one of the object-needy ones, though maybe not as object-needy as I once was. During a former life in Japan, I had moments of feeling very alone and at the same time very object-needy...

Hank Williams sounded just like me
When he wrote this song --
The sound of longing to be free,
While longing to belong.

EH Johnston:
If a man live, pure with tranquil heart and indifferent to the opposites, in a solitary place in the world which delights in the opposites and has its heart disturbed by sensual objects, then he drinks the draught of wisdom as if it were nectar, and with heart appeased he reaches discrimination and deplores the world which is subject to attachment and greedy for sensual objects.

Linda Covill:
The world likes alternatives and is distracted to the core by sensual experience. If a man lives in it in seclusion, indifferent to choice, virtuous and with his heart at peace, then he has sipped the taste of wisdom, as if it were the cup of deathlessness and is content at heart. A man of discernment, he grieves for the clinging world as it hoards sensual experience.

yadi: if
dva: (original stem of dvi) two, both
dvandva: n. (the repeated nom. of dva) pair , couple , male and female ; a pair of opposites (e.g. heat and cold , joy and sorrow &c ) ; strife , quarrel , contest , fight (esp. between two persons , a duel)
aaraame = loc. aaraama: m. delight , pleasure ; place of pleasure , a garden , grove
jagati = loc. jagat: n. that which moves or is alive , men and animals; n. the world
viShaya: m. sphere of influence ; scope ; concern ; sense object ; object
vyagra: mfn. not attending to any one partic. point (opp. to ekaagra) , distracted , inattentive ; bewildered , agitated , excited , alarmed
hRdaye = loc. sg. hRdaya: n. the heart ; diverted from everything else , intent on , engrossed by , eagerly occupied with or employed in (instr. loc. , or comp. ; sometimes said of hands and fingers)

vivikte = loc. vivikta: n. separation, solitude; a solitary place
nir-dvandvaH (nom. sg): free of duality
viharati = 3rd pers. sg. of vi- √ hR: to put asunder , keep apart , separate , open ; to distribute and transpose (verses or parts of verses) [to cut and paste]; to disperse (clouds) ; to move on , walk ; to spend or pass (time) . &c ; to roam , wander through (acc.) ; (esp.) to walk or roam about for pleasure , divert one's self
kRtii = nom. sg. m. kRtin: mfn. one who acts , active
shaanta: mfn. (fr. √sham) appeased , pacified , tranquil , calm , free from passions
hRdaya: n. (ifc. f(aa).) the heart (or region of the heart as the seat of feelings and sensations), soul , mind (as the seat of mental operations ); the heart or interior of the body ; the heart or centre or core or essence or best or dearest or most secret part of anything
shaanta-hRdayaH (nom. sg. m.): of tranquil heart

tataH: then
piitva = abs. pii: to drink
prajNaa: f. wisdom
rasam = acc. rasa: m. the sap or juice of plants , juice of fruit , any liquid or fluid , the best or finest or prime part of anything , essence , marrow; elixir ; nectar ; mercury , quicksilver (sometimes regarded as a kind of quintessence of the human body , else where as the seminal fluid of shiva); taste , flavour (as the principal quality of fluids) ; any object of taste , condiment , sauce , spice , seasoning; the tongue (as the organ of taste); (in rhet.) the taste or character of a work , the feeling or sentiment prevailing in it
amRta: the deathless, the nectar of immortality
vat: an affix added to words to imply likeness or resemblance , and generally translatable by " as " , " like "
tRpta: mfn. satiated , satisfied with
tRpta-hRdayaH (nom. sg. m.): of sated heart

viviktaH = nom. sg. m. vivikta: mfn. separated , kept apart , distinguished , discriminated ; isolated , alone , solitary ; clear, distinct; discriminative , judicious
saMsaktaM: mfn. adhered or stuck together
viShaya: object
kRpaNam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. inclined to grieve , pitiable , miserable , poor , wretched , feeble ; low , vile ; miserly , stingy
shocati = 3rd pers. sg. shuc: to suffer violent heat or pain , be sorrowful or afflicted , grieve , mourn at or for (loc. or acc. with prati) &c ; to bewail , lament , regret (acc.)
jagat (acc. sg.): n. the world

