Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.41: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Devotion to a Work in Progress

ten' aarir api duHkh' aarto
n' aatyaaji sharaN'-aagataH
jitvaa dRptaan api ripuun
na ten' aakaari vismayaH

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He did not shun the pain-afflicted
even when there was hostility,

Once refuge had been taken;

And having conquered his enemies, the conceited,

He did not become proud on that account.

I have tried to translate duHkh' aartaH ("pain-afflicted") in the first line so that, in addition to conveying the overt meaning of a man afflicted by suffering, the translation might suggest the gist expressed by Dogen in Shobogenzo chap. 50, Shoho-jisso; All Things Are Real Form. "All Things" includes our most painful experiences -- even those experiences accompanied by out and out hostility. So duHkh' aartaH "one beset by suffering" or "the pain-afflicted," as I understand the phrase, might mean not only a person who sought the king's protection but also an event in the life of a person who has taken refuge in the Buddha's teaching. duHkh' aartaH, "the pain-afflicted," then, might mean one moment of acute embarrassment, one angry outburst, a night of pain, an hour of shame, or a shameful tendency.

In that case "not shunning" in tena n' aatyaaji, lit. "[he/it] was not shunned by him," might correspond to what is sometimes called in modern psychological parlance "owning" -- i.e. not denying, not trying to brush under the carpet -- some unsatisfactory emotion or experience.

Speaking of a night of pain, there is a very good description by Marjory Barlow in her book "An Examined Life" of a night in which she decided to stop shunning pain, as a result of which a shoulder pain that had beleaguered her on and off for years became almost unbearable and then evaporated, and thereafter did not trouble her again. She concludes the section by commenting "And it doesn't have to be a pain in the shoulder. It can be a pain in the heart." (I have quoted the story elsewhere on the net, but I can't find it.)

In addition to the overt meaning of today's verse as a description of a dutiful royal protector of his people, both halves of the verse, as I read them, relate to non-endgaining; or, in other words, devotion to a process. The first half of the verse suggests the fact that once we have committed ourselves truly to the process, all is grist to the mill -- even to turn one's back on the truth, as Dogen put it, is just the truth. And the second half of the verse suggests the fact that if we ever think we have come to the end of the process, that thought is very likely to prove to have been a false thought, rooted in the end-gaining mind.

The classic example of such conceited end-gaining is the mistake of the monk who mistook the fourth dhyana for final enlightenment, as recounted by Dogen in Shobogenzo chap. 90, Shizen-biku. And there are perhaps shades of that mistake in Nanda's aspirational attitude in 17.56: Consequently, relying on the fourth stage of meditation, / He made up his mind to win the worthy state, / Like a king joining forces with a strong and noble ally / And then aspiring to conquer unconquered lands. / [17.56] Then he cut the five upper fetters: / With the sword of intuitive wisdom, wielded by directed thought, / He completely severed the five aspirational fetters, / Which are bound up with superiority, and tied to the first person. [17.57]

EH Johnston:
He did not refuse help to anyone who was in trouble and came to him for refuge, not even if he was his enemy, nor did he become arrogant on conquering his foes, however insolent they might be.

Linda Covill:
Even an enemy in trouble who came to him for help would not be turned away; and he did not become proud, though he conquered arrogant enemies.

tena (inst. sg.): by him
ariH (nom. sg.): mfn. ( √ R) , attached to faithful ; m. a faithful or devoted or pious man ; mfn. not liberal , envious , hostile; m. an enemy
√ R : to go , move , rise , tend upwards

api: even
duHkh' aartaH (nom. sg. m.): mfn. visited by pain , distressed
duHkha: n. pain, suffering, hardship, trouble, distress
aarta: mfn. fallen into (misfortune) , struck by calamity , afflicted , pained , disturbed

na: not
atyaaji = 3rd pers. sg. aorist passive tyaj: to give up, abandon, shun
sharaN'-aagataH (nom. sg. m.):
sharaNa: n. shelter , place of shelter or refuge or rest , hut , house , habitation , abode , lair (of an animal) , home , asylum ; refuge, protection ; n. refuge , protection , refuge with (sharaNaM √ gam or yaa &c , " to go to any one for protection , seek refuge with ")
aagataH: come to, into, or from (ifc.); occurred , happened , risen ; entered (into any state or condition of mind)

jitvaa = abs. ji: to conquer
dRptaan (acc. pl.): mfn. mad , wild , proud , arrogant
api: also, even
ripuun (acc. pl.): m. a deceiver , cheat , rogue ; m. an enemy , adversary , foe

na: not
tena (inst. sg.): by him
tena: ind. on that account , for that reason , therefore
akaari = 3rd pers. sg. aorist passive kR: to do, make
vismayaH (nom. sg. m): m. wonder , surprise , amazement , bewilderment , perplexity; pride , arrogance ; doubt , uncertainty

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