Monday, March 8, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.55: Just Sitting

yasmaat tu tasmin na sukhaM na duHkhaM
jNaanaM ca tatr’ aasti tad-artha-caari
tasmaad upekSHaa-smRti-paarishuddhir
nirucyate dhyaana-vidhau caturthe

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

Since in this there is neither ease nor suffering,

And the act of knowing abides here, being its own object,

Therefore utter lucidity
through indifference and awareness

Is specified in the protocol
for the fourth stage of meditation.

In this verse, as I read it, the act of knowing (jNaana) means sitting. The act of knowing being its own object (tad-artha-caarin) means just sitting.

Just sitting means not end-gaining. If we conceive 'utter lucidity through indifference and awareness' (upekSHaa-smRti-paarishuddhi) as an end to be gained, and go for it directly, guided by faulty sensory appreciation, that is akin to trying to make pond-water clear by stirring up sediment.

The difficulty with end-gaining like that is that we generally do not recognise that we are doing it -- until, for example, ashamedly surveying the wreckage of a battered laptop, one is forced to recognise another failure of inhibition, another descent into end-gaining.

This was Nanda's experience as described in Canto 12, Gaining Hold. His real starting point, the point at which he began to get a grip on himself, was shameful recognition of end-gaining.

So yes, utter lucidity through indifference and awareness (upekSHaa-smRti-paarishuddhi) must be what Dogen meant by water being clear right down to the bottom, and fish swimming like fish.

But if we want to make the words of Dogen and Ashvaghosha real in our own experience, it might be necessary not to end-gain, but rather to go back to square one, and not only once. At least this is my experience, not as one who has conclusively realised the worthy state, arhathood, but as one who has conclusively realised, again and again, the mistake of shi-zen-biku, the beggar of the fourth dhyana.

EH Johnston:
And since in it there is neither bliss nor suffering and knowledge there fulfils its aim, therefore in the process of the fourth trance there is explained to be purification through indifference and attentiveness.

Linda Covill:
Since there is no bliss or sorrow at this level, knowledge lives here at one with its object; therefore in the description of the fourth level of meditation it is said that there is purification of equanimity and mindfulness.

yasmaat: since
tu: but (or just for emphasis)
tasmin (loc. sg.): in it
na: not, neither
sukham (nom. sg.): n. ease, happiness
na: nor
duHkham (nom. sg.): n. suffering

jNaanam (nom. sg.): n. knowing, the act of knowing
ca: and
tatra: there
asti: exists
tad: its
artha: aim, meaning, object, thing, wealth, treasure, substance
caari = nom. sg. caarin: mfn. (ifc.) moving, walking or wandering about, living, being; acting, proceeding

tasmaat: ind. therefore
upekSHaa: f. overlooking , disregard , negligence , indifference , contempt , abandonment
smRti: f. remembrance, mindfulness, attentiveness, awareness
parishuddhiH (nom. sg.): f. complete purification; absolution, rightness
pari: ind. round , around ; fully , abundantly , richly (esp. ibc)
shuddhi: f. cleansing , purification , purity (lit. and fig.) , holiness , freedom from defilement; verification , correction , making true , correctness , accuracy , genuineness , truth ; clearness , certainty , accurate knowledge regarding
nirucyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive of nir + vac: to speak out, express clearly or distinctly, declare, interpret, explain
dhyaana: n. (stage of) realisation, meditation
vidhau = loc. sg. vidhi: direction, rule, formula, outline; any prescribed act
caturthe = loc. sg. caturtha: the fourth

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