Thursday, February 25, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.44: Thinking into Not Thinking

tatr' aapi tad-dharma-gataan vitarkaan
guN-aaguNe ca prasRtaan vicaaraan
buddhvaa manaH-kSHobha-karaan a-shaantaaMs
tad-viprayogaaya matiM cakaara

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

Even in that, he realised, ideas about aforesaid things,

And thoughts about what is or is not good,

Are something not quieted,
causing disturbance in the mind,

And so he decided to let them go.

In line 1 tatr' aapi means even in that innocent state of joy and ease -- praise be to it -- which is free of end-gaining desires and tainted things.

In line 2 thoughts about good and not good might have something to do with what Ashvaghosha elsewhere calls parikalpa, fixing. For, to paraphrase some old scribbler or other, there is nothing good or bad, but fixing makes it so.

In line 4 of this verse, as in line 1 of 17.41, a paradox is implied by the use of the dative case.

In 17.41 the paradox is that the dative case includes a volitional sense -- namely, the desire to go beyond the sphere of desire.

In today's verse, the paradox is that the volitional sense of the dative case includes the idea or thought of letting go of ideas and thoughts.

This is the paradox contained in the famous imperative of Ashvaghosha's Chinese descendant Yakusan, spoken in Japanese as:


"Think this state of not thinking!"


"Think into the no-thinking zone!"

EH Johnston:
At that point too, understanding the initial reflections on those elements and the sustained reflections on their merit and demerit to be disturbing to the mind and not to lead to tranquillity, he determined to rid himself of them.

Linda Covill:
He realized that even at this stage the initial application of concentration to the constituents of reality, as well as the sustained application of concentration to a consideration of their virtues and flaws, are not conducive to peace but make undulations in the mind. He decided to break away from them.

tatra: there, at that stage, in that state
api: even, also, very, though
tad: that, his, its, one’s
dharma: practice
gata: going to, about
vitarkaan (accusative, plural): thoughts

guN-aaguNe (loc. sg.): merit and demerit
guNa: m. a quality
aguNa: mfn. destitute of qualities or attributes; destitute of good qualities; m. a fault
ca: and
prasRta: extending to (with locative)
vicaaraan (accusative, plural): investigations, deliberations

buddhvaa = absolutive of budh: to wake up to, realise, perceive, notice, see
manaH: mind
kSHobha: shaking, agitation, disturbance, trembling, emotion
karaan = accusative, plural of kara: doer, causer
a-shaantaan = acc. pl. a-shaanta: unappeased, indomitable, wild; restless , unresigned
shaanta: mfn. (fr. √1. zam) appeased , pacified , tranquil , calm , free from passions , undisturbed; soft , pliant ; gentle , mild , friendly , kind , auspicious ; rendered ineffective , innoxious , harmless (said of weapons)

tad: that, them
viprayogaaya = dative of viprayoga: disjunction, separation from
matim = accusative mati: thought, intention, mind
cakaara: made, made up

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