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.50: Steering Clear of Others

kva cid bhuktvaa yat tad vasanam api yat tat parihito
vasann aatm'aaraamaH kva cana vijane yo 'bhiramate
kRt'aarthaH sa jneyaH shama-sukha-rasa-jnaH kRta-matiH
pareShaaM saMsargaM pariharati yaH kaNTakam iva

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

One who eats anything at any place,
and wears any clothes,

Who dwells in enjoyment of his own being
and loves to be anywhere without people:

He is to be known as a success,
a knower of the taste of peace and ease,
whose mind is made up --

He avoids involvement with others like a thorn.

This a longer verse, each line having 17 syllables.

Does enjoyment of one's own being (aatmaaraamaH) necessarily mean going to the forest and revering oneself as a six foot golden body? Might it include going to a crowded place in a city and accepting oneself as eight arms and three heads? Might it describe the action of a person who when washing his face, whether the face is golden or whether the face is red, enjoys the action of washing his face?

Involvement with others (pareShaam saMsargam), again, might be understood on more than one level. One way of understanding it is to go to sit in some isolated windswept cottage out in the boondocks. But if one maintains internet access with the world, a biological brother, or a Dharma-brother, might send an email that one feels one has to reply to. Does the email count as association or involvement? And do brothers count as others?

Another way of steering clear of 'others' might be to empathize with everybody that one meets, apologizing to anybody that one mistakenly saw in the past as one of them as opposed to one of us. Steering clear of others, in other words, might mean steering clear of duality -- not an easy task for a man brought up in an end-gaining world that delights in duality.

There can be solitude of the body.
There can be solitude of the mind.

Can there be solitude of body and mind dropping off?
Can there be solitude that drops off self and others?

Can there be, in total solitude, solitude dropping off?

If one stops doing the wrong thing, who knows what there might be?
-- if one truly stops doing, saying, and thinking the wrong thing.

Twenty-three years ago, I would sit opposite Gudo Nishijima in his office in Iidabashi, taking his dictation of Shinji-Shobogenzo, and then I would carry his bag on the train to Asukusabashi station in preparation for sitting-Zen at the Yanagi-bashi Kaikan, followed by a Japanese lecture on Shinji-Shobogenzo. At that time something in me knew that this was a good direction for me to be directing my energy in. The direction was basically towards the clarification of Master Dogen's teaching for self and others. At the same time, something in me knew that there was something wrong with our effort, his and mine. People who were around at the time know that my emotional criticism of Gudo Nishijima was not a phenomenon that appeared in recent years. It started with a vengeance in 1986, when I first shaved my head.

What was being reflected in the mirror that Gudo was holding up to me, I could not at that time see. There was nothing wrong with my eyes, but as I have come to understand from developmental work, some children with 20:20 vision cannot see. The reason for this is that seeing doesn't take place in the eye, just as listening doesn't take place in the ear. Seeing and hearing take place in the brain. And my brain was such that I could only see that there was a problem. I couldn't see what the problem was.

Nowadays I do see what the problem was and what the problem is. The problem is a wrong tendency to want to see oneself, and one's own side, as being in the right. It is a very pernicious kind of duality. Taken to its extreme, it leads a man to proclaim that his own idea is just true Buddhism, and that others who assert a different idea are just non-Buddhists. It leads a man to proclaim that his own version of an incident is true, whereas the other's version is a damn lie. Meanwhile so-called Dharma-brothers align themselves with the side they think is in the right, not seeing that both sides are just wrong. These phenomena are all just the flowers and fruits from that original seed which is trying to be right, trying to be on the side of Buddha.

Reflecting thus on what I have been an integral part of, takes me back to the starting point of this monologue by the Buddha in Saundarananda Canto 12, namely, shame.

