Monday, December 28, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 15.65: Counteracting Ideas

ity anena prayogeNa
kaale sevitum arhasi
pratipakShaan vitarkaaNaaM
gadaanaam agadaan iva

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

Using this device

You should take in good time

Counter-measures against ideas,

Like remedies against illnesses.

Mindfulness of breathing, at least as it is used in my practice, is not in itself a means of counteracting ideas, any more than a tachometer is a means of driving a car. Mindfulness of breathing, at least as I use it, is a means to be used, not the means itself. In other words it is a feedback device, not the primary thing.

The primary thing is what I came back to England to investigate, under teachers of the FM Alexander Technique, and as a teacher of the FM Alexander Technique. "If you want to meditate," FM Alexander said (or so his niece Marjory Barlow told me) "this is how." What FM might have meant by "this" I attempted to convey in an article written eight years ago, titled Practising Detachment. Since I relied heavily on quotations from Alexander himself and other very experienced teachers, I think the article might still be worth reading.

Teachers of meditation who have never seen what Alexander saw, even in a dream, speak of letting ideas come and go like clouds passing in a blue sky. From the standpoint of this verse, the ideas of those teachers are just ideas to be opposed, as if they were illnesses, using a device or a contrivance such as mindfulness of breathing.

And, the Buddha tells Nanda in the 2nd line, this counteraction of ideas needs to be accomplished in good time -- otherwise we are liable to wake up one morning and find ourselves very tired and weary, after 30, 40 or maybe even 50 years of trying too hard on the basis of an idea.

Sometimes very good remedies against illnesses have very little in the way of active ingredients.

Over the Christmas holidays I saw on TV a comedy routine by a big fat Irish comedian named Dara O' Brian in which he suggested that homeopaths be included in a large sack, along with nutritionists and other therapists and quacks whose work he does not consider to be evidence-based, and he would like to beat them all with a big stick. My feeling was that I would like to put the scientific Mr O' Brian in a sack along with dentists who use mercury fillings, the top surgeons in the 19th century who opposed the use of anaesthesia as a kind of cheating, clinical researchers who are in it for the money, Zen Masters who think their own idea is the one true Buddhism .... et cetera, et cetera. You think that the ideas of others are laughable, Mr. O' Brian, whereas your own idea, as a bona-fide "scientist" might be true. If I feel anger about your arrogant know-it-all attitude, and call you a fat Irish scum-bag....

I am afraid it is only the mirror principle at work.

Sometimes nothing but a glass of water, or a listening ear, is a very excellent remedy for an illness. And just as the very best remedy for an illness may be a bit of nothing, the very best counter-measure against an idea may also be a bit of nothing.

Not an emotional reaction. A bit of nothing!

EH Johnston:
So take heed by this practice to resort at the due time to the counteragents of these evil thoughts, as to antidotes of diseases.

Linda Covill:
With this procedure you can adopt countermeasures against such fancies in good time, as a medication against sickness.

iti: thus
anena = inst. sg. ayam: this
prayogeNa = inst. prayoga: m. joining together , connection ; a design , contrivance , device , plan; application , employment (esp. of drugs or magic) , use (prayogena = by means of); practice , experiment (opp. to , " theory ")

kaale: ind. (loc. kaala) in time , seasonably
sevitum = inf. sev: to resort to (acc.); to devote or apply one's self to , cultivate , study , practise , use , employ , perform , do ; to tend , cherish (plants)
arhasi: you should

pratipakShaan = acc. pl. pratipakSha: m. the opposite side , hostile party , opposition ; an obstacle ; an adversary , opponent , foe
vitarkaaNaam = gen. pl. vitarka: m. idea, fancy

gadaanaam = gen. pl. gada: m. disease , sickness
agadaan = acc. pl. agada: m. freedom from disease; a medicine , drug , (especially) antidote
iva: like

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