Thursday, November 5, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.12: Turbid Water vs Jewel

vyaapaado vaa vihiMsaa vaa
kShobhayed yadi te manaH
prasaadyaM tad-vipakSheNa
maNin" ev' aakulaM jalaM

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

If ill-will or cruelty

Should stir up your mind,

Let it be charmed by their opposite,

As turbid water by a jewel.

For 15 years I have been studying Alexander's principle of not doing the directions:
"To let the neck be free,
to let the head go forward and up,
to let the back lengthen and widen,
while sending the knees forwards and away."

It is 12 years since I received from Marjory Barlow the initial surprising news that what I felt to be thinking the directions was, in fact, a not so subtle form of feeling/doing.

And yet, in spite of having had the principle clearly demonstrated to me, not once but many times, I am still aware in myself of a desire to do the directions -- not a desire to allow, but a desire to do.

From the age of 26, that is, for 23 years, I have been practising the translation of the words of buddha-ancestors from their native languages into my native language, English. Right at the beginning of that process, I could not help seeing clearly that my own teacher's efforts to translate Master Dogen's words from Japanese into English were a clear example of how I did NOT want to translate. My teacher's translation was very full of his own interpretation. In a relativistic way, seeing his mistakes gave me confidence. I could see how much weight a modern buddha-ancestor assigned to the task of doing translation work, as if almost nothing were more important, and I felt confident that I could do a better job than he could do, by making a truer, more literal, less interpretive translation.

And yet, after all these years, despite my best intention to confine my dust and fluff to the commentary section of these posts, it remains a constant struggle to do so.

The two struggles are in a sense the same struggle -- a struggle to stay out of the way, a struggle not to impose my own view, a struggle to be the listener and not the one who puts the spanner in the works by interposing himself, a struggle NOT TO DO.

This struggle involves keeping the Buddha's metaphors "clean" -- free of my own dust and fluff, certainly at the translation stage, and maybe in these comments sections too...

So in this verse, for example, when ill-will or cruelty cause the mind to be like turbid water, what kind of jewel is a jewel?

And whereabouts is a jewel?

And what is the relationship between turbid water and a jewel?

And is there anything else about a jewel?

EH Johnston:
Should your mind be troubled by malevolence or the desire to hurt, it should be made calm by their counteragent, as muddied water is made clear by a jewel.

Linda Covill:
If malicious or aggressive thoughts churn in your mind, they must be softened with their opposite, as turbid water clears with a jewel.

vyaapaadaH (nom. sg.): m. destruction , ruin , death ; evil intent or design , malice
vaa: or
vihiMsaa (nom. sg.): f. [action noun from vi- √ hiMs, to injure severely] the act of harming or injuring
vi-: prefix that sometimes intensifies the idea (e.g. √ hiMs , " to injure " ; vi- √hiMs , " to injure severely ")
hiMsaa: f. injury , harm (to life or property) , hurt , mischief , wrong (said to be of three kinds , 1. mental as " bearing malice " ; 2. verbal , as " abusive language " ; 3. personal , as " acts of violence ")
vaa: or

kShobhayet = caus. optative 3rd pers. sg. kShubh: to shake , tremble , be agitated or disturbed , be unsteady , stumble; Caus. to agitate , cause to shake , disturb , stir up , excite
yadi: if
te (gen.): your
manaH (acc. sg.): n. mind

prasaadyam = acc. sg. n. prasaadya (gerundive from prasaad, to implore, beg a favour): mfn to be rendered gracious , be propitiated
tad: its
vipakSheNa = inst. vipakSha: mfn. deprived of wings ; m. " being on a different side. " , an opponent , adversary , enemy (mfn. "counteracting")

maNinaa = inst. maNi: m. a jewel , gem , pearl (also fig.) , any ornament or amulet , globule , crystal ; a magnet , loadstone
iva: like
aakula: mfn. confounded , confused , agitated , flurried ; confused (in order) , disordered
jalam (nom./acc. sg.) : n. water


warby said...

Hi Mike
I like this choice of charmed here.
It has a tone like wishing.
It has a light touch.
In your comments often you will squeeze everydrop out. giving it all 110%. I can't see how anyone can ever keep the dust off an interpretive work like this. Nor why that is needed.
So -"what kind of jewel is a jewel?"
Like in wishing or charming,
"what is the relationship between turbid water and a jewel? "
something is held back
"And is there anything else about a jewel? "
I would have to say it looks like 15 years and 23 years.
Express my gratitude for your daily effort in this translation!

Mike Cross said...

Thanks, Warren.

As a translaton of prasaadyam, I thought about, "Let the mind return to a state of grace," but on reflection that seemed to be too dusty.

"Let it be charmed" might also be a bit dusty...

1 a : to affect by or as if by magic : compel b : to please, soothe, or delight by compelling attraction

"Let it be soothed or pacified" might be less dusty.

The addition of "cleared" [as per EHJ's and LC's translations] might be more dusty.

But all the above is only my dust and fluff.

If there were no dust and fluff, the question might be:

When something is held back, what happens next?