EH Johnston:
That man is to be considered successful who rejoices in solitude and avoids contact with others like a thorn, eating in any place whatever there is and wearing any clothes whatsoever, living anywhere sufficient to himself; for his mind is made up and he knows the taste of bliss of tranquillity.

Linda Covill:
A man who eats anything at any place, wears any clothes, lives in self-sufficiency, who is happy to be anywhere without people and avoids the company of others like a thorn -- he is recognized as a determined man of achievement, and knows the taste of the bliss of peace.

kva cid: anywhere
bhuktvaa = absolutive of bhuj: to enjoy , use , possess , (esp.) enjoy a meal , eat , eat and drink
yat tat: anything
vasanaM (accusative): clothing
api: also
yat tat: anything
parihitaH = nom. sg. parihita: mfn. put round or on , covered , invested , clothed

vasan = pr. part of vas: to dwell , live , stop (at a place) , stay (esp. " overnight "
aatman: m. the breath, self; one's own
aaraama: m. delight , pleasure ; place of pleasure , a garden , grove
aatmaaraamaH (nom. sg.): mfn. rejoicing in one's self, or in the supreme spirit
kva cana: anywhere
vijane = loc. sg. vijana: mfn. free from people , destitute of men , deserted , solitary , lonely
yaH: [relative pronoun] who
abhiramate = 3rd pers. sg. abhi-√ram: to dwell, repose, delight in

kRta: done
arthaH: purpose, aim
kRt'aarthaH (nom. sg.): one who has attained an end or object or has accomplished a purpose or desire , successful , satisfied , contented
sa (nom. sg.): he
jneyaH (nom. sg): is known, is to be known
shama: m. tranquillity , calmness , rest , equanimity ; peace
sukha: n. ease , easiness , comfort , prosperity , pleasure , happiness
rasa: m. taste
jnaH (nom. sg.): mfn knowing , familiar with (chiefly in comp.);
kRta-matiH (nom. sg.): mind made up, heart set, determined, resolute

pareSHaam = gen. pl. of para: m. another (different from one's self) , a foreigner , enemy , foe , adversary
saMsargam (acc.): m. mixture or union together , commixture , blending , conjunction , connection , contact , association , society
pariharati = 3rd pers. sg. pari-√hR: to leave, quit, desert; shun, avoid; beware of
yaH: [he is] one who
kaNTakam (acc.): m. a thorn
iva: like

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.49: Towards Less Effort

an-iiryamaaNas tu yath" aanilena
prashaantim aagacchati citra-bhaanuH
alpena yatnena tathaa vivikteShv
a-ghaTTitaM shaantim upaiti cetaH

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

But just as, when not fanned by the wind,

A bright fire dies down,

In solitary places, similarly, with little effort

An unstirred mind comes to quiet.

"Stop doing the wrong thing, and the right thing does itself."

The right thing doing itself is effortlessness, spontaneity. To stop doing the wrong thing, however, requires effort. When conditions are unfavourable, it requires a lot of effort, or it might be impossible -- in which case acceptance is the golden key. When conditions are favourable, it requires little effort. But to stop wrong doing always requires some effort, because of (1) faulty sense of feeling, (2) force of habit, and (3) false mental conceptions -- obstacles which the Buddha seems to be exhorting Nanda to overcome, in Saundarananda cantos 13, 14, and 15, respectively.

The tendency for sitting to do itself -- 'throwing away the habits of a lifetime' -- can be remarkably strong in the neck of the Normandy woods where I now am.

Can writing about it on this blog do any good?

Last Friday at an Alexander awareness event in Oxford I was able to have a brief talk with Elisabeth Walker who for 70-odd years has been using her hands to give people the experience of the right thing doing itself. I noticed that Elisabeth was wearing a hearing aid in her right ear, and my own condition amid the social hubub was very far from what Paul Madaule would call a good "listening posture." So I experienced the conversation as a bit of a struggle. But one point that Elisabeth made got through, and I was aware of it during half-sleep this morning: It is very valuable for people who don't have the experience to be given the experience.

