sa lobha-caapaM parikalpa-baaNaM
raagaM mahaa-vairiNam alpa-sheSham
- = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = -
= = - = = - - = - = =
A small vestige of the great enemy, red passion,
Whose straining bow is impatient desire
and whose arrow is something fixed, a fabrication,
He destroyed using weapons
procured from the body as it naturally is --
Using the darts of the disagreeable,
weapons from the armoury of practice.
I have translated this verse in a somewhat long-winded and explanatory way, on the basis of the mistake-ridden experience of my own life, a continuing catalogue of errors. For what could be more unedifying than the impatience of a man who has pretensions of being a Zen master?
The term parikalpa in line 1 (line 2 in translation) is one whose meaning is important. Its root is pari- √klRp, to fix, and for reasons explained in comments to 13.49 - 53, in those verses I translated parikalpa as fixing. By extension, however, parikalpa also means making, fabricating, contriving, and by further extension something fabricated, contrived, invented, made up -- i.e. an illusion or delusion.
In this verse, as I read it, parikalpa includes both the sense of:
(1) something fixed, related in my experience primarily with the function of the Moro reflex -- the great red enemy of all human beings who live in fear;
(2) something fabricated, made up or imagined, in which sense parikalpa seems to be contrasted with kaaya-svabhava (the body as it naturally is) in line 3.
In the process of trying to locate my own previous comments from this blog on parikalpa, I googled "parikalpa, Ashvaghosha", and stumbled on a paper by Lynken Ghose, who follows convention in translating parikalpa as "delusion." The paper discusses attachment, and the author observes that in Saundarananda "attachment connotes something like a hardened bond that brings about rigid expectations for a certain result..." Ghose notes further that "Another part of the standard Buddhist view on attachment is that it is intricately linked to parikalpa or delusion...."
It seems to me that if Ghose had understood parikalpa not so much as delusion but more according to its primary meaning of fixing, his explanation of what Ashvaghosha means by attachment might have been strengthened.
In line 4 a-shubhaa-pRShatkaiH, "the arrows of non-beauty," or "the darts of a disagreeable [stimulus]," describes coming back to a stimulus that one finds to be disagreeable, i.e. resorting to a passion killer, when the mind is disturbed by some impatient desire. Hence...
Steadiness lies, when one's mind is stirred up by passion,
In coming back to a disagreeable stimulus;
For thus a passionate type obtains relief,
Like a phlegmatic type taking an astringent.
When a mind is wound up, however, with the fault of malice,
A disagreeable stimulus is not to be dwelt upon;
For unpleasantness is destructive to a hating type,
As acid treatment is to a man of bilious nature.
The word which I translated as "stimulus" in 16.60-61, and which EHJ and LC translated as "meditation" is nimittam. But in this context of resorting to a disagreeable or non-beautiful stimulus, certainly, I would like to avoid using the word "meditation." If any word deserves to be translated as "meditation" that word would be dhyaana, as in sitting-dhyaana, sitting-zen, sitting-meditation.
From 17.42 to 17.54 Ashvaghosha will chart Nanda's progress (or regress) through four dhyaana, or four stages of sitting-meditation -- or, if I take the cowardly option and leave dhyaana untranslated, four dhyanas.
I can't help regarding the upcoming series of verses from 17.42 as being particularly important, because they are all about the essential practice of sitting-dhyana. At the same time, just as the whole of Shobogenzo is about sitting-dhyana, it may be that every word of Saundarananda is about sitting-dhyana.
That being so, using the darts of the disagreeable might not require us to engage in any kind of meditation other than the same old practice of sitting on a zafu and directing the body to lengthen and widen. Non-beauty might already be abundantly present in the sitting like this of anybody's body, with all its spots and snot, farts and ear-wax, et cetera, et cetera.
The small remains of the great foe, passion, whose bow is greed and arrows imaginations, he overwhelmed by the missiles of the weapon of Yoga, the arrows of meditation on impurity, which are acquired by considering the very nature of the body.
That small remainder of the great enemy passion, which has longing for its bow and imaginings for its arrows, he shattered with his own arsenal of the weapons of yogic practice, the arrows of impurity meditation obtained through seeing the real nature of the body.
saH (nom. sg. m): he
lobha: perplexity , confusion ; impatience , eager desire for or longing after (gen. loc. or comp.) ; covetousness , cupidity , avarice
caapam (acc. sg.): m. bow
parikalpa: m. illusion; (= parikalpana) n. fixing , settling , contriving , making , inventing
pari- √ klRp: to fix , settle , determine ; to perform , execute , accomplish , contrive , arrange , make
baaNam (acc. sg.): m. reed-shaft, arrow
raagam (acc. sg.): m. redness, passion
mahaa-vairiNam = acc. sg. m. mahaa-vairin: great enemy
alpa-sheSham (acc. sg.): small remainder, vestige
sheSha: mn. remainder , that which remains or is left , leavings , residue
svabhaava: m. own condition or state of being , natural state or constitution , innate or inherent disposition , nature , impulse , spontaneity
adhigataiH = inst. pl. m. adhigata: found , obtained , acquired ; gone over , studied , learnt
bibheda = 3rd per. perfect. bhid: to split , cleave , break , cut or rend asunder , pierce , destroy
yoga: m. act of yoking, practice
aayudha: n. weapon, implement
astraiH = inst. pl. n. astra: a missile, weapon , bolt , arrow
a-shubhaa-pRShatkaiH= inst. pl. a-shubhaa-pRShatka: arrow of non-beauty
a-shubhaa = nom. sg. f. a-shubha: mfn. not beautiful or agreeable , disagreeable ; inauspicious ; bad , vicious
a-shubhaaH = nom. pl. m. a-shubha: m. misfortune , harm , mischief
pRShatka: m. an arrow