Saturday, February 27, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.46: Ideas as Noise in the System

khinnasya suptasya ca nirvRtasya
baadhaM yathaa saMjanayanti shabdaaH
adhyaatmam aik'-aagryam upaagatasya
bhavanti baadhaaya tathaa vitarkaaH

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

Just as, to one who is weary,
and fallen fast asleep,

Noises are a source of bother,

So, to one indulging in his original state
of unitary awareness,

Ideas become bothersome.

In 17.44 Ashvaghosha tells us that Nanda decided to let go of ideas and thoughts. Ashvaghosha does not describe the how of letting go, but in this and the previous verse he underlines the why: because ideas disturb the peace of sitting-meditation, like waves disturbing a steady flow of tranquil water, or like noises that a sleeping person has to endure.

For what else can a sleeping person do about bothersome noises except endure them? -- unless the noises happen to be coming from a source that he can get up and switch off, like his wife's beeping mobile phone.

Somehow Ashvaghosha's description of Nanda's decision to let go of ideas and thoughts reminds me of the late Allen Carr's approach to stopping smoking -- there being no special technique involved, but just the recognition that one does not really want the object of one's effort to let go.

The dangers to one's health of a long-cherished fixed idea, however, are liable to be more deeply hidden than the evils of smoking. Which may be why FM Alexander observed: "The most difficult things to get rid of are the ones that don't exist."

EH Johnston:
As noises harass a man who is tired and soundly asleep, so thoughts harass the mean who has attained internal concentration.

Linda Covill:
And just as noises disturb an exhausted person who is sleeping peacefully, so do thoughts become an irritant for someone who has reached inner one-pointedness.

khinnasya = gen. sg. m. kinna: depressed, distressed, wearied, exhausted
suptasya = gen. sg. m. supta: asleep, sleeping
ca: and
nirvRtasya = gen. sg. m. nirvRta: mfn. satisfied , happy , tranquil , at ease , at rest ; extinguished , terminated , ceased

baadham = acc. sg.: m. annoyance , molestation , affliction , obstacle , distress , pain , trouble
saMjanayanti (3rd pers. pl. causative saM-√jan): they cause to be born, generate, create, cause
shabdaaH (nominative, plural): m. noises

adhyaatma: own, belonging to self
aikaagryam (acc. sg.): n. (fr. ekaagra, one-pointed) intentness or concentration on one object
upaagatasya = gen. sg. m.: reached, come towards, entered a state
upa- √ gam: to go near to ; to enter any state or relation , undergo , obtain , participate in ;

bhavanti (3rd pers. pl. bhuu): they are, they become
baadhaaya (dative): for disturbance, for annoyance, annoying, bothersome
tathaa: ind. so, likewise
vitarkaaH (nom, plural): ideas, thoughts

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