To clarify the principle is important. And at the same time, if one can, to give the gift directly might be even more valuable:

"Stop doing the wrong thing, and the right thing does itself."

EH Johnston:
But as the brightly shining fire, when not fanned by the wind, dies down, so the thoughts, when not subject to any stimulus come to rest with little trouble in solitude.

Linda Covill:
But in solitude, the mind is not stimulated and subsides with little effort, just as a radiant fire subsides when unstirred by the wind.

an-: not
iiryamaaNaH (pres. part. causative passive nom. sg. of iir): being excited, caused to rise, brought to life
tu: but
yathaa: just as
anilena = inst. of anila: m. air or wind

prashaantim (acc.): f. sinking to rest , rest , tranquillity (esp. of mind) , calm , quiet , pacification , abatement , extinction , destruction
aagacchati: it comes to, it arrives at
citra: brightly-coloured
bhaanuH = nom. sg. of bhaanu: m. appearance , brightness , light or a ray of light , lustre , splendour &c ; the sun

alpena = inst. of alpa: small, little
yatnena = inst. of yatna: m. activity of will; effort , exertion , energy , zeal , trouble , pains
tathaa: so, likewise
vivikteShu = loc. pl. vivikta: n. separation , solitude , a lonely place; clearness , purity

a: not
ghaTTita: mfn. rubbed , touched , shaken
shaantim (acc.): f. tranquillity , peace , quiet , peace or calmness of mind
upaiti: it arrives at
cetaH = nom. sg. cetas: n. splendour ; consciousness , intelligence , thinking soul , heart , mind

Monday, October 19, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.48: A Non-Buddha in Non-Solitude

a-dRShTa-tattvena pariikShakeNa
sthitena citre viShaya-pracaare
cittaM niSheddhuM na sukhena shakyaM
kRShT'-aadako gaur iva sasya-madhyaat

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

For a seeker who is not seeing reality,

Standing in the tawdry playground of objects,

It is no easier to rein in his mind,

Than to drive a foraging bull away from corn.

How am I to understand this verse?

A non-Buddha in non-solitude, with faulty sensory appreciation, not seeing reality, should I turn 'Buddha in solitude seeing reality' into another flashy object in the tawdry playground of objects?

To tell the truth, I don't have to decide to turn 'Buddha in solitude seeing reality' into an object. It seems to happen spontaneously, out of the habit of a lifetime, without any conscious decision on my part -- so that there is person number one, plagued here with various difficulties, and a second person over there, in the other monastery, seeing reality, in blissful solitude.

But to think like this is never solitude. It might be the essence of duality.

Does Buddha seek to see himself on the side of the Buddha, the ultimate good guy who is always right? Or is it that a true seeker of the Buddha's truth is inevitably encouraged by the Buddha's teaching in the direction of seeing the truth that we are all in the same big wrong boat?

When somebody behaves as a social pest, telling the members of some group, "I am one of the good guys, but you are the bad guys!" and members of the group respond as if to say, "No! He is the one who is wrong. He is the liar, the charlatan, the cruel man, the bad-mouther, the big mouth who is all talk and no action, the attention-seeker ..." isn't there wrongness on both sides? Isn't there wrongness not only in the original delusion and the anti-social behaviour associated with it, but also in the disparaging response which demonizes an individual rather than simply chastising him for his mistakes? (Mind you, chastizing others for their mistakes can also be very thorny ground.)

It is a cliche that Zen practice is supposed to take the practitioner beyond duality. But truly to transcend duality requires us to throw away the thinking habits of a lifetime, and this may be nigh on impossible -- unless we use our brain.

When things go wrong, it is the easiest thing in the world for me to blame somebody else. On a very mundane day to day level I ask my wife: "Where the hell have you hidden my pen/key/socks/diary....?!" But if I use my brain and take myself for a moment into the playground of solitude, I can see that I always bear some responsibility for what went wrong, be it a minor loss or a big one. When I use my brain, I see that there is always something for me to apologize for -- not necessarily on the basis that the other was right and I was wrong, but just on the basis that the bad actions I myself have done have stemmed from times without beginning from greed, anger and delusion.

