Sunday, October 10, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.46: A Wholesome & Honest Course

varaM hit'-odarkam an-iShTam annaM
na svaadu yat syaad a-hit'-aanubaddhaM
yasmaad ahaM tvaa viniyojayaami
shive shucau vartmani vipriye 'pi

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

Unfancied food that does one good

Is better than tasty food that may do harm:

On that basis I commend you to a course

Which, though unpalatable, is wholesome and honest.

Dogen wrote near the end of Fukan-zazengi:
"Keep directing your energy on the path which is straightforward and honest."

Such a path need not necessarily have a lot of bells, whistles and prayer-wheels attached to it, but it might necessarily allow of an elevated surface on which to rest the sitting bones, and a relatively soft surface on which to place the knees. And effort to raise the standard of what FM Alexander called "the use of the self" might also be essential to it.

For me, at least, though I continue to shave my head and sit wearing a robe, such a path has less and less sense of being a path of religious belief.

There is something about a religious idea, it seems to me, that is liable to prevent a path from being as wholesome or straightforward and honest as it might otherwise be. Child abuse at Catholic seminaries over many years might be the most glaring evidence of how a religious idea, such as enforced celibacy, can have disgusting unintended consequences.

Towards the end of his life, again, my teacher Gudo Nishijima, started calling his so-called "Dharma-heirs" -- at least the authentic ones who he deemed to be true believers in his true Buddhism -- "Venerable So and So." Generally he referred to me as "Mr. Mike Cross." What I noticed in response to this, is firstly that I had and I have no desire whatever to be called by a religious title such as "Venerable." I also found something which seemed to be deliberately hurtful and slighting in a religious old man's use of the word "Mr." The experience left me feeling somewhat hurt and slighted, but more than that disgusted. I went to Japan nearly 30 years ago with an interest in Zen and a passion for karate-do. It was never my intention to get caught up in any kind of religious cult. How was I so bloody stupid as to get tangled up with a teacher whose confidence in his own true Buddhism was such that he could decide to appoint himself as a founding Zen Patriarch, surrounded by a bunch of venerable so and so's?

In this situation, when I saw a you-tube video of the Dalai Lama in Japan discussing a third way which has "nothing to do with religion," the Dalai Lama's recognition seemed to gel with my own recognition that in addition to (1) theistic religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and (2) non-theistic religions (or semi-theistic if you buy the 'God is Dharma' line) like Gudo Nishijima's "one true Buddhism," there might also be (3) a wholesome and honest way that has nothing to do with religion.

The clarification of such a path is a work in progress of which this translation is part. A work in progress is bound to be full of mistakes. And recognizing those mistakes as mistakes, we can learn from them.

A course that is wholesome and honest, I wish to follow, whether it is palatable or not. But giving up sex for the sake of a religious idea? No thanks. I'll leave that to the saintly Catholic patriarchs who have proved themselves over the years to be such paragons of wholesomeness and honesty.

EH Johnston:
It is better to take disagreeable food which enures to one's good than savoury food which does not agree with one. Therefore I urge you to a way which, though unpleasant, is holy and pure.

Linda Covill:
Unpleasant food that benefits your health is better than a tasty delicacy that may be bad for you. Likewise I commit you to a benign and pure path, though it doesn't please you.

varam: ind. it is better than , rather than (in these senses varam is followed by na with nom. e.g. varaM mRshyur nach-aa-kiirtiH , " better death than [lit. " and not "] infamy "
hit'-odarkam (nom. sg. n.): being good for one, having a beneficial consequence
hita: mfn. beneficial , advantageous , salutary , wholesome , suitable , agreeing with (of ten , said of diet , regimen , medicines &c ) ,
udarka: m. arising (as a sound) , resounding ; the future result of actions , consequence
an-iShTam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. unwished , undesirable , disadvantageous , unfavourable ; bad , wrong , evil , ominous
annam (nom. sg.): n. food or victuals , especially boiled rice

na: not
svaadu (nom. sg. n.) : mfn. sweet , savoury , palatable , dainty , delicate , pleasant to the taste , agreeable
yat (nom. sg.): n. [that] which
syaat = 3rd pers. sg. optative as: (copula) to be
a-hit'-aanubaddham (nom. sg. n.): followed by harm
a-hita: mfn. not beneficial, noxious ; n. damage , disadvantage , evil
anubaddha: mfn. bound to , obliged to , connected with , related to , belonging to ; followed by

yasmaat: ind. from which, from which cause
aham (nom. sg. m.): I
tvaa (acc. sg. m.): you
viniyojayaami = 1st pers. sg. vi-ni- √ yuj: to unyoke , disjoin , loose , detach , separate ; to assign , commit , appoint to , charge or entrust with

shive (loc. sg.): mfn. auspicious, benign
shucau (loc. sg. n.) : mfn. shining , glowing , gleaming , radiant , bright ; brilliantly white , white ; clear , clean , pure (lit. and fig.) , holy , unsullied , undefiled , innocent , honest , virtuous
vartmani = loc. sg. vartman: n. the track or rut of a wheel , path , road , way , course (lit. and fig.)
vipriye (loc. sg. n.): mfn. disagreeable , unpleasant to (gen. or comp.)
api: even, though

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