Thursday, June 24, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.15: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Balance of Inside & Outside

avediid buddhi-shaastraabhyaam
iha c' aamutra ca kshamaM
arakShiid dhairya-viiryaabhyaam
indriyaaNy api ca prajaaH

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

He knew, through intelligence and education,

What was fitting, both in here and out there;

He guarded, with constancy and directed energy,

Both his senses and his subjects.

What is there for a devotee of sitting-zen to learn from these virtues of the ancient non-Buddhist king?

In this verse, as I read it, Ashvaghosha is pointing us in the direction of a balance between inside and outside.

What seems most fitting in here, to me, is the backward step of turning light and letting it shine.

Forward steps that seem most fitting out there are centred on efforts to help others in the direction of more consciously directing their energy. This translation work is also part of those efforts...

In future people may thank me for this effort, and say that I was ahead of my time. They might build a great big Mike Cross statue and write books about me, documenting heroic striving against the karmic odds... Dream on, Cross. Dream on...

If I drag my errant attention back to the text, the word viirya, which plays a starring role at the end of Canto 16, means as I read it not just energy, as viirya is defined in the dictionary, but directed energy. We are all in possession of huge amounts of energy -- e being equal to mc squared, a single atom of my skin might have enough energy locked inside it to blow up this house. But for the most part our energy is not amenable to being consciously directed. And some more than others suffer from a certain dysfunction in the ear which causes unconsciously directed energy to overflow in undesirable directions. This -- the center of what FM Alexander called "faulty sensory appreciation" -- can be seen as the primary reason that the world is in a bit of a mess.

In the interests of causing the world to be in a bit less of a mess, it cannot do any harm for the head of a hierarchy, or the central agency in a large system, like a king, to learn more consciously to direct, in the first instance, his own energy. So this kind of direction of energy is what today's verse, as I read it, primarily relates to.

EH Johnston:
By his wisdom he obtained what was useful in this world and by his learning he knew what was fitting for the hereafter ; he guarded his senses with steadfastness and his subjects with courage.

Linda Covill:
With his intelligence and his education, he knew what was appropriate both for this world and the next; with constancy and vigor he guarded his senses as well as his subjects.

avediit = 3rd pers. sg. aorist vid: to know
buddhi-shaastraabhyaam (abl./inst. dual): through intelligence and education
buddhi: f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; perception ; comprehension , apprehension , understanding
shaastra: n. an order , command , precept , rule ; teaching , instruction , direction , advice , good counsel ; any instrument of teaching , any manual or compendium of rules , any bock or treatise , (esp.) any religious or scientific treatise ; a body of teaching (in general) , scripture , science

iha: ind. in this place , here; at this time, now ; here and now
ca: and
amutra: ind. there ; there above i.e. in the other world , in the life to come
ca: and
kshamam (acc. sg.): mfn. enduring , suffering , bearing , submissive , resisting ; adequate , competent , able , fit for ; bearable , tolerable ; fit , appropriate , becoming , suitable , proper

arakShiit = 3rd pers. sg. aorist rakSh: to guard , watch , take care of , protect , save , preserve
dhairya-viiryaabhyaam (abl./inst. dual):
dhairya: n. firmness , constancy , calmness , patience , gravity , fortitude , courage
viirya: n. manliness , valour , strength , power , energy

indriyaaNi = acc. pl. indriya: n. faculty of sense , sense , organ of sense
api: also
ca: and
prajaaH = acc. pl. prajaa: f. subject


Jordan said...

I'd like to thank you now.

Thank's for your efforts Mike.


Mike Cross said...

Thanks Jordan -- for making me feel ashamed of myself for my vanity.

I suppose a theatre of war is a pretty good laboratory for observing how human energy is liable to overflow unconsciously in undesirable directions? And for noticing how some individuals are constitutionally better equipped to deal with the stress than others?

If I had been in the trenches in WWI, I don't suppose I would have lasted many weeks or months before showing signs of shell shock... and those were the days before anyone had heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...

Whether your good listening is against the karmic odds or not I don't know (I have my suspicions!), but either way up, thanks for being a good listener.