loke prakRti-bhinne 'smin
na kash cit kasya cit priyaH
= = - - - = = =
- = = = - = - =
= - = - - = = =
= - = = - = - -
In this originally shattered world
Nobody is the beloved of anybody.
Held together by cause and effect,
Humankind is like sand in a clenched fist.
This verse makes one think of the Big Bang and the 2nd law of thermodynamics -- intuitive understanding of which the Buddha evidently had.
The verse also makes me think of a conversation I had around this time of the year in 1977, with an old school friend and then fellow worker at Rackham's department store in Birmingham. As we sat in the staff canteen eating cheap sausages and chips and looking out over Birmingham's pigeon-crapped city centre, my friend argued that romantic love was only an idea, a myth sustained by the Hollywood dream factory.
Nowadays my skeptical old mate is a partner in a private equity firm. His judgements over the years have proved to be fairly reliable.
When I met my friend in the 1980s, as his career was in the process of taking off, I bent his ear with a multiplicity of true Buddhist notions, centred on realism. "You seem to be using 'realism' as your latest buzz-word," my skeptical friend observed. I might have succeed in fooling myself, at least partially, but I hadn't succeeded in fooling him.
It may sound like the Buddha is opposing the romantic viewpoint in this verse with a skeptical viewpoint. What the Buddha is really advocating is not skepticism, however, but the abandonment of all -isms -- what Ashvaghosha called vitarka-prahaaNa, literally, "the Giving Up of Ideas."
Vitarka means thought, idea, conception, notion, fancy. And prahaaNa means the act of quitting, abandoning, giving up. So Linda Covill's translation of the canto title, vitarka-prahaaNa, is also a perfectly literal one: "Abandoning Notions." EH Johnston, uncharacteristically for him, seemed to want to tip-toe out of the library and into the ashram, by translating the canto title as "Emptying the Mind."
"Emptying the Mind," truly, is a rubbish translation of vitarka-prahaaNa, but there is something about the translation that I really like -- maybe reflecting the fact that, even as a pedantic Oxford scholar, EHJ was not immune from swallowing the bitter sugar-coated pill of the cunning Ashvaghosha. At the same time, if EHJ were really to give up the idea of being right and allow himself to stray down the interpretive route, he might as well have translated vitarka-prahaaNa as "Squashing a Round Black Cushion."
In this world, which is by nature separate, no one is really the beloved of anyone else ; it is cause and effect that hold the world together, like a hand holding a ball of sand together.
In this world, by nature separate, nobody is truly dear to anybody. The world is bound together by cause and effect, like sand held together in your fist.
loke (loc.): in the world
prakRti: f. " making or placing before or at first " , the original or natural form or condition of anything , original or primary substance
bhinne = loc. bhinna: mfn. split , broken , shattered , pierced ; divided into parts , anything less than a whole ; opened , expanded , blown ; detached , disjoined ; disunited , set at variance
asmin (loc.): in this
na kash cit (nom. sg.) nobody
kasya cit (gen. sg.): of anybody
priyaH (nom. sg.): mfn. beloved , dear to
kaarya: n. work, conduct ; effect, result
kaaraNa: n. cause , reason
sambaddham: mfn. bound or tied together , joined , connected ; connected in sense , coherent , having meaning ; shut , closed; connected or covered or filled with , belonging or relating to (instr. or comp.)
baalukaa: f. sg. and pl. sand , gravel
muShTi: the clenched hand , fist ; a handful
jagat (nom. sg.): n. that which moves or is alive , men and animals ; the world; n. people , mankind