To give up my habitual dualistic way of thinking in which I am right and others are wrong, and use my brain in this new way is no easier than, say.... (pause to think of a suitable metaphor).... controlling my French neighbour's bull.

One day soon I will go to France to be by the forest stream from which this muddy-pawed bull is emerging. But for the past few days I have been staying here, in non-solitude. I have definitely, deliberately, not been going to the other playground in France.

Previously I expected that being in solitude by the forest in France would be a good base from which to translate and comment on the present series of verses. But not for the first time, my expectation may have been wrong. The best playground in which to stand reflecting on the truth of solitude, looking squarely at the deluded dualistic end-gaining of others and self, might be right where I am.

EH Johnston:
If an enquiring man has not visualised the truth and is surrounded by the varied manifestations of sensual objects, he cannot easily restrain his mind, just as a crop-eating bull is not easily to be kept out of a field of corn.

Linda Covill:
An enquirer who has not seen reality cannot easily restrain his thoughts when he is placed among the glittering show of sense objects, just as it is hard to drive a bull from corn when he is grazing on farmland.

a-dRShTa: mfn. unseen , unforeseen , invisible , not experienced , unobserved , unknown
tattvena = inst. sg. tattva: n. true or real state , truth , reality
pariikShakeNa = inst. sg. pariikShaka (from pari-√iikSh) : m. a prover , examiner , judge; seeker (see 14.17).
pari- √iikSh): to look round , inspect carefully , try , examine , find out

sthitena = inst. sthita: mfn. standing , staying , situated , resting or abiding or remaining in
citre = loc. citra: mfn. conspicuous , excellent , distinguished ; bright , clear , bright-coloured ; variegated ; strange , wonderful
viShaya: object, sense object
pracaare = loc. pracaara: m. roaming , wandering ; coming forth , showing one's self , manifestation , appearance , occurrence , existence ; a playground , place of exercise

cittam (acc.): n. thinking , reflecting , imagining , thought ; intention , aim , wish ; the heart , mind ; intelligence
niSheddhuM = infinitive of niShidh: to drive away ; to ward off , keep back ; to forbid , prohibit ; to keep down , suppress ; to deny
na: not
sukhena (inst.): with ease, easily
shakya: mfn. able , possible , practicable , capable of being (with inf. in pass. sense)

kRShTa: mn. cultivated ground
adaka: mfn. chiefly ifc. , eating
gauH = nom. sg. of go: m. bull ; f. cow
iva: like
sasya: n. corn , grain , fruit , a crop of corn
madhyaat: ind. from the midst of, out of, from among

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 14.47: Rediscovering Solitude in a Playground

a-labhda-cetaH-prashamaH sa-raago
yo na pracaaraM bhajate viviktaM
sa kShaNyate hy a-pratilabdha-maargash
carann iv' orvyaam bahu-kaNTakaayaaM

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

The man of redness,
the tranquillity of his mind unrealized,

Who does not take to a playground of solitude,

Is injured as though, unable to regain a track,

He is walking on very thorny ground.

The first line of this verse (lit. "The tranquillity-of-mind-unobtained him of redness") could be interpreted as indicating a man, psychologically speaking, who is emotionally immature, and equally who, physiologically speaking, suffers from lack of adequate inhibition of the Moro reflex.

Emotional maturity, again, is relative. We all exist moment by moment somewhere along a sliding scale between an old Buddha's state of zero and the screaming rage of an unhappy baby. The baby panic reflex (aka Moro/Mara reflex) manifests itself differently in the same person on different days.

So the first line could be interpreted as relating to a problem which is relative and which has a very deep-rooted developmental basis. Seen like this, it is not a problem that a couple of weeks of solitary retreat is suddenly going to solve.

