Friday, April 16, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.9: Possession of a Means vs Ascetic End-gaining

sarvato vana-raajibhiH
shushubhe vavRdhe c' aiva
naraH saadhanavaan iva

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

With abundant fruits and flowers

Beautifying the forests all around it,

It shone and it flourished,

Like a man fully furnished with a means.

According to a note by EHJ, the later rhetoricians disapprove of the use of the word saadhanavaan because of its "indecorous suggestiveness."

Even if Ashvaghosha himself was mindful of the double-entendre, it might be a red herring. I think that what Ashvaghosha intends by saadhanavaan, being well-endowed with a means, is being in full possession of what Dogen, in the opening sentence of Shobogenzo, called
a subtle method which is supreme and natural/spontaneous.

Again, I think Ashvaghosha real intention is to counterpose the natural perfection of the ashram's natural setting, which is potentially totally favourable to practice of a true means-whereby, and the actual faultiness of Kapila's ascetic end-gaining.

The way I used to sit -- to be frank, the way I was taught to sit in Japan -- was not natural and spontaneous. If I claimed that my sitting these days was natural and spontaneous, I might be deluding myself, remaining tangled up in the five upper fetters. But what I do know for sure is that the way I used to sit -- pulling in the chin and the rest of it -- involved a lot of excess doing: it wasn't natural, it wasn't spontaneous, and nor was it even tending in the direction of natural being and spontaneity.

The direction "to tuck the chin in a little" can be understood as inhibition of the tonic labyrinthine reflex in extension, while the direction "to keep the neck bones straight," as a direction, can be understood as inhibition of the tonic labyrinthine reflex in flexion. So as directions, there may be truth in those directions. But if a person who has a dodgy vestibular system to begin with tries to implement those directions by direct intervention, or doing, the result is very far from spontaneous flow. The result is that the person tends over time to be held ever tighter in the grip of his immature tonic labyrinthine reflexes. Quad Erat Demonstrandum.

What is required for a person's sitting to tend in the right direction is a "non-doing" means -- a means of allowing the right thing to do itself, naturally, spontaneously. The FM Alexander Technique is just such a means. And there are very many instances of men and women who, when furnished with this means, do indeed begin to shine and flourish.

According to the dictionary, saadhana is both a means of enjoyment and a means of battle. So too is sitting-dhyana a means of both battle and enjoyment. There is no contradiction: the battle is with the self, against unconscious tendencies within the self; and the enjoyment is enjoyment of the whole self, and the whole of the battle.

Going further, saadhana also means an act of mastering, and establishment of a truth. Those definitions also fit.

So a lot might be included in "a means." But the gist of it, as I read it, is sitting-dhyana, divorced from end-gaining desires and tainted things.

EH Johnston:
With forest aisles abounding in fruit and flowers on all sides it was splendid and flourished like a man who has all things needful at his command.

Linda Covill:
With forest avenues all about, bursting with fruit and flowers, the ashram glowed and flourished like a prosperous man.

paryaapta-phala-puShpaabhiH (inst. pl. f.): with abundant fruit and flowers
paryaapta: obtained; full; extensive , spacious , large ; abundant , copious , many
phala: n. fruit
puShpa: n. a flower , blossom (ifc. f(aa))

sarvataH: ind. from all sides , in every direction , everywhere
vana-raajibhiH = inst. pl. f. vana-raaji: embellishing or beautifying a forest
vana-raajii: f. a row of trees , a long track of forest or a path in a forest;
f. a female slave belonging to vasu-deva
vana: n. a forest , wood , grove , thicket , quantity of lotuses or other plants growing in a thick cluster (but in older language also applied to a single tree)
raaji: f. a streak , line , row , range

shushubhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect shubh: to beautify , embellish , adorn , beautify one's self; look beautiful or handsome , shine , be bright or splendid ; to prepare , make fit or ready , prepare one's self
vavRdhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect vRdh: to increase , augment , strengthen , cause to prosper or thrive
ca: and
eva: [emphatic]

naraH (nom. sg.): m. a man
saadhanavaan (nom. sg. m.): mfn. furnished with proof or evidence ; endowed with means [of battle / enjoyment etc.]
saadhana: m. propitiation , worship , adoration ; n. the act of mastering , overpowering , subduing ; n. bringing about , carrying out , accomplishment , fulfilment , completion , perfection ; n. establishment of a truth , proof , argument , demonstration ; n. any means of effecting or accomplishing , any agent or instrument or implement or utensil or apparatus , an expedient , requisite for (gen. or comp.) ; n. means or materials of warfare , military forces ; n. conflict , battle ; n. means of correcting or punishing (as " a stick " , " rod " &c ); n. means of enjoyment , goods , commodities ; n. organ of generation (male or female)
vat: (possessive suffix) furnished with
iva: like

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