Monday, October 4, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.33: One Going & One Having Gone

ity evam uktaH sa tathaagatena
sarveShu bhuuteShv anukampakena
dhRShTaM gir" aantar-hRdayena siidaMs
tath" eti nandaH sugataM babhaaShe

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

Addressed thus by the One Thus Come,

In his compassion for all living beings,

Nanda while sinking inside said boldly

To the One Well Gone: "So be it!"

Since the previous verse relates to the ultimate moment of going which is death, the use in this one verse of the two epithets tathaagata and sugata, causes me to reflect on some of the many possible meanings of gata (gone) or aagata (come) in tathaagata (the One Thus Come; the One So Gone; the One in whom it is So Present; the One in whom all is Thus Absent, et cetera, et cetera) and su-gata (the One Gone Well, the One Well & Truly Gone).

As an epic poem, Saundarananda is full of the sense of Nanda's progress, from his being caused to go forth in this Canto to his own gaining of a foothold on a path in Canto 12, through practice that is described in Canto 14 as stepping or marching out, and then his arrival at the goal in Canto 17, followed by his return from forest to city, in order to speak of liberation, in Canto 18.

So there is a constant sense of Nanda's going somewhere, his going on a path. Saundarananda, like the Heart Sutra, seems to have been written in praise of going:

gate, gate

Going! Going!

At the same time, with the epithets tathaagata (whether understood as tath"-aagata or tathaa-gata) and su-gata, the Buddha's condition is expressed not so much as going as having gone.

There may be a paralled in the teaching of FM Alexander who, while emphasizing that "there is no such thing as a right position, but there is a right direction," also described what he called "constructive conscious control" as primarily a plane to be reached rather than a method of reaching it.

Adam Nott, a veteran Alexander teacher, and a sly old man in the Gurdjieff tradition, explained this situation to me with a metaphor of a ladder -- the means-whereby is like a ladder that takes you up onto the plane of conscious control. Adam addred wryly that after a while on the higher plane, one is prone to slip down again without noticing... and this certainly rings true in my experience.

So if we understand this verse in those terms, the Buddha is being described as one who has already arrived on the plane of conscious control, and Nanda as one who is being helped, or even dragged, up the ladder.

EH Johnston:
Thus the Tathagata Who takes pity on all beings addressed him, and Nanda replied to the Blessed One, with bold voice but sinking heart, 'Very well.'

Linda Covill:
That was how the realized one in his compassion for all living beings spoke to him. "Yes," replied Nanda to the Sugata in a brave voice, but with despair in his innermost heart.

ity evam: "...," thus
uktaH (nom. sg. m.): addressed, spoken to
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
tathaagatena (inst. sg. m.): mfn. being in such a state or condition , of such a quality or nature; " he who comes and goes in the same way [as the buddhas who preceded him]", gautama buddha

sarveShu (loc. pl. n.): all
bhuuteShu (loc. pl.): n. that which is or exists , any living being (divine , human , animal , and even vegetable)
anukampakena (inst. sg. m.): mfn. pitying, compassionate

dhRShTam: ind. boldly , courageously , fearlessly
giraa = inst. sg. gir: f. speech , speaking , language , voice , words
antar-hRdayena (inst. sg.): mfn. with his innermost heart
antar: ind. within , between , amongst , in the middle or interior; (sometimes compounded with a following word like an adjective , meaning interior , internal , intermediate)
hRdaya: n. the heart
siidan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. sad: to sit down ; to sink down , sink into despondency or distress , become faint or wearied or dejected or low-spirited , despond , despair , pine or waste away , perish

tathaa: ind. yes , so be it , so it shall be (particle of assent , agreement , or promise ; generally followed by iti)
iti: "....."
nandaH (nom. sg. m): Nanda
sugatam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. going well ; one who has fared well
babhaaShe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect bhaaSh: speak, say, tell

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