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 )

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

utsṛṣṭavān = nom. sg. m. past active participle utsṛj.