Sunday, September 26, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.17: Self-Motivation vs Needy Dependence

a-yatnato hetu-bal'-aadhikas tu
nirmucyate ghaTTita-maatra eva
yatnena tu pratyaya-neya-buddhir
vimokSham aapnoti par'-aashrayena

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

One who is self-motivated is freed without ado,

At the slightest prompting;

But one whose mind is led by circumstances

Struggles, while being dependent on others,
to find freedom.

For ease of translation, I have followed EHJ and LC in making it sound as if Ashvaghosha is saying there are two kinds of person -- the self-motivated and the outer-dependent.

Perhaps this is indeed what Ashvaghosha is doing, as an expedient to make matters clearer, using the Buddha as a shining example of self-motivation, and portraying Nanda as a pathetic example of emotional dependence.

But the truth, which Ashvaghosha alludes to in his description of Nanda's travails from 17.7, is that both tendencies can co-exist in one person. This co-existence is in fact at the heart of Nanda's struggle. So a truer but slightly more cumbersome translation might be "When one is self-motivated, one is freed.... But when one's mind is led by circumstances, one struggles...."

People have described me as a self-motivated type, and it is true that I can happily go for days and weeks sitting, working and translating without socializing with anybody. But after a few weeks a certain neediness is still prone to creep in. And even at the best of times, when loud crowing of five cockerels threatens to set off an auditory Moro reflex, I am liable to show myself to be still a slave to circumstances.

We struggle to find freedom in the face of wrong inner patterns. That is what the afflictions (klesha) are, as I understand them, in Alexander terms. "The wrong inner patterns are the doing," Marjory Barlow said, "that has to be stopped." And right at the centre of those wrong inner patterns, my own experience suggests to me, is the Moro reflex which, in my own case, is ever liable to be stimulated by a noxious auditory stimulus.

"Being wrong is the best friend you have got!" Marjory used to tell me. I still do not really understand why. I cannot really see my own situation as Marjory saw it. But probably it has got something to do with the possibility that if I could overcome my own Moro-centred problem -- if I could truly defeat Mara -- then I might have something really useful to offer others in terms of giving the supreme gift, which, of far greater value even than the gift of a good translation of Ashvaghosha's words, is the gift of confidence.

For the present, I have frequent welling and occasional outbursts of impatient anger to thank for letting me know that the battle is far from won.

EH Johnston:
For he in whom the impulse is strong obtains salvation without difficulty immediately on receipt of a stimulus, but he whose understanding is susceptible only to external conditions obtains salvation with difficulty and only by dependence on another.

Linda Covill:
The superior man of strong motivation is liberated effortlessly with just the merest nudge, but the man whose mind is governed by faith attains liberation with difficulty, and only through dependence on someone else.

a-yatna-taH: ind. without effort or exertion
hetu-bal'-aadhikaH (nom. sg. m.): he in whom the strength of impulse/primary cause is superior
hetu: m. " impulse " , motive ; cause ; (with Buddhists) primary cause (as opp. to pratyaya)
bala: n. power, force ; ifc. by force , by the power
adhika: mfn. surpassing (in number or quantity or quality) , superior ; excellent
tu: but

nirmucyate = 3rd pers. sg. present passive nir- √ muc: to loosen , free from (abl.) , liberate
ghaTTita-maatraH (nom. sg. m.): at the merest stimulus, as soon as he is touched
ghaTTita: mfn. rubbed , touched , shaken
ghaTT: to rub (the hands) over , touch , shake , cause to move
maatra: mfn. being nothing but , simply or merely (after a pp. = scarcely , as soon as , merely , just e.g. jaata-maatra , scarcely or just born ; kRiShTa-maatra , merely ploughed ; bhukta-maatre , immediately after eating)
eva: (emphatic)

yatnena (inst. sg.): with effort, carefully ,eagerly , strenuously
tu: but
pratyaya-neya-buddhiH (nom. sg. m.): he whose understanding is led by belief / co-operating causes
pratyaya: m. belief, firm conviction , trust , faith ; conception , assumption , notion , idea ; ground , basis , motive or cause of anything (in med.) = nimitta , hetu &c ; (with Buddhists) a co-operating cause
neya: mfn. ( √ nii) to be led or guided or managed or governed
buddhi: f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; comprehension , apprehension , understanding

vimokSham (acc. sg.): m. the being loosened or undone ; release, deliverance, liberation
aapnoti = 3rd pers. sg. present aap: to reach ; to obtain , gain , take possession of
par'-aashrayena (inst. sg):
para: m. another, others
aashraya: mfn. ifc. depending on , resting on , endowed or furnished with

No comments: