Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.59: What Goes Up ...

garbhaat prabhRti yo lokaM
jighaaMsur anugacchati
kas tasmin vishvasen mRtyaav
udyat'-aasaav araav iva

= = - - - = = =
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He who stalks humankind, from the womb onwards,

With murderous intent:

Who can breath easy about him? -- Death!

Like an enemy with sword upraised.

What is being negated in this verse, again, seems to me to be the same complacency that Frank Lambert negates in his articles on energy's tendency to spread out.

Lambert asks:
How knowledgeable are we in this modern era if our view of the physical world is so upside down that we consider anything that is disadvantageous to us to be unwarranted and unfair?

His point is that we tend to assume that activation energy barriers won't be overcome, that a wooden house won't burn down, that a stone house won't fall down, that water won't drip through the roof of either, and that the computer won't crash, so that life will continue on as normal.

To counter such complacency, the Buddha in this verse turns Death into a murderous stalker.

What does it mean, then, not to be complacent?

For a start, I always have to remind myself, it should not mean going out of one's way in an effort to be right. It should not mean conceiving some grand ambition -- because the ultimate teaching of the Buddha is to want little.

Might it mean to master the art of easy breathing? Maybe again that is too ambitious.

Not being complacent might mean, while sitting on a zafu, to pay attention to how one is breathing.

(I must confess that I came to this conclusion having already had a sneak preview of the right answer which is coming up in 15.64.)

EH Johnston:
From the womb onwards Death follows a man to strike him down ; who can trust him any more than one trusts an enemy with sword upraised?

Linda Covill:
Who would trust Death, who with murderous intent stalks people from the womb onwards, any more than one would trust an enemy with upraised sword?

garbhaat (abl.): from the womb
prabhRti: ind. (after an abl. adv. or ifc.) beginning with , from--forward
yaH (nom. sg. m.): who
lokam (acc. sg.): m. the world of human beings

jighaaMsuH (nom. sg. m. ): desirous of destroying or ruining (ifc. or with acc.)
anugacchati = 3rd pers. sg. anu-√gam: to go after, follow

kaH (nom. sg. m.): who?
tasmin (loc. sg.): in him
vishvaset = 3rd pers. sg. optative vishvas: vi- √ shvas :, to draw breath freely , be free from fear or apprehension , be trustful or confident , trust or confide in
mRtyau = loc. sg. mRtyu: m. death

udyata: mfn. raised , held up
ud-√yam: to lift up, raise
asau = loc. asi: m. a sword , scimitar , knife (used for killing animals)
arau = loc. sg. ari: m. an enemy
iva: like

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