Alternatively, the problem could be seen as a yes or no problem, a problem of whether or not a person has really understood the principle of conscious inhibition: Stop doing the wrong thing and the right thing does itself. In other words, the human mind is always tranquil, but most of the time we are too busy to realize it. So how is the tranquillity of your mind, here and now: realized or unrealized? If unrealized, then the words of FM Alexander might be relevant: "You can throw away the habits of a lifetime in a few minutes -- if you use your brain."

In the 2nd line, a playground of solitude (pracaaram viviktam) could be a distant forest. Could it be a shed at the bottom of the garden? Could it be a quiet teaching room where one-to-one Alexander work is going on? Could it be a less quiet Alexander training school where people are milling around and conversing? Could it be a car speeding down the busy A34 towards Porstmouth? Could it be the crowded self-service restaurant of a car ferry? My own answer to the latter questions, on the basis of my own experience, experienced through the filter of my own faulty sensory appreciation, would be: probably not. For me, it is a whole lot easier to enjoy solitude when there is nobody else around -- even including Alexander students, or friends in sitting practice.

In the 3rd line the prefix prati in pratilabdha may have a significance deeper than simply adding two syllables to labdha, and thereby bringing the number of syllables in the line up to the requisite eleven. It might add to the meaning of finding or locating or gaining (labdha) a path, the sense that the finding or locating or gaining is a re- (prati) discovery, a regaining of something that is our birthright -- such as tranquillity of the mind, for example?

In the 4th line a thorn (kaNTaka) might suggest a stimulus that triggers an undue emotional reaction. Is the implication, in that case, that one should not be afraid of very thorny places, providing one is able to regain a track that leads safely through them? Is the implication that one should avoid thorny ground altogether? Or is there no such implication. Is the verse just stating the raw fact that a man of redness, unable to regain the right track, spits his dummy and throws his toys out of the pram when he can't remember where he put his favourite pen?

EH Johnston:
For the man filled with passion, who has not attained tranquillity of the feelings and does not adopt the solitary method, fails to find the Path and is hurt like a man walking on very thorny ground.

Linda Covill:
The passionate man who cannot find emotional peace and who does not take to solitary ways gets injured, as though walking over thorny ground when he can't locate the path.

a-labhda: mfn. unobtained
√labh: to take , seize , catch ; catch sight of , meet with , find ; to gain possession of , obtain , receive , conceive , get ; recover ; to gain the power of (doing anything)
cetaH = in comp. for cetas: n. consciousness , intelligence , thinking soul , heart , mind
prashamaH (nom. sg.): m. calmness , tranquillity (esp. of mind) , quiet , rest , cessation , extinction , abatement
sa-raagaH (nom. sg. m): one who has colour, a man of passion
sa-raaga: mfn. having colour (sometimes = " not quite clean "); reddened ; enamoured , impassioned , passionate

yaH (nom. sg. m.): who
na: not
pracaaram (acc. sg.): m. roaming ; coming forth , showing one's self , manifestation ; use ; conduct , behaviour ; prevalence , currency , custom , usage; a playground , place of exercise ; pasture-ground , pasturage
bhajate = 3rd pers. sg. of bhaj: partake of , enjoy (also carnally) , possess , have ; to turn or resort to ; experience, undergo, feel, go into
viviktam (acc. sg. m): mfn. separated , kept apart , distinguished , discriminated ; isolated , alone , solitary ; pure , clean , neat , trim ; clear , distinct

sa: he
kShaNyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive kShan: to hurt one's self , be injured or wounded
hi: for
a-pratilabdha: mfn. not obtained, not found
prati-√labh: to receive back , recover ; to obtain , gain , partake of (acc.)
prati: ind. (as a prefix to roots) towards , near to ; against , in opposition to ; back , again , in return
maargaH (nom. sg.): m. track , road , path , way

caran: going, moving, walking
urvyaam = loc. sg. uru: f. the earth
bahu-kaNTakaayaam = loc. sg. f. of bahu-kaNTaka: mfn. "many thorned"