Monday, January 25, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.13: Coming to Quiet, through Desire

sa duHkha-jaalaan mahato mumukShur
vimokSha-maarg'-aadhigame vivikShuH
panthaanam aaryaM paramaM didRkShuH
shamaM yayau kiM cid upaatta-cakShuH

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Desiring release from the great net of suffering,

Desiring to enter into possession
of the pathways of release,

Desiring to experience the supreme noble path,

He got a bit of the Eye, and came to quiet.

"May all living beings be released from the great net of suffering!" (Nice idea.)

In line 2, pathways of release might be those implicated, for example, in a baby's laugh. If you are a neuro-boffin, you probably know all about these pathways in terms of dendritic connections in the brain, flow of endorphins, et cetera. Is it possible for a mature person to come consciously into possession of such pathways? Probably to some extent it is, as represented by statues of the big fat laughing Happy Buddha. Speaking of pathways, Marjory Barlow passed on the advice to "never let a day go by without coming back to those words -- To let the neck be free, to let the head go forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, sending the knees forwards and away."

Line 3 refers to the noble eightfold path of practice, outlined by the Buddha in the previous Canto.

I have understood cakShuH in line 4 to be synonymous with the GEN ("Eye") in Dogen's SHOBOGENZO ("Treasure of the Eye of True Dharma").

So this verse contains the climax to the first section of the present Canto, which begins with Nanda making for the forest with the purpose of letting go of the afflictions (17.1), and then girding on the intention to come undone (17.3). This first section of thirteen verses is all about purpose, intention, volition, or, in short, Nanda's subjective desire. Now, with his getting a bit of the Eye, the perspective suddenly switches away from the fortress of the mind (whose four corner stones might be four vestibular reflexes, and whose building blocks might be inhibition and desire). The Eye, having been got a bit, loses self-consciousness of the fortress of the mind and looks out over the world of dharmas.

EH Johnston:
Desiring release from the mighty net of suffering, wishing to enter into possession of the Road of Salvation and desiring to see the supreme noble Path, he reached tranquillity by obtaining a certain degree of insight.

Linda Covill:
Wishing to be free of the great net of suffering, hoping to gain access to the road to liberation, wanting to see the sublime noble path, he attained some measure of insight, and grew peaceful.

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
duHkha-jaalaat (abl. sg.): from the net of suffering
duHkha: suffering
jaala: n. a net (for catching birds , fish &c )
mahataH (abl. sg. n.): great
mumukShuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (from desiderative √muc, to let loose) desirous of freeing ; eager to be free (from mundane existence)

vimokSha-maarg-aadhigame (loc. sg.): into possession of the path of coming undone
vimokSha: m. the being loosened or undone, release
maarga: path, track
adhigama: m. the act of attaining , acquisition ; acquirement , mastery , study , knowledge
vivikShuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (from desiderative √vish, to enter) wishing or intending to enter (acc. , rarely loc.)

panthaanam = acc. sg. pathin: m. a way , path , road , course
aaryam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. noble, aryan
paramam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. supreme, most excellent
didRkShuH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. (from desiderative √dRsh, to see) wishing to examine or try

shamam (acc. sg.): m. tranquillity , calmness, peace, quietness
yayau = 3rd pers. perfect yaa: to go, enter, reach
kiM cit: somewhat, a little
upaatta-cakShuH (acc. sg. n.): insight; gaining the Eye
upaatta: mfn. (contracted fr. upaa-datta) received , accepted , acquired , gained , obtained ; begun
cakShus: n. clarity ; faculty of seeing , sight ; the eye

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