Friday, December 4, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.41: In the Flux of Samsara

tasmaaj jNaati-vitarkeNa
mano n' aaveShTum arhasi
vyavasthaa n' aasti saMsaare
sva-janasya janasya ca

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

With thoughts about close relatives, therefore,

You should not obsess the mind.

There is no abiding difference, in the flux of samsara,

Between one's own people and people in general.

Who is a person's nearest and dearest? For around the first nine months after our conception, it is invariably our mother. But once we are born nearness and dearness of relatives becomes a relative matter: in the flux of samsara, all is subject to change and all is but a woven web of guesses -- all, that is, except the inevitability of sickness, aging and death.

In the flux of samsara, the oil price goes up and a noisy factory becomes very quiet.

In the flux of samsara, a quiet place where I am sitting is invaded by a passing airplane or by sound vibrations from the engine of a neighbour's car being warmed up, for an unduly long time, on a frosty morning.

When quiet that I was enjoying is invaded by noise, my confused human feeling -- the power of which I am supposed to be thwarting through practice of integrity -- tends to include hatred of people in general.

Of course, I shouldn't be like this. I shouldn't be wrong like this. After all these years of sitting, how come I am still Mr. Angry? Surely, I shouldn't still be wrong like this.

Yes, there it is again: the first idea to be given up, the idea of being right.

Even when my feeling is confused, there is no need for my thinking to be confused in regard to rule number one, which is that, in this work of accepting and using the self, being wrong is the best friend we have got.

EH Johnston:
Therefore do not let your mind be obsessed with thoughts of kinsfolk; for there is no permanent distinction in the cycle of existence between kinsfolk and strangers.

Linda Covill:
So don't let distractions about your family invade your mind, since in samsara there is no abiding difference between family and stranger.

tasmaat: ind. from that , on that account , therefore
jNaati: m. near relation, kinsman
vitarkeNa = inst. sg. vitarka: m. conjecture , supposition , guess , fancy , imagination , opinion

manaH (acc. sg.): mind
na: not
aaveShTum = inf. aa-√ veShT: to spread over
aa: (as prefix) near, towards
√ veShT: to wind or twist round ; to adhere or cling to (loc.)
arhasi: you should

vy-avasthaa: f. (from vy-ava-√sthaa) respective difference; abiding in one place , steadiness ; fixity , perseverance , constancy
vy-ava-√sthaa: to go apart , separate from; to differ respectively
n' aasti: there is not
saMsaare = loc. saMsaara: course , passage , passing through a succession of states , circuit of mundane existence

sva-janasya = gen. sg. sva-jana: m. a man of one's own people , kinsman
janasya = gen. sg. jana: m. a person
ca: and


Jordan said...

Hi Mike, Glad my RSS feed seems to be working again.
On a note related to todays post, after a bit of one of my tirades yesterday morning my wife called me 文句
monk. Then she seemed to have an epiphany later when she said Gutama and Dogen were 文句 monks too. At least I'm in good company.

Mike Cross said...

Hi Jordan,

Somebody today gave me a donation, of which I don't feel at all worthy. What kind of beggar am I?

On top of that your comment gives further cause for reflection.

Shaving our head, struggling every day to penetrate the words of the Buddha as recorded by ancestors like Ashvaghosha and Dogen, and sitting every morning wrapped in a robe: in those respects, I agree, we are in good company.

If I called myself, as some do, "a lay monk," though, it might be a contradiction in terms. It might be just another idea to be given up.

At the same time, receiving a donation also shakes up my idea of who I am -- an idea I am probably not even aware of, until an incredibly generous donor comes along and shakes it up.

In the end, who are we?

Speaking for myself, I don't know.

All the best,


Jordan said...

I have family visiting from Texas, they bring tidings from all of their neighbors and friends, they will talk about one of these folks, and say and this person is grateful for your [military]service, and so and so said make sure you tell him to thanks for his service and so on.

It feels awkward every time. Some times I'll say something smart back such as "Thank you for paying your taxes."

The last for years I've spent sitting stateside not deploying with the kids. Thats my Idea of serving that I have to give up to truly accept the gratitude of others.

I only know you from your writing here, and the noble effort that comes across my screen each morning alone is enough for me to say to you, Mike: I'm grateful for your efforts. I'm glad that someone with deeper pockets than mine recognized that as well.

Mike Cross said...

Thank you, Jordan.

warby said...

Hi Mike
Sorry to butt into the conversation here but what excellent news that you have a handsome donation. Congratulations to you and this person. From what you have written of your past experiences it is fitting that you would receive some real gold in hand. So the translation continues to benefit
everyone and Mike gets an infusion
to keep the spirits up and the pen moving.
That's Good Holidays!

Mike Cross said...

Hi Warren,

To let Ashvaghosha's gold shine through, untainted by my own idea, is the challenge.I'm rarely happy with what I write by way of commnentary, but I hope that in spite of me there is real value in the translation part.

All the best,