yad yad eva prasaktaM hi
abhyaasaat tena ten' aasya
natir bhavati cetasaH
= - = = - = = -
- = - - - = - =
= = = = - = = -
- = - - - = - =
For whatever continually
A human being thinks,
In that direction, through habit,
The mind of this person veers.
Going back to basics, while sitting in lotus engaging in the fundamental, the direction I wish to go in is the direction of undoing, which is up. I wish to go in the direction of "a little bit more ease."
Feeling cannot take me there. Feeling ties me to the doing I know, which is down.
Bad habits of thinking cannot take me there. Bad habits of thinking are tied up with feeling, and with trying to be right, which excites the fear reflexes, which takes me in precisely the wrong direction, which is down.
Is there a kind of habit of thinking I can cultivate to take me up, in the right direction?
In his instructions for sitting-zen, Zen Master Dogen, following Zen Master Yakusan Igen, said: KONO FUSHIRYO TEI O SHIRYO SEYO, "Think that state beyond thinking."
My teacher, Gudo Nishijima, asserted that no kind of thinking was suitable in sitting-zen, that Yakusan's words are not about thinking but about action.
FM Alexander described his work as an exercise in finding out what thinking is.
The particular Alexandrian phrase that this verse, 15.18, brought to my mind was "What you think is what you get." It is a phrase I associate with the teaching of the American Alexander teacher Marjorie Barstow (who memorably said of herself, "I'm so practical, I shouldn't be living!").
So I googled "What you think is what you get, Marjorie Barstow," and below are a couple of the links that came up.
In THIS VIDEO CLIP, a woman tells Marjorie that she is having difficulty in looking for complete ease. "That's the problem," Marjorie observes, "You want complete ease before you get it."
Among these TEACHING APHORISMS OF MARJORIE BARSTOW, one of several that might be very relevant to this and the previous verse is: "You have to do the brainwork."
From my experience of the last 30 years, I totally concur with Marjorie Barstow that the brainwork has to be done. If sitting for year after year after year dumbly trying to keep the spine straight vertically got me anywhere, it got me to the realization that there had to be something else, that a piece was missing from the jigsaw puzzle, that I had to learn what it meant "to do the brainwork." And I am still engaged in finding out what it means to do the brainwork, what it means to think. I don't know what it means. Bit by bit I see more clearly what it doesn't mean. For a start, it doesn't mean any kind of self-arrangement in the direction of what one feels might be the right posture.
For through habit a man's thoughts become inclined to whatever he reflects on continually.
Whatever it is that a man continually thinks about, his mind, through habit, will develop a leaning towards it.
yad yad: whatever
prasaktam: ind. continually , incessantly , eternally , ever
vitarkayati = 3rd pers. sg. vi-√tark: to reflect , ponder , think , believe , suppose , conjecture , consider as or take for (acc.)
maanavaH (nom. sg.): m. a human being , man
abhyaasaat = abl. abhyaasa: m. the act of adding anything ; repetition ; repeated or permanent exercise , discipline , use , habit , custom
tena (instr. of sa): ind. in that direction , there (correl. to yena , " in which direction , where ") ; in that manner , thus (correl. to yena , " in what manner ") ; on that account , for that reason , therefore (correl. to yena, yad)
tena tena: (correlative of yad yad)
asya (gen. sg. m/n): of this one
natiH (nom. sg.): f. bending , bowing , stooping ; inclination ; curvature , crookedness
bhavati = 3rd pers. sg. bhU: to become, develop, show, exhibit
cetasaH = gen. sg. cetas: n. consciousness, heart, mind