Sunday, November 22, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.29: Using a Wedge to Remove a Wedge

tad buddhvaa pratipakShena
vitarkaM kSheptum arhasi
suukShmena pratikiilena
kiilaM daarv-antaraad iva

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

Antagonistically, being awake to this,

You should see off the idea,

As if using a finely-honed counter-wedge

To drive a wedge from a cleft in a log.

This verse might express the true essence of sitting-dhyaana.

In search of this essence, 15 years ago I came back from Japan looking to the teaching of FM Alexander, sensing that it had something to teach me about "correct posture."

Alexander work did, in fact, teach me a lot about "correct posture." Alexander work taught me that in my search for correct posture I was "cherising a lousy end-gaining idea" (cint ashubham; 15.27).

"Being awake to this" (tad buddhvaa), as I read it, means being awake to this end-gaining tendency. It means being awake to how harm arises, at the deepest level of a person's being, because of unconscious reaction to an idea.

"Being awake to this" (tad buddhvaa), and thinking "antagonistically" (pratipakShena), the Buddha set his followers on the path to enlightenment not by discussing enlightenment, but by investigating suffering.

"Being awake to this" (tad buddhvaa), and thinking "antagonistically" (pratipakShena), Zen Master Dogen wrote of sitting with the mind as opposed to sitting with the body, and of sitting with the body as opposed to sitting with the mind.

Alexander work hasn't taught me how to sit correctly. True Alexander work has no pretences in that direction. But what FM Alexander's niece Marjory Barlow did endeavour to teach me was how to think in a manner which is antagonistic to an end-gaining idea. A couple of years ago I recorded my impressions of how Marjory set about this task, IN THIS ARTICLE, which I hope is worth re-reading.

EH Johnston:
You should understand this and should cast out thoughts by their counteragents, as a wedge is driven out from a cleft in a log by a slender counter-wedge.

Linda Covill:
Take cognisance of this, and throw off distracted thinking by means of its opposite, like a wedge is prized out of a piece of lumber by a finer counter-wedge.

tad: (1) = tat (acc. sg. n.) it, that; (2) ind. on that account , for that reason , therefore
buddhvaa = abs. budh: to wake , wake up , be awake; to observe , heed , attend to (with acc.)
pratipakShena = inst. pratipakSha: m. the opposite side

vitarkam (acc. sg.): idea, thought
kSheptum = infinitive kShip: to throw , cast , send , despatch ; to strike or hit (with a weapon); to throw away , cast away , get rid of
arhasi: you should

suukShmena = inst. suukShma: small , fine , thin , narrow ; acute, precise ; acute , subtle , keen (understanding or mental operation)
pratikiilena = inst. pratikiila: m. an opposite post or peg
prati: ind. against, in opposition to
kiila: m. a sharp piece of wood , stake , pin , peg , bolt , wedge , &c

kiilam (acc. sg.): m. a sharp piece of wood , stake , pin , peg , bolt , wedge , &c
daarva: mfn. wooden
antaraad = ablative antara: n. the interior; n. a hole , opening
iva: like

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